OHIO VALLEY — March is “National Developmental Disabilities Month,” a time to raise awareness of those with a disability, to promote an understanding of their lives and more importantly, their abilities.
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed March “National Developmental Disabilities Month.” Even then, he was quoted as saying, “New opportunities have been created through the efforts of those with developmental disabilities and their family members, along with professionals and officials at all levels of government. Working together, they have brought about significant changes in the public perception of young people and adults with developmental disabilities, opening new doors to independent and productive lives. One important new milestone is the fruitful partnership between government and the private sector in finding productive employment for people with developmental disabilities, people who might otherwise have been destined to a lifetime of dependency.”
The Gallia County Board of Developmental Disabilities (GCBDD) is celebrating its 50th year of providing services to people with developmental disabilities and their families.
Many of the services provided are through the adult day facilities which serve close to 40 adults with developmental disabilities at the Gallco Workshop.
Mary Varney has been an employee for 32 years of the 50-year history of the workshop. She started as a kindergarten aide at the Guiding Hand School and now works as the secretary for the Gallco Workshop. “For someone starting out in the DD field, I would say it is one of the most rewarding jobs that you could ever have. I go home at night feeling as though I have made a difference in a life,” she said.
Vicky Russell who started with GHS in 1984 and now provides adult day services at Gallco expresses the same sentiment, “I would tell anyone starting in this field it is very challenging and rewarding.”
Tim Stout returned home to Gallia County in 1989 to accept the position of Gallco Workshop Director. “I have had the privilege of meeting and serving over 300 individuals with developmental disabilities over the past 28 years. It has been extremely rewarding over the years to watch individuals grow and develop new work and personal skills,” he said. “It is satisfying to see their reactions on payday when they receive a paycheck for all the excellent work they have done. It has also been very gratifying for me to see that when they attend and work at Gallco that it gives them a lot of self-confidence and self-esteem.”
“Employment is a key objective for the GCBDD to assist Gallia residents with developmental disabilities to find work. Many want to be active participants in the community,” said Pamela Combs, superintendent of GCBDD who filled the position left by the retirement of longtime superintendent Rosalie Durbin.
Stout continued to express positive outcomes regarding services in Gallia, “One of the most rewarding experiences has been the opportunity to see individuals getting competitive jobs in the community as well as watching them and others move into their own homes and becoming parts of their community.”
Gallco is looking forward to being part of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival on March 18 in Gallipolis.
With changes coming to the Ohio community for those with developmental disabilities, family and caregivers, services have gradually been moving towards privatization resulting from the effects of a U.S. Supreme Court decision and Ohio’s Department of Developmental Disabilities.
Gallco serves area residents of the age 22 and older and has around 40 clients. Residents work at Gallco roughly six to seven hours a day. According to Combs, PALS out of Columbus will soon be assuming administration of the Gallco facility during the transition period. The organization has agreed to keep employees with the same benefits or higher and Combs said Gallco and the board is excited for those facing coming changes with the hope of a smooth transition. For residents wanting to learn further skills, PALS offers college courses to residents.
For more information regarding GCBDD and services provided visit Facebook: GalliaCoDD.