Breaking News

breaking news

Chris, Derek, Jeff and Thomasine broke their all-time best soap making record of 75 gallons in just over 3 hours! A concerted effort by the team got everyone working together to get the job done! Thomasine was quoted as saying “we’re going to get to 3000”. There is no stopping this team of dedicated workers. Chris stated “we’re out of labels” but even that minor delay did not slow anyone down today. Their temporary supervisor Nafeesa was overheard saying there were no clean towels, but again another snafu did nothing to impact the teamwork going on at the RHA office. Derek was seen staying on task the entire day, while Jeff has completely rebounded from his recent illness.

Congratulations to this team of dedicated workers!


The Soap Factory: Jeff, Thomasin, Derek and Chris stand proud with their record breaking 75 gallons of laundry soap.

The Soap Factory: Jeff, Thomasine, Derek and Chris stand proud with their record breaking 75 gallons of laundry soap.

The Soap Factory started out as a brainchild of Kris Bergman, who is Home Manager at RHA’s  Garber Road home. She found a recipe somewhere, either online or in a newspaper, about how to make inexpensive but good laundry detergent. She experimented by making detergent for the Garber home a couple of years ago.

Last summer we were looking to add a small day hab program (Adult Day Services) and Kris’ idea seemed to be just what we were looking for. Program Manager Vicki Servais and Day Services Coordinator Amanda Wallace approached the people we serve to see if any of them would be interested in making laundry detergent, which would include being paid for doing it.

We had a yes from four people, Thomasine Hill, Chris Martin, Derek Landes and Mike Wood. They came up with the name for their company and thus The Soap Factory was established. They meet every other Friday in our offices to make their detergent, which is then used in all of our homes in place of detergents purchased from stores. Not only does it save us money for laundry supplies, Thomasine, Chris, Derek and Mike are now Resident Home paid employees, with Amanda serving as their supervisor.

The best work day was when these employees made 70 gallons of detergent in one day. The average is 30 gallons a day. They make their detergent for about 70 cents a gallon. Ingredients include shredded bar soap, Fels Naptha, Borax, Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and lots of water. According to Amanda, the product has really been welcomed at all the homes. “It does as good as or even a better job than expensive brand name laundry detergents,” she said. “It really gets out our difficult stains.”


Pete’s passion for work, competition and home

For Pete Smith (Choices In Community Living) it’s all about giving 100% plus in everything you do. He did that most recently when he competed in the 5K part of this year’s Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, completing his run in 2 hours, 41 minutes. He ran his race alongside one of his co-workers from Encon, Chris Evans, who completed the race in 2 hours, 39 minutes.

Pete has been at this job at Encon for 19 years, working in the shipping department, where he has earned the respect and friendship of his co-workers. It was one of his Encon co-workers who paid for his hotel and other expenses so that he could participate in the Flying Pig Marathon. Others are there to make sure he is always remembered at Christmas and on his birthday. He is a hard-working, responsible, dedicated and loyal part of the Encon team.

Pete, who is 42 years old, is an all around athlete in addition to being a stellar employee. He enjoys golf and has won state titles in Special Olympics tournaments. He has also won a state title in Special Olympics softball. He participates in swimming, basketball, track and field, bowling and soccer. He received a 2004 regional Erin Ritchey Memorial Award for his athletic achievements. He was inducted into the Developmental Disabilities Hall of Fame in 1997.

He has been a part of our Choices extended family since 1993, where he is supported by our Semi-Independent Living (SIL) team. With the support of his SIL team, his job at Encon and his own work ethic, he his living out his American dream. He owns his own home. He and SIL staff Kay Bowman have been working hard to finish some re-modeling in his home. He plans to show it off soon with an open house.

That American dream, his American dream, has been made complete not only with his home, but with his job in the community, participation and success in athletic competition, a supportive Choices family and the best of friends, including that one who ran beside him on that big day in Cincinnati.

Note: For more information about hiring employees with disabilities and what they can bring to your company/business, contact us at and ask about Choices Supported Employment program.