By Gregory Miller
President/CEO Penn-Mar Human Services
It has been said that people without a vision have a tendency to wander around aimlessly. The same fate can also impact organizations that react to changes in the landscape rather than proactively respond and plan for them well in advance.
At Penn-Mar, we have a clear vision of where we we’re headed and that is to be a national leader impacting policy makers and organizations committed to supporting the transformation of life into living.
During this past fiscal year, we moved even closer to that goal but we certainly didn’t do it alone. We were inspired and supported along the way by our leadership, staff, families, donors, and partners.
You hear me talk a lot about transformation being at the heart of our mission. Well the services and supports we provide to individuals with disabilities are designed to be transformative as well, impacting one person at a time.
I am so grateful to our generous donors and partners who made it possible this past year for Penn-Mar to provide vital services, programs and opportunities for both our individuals and the staff who support them. Most notable are:
• The exploration, discovery, and support of over 90 individuals in competitive and integrated community based jobs that reflect each individual’s unique dreams, goals, personal preferences and needs vs. an “off the shelf” job.
• 16 Direct Support Professionals currently on their way to earning national credentials, along with wage increases, that will transform the way people with disabilities are supported by this critical workforce. An additional 27 DSPs are enrolled in year two.
• The purchase of critical equipment for individuals who do not have the financial resources through traditional funding or personal means that ensures the dignity of all individuals supported by Penn-Mar, regardless of financial means.
As individuals with disabilities have become more entrenched and active in our communities, there has been a cultural shift whereby society is starting to appreciate that everyone has a role to play in making the world a better, more inclusive place.
Every day I see more people donating their time, talent and treasure to our mission. People who don’t have family members or co-workers with disabilities but once exposed to the work that we do here at Penn-Mar say, “Count me in!”
During the month of December our Annual Giving campaign will feature a woman named Lesha whose parents were told at her birth that her disability would keep her from ever walking or talking. Their doctor suggested, instead, that she be placed in an institution so they could move on with their lives.
Well move on they did, with Lesha back to their home and eventually to Penn-Mar where she lives in a community home and is not only walking and talking but dancing, singing, exercising, employed at a local doctor’s office as a result of our Customized Employment program, and making weekly visits to a personal trainer.
Lesha has been supported throughout her 20-plus years with us by devoted Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), including two who are currently working to obtain their Certification in the Career Ladders program to learn how to continually improve Lesha’s life and the lives of all the individuals they support at Penn-Mar.
It’s clear that the greater our support from people like you, the greater the accomplishments we can achieve for individuals with disabilities. It all comes down to resources and vision and most importantly, working together to be truly transformational. From a thankful heart, best wishes for the New Year!