The Wood Lane Spotlight is posted every “Featured Friday” on our Facebook, Instagram and website. This is our way of putting the spotlight on the people who make the mission of the Wood County Board of DD possible: Direct Support Professionals, Board employees, and the people we serve!
If you know of a Wood County Board employee or person served who exemplifies our mission through their work or interactions with others in the community, we invite you to complete the nomination form below and send it in to Hilary Powell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff: Jennifer Gildon
This week we are shining the #FeaturedFriday spotlight on Jennifer Gildon!
There is a proverb in the Education world that says, “A good teacher explains, a great teacher demonstrates, and a superior teacher inspires”. Jennifer Gildon, who serves as the Intervention Specialist Instructor in the Junior classroom at Wood Lane School, is, by all indications, a superior teacher. Jennifer truly does inspire her students—in her daily interactions and in her teaching–she inspires hope, she ignites their imaginations, and she instills a love of learning.
Using instructional standards as her guide, Jennifer passionately designs her lessons to motivate her students, utilizing a variety of strategies, modalities, and adaptations to meet the needs of her students. Her lessons are creative, engaging, and FUN! Throughout the school you can see evidence of the work of the students from the Junior classroom, whether it is a science experiment, math concepts, an art project, music, or a piece of literature that has come to life. Moreover, you will see her students absorbed in their learning, with smiles on their faces, and enjoying school!
Jennifer has personally always loved learning and reading. In school she was motivated, enjoyed exploring and was excited to learn new things. Learning was particularly rewarding when she experienced an “Ah ha” moment whenever she mastered a concept. “School was hard for me and I had to learn to be patient with myself, Jennifer explained. “Because of my own experiences in school, I knew what it felt like to struggle, and to need a little more time than my peers to learn a concept. I became an Intervention Specialist because I knew how important it is for learners to have a patient and supportive teacher.”
Jennifer grew up in Wisconsin and earned her teaching credential at Loyola University in Chicago. She has taught classes in Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas and now Ohio. She and her husband James have a son, Albert, age 5, a German Shepherd named Leo, and a cat named Bella. Jennifer enjoys spending time outside and walking or biking around town with her family. “I love running”, says Jennifer, who has been a competitive Track and Field athlete. In fact, Jennifer met her husband on the Track and Field team in college. He now coaches at BGSU, and their family continues to spend a lot of time at Track meets.
One of Jennifer’s talents and favorite hobbies is crocheting! She learned how to crochet when she taught in Kansas and she voluntarily served as the advisor for the 5th grade Crocheting Club–she learned to crochet right along with the students. She loved it so much that she stuck with it and perfected her skills. Her crocheted creations are amazing! She crochets authentic looking stuffed dolls and made one that looked exactly like her son! This summer she made Superhero dolls for all her nieces and nephews. Additional hobbies include canoeing, watching Family Feud, any dessert (red velvet cupcakes are her favorite) and reading.
From Jennifer’s perspective, the best part of working at WCBDD is reflected in a word found in our mission statement: “Support”. She recognizes that there are times when she is working on a project and she may need help ironing out the details of the project. “Many times my projects spill out of my classroom and into other areas, not only at the school but into other departments throughout WCBDD. When discussing my projects with co-workers at WCBDD, one phrase I hear over and over is “Just tell me how I can help.” Whenever I ask for help with a project, I am awed by the amount of support and willingness to help”, says Jennifer.
When asked to share her best memories of working at Wood Lane School, Jennifer said: “This job is FUN and I have so many enjoyable moments throughout each school year! I design my lessons in many various sensory ways to enhance my students’ learning—we get our hands dirty; we make stuff to touch and feel and explore and taste. On any given day, I may come to work dressed as a famous leader, Harry Potter or a Pineapple. We have spirit days and wear crazy socks or pajamas. I have so much fun watching students and staff completing activities in my classroom: escape room challenges, festive team minute-to-win-it-challenges, daily trivia, and community outings. Not only can I bring the community to Wood Lane School, but I can bring my classroom to the community. We can go grocery shopping, practice community skills at local shops, visit sports teams at BGSU, visit with local police and fire departments and many more field trips. I get to have so much fun teaching our students! They say it takes a village to shape children and I appreciate the WCBDD village in supporting us to be the best educators for our community.”
Jennifer, you are a tremendous asset to the Wood Lane community because of your patient, caring and kind personality, your ability to develop positive relationships with students, families and co-workers, and your devotion to quality instruction. Thank you for all you do, but more importantly, THANK YOU for being who you are!
Staff: Zach Daugherty
When you meet Zach Daugherty, you will immediately notice that he has a certain positivity and energy about him that is infectious. He is an authentic outdoorsman and he is living proof that being connected to nature is good for a person’s happiness, health, and emotional well-being. “As early as I can remember I have always felt connected to nature”, says Zach. He acknowledges that he learned the beauty of nature from his parents as a result of the activities that they would do as a family. “We would go for walks in the woods or my dad would take me fishing, and my mom would teach me about nature too”. Even now as an adult he spends time exploring and discovering in the great outdoors.
“When I was younger, I was set on becoming a Herpetologist”, a zoologist who specializes in reptiles and amphibians. As a child, Zach would go out into the woods and see how many different species he could find, and he would put salamanders, turtles, and toads in terrariums for a few days so that he could study them more closely, and then return them to the wild. “I still go “herping” to this day” says Zach, “flipping over logs and looking around swamps for different reptiles and amphibians.”
To share his enthusiasm for nature, Zach has introduced his experiences to the Venturing Crew 352, our Adult Scouting group, for whom he is an advisor. He is currently doing a virtual Nature Talk on a variety of animals that are native to Wood County. He has also begun introducing nature to his nephew Aiden, age 3. On a recent excursion they hit the jackpot as they found 11 salamanders, 1 toad, and 3 spring peepers! Zach shared that he has kept reptiles and amphibians as pets his entire life and he currently has 2 fire-bellied newts, 1 eastern newt, and 1 tadpole, which he is growing into a frog. He is planning to add to his collection this year with some more newts, and next year, “I am getting a hognose snake!”, he exclaimed.
When asked about his motivation, Zach replied, “I am drawn to these animals because I feel they are misunderstood. A lot of people have a fear of animals like toads and snakes, but once you come to understand them, they are truly fascinating animals that are extremely important to their ecosystems. They are also the closest living thing to a dinosaur that we have!”
Integrity, honesty, humility and respect are qualities that Zach possesses, and these values certainly align with his love of nature. Being outdoors and observing nature teaches one respect, and Zach demonstrates respect through his actions: respect for diversity of people, cultures and practices, and respect for the time, space and needs of others. All without judgement.
By all accounts, Zach is a proud Michigander, and people may be surprised to learn he was born in Ohio, in the small town of Greenfield, between Columbus and Cincinnati. When he was 3 years old, his family relocated to Big Rapids, Michigan and that is where he grew up. Big Rapids is engulfed in nature—it is a small. west Michigan town located on the Muskegon River—and without a doubt, growing up in this setting influenced Zach’s love of the outdoors. Zach remembers many summer days as a child when “we would wake up, hop on our bikes, go down to the woods and stay there all day”. He admits that in addition to his family and the environment, he was also influenced by Steve Irwin and says, “I always wanted to be like the Crocodile Hunter.” The summers of Zach’s youth typically revolved around fishing, biking, sports, and exploring the outdoors.
