By Gregory Miller
President/CEO Penn-Mar Human Services
Former President John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. And those who only look to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
And that’s why at Penn-Mar we are constantly paying attention to the changing winds swirling around us, responding with creative thinking and problem solving, tied to a vision for a better future.
There’s no questions there are a lot of concerns in our industry as it relates to workforce issues, our national healthcare program and funding for services for people with disabilities.
And because our mission is to Transform life into living for the individuals we support, our paramount goal is to help our folks participate in the community, to give them the opportunity to explore what is out there to help them make informed choices about the job they want, their role in the community, and the possibilities yet to be achieved.
At Penn-Mar, we operate as a catalyst for those opportunities, as tacticians of success.
If you read my blog last month, you know that Penn-Mar has momentum on its side and is well positioned to embrace and enhance new service models, address the pay inequities of our hardworking and caring Dedicated Support Professional (DSPs), and cultivate new funding sources to compensate for government shortfalls.
And here’s why I’m even more optimistic about our future:
- The approved Pennsylvania budget includes almost $400 million additional dollars for services for people with disabilities (the highest funding level ever), meets new federal mandates, offers support for people to come off the waiting list for services, and helps students with IDD transition from high school to more community vs. facility-based services.
- At Penn-Mar, we are taking our exploration and discovery model to new heights, thanks to a $250,000 challenge grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation that will help us expand our Community Employment (CE) program over the next two years, to help men and women with IDD find and keep jobs in Maryland and Pennsylvania.The Grant will enable Penn-Mar to increase the number of individuals participating in the CE program, diversify the businesses in Penn-Mar’s employer portfolio, and increase job retention rates for our participants.
- A massive lobbying effort in Pennsylvania this year has helped legislators to finally understand the critical role of the DSP and the need to address the low wages that force many of them to hold multiple jobs just to scrape by from paycheck-to-paycheck.
- At Penn-Mar, we are coming down the home stretch with our first national credentialing program class. These DSPs will be graduating in the fall with a second cohort following immediately thereafter. All privately funded by passionate Penn-Mar supporters who value the role of these dedicated professionals.
- In Maryland, we continue to make tremendous inroads in terms of increased recognition, financial support, and community programming, directly related to our high level of execution in our areas of expertise and our ongoing commitment to improving our service models there.
And most exciting of all, our staff, families, donors, and the individuals we support will have a different level of understanding about the need to embrace change in a changing world, seeing first-hand how it can make the world a better place for everyone.