Brenda Whitney, 1945-2020
Long-time RHA Executive Director Brenda Whitney passed away Tuesday, September 22, 2020. Brenda Whitney was a true pioneer in the DD field not only in the Dayton area but across the state of Ohio. Her strong advocacy for people with disabilities included bringing people living in institutions back to their communities where they could live meaningful lives with dignity and respect.
While Brenda is no longer with us her legacy lives on within our agency and in our community. Thank you, Brenda!
Partnerships invaluable in challenging times
by Pete Roll, Executive Director (From Issue 2, 2020 Newsletter)
We've heard it repeatedly over the past few months. We are living in unusual times! Our vocabulary is now sprinkled with words we rarely used before this February - words like unprecedented, pandemic, COVID-19, hand sanitizers, masks and more. Even during profound changes and concerns there can be silver linings - opportunities for people to come together (but not too close) to support one another.
The most inspiring aspect for us during this pandemic has been the consistent hard work and long hours of our direct service staff and home managers. They show up every day to support the residents and each other as we learn together how to work and live with new societal norms. They take the requirements of wearing masks, taking temperatures, frequent handwashing and sanitizing surfaces seriously. At this time, we have had no positive cases of COVID-19, and it is thanks in large measure to our staff.
Another source of inspiration is the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities. With the leadership of Superintendent Pamela Combs, Assistant Superintendent Kamarr Gage and Provider Development Manager Mitchell Snyder, their support has been invaluable. As has always been the case, residential services are always ground zero during times of crisis. We don't shut down. We hunker down.
Our County Board is a powerful partner in this effort. They have provided us pre-packaged individual meals prepared by the Little Miami River Catering Company. Our homes receive these meals once a week. Our residents look forward to this change in their routines and have been very pleased with the quality of the meals. Staff also appreciate not only enjoying the meals with residents, but that they have special days where they don't need to do food preparation or large-scale clean-up. The Board has also helped us with some PPE equipment, including face masks, disinfectants and hand sanitizer.
This is the time that has emphasized just how valuable our partnerships with other providers, such as Choices In Community Living and Toward Independence, and their directors Tom Weaver and Mark Schlater, have been and continue to be. We know and trust each other. We are sharing ideas, even working together on a video recognizing the work of our DSPs. With new orders and guidelines issued every day, we work with each other so that we can adjust our planning and procedures in ways that not only meet requirements but assure we continue our commitment to quality services and to assure the health and well-being of those we serve. Together we learn from each other and support each other as we navigate unchartered waters.
We are living in unusual times! That certainly is an understatement if ever there was one. We, however, remain optimistic that there are better times ahead. We are assured of this because we have the most dedicated and flexible staff. We have the Montgomery County Board and Choices and Toward Independence. We have our Board, our families, our donors and a network of caring friends who support us not only in words, but in deeds. We are in this together - not just words at Resident Home - it's life now at Resident Home.
Day Hab Summer Volunteers
On behalf of the Resident Home Association Day Hab Program we would like to say thank you to the youth group from St. Christopher Parish for all they did this summer; it really put smiles on our faces! Our hearts were filled with gratitude as there is no kinder act than giving back to others which is exactly what the teens from St. Christopher did. Our residents looked forward to seeing them each week and the teens were patient and kind to the residents. The teens helped our residents with different art crafts, puzzles, playing bingo, outdoor games and even group games of Jeopardy and Family Feud! A few of our female residents particularly enjoyed having their nails painted and working one on one with a teen. We would all prepare a healthy snack and enjoy it together before the teens would leave for the day. The adult chaperones were very helpful and we appreciated them coming with the teens each week. We hope to collaborate together again next year and look forward to seeing some of those same friendly faces again! We thank St. Christopher Parish for their time and energy for making each of the residents feel cared for and special.
Written by Shay Billingsley, RHA Day Hab Supervisor, 2019
Stop and Smell the Roses
Everyone has heard the term “Stop and Smell the Roses.” As I sit here and reflect upon the emotional morning that I had, something occurred to me. This happens to me every year. This morning, I set my alarm clock, woke up the kids, packed lunches and saw my senior and freshman off for their first day of school. Where has time gone? Why does it move so quickly? Did I do enough? Those are just a few of the things that ran through my head as the tears streamed down my cheeks. OK! Some of you may be laughing at me right now, but this is REAL. It takes some life changes, some “Firsts” and “Lasts” to make you realize how quickly life can pass us by.
As I drove to work after fixing my makeup, I started thinking about the people that I assist. Everything that they do is on a schedule. Their wake up time, med pass, transportation to workshop, showers after work, and all of their evening activities are on a schedule. I began to wonder, if they ever sit back and think about how fast paced their world is and if they just want it to slow down. I bet they do! The same emotions that we feel; they feel. They may not express it in the exact way that we do, but it’s there. Are you helping them slow down to smell the roses? Are you showing them the beautiful sunset and encouraging them to embrace that moment of peace and serenity? Our job as a DSP is not just doing the laundry, cooking dinner, or making sure they have their medications. It’s so much more. We are there to help them enrich their own lives! This is a BIG deal! We have the honor of showing them what life is all about. It’s not just about the day to day tasks. It’s about that beautiful gift of life. It’s about making every moment we have a special one. When their head hits the pillow at night, did we help them discover all of the simple things that bring joy to their life? Encourage them to “Stop and Smell the Roses.” Point out a rainbow, show them a butterfly sitting in the window sill, sit on a covered porch while the rain peacefully falls. Help them have that moment. Introduce them to the things that take them away from all of the hustle and bustle of life.
