Posted on July 13, 2021
For 40 years, Penn-Mar Human Services (Penn-Mar) has been a regional leader in providing assistance for people with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities (IDD) and their families. Today, the nonprofit unveiled a full rebrand that includes a new logo, updated color palette, collateral materials, a completely redesigned website, and the empowering new tagline “Live Courageously.”
As the 40th anniversary drew near, organizational leadership identified a strategic opportunity to update the brand to better reflect a more refined and modern image that promotes the sophisticated and pioneering organization Penn-Mar has become. The nonprofit’s proud history began in 1981 when 12 families proactively chose to find solutions to the continued obstacles that their family members with IDD faced. Armed with only a $2,000 budget and unwavering determination, those difference makers carved out a future for what the organization has become.
Today, Penn-Mar supports 2,000 people annually with a staff of 600 employees, has an operating budget of more than $40 million, manages nearly 60 homes across Maryland and Pennsylvania, and offers a wide continuum of non-residential services from three locations while providing an ever-expanding level of care and support. As a result of that growth, Penn-Mar has become a forerunner in the human services industry and an organization that others turn to for leadership and inspiration.
“Sitting still and letting others solve the tough problems isn’t in our nature,” says Penn-Mar CEO Greg Miller, who has been with the non-profit since 1988. “Every day, we analyze what we’re doing to see if there’s another, more innovative method to reach an even greater audience. That constant desire to transform and grow needed to come across in how Penn-Mar was presented to the community. Now, when someone sees our logo, comes to our website, or hears our tagline, they’ll instantly recognize that we’re a group that is always looking for thoughtful solutions and ready for the next challenge.”
As Penn-Mar’s audience has expanded, the nonprofit’s primary tool for engagement has become its website, which is a major reason for the new look and layout. Many times, people unfamiliar with Penn-Mar’s work are unsure how to begin the process or fully understand the many ways the organization can help. The new website eliminates that burden. An emphasis was made on accessibility and the site is designed to quickly and succinctly relay Penn-Mar’s mission, illustrate the full range of services, and clearly outline the available resources that are
most applicable to each unique visitor. This ease of use is more important than ever as the organization’s reach continues to expand and user engagement increases.
In addition to the updated site, Penn-Mar’s bold new tagline “Live Courageously” is designed to define how the group approaches every undertaking and will be the underlying theme of all future messaging. It is more than a statement of how the nonprofit approaches its dedication to the IDD community. It’s also a call to action for the community that will inspire business owners, potential supporters, volunteers, and prospective employees to take brave actions that can make a difference in the lives of others and in the process, create a more diverse and inclusive society.
“Penn-Mar’s goal has always been to enrich every life we touch, but we cannot do that in a vacuum,” added Penn-Mar COO Jackie Stevens. “Part of our mission is to discover new opportunities to engage and enroll the community at large into our charge. To do that, our brand must translate the power of what we do and show the differences that are being made by Penn-Mar and our existing local partners. Now, when someone visits our site or hears our tagline, they won’t wonder if they should get involved, they’ll wonder why they did not get in touch earlier.”
As Penn-Mar looks toward the future, their allegiance to innovation continues. Recently, in an effort to overcome the endemic problems of workforce recruitment and retention, Penn-Mar invested over $2.5 million to increase pay for all Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), including a new starting hourly wage of $15.50 and a $2,000 signing bonus. As Miller points out, the path to this point has taken 40 years, but the journey is far from over, and decisive, courageous actions will continue to serve as the foundation for the nonprofit’s ongoing expansion.
“A small step may not seem like a lot, but it is amazing how far you can go after taking thousands. Along the way, we have had to constantly reimagine how we support people with IDD and engage others to join us in our crusade. And that support, and that engagement, starts with how we present Penn-Mar to the world.”
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 independence, equity, and self-determination. Founded in 1981, Penn-Mar serves nearly 2000 adults with IDD each year through its community living, day learning, customized employment, family and peer supports, 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.