Love Center connection opens doors for Board of DD individuals

Love Center connection opens doors for Board of DD individuals

Image Credit: Dave Mast

One of the overriding themes for the Holmes County Board of Developmental Disabilities is to show people throughout the community that people with developmental disabilities can provide valuable work in the community.

One year ago the BDD created a volunteer program that has begun to branch out and allow its individuals to volunteer at some nonprofit organizations in Holmes County. The hope is they can develop even more relationships with organizations and businesses that will open doors that build work ethic, help individuals develop relational skills and even find employment.

Cindy Boals, registered adult service worker at Holmes County Board of Developmental Disabilities, helped start the volunteer work program at Holmes BDD with the hope that individuals could benefit from getting out and working in the community.

The volunteer program started last year in April when Boals contacted Love Center director Edgar Raber to see if they could unite in their effort to help the training center individuals get involved with volunteering at the Love Center.

Blake, Hope, Sarah Beth and Leroy are all individuals from the training center who have all gotten involved with stocking the diaper room, unloading trucks and stocking items, sorting produce and many other jobs that help the Love Center.

Blake also hits the road with Roger Wheeler to deliver food to the Darb Snyder Holmes County Senior Center and helps load and unload produce and baked goods donated from area grocers and markets.

On afternoons when the Love Center provides pickup times for community families, Hope and Blake are the ones who get the job of continually taking carts of food out to the front so the items can be dispensed to each Love Center client stopping in to pick up food and goods.

“It’s been a wonderful program,” Boals said of the connection with the Love Center. “It helps them build job skills, it is great socialization for them and it helps the Love Center.”

Hope said she likes helping other people who are hurting financially and need a helping hand. She said knowing she is helping others is satisfying, but another benefit has been getting to know the other volunteers at the Love Center.

“It’s so much fun because we’ve gotten to be good friends with a bunch of these guys at the Love Center,” Hope said. “I like getting to meet new people. It’s so much fun interacting with others.”

Raber said connecting with the BDD has helped bring even more joy to an organization that is already filled with it from being able to give to others. He said the training center individuals have fit right in, they work hard and they have brought a wonderful spirit to the center.

“It’s been such a neat blessing to all of us here,” Raber said. “Each of them has their own unique personality, and it’s been fun to get to know them. They’ve been a wonderful addition to our family of volunteers.”

Boals said there are other benefits. She said Sarah Beth isn’t much of a talker, but when she met Raber and he started speaking Pennsylvania Dutch to her, it took her by surprise, but it helped open avenues of communication in a unique way and it helped Sarah Beth become comfortable enough to open up around the Love Center crew.

“Edgar started talking, and this big smile spread across her face the first time it happened,” Boals said.

Blake said he enjoys seeing the clients, being able to help others is important to him and he likes the different challenges of the many ways he can lend a hand at the Love Center.

The Love Center connection is one of many ways the BDD has been promoting interaction between its individuals and the community. There are other organizations that have welcomed their presence, and the BDD hopes to make even more connections.

Boals said there are other opportunities, like at Save & Serve Thrift Store, where three individuals volunteer each Thursday under the guidance of Rachel Weaver. There are others that provide opportunities for BDD individuals to learn how to give back to the community that supports the HCTC.

“We’re giving back to the community. We are providing job-skills training, and they are learning how to stay focused and learn how to follow directions,” Boals said. “It’s really neat to see them picking up these different skills and working hard, as well as meeting new people.”

Boals said once each day is over, they talk about how the day went, what went well and what they feel they could work on to improve their skills. She said that helps them better understand how they can gain insight into developing work skills that could land them a job.

The past three summers they have volunteered at the Garden of Hope at Millersburg Elementary, where they help weed, water and grow vegetables.

Boals said these opportunities have provided plenty of chances for the individuals to grow and come out of their shells and make connections with others.

“Everywhere we go, the staff and volunteers at each place have welcomed us and been so gracious,” Boals said. “It is inspiring to see that kind of willingness to work with us in developing these programs. They are taking the time to get to know each one of our people. It’s been invaluable to be able to grow our volunteer program in the community.”

Boals said she is looking to make connections with other area organizations or businesses that could benefit from her individuals volunteering to do work. If a local organization or business would like to explore the chance to connect with the BDD’s volunteer program, they can call Boals at 330-674-8045.

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