Zach is very close with his family and has two younger brothers and an older sister. “We are all about 2 years apart, so we really got a chance to grow up together– as siblings and best friends”, says Zach. In addition to his nephew, he has a 1-year old niece. “I love to go on adventures with them any chance I can”. Zach considers his dog, Bodhi to be his best friend. “He has been with me through thick and thin and I enjoy spending time with him. He truly is the best dog!”, declared Zach.
Originally hired at WCBDD as a Special Olympics Program Specialist, over the past 2.5 years his position has evolved into a Recreational Therapist. In addition to coaching and organizing Special Olympic events and recreation outings, he has helped to establish a recreation therapy program and now also provides recreation therapy to persons served.
In his spare time, Zach’s hobbies include fishing, hiking, biking, disc golfing, going to concerts (Seether and Tool are a couple of his favorite bands) and watching movies. He is big fan of horror movies and loves all things “scary”. His favorite horror movie is the original Halloween (1978).
When asked to share the best part about working at Wood Lane, Zach said, “Spending time with the individuals we serve! I absolutely love getting to know and working with some of the most amazing people. Whether it is a Special Olympics event or a recreation program, getting to build a relationship with the people we serve is, hands down, the best part of working at Wood Lane. I have had the pleasure of seeing so many people accomplish goals that they or others may have never thought possible. It is an amazing atmosphere and I feel that everyone is pushing each other to grow individually and as a community. Regardless of where my life takes me, the people I have met through Wood Lane and the relationships I have built with them is something I will cherish forever”.
His favorite memory working at WCBDD? “It would have to be the camping/kayaking trip to Indiana with the Venturing Crew last year”, said Zach. “Going into the trip, nearly no one in the group had been in a kayak before and by the end of the weekend, we had successfully accomplished a 2-hour kayaking trip with no tip overs. More importantly, we pushed the boundaries of everyone’s comfort level and grew a little that day. It was a perfect day and I cannot wait to go back for a longer trip!”
A Fun Fact about Zach is that by the time he was 25 years old, he had already lived in four states and had attended five different colleges! This surely provides proof that, like a true outdoorsman, Zach possesses adaptability, and responds well to, even seeks out, challenges. With his positive attitude, intelligence and mental strength, Zach has all the skills of the kind of person you want to have on your team, and especially when there may be a crisis to handle, or when the chips are down.
Zach is a team player, and his understanding of inter-dependency is instinctual. “I love the balance and harmony found in nature” shared Zach. It is not surprising that his favorite quote is from Bruce Lee, a man who emphasized the importance of cultivating your truest self and to be in harmony with the world: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” This quote inspires Zach because he realizes that to become the master, when working on a goal you must put in the time, and the hours, and make the effort to learn more, and that is when you really discover your true self.
Zach is witty, fun to be around, and laughter comes easily to him. He has a loving, caring, kind, and friendly spirit, and as such, he is BELOVED by the athletes, persons served, and his co-workers. Zach, the WCBDD is so grateful for you and all that you do! THANK YOU for being the shining star that you are and for making a difference in the lives of everyone you meet!
Person Served: Kyle Lewis
This week on our #FeaturedFriday, we’re putting the spotlight on Kyle Lewis!
Anyone who knows Kyle Lewis knows he’s a sports fanatic. He eats, sleeps, and breathes all things athletics. As you may have guessed, he’s very involved in Wood County Special Olympics, participating in Bowling, Basketball, Flag Football, Golf, and Softball. But did you know he’s also a great ambassador for the program? Kyle is an athlete leader, which is a program through Special Olympics Ohio, and has been involved in making decisions for Wood County’s sports and program. He also had the opportunity to throw the first pitch at a Mudhen’s game last year wearing his Special Olympics jersey.
“When I think about Kyle, I think about leadership,” says Zach Daugherty, one of Kyle’s Special Olympic coaches. “He’s one of the athletes that other athletes can look up to. He’s very respectful and carries himself like a professional.”
When he’s not playing sports, there’s a good chance you can catch him watching them; he loves cheering on his favorite sports teams including the Yankees, Flyers, and Eagles. Kyle’s originally from Philadelphia, so it’s no surprise he’s an Eagle’s fan! He actually lived in several different states before moving to Ohio five years ago including Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Connecticut.
Playing and watching sports isn’t enough for this sports fan, he also has his dream job working for the Toledo Mud Hens and Walleye! His job responsibilities include scanning tickets and ushering people in. One of the best parts about these jobs is the friendships he’s been able to cultivate through them. Because of the pandemic, Kyle recently started a new GES position at First Solar so that he can earn money while the sports venues are closed.
On the rare occasion you find Kyle not doing something sports-related, you may catch him watching The Curse of Oak Island, a favorite show of his on the History Channel. He’s got theories about who left behind buried treasures on the island and will tell you all about it if you ask!
In terms of goals, Kyle said right now he is mainly working to save money for golf and to go to Florida, where his aunt lives. When asked what he likes to do when he goes to Florida, Kyle said, “I’m not much of a beach guy—after a couple hours I’m ready to leave and get back to golfing!”
Kyle, you’re a great addition to our Wood Lane community and a great role model in Special Olympics! We’re so grateful for all that you do and the example that you set!
Person Served: Virginia Nuzum
Our #FeaturedFriday spotlight is on Virginia Nuzum!
Virginia likes to be out in the open air–she values both the mental and physical benefits that it brings her. In fact, one of her favorite pastimes is sitting outside and reading. Another outdoor activity that Virginia loves? She has a passion for growing plants and gardening! She currently helps tend a large, beautiful garden at her home where they grow a variety of vegetables and flowers.
Virginia and every gardener will tell you, “working in a garden is hard work, but very rewarding work”. Truthfully, working in a garden is an act of love, so it makes perfect sense to consider that gardening is a complementary expression of who Virginia is-a very loving, caring and compassionate person. She is the epitome of kindness and her kindness extends to plants, birds, animals, children and every other living thing.
Given her devotion to gardening, you will not be surprised to learn that one of her goals is to get a job in a greenhouse or at a nursery.
Persistence and tenacity are traits that Virginia possesses, as demonstrated by her recent efforts to achieve a long-standing goal of hers. After many months of trying, which were riddled with delays and setbacks, Virginia received her guardianship! Now that she has achieved legal autonomy, she can independently make important decisions for herself. While she understands and values the need to consult with others for information and advice, she is now able to make these decisions solely on her own.
Another goal that Virginia is working towards is living on her own. She would like to move into an apartment with a roommate. Further proof of her personal strength is her strong work ethic and the fact that she enjoys working. She just got a job at the library that she is quite excited about!
Virginia is someone with energy and dynamism and is a very involved self-advocate. She consistently supports the service projects of the AKtion Club. She is the Secretary of People First and traveled to the Ohio Statehouse in March for DD Awareness Day to speak with our legislators. Additionally, she is an Ambassador for Best Buddies and has attended the National Convention at Indiana University. She especially enjoys hanging out and attending sporting events with her Best Buddies BGSU partner, Riley.