Think of yourself as a “Tour Guide” to a life of tranquility……………………
Donna Rhodes, OADSP E-Flash Editor and Writer & RHA DSP
Exciting times: a call to action by Pete Roll, Executive Director
As 2017 moves forward, things could not be more exciting at Resident Home Association. Not only are our minds and hearts refreshed and renewed by the longer, sunnier, warmer days of Summer, but there are quite a few things in the works to help us expand and provide better services.
Part of our 2016 Strategic Plan identifies areas where we could improve and expand opportunities to current and future consumers. Part of the expanded opportunities began when we added a fourth day program in 2016. With the addition of that new community-based program, we were providing services Tuesday through Friday each week. In March, 2017, we added another day program that has the capacity to serve eight people and that operates on Mondays. We are excited to provide these opportunities. In doing so, we find that we are making the most of our available space.
Not only are we making the most of our space, but we have come to realize that the expanded day services have made it very challenging to conduct our regular day-to-day administrative functions in the office. This means we have come to that place where we need more space. In addition to not enough space, we do not have the number of vehicles we need to provide both day services and community access and integration for residential consumers.
These exciting and challenging times encourage us to act on some of the needs identified in our strategic planning. To maintain and expand our administrative functions and to create more space for our day programs, we are exploring options to remodel and expand our office.
We will also have to invest in more vehicles to meet our growing transportation needs. Part of the office expansion project will include erecting fencing around our parking lot so that we can safely park agency vehicles that are used for day programs and to store some of our vans that are currently kept at our homes. Storing extra agency vehicles at our homes contributes to the congestion we are causing in neighborhoods. Since we are committed to being good neighbors, we don’t want to add to congestion by having too many vans at our homes.
Residentially, we are in the planning stages of making a large scale renovation at our Greenhill home. When completed, the home will be much more open, accessible and functional for the residents. We will also be evaluating some of our homes for downsizing to better meet the current and future needs of residents.
As you can see, our plans are ambitious, which means our needs are great. Conceptually, we are very excited about the possibilities in front of us. The reality is that plans of this magnitude require resources. While we are blessed to have some resources set aside to get us started, it will require a caring partnership from our friends, families and community to make our vision a reality. We are honored to have received a generous donation from an anonymous donor, as well as support from the Brighter Tomorrow Foundation that will move us forward in meeting our growing needs.
When RHA began 51 years ago the needs then were daunting and the resources few. Those needs were met, as they have been every year since our founding, because some remarkable people responded with generosity. We are now in 2017 and it is exciting times indeed but also daunting times. With the continuing uncertainty about funding, we know we cannot rely on the government to meet so many needs. We again need remarkable people to respond with generosity.
Please contact me at 937-278-0791 if you would like more information. Together we will meet these needs, as we have always met them with you by our side.
Everybody Loves a Picnic
Resident Home Association's annual picnic is always a hit, even on the hottest day in June. For the past 6 years The Pratt Sisters (daughters of one of RHA's founding members, John Pratt) have made this special day happen for all the residents here at RHA. It has become one of our most anticipated events of the summer for the entire RHA family.
Sometimes we play games of corn hole, ladderball and board games. But always, no matter what, we have a great time getting together to spend an afternoon with our RHA friends. This year we hung out in the shade, thankful for the nice breeze while we visited and ate.
Mary Ann, Ann, Cathy and their families and friends served 120 grilled hamburgers and hotdogs (because if you can't decide, have one of each!) Kudos also to the Grill Masters who worked over the fire, tirelessly and uncomplainingly, on the hottest day (so far!) of the year.
Along with grilled hot dogs and hamburgers we also enjoyed coleslaw, pasta salad, baked beans and of course dessert. You can't go wrong with killer brownies, homemade cookies and pastries!
We cannot thank the Pratt family enough for once again hosting one of the highlights of our summer. The Pratt family are so fun and wonderful to all of us! Their sister Susan is a resident at one of our homes but they treat all like family.
We send a big RHA thank you to all who joined us to help make this another memorable day!
Direct Support Professional full- and part-time positions available!
Are you compassionate, caring, concerned about the well-being of others? Do you believe in the power of community and providing opportunities for people of all abilities? Most of all, can you be a friend who can listen, share laughter and offer encouragement to get through the tough times? Do you want to make a difference? Do you believe that everyone has the right to a safe and nurturing home in the community?
If you answered yes, a DSP career might be the right fit for you!
Resident Home Association is now Hiring Direct Support Professionals (DSP).
As a DSP, you assist residents living in the lifelong homes that RHA provides for adults with developmental disabilities. Our DSPs provide direct care services for clients-and because of their caring, they become extended family.