Posted on August 11, 2021
As Penn-Mar Human Services (Penn-Mar) celebrates 40 years as the region’s leading provider of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), they announced the creation of The Zgorski Family Endowment for the Staff Training and Aid Fund.
Through a $1 million gift from Dawn and Michael Zgorski, the donation will help fuel Penn-Mar’s ongoing transformational mission by securing the financial resources needed to ensure the continuation of high levels of Direct Support Professional (DSP) assistance, as government funding alone is not enough. The exciting news of the Zgorski fund compliments Penn-Mar’s May announcement of a $2.5 million investment in its workforce, raising the starting hourly wage for DSPs to $15.50 in an effort to boost DSP recruitment and retention.
As an overarching goal, The Zgorski Fund provides funding to enhance DSP programs that strengthen the mastery of critical skills, independent thinking, ethical judgment, and the ability to create long-term relationships of trust and mutual respect with the people and families assisted by Penn-Mar. And because the personal finances of those who Penn-Mar supports can sometimes prevent participation in the nonprofit’s community-based activities and fun, a portion of the endowment can also be utilized to help cover a variety of expenses, allowing for full enjoyment and interaction.
“The generosity of the Zgorski family is simply spectacular,” says Penn-Mar CEO Greg Miller. “Our DSPs are the backbone of everything Penn-Mar does, and this magnanimous donation allows us to further provide our professionals with the critical skills that have made them so impactful. Federal and state funding deficits can create challenges, but now because of contributions by people like the Zgorski family and others, we can provide our DSPs with the highest levels of training, so they can deliver the best possible services to the people who rely on Penn-Mar every day.”
Aiding Penn-Mar’s mission and people with IDD is something that the Zgorskis have become passionate about after seeing first-hand the incredible impact the nonprofit can have. Michael’s cousin has a daughter with IDD who had been receiving DSP support from Change, Inc., a human services nonprofit in Westminster, MD. Change and Penn-Mar have always worked closely, eventually joining forces in June 2019. Over the years, the Zgorskis learned more about Penn-Mar and both Dawn and Michael soon realized it was an organization that they wanted to see thrive.
“Penn-Mar’s message has always been such an inspiration for us,” says Michael. “The work that their DSPs do is totally selfless and filled with compassion. My wish is that with our help, Penn-Mar can retain and continue to nurture these valuable healthcare professionals. Ultimately, we want to see more people with IDD receive the best possible services and care, and there is no question that Penn-Mar is the organization to make that happen.”
On a personal level, Michael’s late sister had developmental disabilities, giving him a deep connection with the IDD community. He saw the incredible work being done by DSPs every day. Though the programming that Penn-Mar provides today was not available to his sister, Michael understands that without the tireless work of DSPs, people with IDD would miss many critical services. It’s why Penn-Mar has received similar donations in the past that provide DSP education and professional development, including the Michael James Pitts Endowment in 2017. It’s because of the immense charity of donors like the Pitts and Zgorski families that Penn-Mar is able to consistently provide exceedingly high levels of support to the IDD community.
Knowing that a lack of resources for DSPs could potentially limit critical services, in even the slightest way, is what sprang the Zgorskis into action.
“Everything that Penn-Mar does comes from a place of understanding, humanity, and a desire to encourage inclusivity,” adds Michael. “Ultimately, the work that DSPs do strengthens the community and makes all of us stronger together. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”
For more information about the Zgorski Fund, or to contribute, please visit Penn-Mar Human Services.
About Penn-Mar Human Services
Penn-Mar Human Services’ (www.penn-mar.org) mission is to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) live courageous lives full of self-determination, independence, and equity. Founded in 1981, Penn-Mar serves nearly 2,000 adults with IDD each year through its community living, day learning, customized employment, family and peer support, and respite programs in Carroll and Baltimore counties in Maryland, and in southern York county in Pennsylvania. Penn-Mar’s approach is innovative, person-centered, and successful, and through meaningful employment, community inclusion, and residential choice, the people Penn-Mar supports are empowered to live their best lives. www.penn-mar.org.