“Virginia has a positive attitude, a great sense of humor and always has a smile on her face”, says her friend, Kim Paxton. “I have attended Synergy and Best Buddies with her and she is fun to be around, whether it is a late-night impromptu pizza party in our dorm at Best Buddies, or working alongside her on a project at Celebrate EDU”, shared Kim. “I can also tell you that she loves to move and groove on the dance floor, although she is not a morning person. She does love her coffee!”
Like flowers in a garden, Virginia is vibrant and lovely. Like a true gardener, she is a unique blend of patience, vision, curiosity, creativity, and wisdom. Virginia—the WCBDD is grateful for you, your ability to make the world a more beautiful place, and your willingness to spread your sunshine everywhere you go!
DSP of the Month: Jessica Wiggins
It’s time for another #FeaturedFriday! Jessica Wiggins is the Wood County Board of DD Direct Support Professional of the Month for July 2020. Jessica was nominated by Arianna Brooks, Katie Kramer, and Jenna Gable for her exceptional work as the Residential Home Manager of the children’s home.
Jessica is a person you can count on to get things done. She is dependable and always willing to help. Not only will she get the job done, but she will do it with a BIG smile too! Jessica is a positive influence on the lives of others. She can find the silver lining for anything. Even if everything seems to be going wrong, she will find at least one thing going right.
Jessica understands the balance between learning and playing. She makes learning daily living skills and makes playing meaningful. Jessica can be found in the backyard playing pirates or superheroes with the children of the home she manages. She isn’t afraid to get dirty or bring some snow boots to play. Jessica makes up games for chores and provides praise for accomplishing tasks. She is a leader and role model! We love her!
Staff Highlight: Mike Stanford
Today on our #FeaturedFriday, we’re putting the spotlight on the man, the myth, the legend…Mike Stanford! Mike has worked at the Wood County Board of DD for 10 years, starting out as a custodian before making the switch to administrative assistant two years ago. Whenever you walk back to Entrance D, you are sure to be greeted by Mike with a friendly smile and good conversation. He usually has a joke or two up his sleeve, so if you see him be sure to ask for one—you won’t be disappointed!
Anyone who knows Mike knows he is creative and takes initiative to make his many ideas into reality. These qualities help make him a great leader in his role as President of People First. He is a great advocate, always ready and willing to speak up about the things he is passionate about. This past fall he had the chance to speak about the importance of inclusion at a Not in Our Town rally and did a phenomenal job!
In addition to People First, Mike participates in Aktion Club and Special Olympics golf, volleyball, and swimming. He is also currently working towards a healthy lifestyle and is in the process of starting a YouTube channel to document his wellness journey! In his free time, Mike enjoys singing karaoke. You can catch his daily performances on Engage! Wood Lane. He also enjoys hanging out with friends, playing Super Mario Brothers 3, and is a big fan of parmesan garlic wings from Bdubbs (good choice, Mike!!)
Mike is a bright light and has a positive impact on his many co-workers and friends at Wood County DD. When asked what his favorite part of working at the board is, Mike said, “Seeing all the different faces every day and the good friendships I’ve made!” I think it’s safe to say we’re all thankful for your friendship too, Mike!
Staff Highlight: Rhonda Kendall
Our #FeaturedFriday focus is on Rhonda Kendall!! Rhonda is the Executive Administrative Assistant at the WCBDD and has worked here for 26 years. “How many people can honestly say that they love their job?”, asks Rhonda. “I love my job! I’m sure most of us believe they have the best job, but I am pretty sure mine is the best!”, she exclaimed.
This genuine affinity that Rhonda feels for her work permeates through every action and interaction that she makes at the WCBDD. Professionally, Rhonda is second to none, as demonstrated in her competence, her interpersonal skills, and her integrity. As a person, Rhonda exudes love and care, and her mega-watt smile is symbolic of her bright and fun personality. Understandably, she is respected and beloved by her colleagues.
Among persons served, and especially by the members of AKtion Club, Rhonda is affectionately referred to as “Mama Kendall”. In our society we use the word “Mama” as a term of endearment. “Mama” refers to someone who takes care of others, and who looks after everyone. Additional descriptive words like nurturer, supporter, and protector, come to mind. All of this describes Rhonda to a “T”! That she earned this moniker speaks volumes about the quality of the relationships she develops.
To Rhonda, family is everything. She and her husband Shad have been married for 28 years and they have two daughters, Alexis, 26 and Katlyn, 23. To make it even more special, they welcomed their first granddaughter, Maelyn Sue, into the world this year! Born in February, Maelyn Sue, daughter of Alexis and her husband Kenny, immediately stole Grandma Rhonda’s and Grandpa Shad’s hearts. Having a grand baby “put an additional sparkle in my eyes, and my heart grew beyond anything I ever imagined” shared Rhonda. Katlyn is attending BGSU and pursuing a degree in Biology. “I’m proud of our girls and couldn’t be more grateful that I am their mom”, said Rhonda.
The Kendall family is quite fond of traveling and vacationing. Vacation mode can take on many forms for the Kendall’s including camping, cruising the ocean, jetting off to other states, or trying their luck at the casinos in Vegas. One of their favorite places to visit is Nashville, which they describe as a must-see. They enjoy spending time with friends and consider them family too! Summertime is Rhonda’s favorite time of the year, when they can spend their weekends on their camper and relaxing in the sun on their boat.
For Rhonda, one of the joys of working at the WCBDD is the realization that each day is different. She especially enjoys the times when she gets to interact with the children at Wood Lane School. “They definitely brighten my day”, says Rhonda, and she feels blessed to be able to call WCBDD “my home away from home”.
One of Rhonda’s most memorable experiences working at the WCBDD occurred about 3 years ago. “I worked at the WCBDD for 23 years before I truly felt I had a purpose”, says Rhonda. “Then I became the AKtion Club Liaison and that was a life changing event for me”, Rhonda shared, recalling how she felt after she facilitated her first meeting. “I remember feeling so much compassion and love for all persons served, and especially my AKtion Club family. They are kindhearted, driven, thoughtful and all around amazing!”
Rhonda, a.k.a. “Mama Kendall”, we think YOU are amazing! The Wood Lane community is grateful for you, that you are a part of our family, and that you call the WCBDD “home”.
DSP of the Month: Danille Best
June’s DSP of the Month is the amazing Danille Best, of 1st Choice Family! Danille is all heart when it comes to her job, doing whatever it takes to make sure the people she serves are happy and have what they need. Not wanting individuals to be exposed throughout this pandemic, she has worked many hours, above and beyond her typical schedule. Danille can do it all–whether preparing meals, shopping, exercising, budgeting for adorable crafts, all while taking care of her own family!
Danille doesn’t look for praise or recognition, she just wants to make sure the people she works with are supported, healthy, and happy. Thank you Danille for all that you do to!
Person Served Highlight:
This #FeaturedFriday focus is on April Watson! The amazing April has an incredibly dynamic personality—she is fun-loving, kind, caring, friendly, and out-going. Given her keen sense of humor, smiling and laughter come easily to her.
“A person-magnet” is a phrase that accurately describes April and she thoroughly enjoys meeting new people. If you have ever spent even just a few minutes around April, you will most likely witness her introducing herself to someone new. The truth is, with her magnetism and high level of confidence, she could probably teach a class on self-introductory skills!
April is the consummate Ambassador. “We put April’s skills to good use”, said Victoria Denison, her home Supervisor. “Whenever there are visitors or a potential new staff member at the home, April takes the lead by introducing them to the residents and gives them a tour of the house. I just follow along.”
April has been working on developing her walking abilities as well as doing her PT Exercises every day in order to gain more strength. When she first began working on this goal, she could walk 100-150 steps, and only practiced every couple of days. She was hesitant at the beginning and had to be reminded to practice. It was hard work! With encouragement, and as she saw improvement, she gained confidence and pride. “She is being more proactive and taking initiative when it comes to this goal”, says Victoria. She is now able to walk over 300 steps! There has been a BIG difference in her ability. A goal that she would like to achieve is to be able to walk well enough so that she can be responsible for running the snack cart at WCBDD.
Activities that April participates in include being a member of People First, as she is passionate about advocating for and with people with special needs. She is also a member of Aktion Club and enjoys the various projects and helping in the community. Other activities include Special Olympics Bowling and Miracle League Baseball, which provide time for her to be with her friends, interact, and do a fun activity. She is an Ambassador for Best Buddies and looks forward to hanging out with her BGSU Partner Buddy.
April works at Via Quest and she has shown that she is ready and willing to accept a high level of responsibility. Her responsibilities include delivering the mail several times a week. She also monitors the front desk, another outlet for her to express her outstanding people skills.
During her spare time, April enjoys listening to music, practicing her math skills, and video chats. She loves to watch videos-there are no real favorites, she likes to watch it all! April is naturally curious, inquisitive, likes to learn new things, and she understands the value of asking questions to enhance her learning. She is fiercely loyal to both people and ideas, and has no difficulty speaking her mind. Did I mention that April loves to talk? She especially loves to talk on the phone!
April, you are truly a gem, and certainly one of a kind! We are so grateful for you and the ray of sunshine that you provide for everyone you meet!
Staff Highlight: Rachel Smith
Our #FeaturedFriday spotlight is shining on Rachel Smith! When you meet Rachel, you will become instantly aware that she is a people person, through and through. She is sociable, outgoing, and enjoys helping others, has a bright smile, an infectious laugh, and a sparkle in her eyes!
Rachel freely admits that her life revolves around her family and friends. She and her husband Alex live in Grand Rapids, OH and have two daughters, Adeline and Riley. While spending time with family brings tremendous joy to Rachel, they have a granddaughter, McKinley, “who we cannot get enough of!”
At the WCBDD, Rachel serves as the Administrative Assistant for the Health & Safety Department, which includes Health & Safety, Maintenance, Transportation and Custodial. Without question, the aspects of this job keep her busy, but she says she loves all the interesting challenges. In tackling these challenges, Rachel relies on her keen intellect, attention to detail and problem-solving skills. She came to the WCBDD after being in a corporate setting and has worked here for nine years.
When asked what her favorite thing was about working at the WCBDD, Rachel enthusiastically replied “the people!”. She is inspired by the genuineness and dedication of the staff, and she especially loves interacting with the people we serve. “They are the highlight of most of my days!”, says Rachel.
Rachel’s favorite memory about working here was when she competed in the Special Olympics vs Staff Swim Meet. Rachel recalled, “While most of the athletes like to throw out their typical “smack talk” prior to each event, they also gave encouragement before, and kudos after, every event. And yes, Maggie Hunt kicked my behind in the backstroke!”
When she is not at work, Rachel enjoys spending time playing with McKinley, working on restoring their home, or having game nights with friends and family. She is excited that summer is right around the corner because that means that she will be able to spend her time doing one of her favorite pastimes—Boating! Summer also provides opportunities to enjoy the sun, surfing, wake boarding, and music with her family and friends. Rachel said, “I love everything about it!”
Speaking of music, Rachel is an aficionado, and has a special knack for being able to name the artist for “almost” every song out there. Additionally, Rachel counts herself as a huge fan of college basketball (specifically March Madness), college football (Go Bucks!), crime shows, cooking, and has run three half marathons. Another fun fact about Rachel is that her Mom is from France. She has traveled to France twice to see family and is currently planning her third trip!
Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your beautiful self and your zest for life with us! You truly are a shining light, you radiate the Wood Lane mission, and you help make the WCBDD a great place to be!
Staff Highlight: Jenny Bailey
Today for our #FeaturedFriday, we’re putting the spotlight on the amazing Jenny Bailey. Jenny recently celebrated her 2nd “workiversary” here at Wood County Board of DD in March and while her official title is “Vehicle Operator”, she is truly a “jack-of-all-trades” on campus. She’ll try to tell you she’s a master-of-none but don’t be fooled, in addition to driving buses, she also subs as a cook in the cafeteria and as an instructor aid in the classrooms as needed and does a fantastic job wherever she is.
Originally hailing from Lima, OH, Jenny grew up in a large family—she has 7 brothers and 4 sisters—and “the best parents a child could ever wish for!”. Her parents also raised 3 of her mom’s siblings. She and her best friend have been friends since they were 5 and still hang out and have lots of fun together. If you talk with Jenny, you’ll quickly learn that her family, especially her children and grandchildren, mean everything to her. She has 4 grandchildren, Kaitlyn, Adrian, Acaiden, and Avaya, and affectionately refers to them as “my grands” because of how grand and precious they are to her. She loves spending time with them and making their time together as fun and memorable as possible.
When she’s not with her grandkids, Jenny enjoys dancing, hanging out with her friends, anything outdoors, and traveling with her sister. Together they have been to Ireland twice, Iceland, Canada, and have driven through or visited 38 of the 50 states in the U.S and hope to see them all. She LOVES music and says it is a great influence in her life. She has a very eclectic taste, but her favorite is rock. A few years ago, she won backstage passes and front row tickets to see her favorite bands Shinedown and Godsmack and took her surprised and very excited granddaughter for her birthday! She says “we got the royal treatment from Shinedown…and it was a night we will never forget!”
When asked what the best part of working at Wood County Board of DD is, Jenny said, “I love the kids that I get to work with and the staff! It is so nice to work at a place that makes you feel valued and appreciated, and I feel that here.” Jenny, we are so grateful for all that you do to help support, empower, and inspire our community!
Staff Highlight: Kristin Fisher
Today on our #FeaturedFriday, we’re putting the spotlight on the one and only Kristin Fisher! Kristin has worked at the Wood County Board of DD for 11 years as an administrative assistant. Kristin works in the school building and loves interacting with the students when they stop in the front office. She has a way of putting others at ease with her friendly demeanor and iconic, “Good morning, Wood Lane!” when answering the phones.
Kristin is involved with Wood Lane activities including AKtion Club, Special Olympics, Venturing Crew, and other recreation outings. An avid animal lover, you may find her volunteering out at the Wood County Humane Society and playing with the pups. Kristin also has three dogs of her own, Copper, Angel, and Roxy. She is an on-the-go kind of girl and has been to some amazing places including Turks and Caicos, and St. Lucia! Even with a stay-at-home order in place, Kristin still doesn’t slow down. She says she has been keeping busy with virtual work meetings and rec activities. She has also been trying to get in some form of exercise each day and connect with friends and co-workers through video chat.
When asked what the best part of working for Wood County Board of DD is, Kristin said, “I love my co-workers and meeting new friends!” Kristin, the feeling is mutual! We love you and are so glad you are a part of our Wood Lane family—it just wouldn’t be the same without you!
DSP of the Month: Barb Wise
Our DSP of the Month is Bard Wise! Many may also recognize her as “Grandma Barb”. For the past 5 years, Barb has worked as a DSP for C&J TenderHeart, an agency provider which provides Homemaker Personal Care supports to many individuals with intense needs.
Grandma Barb has always gone above and beyond to provide exemplary services for individuals served. During the current COVID19 pandemic, Barb has continued to support individuals in their homes even assisting during quarantines. She offers emotional and physical supports and helps alleviate anxieties of the people she serves and her coworkers. This is just one example of the many wonderful gifts Barb shares!
Most days, you will find Barb advocating for individuals at medical and psychiatric appointments and then on the sidelines of Special Olympic events, being everyone’s biggest cheerleader! Barb is not only a team player within the agency, but also when working with the County Board. Barb is the first to rearrange her schedule to attend as many team meetings as possible, and the first to directly reach out to the service coordinators of those she serves if she feels their needs are not being met!
We cannot thank you enough Grandma Barb for everything that you do for the clients you work with! Your love, support, and advocacy surely does not go unnoticed!
Person Served: Brandyn Broshious
It’s time for another #FeaturedFriday, and this week we’re putting the spotlight on…drum roll please…Brandyn Broshious!
Anyone who knows Brandyn know he’s easy-going and loves to have fun. He is a member of AKtion Club and is very active in Wood County Special Olympics Basketball, Volleyball, Flag Football, and Softball. Truly an athlete, Brandyn is also amazing at Zumba! Did you know he’s been doing Zumba for 9 years and aspires to be a Zumba instructor?? I think we’d all enjoy being in your class, Brandyn!
In addition to his busy sports schedule, Brandyn has also been working at All About the Kids in Bowling Green for almost a year now. He assists the teachers when needed and makes sure the facility stays clean. He says the best part about working there is getting to know the kids and playing with them.
In his free time, Brandyn enjoys playing video games, watching T.V., and hanging out with his friends Jordan, Zach, and Elena. During the summer he also likes going on bike rides. Ever the thrill-seeker, Brandyn likes to visit Cedar Point and ride the roller coasters. He’s also a big fan of Halloween and going to the haunted houses at HalloWeekends.
When asked if there’s anything else he’d like to share with the community, Brandyn said, “Go Wildcats!!” Brandyn, we’re so glad you’re a part of the Wood Lane family. You contribute so much positivity and kindness, and we can’t imagine our community without you!!
Person Served: Zach Parcher
If you are looking for a person who has significant goals and knows what it takes to achieve his goals, look no further than Zach Parcher. This week our #FeaturedFriday spotlight is on Zach Parcher.
Not only does Zach have goals, but he is quite motivated to achieve his goals. One major goal that Zach has been working toward is finding a permanent full-time job with benefits. He knows that through hard work and by putting himself out there so people can see that he has what it takes to be a good employee, these efforts will have a positive impact on helping him to achieve this goal.
For the past two years, Zach has been participating in the Wood Lane Apprentice program with the WL Maintenance Department. The program was designed to prepare participants for full time employment. During his time in the program, Zach has acquired skills used by electricians and plumbers. He has learned about snow removal and how to use a snowplow, how to work a chain saw, and to use other tools.
“The skills I have learned I can use for other jobs in the future. I think the apprentice program is a successful program. I have enjoyed it and I have learned a lot”, says Zach. As for his goals for future employment, Zach shared that he would love to be full time in the job that he has now.
Another goal that Zach is working on is improving his cooking skills and his daily living skills. “I am learning how to make my Mom’s homemade Mac and Cheese”. Some of his favorite things to prepare are grilled hamburgers and spaghetti, although he admitted that he does not yet know how to make his Mom’s homemade spaghetti sauce and the store-bought jar version does just fine for now. Additional skills he is learning include how to take care of his money, go grocery shopping, cleaning and doing laundry, and learning to be out on his own.
Zach is a skilled athlete and an avid sports fan. He is active in Special Olympics Sports including Volleyball, Basketball, Softball, Golf, Flag Football and Bowling.
During his spare time, he is a Volunteer at Wood Lane School, enjoys playing golf, hanging out with his friends, and playing video games every once and a while. He also enjoys going to the beach in North Carolina. This year he joined Best Buddies.
Recently Zach strengthened his advocacy skills during his trip to the Ohio Statehouse for DD Advocacy Day. “I got to speak with my legislators Senator Gavarone and Representative Ghanbari and talk with them about important topics. I shared with them the importance of increasing Special Olympics opportunities so that there are more sports and more people participating. We talked about the importance of accessibility for people with disabilities and for people who use a wheelchair. I also told them about the WL Apprentice program and how it is preparing me for employment. I enjoyed that trip to Columbus.”
While Zach knows the importance of taking action to achieve his goals, he also recognizes that his family is a good support system for him. “They are pushing me to be who I can be and they strongly support me in the things that I choose to do and want to do.”
Zach definitely recognizes that goal setting is the cornerstone of personal success. More importantly, he understands that applying hard work to his goals will propel him to achieve his goals. We are grateful for Zach, his leadership, and the positive energy that he contributes to the Wood Lane CommUNITY!
Staff Highlight: Danielle Perkins
This week, our #FeaturedFriday spotlight is on Danielle Perkins. It is said that the things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling. Danielle Perkins recognized at a young age that she had a passion for working with children. Following her dreams meant that becoming an educator was the only profession that made sense for her to pursue.
The WCBDD is grateful that Danielle honored that deep belief and answered the call! Danielle currently serves as the Coordinator of our Early Intervention department. Her professional path began at Bowling Green State University where she earned her degree in Early Childhood Education. She has been at WCBDD for nine years and her professional experiences includes opportunities to work with children in classroom, hospital and home- based settings.
“I love the variety that my job brings”, Danielle said reflecting on her favorite part about working at the WCBDD. “I enjoy meeting and working with a variety of children and families each with unique strengths, needs, and experiences. I enjoy the variety of people I work alongside and learn from (co-workers, departments, and agencies). I enjoy the day to day variety of being in the office and out and about in our community…every day is different!”
Danielle lives in Findlay with her husband, Chad, their son Cohen, who is 13, and their daughter Zoe, who is 9. She enjoys watching movies, eating ice cream, and attending sporting and music events with her family and friends. When not working she can be found on the sidelines and in the audience at her children’s events and volunteering with their schools. Danielle serves on the steering committee for Susan G Komen Race for the Cure Findlay Race and she also coaches her daughter’s soccer team.
Danielle brings an incredible variety of attributes and skills to her work, including intelligence, empathy, problem-solving, the delightful way that she interacts with all people, and a “get it done” approach to projects and tasks.
When asked to comment on what she has learned in her current role she said, “My position has taught me the importance of relationships. I have had the privilege of celebrating great successes and firsts with families, as well as sharing in heartbreaks such as the death of a child or a challenging diagnosis. I am fortunate to work with a team that supports each other during all these highs and lows that life and work throw at us.”
The truth is, the children of Wood County and the WCBDD are truly the fortunate ones. Thank you, Danielle, for honoring your passion and sharing your gifts, and for making a difference in people’s lives you touch!
Person Served: Ethan Sayler
This week’s #FeaturedFriday focus is on Ethan Sayler! Ethan, aged 15, is a freshman at BGHS, and is someone who can definitely be described as a fun-loving guy! But did you know that Ethan has a love for animals too? His pets include two guinea pigs, two hermit crabs, and various fish. Makes me wonder if this guy will become a veterinarian when he gets older?!?!
In addition to his pets, Ethan’s family consists of his Mom and Dad, two sisters, Hannah and Grace, and his brother Grant. He and his family are very actively involved with helping and supporting local food pantries.
Right now, much of Ethan’s focus and energy is spent on trying to keep up on his schoolwork. He is a member of 4H and is working on planting seeds to grow for his vegetable garden project.
During his free time, Ethan enjoys fishing, hanging out with his friend Trent, and going on Facebook. His hobbies include Bowling, and he was a member of the Bobcat bowling team. He also plays hockey for the Black Swamp Ice Frogs.
At Wood Lane, Ethan participates in the Recreation program activities and Special Olympics. He is looking forward to joining the Venturing Crew soon. Since he is still in high school, he doesn’t have a job but he does help his neighbors with their yard work, like grass mowing, pulling weeds, and shoveling snow.
Ethan wanted to be sure to give a shout out to Special Olympics: “I would like to say I really miss my coaches Zach and Jacob and give a shout out to all my friends, like Trent, Brandon, Larry, Zach, Dennis, Anne, Kim, George and many other friends I miss”.
Thank you, Ethan, for being the amazing young man that you are, and for all of the FUN, the kindness and the caring that you contribute to the Wood Lane CommUNITY!
Staff Highlight: Kathy Mangas
This week on our #FeaturedFriday, we’re putting the spotlight on Kathy Mangas, a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant at Wood Lane School. Kathy got her start at Wood County Board of DD in 1989, originally working in the same position but with Adult Services through Wood Lane Industries and Wood Lane Residential. She moved over to the school 20 years ago, and just recently celebrated her 30th year at Wood County Board of DD!
Kathy and her husband Jeff have been married for almost 27 years and have three children. Benjamin is 22 and graduated from BGSU last year and will be getting married soon! They also have twin daughters, Jenna and Jessica, both freshmen at Ohio State. Kathy and her husband spent a lot of time watching cheerleading events, basketball and gymnastics when their kids were in school and are now adjusting to being “empty nesters”. In her spare time, you may find Kathy reading, spending time outside in the summer, and taking family vacations to her parent’s cottage in Canada.
A dedicated employee, Kathy is known by her co-workers for being reliable and consistent. She is great about knowing her schedule and sticking with it, which is helpful for the kids she works with. She’s also very handy and can problem-solve to successfully fix most equipment, whether it’s a wheelchair wheel or a walker. She’s very knowledgeable about OT and is adept at thinking outside the box to find creative solutions to help the kids she works with reach and exceed their goals.
When asked what her favorite part of working at Wood County Board of DD is, Kathy said, “the best part of working here is the daily interactions I have with students and staff. I enjoy the challenges and rewards each day brings. I feel fortunate to be part of a team that supports and assists our students to be successful every day.”
It’s easy to see that Kathy exemplifies what it means to support, empower, and inspire people and we know how lucky we are to have her!
Staff Highlight: Tricia Peters
This week on our #FeaturedFriday, we’re highlighting Tricia Peters! Tricia will be celebrating 30 years with Wood Co. Board of DD this spring, and throughout her time here she has held several jobs. She got her start teaching individuals daily living skills on the weekends. From there, she worked as a Job Developer/Employment Specialist and then as a Service Coordinator. In November of 2019, she became an Employment Navigator and now works with students as they transition from school to the world of work. Tricia has had an amazing career with us and was honored at the National APSE Convention in Alabama. She also received the Best Practices in Supported Employment Award.
When she’s not working, you may find Tricia and her significant other Jason camping near wineries and golf courses, and spending time at their cottage. Tricia is also very family-oriented and enjoys spending time with her children. Her son Haiden is 26 and has a business of his own, Veteran Tree and Landscape LLC, is married to his wife Erin, and has a white German Shepherd named Opie. Her daughter Aubrey is 22 and a senior marketing major at BGSU. She and her significant other, Tom have Hank, a Black Lab
Tricia contributes so much positivity to Wood County Board of DD, and when asked what the best part of working here was, she answered, “Meeting new people and being able to empower individuals to improve their lives”.
Empowering those we serve is truly something Tricia excels at, as her co-workers said, “Trisha is a great advocate and support for those she serves. She has been with the Board for many years, and her passion, dedication, and experience have been invaluable as we develop our Transition Team.” Tricia, thank you so much for supporting, empowering, and inspiring our community! Be sure to thank Tricia for all that she does when you see her or drop a comment down below!
DSP of the Month: Missy Toney
Our DSP of the Month for March is Missy Toney! Missy has been working with people with disabilities for over 20 years and she is truly a gem. When employed with the county board, she was instrumental in making the Out and Abouters a unique success enabling people who would have otherwise not been able to get into the community, to have meaningful and engaging experiences. She sets standards for individuals receiving Vocational Habilitation and Group Employment so that they are prepared for Community Employment. Recently one of our staff members needed to take an extended leave and Missy stepped up to assist with our CJS crew. She is highly respected by her peers and is quick to help anyone in need. During her own time, she picks up individuals and makes sure that their holidays are filled and worthwhile, often inviting them to her own family functions.
Student Highlight: Drew Tokar
Our #FeaturedFriday this week is the one and only Drew Tokar! Drew is a senior at Wood Lane School and was recently nominated for Student of the Month from the Wood Co. Educational Service Center.
Drew is a good listener and loves music! He always rises to the occasion and demonstrates perseverance when faced with adversity. He is very active and swims, bowls, and participates in challenger baseball. When he’s at school he often helps bring things to the office when needed and enjoys technology and playing games with his classmates on the computer. He also has a blast doing exercise classes in the gym.
He is currently involved with vocational exploration and does custodial work as he prepares for his next steps. He is also busy visiting several other programs he may participate with in the future.
Drew, we are so proud of you and excited to see what the future holds for you! Go Wildcats!
Staff Highlight: Kim Paxton
Woohoo, it’s time for another #FeaturedFriday, and this week we’re putting the spotlight on the one and only Kim Paxton….better known as Kim Possible around here!
Kim has worked at Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities since 2016 as an Administrative Assistant. Throughout her time here she’s learned how to do many different tasks related to her job including creating ISP letters for monthly meetings and putting data into the computer system. She enjoys coming into work each day and is grateful for the support she receives from her co-workers.
Family is important to Kim—she has 3 siblings and 11 nieces and nephews. She’s also very adventurous and has traveled as far as Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world! When she’s not traveling, you may find Kim at a People First or AKtion Club meeting. She is also involved in Special Olympics and Venturing Crew.
Kim is a compassionate employee and friend who is never too busy to ask someone how they’re doing. She remembers the things that are important to you and is always willing to lend a helping hand. When asked what the best part of working at Wood County Board of DD is, she said, “Wood Lane is like a big family. The staff is amazing and very supportive!” She also wanted to be sure to give a shout out to “mama Kendall” for being the “best supervisor!
Kim, you are a part of what makes the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities so wonderful, and we are grateful for the work you do! Thank you for working to better our community and supporting, empowering, and inspiring others.
Staff Highlight: Danielle Galbraith
It’s time for another #FeaturedFriday and today, we’re putting the spotlight on Danielle Galbraith, an amazing employee here at Wood County Board of DD. Danielle just recently celebrated her 10th year at Wood Lane and we are so glad to have her on our team!
Danielle began her career in 2006 as a DSP at WLRS. After working there for a few years, she made the move to Wood County Board of DD in 2009 as a sub employee. A year later she was hired as a full-time Production Specialist and since then has held various positions including Job Coach, Service Coordinator, and most recently a Behavior Support Specialist.
Danielle is married to her best friend, Juston, and together they have four beautiful children Tianna (13), Jayla (8), Jacoby (7), and Jessa (5). Danielle and Juston are very involved in their community softball program and oversee the Elmwood Spring Softball Program for grades 3-8. They also coach one of the teams and put on a two-day winter softball clinic for all Elmwood Elementary and Middle School. That’s not all though! Danielle also recently started coaching volleyball for Elmwood 3rd and 4th graders and is a member of the Village of Wayne’s Welcoming Committee—a committee that organizes family-friendly events in the community.
When asked about the best part of working for Wood County Board of DD, Danielle said, “there are many ‘best parts’ of working here, but one I hope to be remembered for is by positively making a difference in the lives of others! It is a VERY rewarding feeling to see how doing something little can truly make such a positive and influential impact on the people we serve and their families!”
Danielle, you add so much positivity and encouragement to the Wood County Board of DD, and we are grateful for all that you do for the community!
DSP of the Month: Tracy Swartz
Our DSP of the Month for February is Tracy Swartz! Tracy was nominated by Jen Graf (WLRS, Retired) and Tina Wilson (WLRS).
Tracy has worked for WLRS for 33 years and is a great asset to the WLRS team. She goes above and beyond with every individual she works with and has always done all that she can to best support them. She is also incredibly supportive of her co-workers, taking the time to listen when needed and making everyone’s day better. Tracy stands out as a DSP because when all fails, she can be depended on to get what needs to be done, done.
Cindy Minnick, WLRS Support Service Manager, shared “I would like to add that Tracy is also a wonderful resource and trainer for her peers. She makes sure that they have all the information they need when they are learning the job, and this continues after they have completed training. She makes sure they know where and how they can get support. She also makes us laugh and makes sure we have fun at work! I appreciate her very much!”
Outside of work, Tracy likes to read all kinds of books, but she really enjoys self-help books. She also likes to spend time with her neighbors and tend to her garden in the summer. Tracy is always up for spending time with friends, but she does enjoy her solitude.
Tracy, we are so thankful for all the work you do! Your work makes a difference in the lives of so many people within our community, and we appreciate your commitment to supporting, empowering, and inspiring those within Wood County.
Person Served: Nick Woods
This week we’re excited to announce our #FeaturedFriday is…Nick Woods!
Nick is an avid superhero fan, and Batman is one of his favorites. You may have guessed that he loves watching superhero movies, but he also enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, going to the movie theater and working out at home or the BG Community Center.
Nick currently works at the Heritage Inn Nursing Home in Bowling Green as a member of the housekeeping department. He is responsible for cleaning residents’ rooms. Nick loves his job, his coworkers, and interacting with the residents.
Ally, Nick’s service coordinator, describes Nick as a guy who always works to better himself, and consistently identifies goals for himself and works to see them come to fruition. Over the past year, one of these goals has been to get his driver’s license. Nick has worked very diligently towards this goal, practicing and completing many driver’s training hours with Capabilities. It looks like Nick’s hard work and dedication paid off because just a few weeks ago he took his driving exam and passed! We think this is a huge cause for celebration!
Now that he has his license, he is saving money to purchase his own Honda Civic to get around. He is also currently working on his next goal of moving into an apartment with his roommate, Marshal. Nick LOVES dogs of all breeds and sizes, and his long-term goal is to eventually get his own dog and would really love a Husky.
Wow, Nick! We think you are unstoppable when you set your mind to something. Seeing you work towards your goals and achieve them is an inspiration for all of us, and we can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.
Person Served: Sean Pierce
This week we are highlighting Sean Pierce. Sean is a guy who likes adventure and this trait has motivated him to be very involved with Scouting and Wood Lane’s Venturing Crew 352! Some of his favorite activities with Venturing Crew are camping, geo mapping, and helping wildlife.
Not only is Sean an accomplished Scout, he also lives his life very closely to one of the teachings of Scouting– “Do a good turn daily.” When asked about his goals, Sean said “I’m focusing on having a better life and helping people. Whenever I’m needed, I’ll help!”
Sean also actively participates in the Recreation activities that are offered each month and enjoys going out to eat and seeing plays and musicals. During his spare time, Sean likes to watch tv, go to the movies, play Wii games and help his mom. “I am very social”, says Sean. “I like to spend time with my family and friends”.
Sean is employed at Heritage Corner as a dishwasher. Knowing Sean’s background as a Scout, it is not surprising to learn that he has a strong work ethic. “I am recognized as a hard worker” by my co-workers, says Sean.
Sean’s personal goals include improving his social skills and working on eliminating his self-talk.
You have probably already gathered that Sean is a fine young man with many interests. When asked if there is anything else that he would like to share with the Wood Lane community he said “I’d like to wish everyone a happy day! I’d like everyone to have a better life and to see more people smile”.
Sean, we are so grateful to know you. Thank you for being the consummate Scout that you are– for sharing your cheery smile, providing a helping hand to others, and for your contributions to making the world a better place!
Staff Highlight: Lynne Beard
This week’s Featured Friday person says that her favorite places and things involve water, sand, and a good book. This week we are highlighting the loving, caring and creative Lynne Beard, Administrative Assistant to the Director of Children’s Services. In addition to her affinity for reading, Lynne loves to travel and after returning from an enjoyable trip, she secures their memories by creating a scrapbook with the photos and mementos collected during the trip.
Lynne and her husband Mark have been married 31 years and are raising 3 boys, Christopher (21), Nicholas (20), and Jacob (17). Both Mark and Lynne are from Pemberville, but they have lived in Perrysburg for 21 years. Lynne has a degree in Music Education from BGSU, however with the realization that she is not actually using it, she has been a long-time member of the BGSU University Choral Society and gives her the opportunity to stay connected with her love of music and singing.
Lynne’s family has had a place on Lake Erie for 35 years and now that her sons are older, she and Mark have enjoyed many weekends at the lake exploring new restaurants and entertaining friends and family. Jake, their youngest, keeps she and her husband busy with his participation in the travel lacrosse team for the past 9 years. These travel opportunities have not only allowed them to support and cheer for Jake, but also to visit different places and to connect with many other families who are also traveling with the Lacrosse team. Christopher and Nick are both at University of Toledo following their dreams and spreading their wings. Lynne is looking forward to her next big adventure in June traveling for 2 weeks with her siblings through Europe as they follow the pilgrimage of their ancestors.
Lynne began working at Wood Lane in 2011 as a Bus Aide. After the years when she stayed at home with her kids, she found this new part-time work was quite enjoyable and a great way to ease back into employment. It didn’t take long before she realized how much she loved working with persons served! In 2013, Lynne became a Vehicle Operator and drove a bus for one year before finding a position in the front office at the school where she has supported Special Olympics, Volunteers, Recreation and Community Education. She started in her current position in 2017, working with the students, families at staff at Wood Lane School.
Of her experiences here at the WCBDD, Lynne says “I have met many wonderful co-workers and built relationships with many persons served. I was given the opportunity to be trained as a Good Life Facilitator in 2013 and that experience presented opportunities to work with a wide range of employees throughout the agency. I enjoy coming to work every day because every day is different and has its own challenges. Having had four positions has given me a unique knowledge of the different departments at the WCBDD”.
Working at the WCBDD has taught Lynne many of life’s lessons. “During my 9 years here, I have learned to look at the big picture when a challenge is presented and finding solutions has become one of my favorite parts of this job. I really enjoy working on a team and collaborating on projects. Being able to adapt to change can be very difficult for some people and I have found that the acceptance of change is a strength for me, and I am trying to find ways to help those that struggle with change. My big picture is that there are many blessings to be had at the WCBDD if you open your eyes to seeing them”.
Thank you, Lynne for sharing your love, your vision, your sense of adventure, and for spreading your cheer throughout the agency–The WCBDD is so grateful to have a co-worker as kind and gracious as you!
Staff Highlight: Terrie Hunt
Today we’re putting the spotlight on Terrie Hunt, a dedicated and caring employee here at Wood County Board of DD! Terrie got her start in the DD field in March of 1994 at Sunshine Children’s home. Originally, she was planning to work there only until she could start and manage her own daycare. However, she quickly fell in love with the DD field, and still remembers telling her husband after two weeks at Sunshine that this is what she was going to do for the rest of her life.
She then began working at Wood County Board in 1996 as a sub working at the industries. She’s held many positions since then including vehicle aid, 3rd shift direct care staff, Medical Appointment Coordinator, and Employment Specialist. In 2016, she began her current position as a Service Coordinator.
Terrie and her husband Eric have been married for almost 26 years and have two beautiful children, Dylan, who is 24, and Genna, who is 23. They are a very adventurous family and every 2-3 years they enjoy planning and taking a family vacation together. They also love to ride their motorcycles, and as Terrie said, “we love to ride our Harley’s as often as we can!” When she’s not riding her motorcycle, you may find Terrie taking her dog Scarlett for long walks at Slippery Elm Trail or Side Cut Park.
Terrie is truly person-centered, and if you talk with her it quickly becomes clear that she takes great pride in her work and genuinely cares about those she supports as a Service Coordinator. When asked what the best part of working at Wood Lane is, Terrie said, “I love everything about working at the County Board as a Service Coordinator. I feel like my co-workers are an extension of my family and can truly say that I love what I do.”
Terrie has been an amazing asset to Wood County Board of DD in the 24 years she’s been here, and we are truly grateful to call her one of our own! She works diligently and is a shining example of what it looks like to support, empower, and inspire others. If you see Terrie, be sure to give her a big thanks for all that she does or leave a comment below!
DSP of the Month: Erin Houston
Can you believe it’s already time for the first Featured Friday of 2020?! It’s our honor to announce Erin Houston from ViaQuest Day and Employment Services as the DSP of the Month for January 2020!
Erin was nominated by Becky Balser from ViaQuest. Erin is always smiling and ensures the best support is provided for all of the people we serve. She excels at building meaningful relationships and takes the time to get to know each person on an individual, personal level. She is always so calm, cool, and collected, even when the day may not be. She doesn’t let anything get to her and if it does, she doesn’t show it.
Erin goes above and beyond and is a great asset to ViaQuest and most importantly to the ones we serve here daily. As Dylan put it, “Erin is very nice and helps me, she is like my work mom! It’s evident that she makes a difference in the lives of those she serves as well as her co-workers, and we’re so lucky to have a DSP like her in Wood County!
Staff Highlight: Jan Hehl
It’s time for another Featured Friday!
A warm, familiar and friendly face at Wood Lane School is Jan Hehl, the Lead Cook. Daily you can find her planning, preparing and serving delicious and nutritional meals—both breakfast and lunch– for our students. If you have ever watched Jan in the kitchen, you know all of her food is seasoned with love.
Cooking is a fundamental part of life for Jan as she has a strong affinity for cooking and feeding people. “Food brings people together and makes them feel good”. A joyous occasion for Jan includes cooking for and spending time with her family, especially her three grandchildren. “My eight-year-old granddaughter shares my passion for cooking, and we spend a lot of time in the kitchen together!”
One of Jan’s co-workers remembers fondly eating tortellini soup that was prepared by Jan. “It was amazing”, says Kim Vaughn. “Making soups is one of her specialties and she can make something delicious with whatever is in the house”.
Jan has worked at the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities for nineteen years. She worked for several years as a Job Coach for CES before taking her current position. Jan feels very fortunate to have a job that she loves, and she enjoys coming to work every day. She feels proud to be a part of such an awesome team of co-workers that care so passionately about individuals served, and that are so supportive of each other.
Jan has proven herself to be dedicated to her work and is a strong advocate for the students. Her job is influenced by strict regulations and she makes sure to adhere to them, all while planning and creating food that meets the students’ nutritional needs and that they enjoy eating.
Jan says of her time working here, “I have learned more from my years working for the WCBDD than anything else I have ever done. I have many great memories and stories to share!” We are grateful to Jan for her kind and caring ways and her efforts to support, empower and inspire the students of Wood Lane School.
Staff Highlight: Katie Ackenberger
This week on our Featured Friday we’re spotlighting…drumroll please…Katie Akenberger!
Katie is a service coordinator and has worked here since 2017. She got her start with us back in 2006 when she was an undergrad at BGSU. She completed some field experience hours at both Wood Lane School and Work Leads to Independence (formerly Wood Lane Industries). She began her career as an educator, and two years ago decided to apply for a position with the Wood County Board of DD because she’d experienced such joy as a college student throughout her volunteer experiences.
Katie and her husband have two dogs, Rosie and Sully, and a spunky 7-year old niece who brings a lot of energy and joy to their family. Katie’s dream is to live on a farm someday and have all kinds of animals. In her free time, you might find Katie watching Friends on Netflix, or shopping at TJ Maxx, which she is “mildly obsessed” with. She also loves reading, watching crime TV and spending time with family. She could eat Mexican food any day of the week and lives for her mid-day Coke Zero.
Katie is dedicated to the work she does, and consistently strives to ensure the people on her caseload receive the very best support and encouragement she can give. When asked what the best part of working at the Wood County Board of DD is, Katie said, “The leadership, team work and enthusiasm throughout the agency makes coming to work fun!”.
Katie you are truly an asset to the Wood County Board of DD team, and we appreciate how hard you work to support, empower, and inspire our community! Be sure to let Katie know how awesome she is when you see her, or in the comments below!
DSP of the Month: Belinda Ayala
Belinda Ayala has been a Certified Independent Provider since October 2018 and works with several people in Wood County. Belinda, or better known to the people she works with as Bo, has been nominated for DSP of the Month by Denise Jagielski, SSA.
Belinda goes above and beyond in everything that she does. She genuinely cares about the health and welfare of the people that she serves. Belinda makes herself available to people she works with and has even been known to be in touch with them on Holidays! Belinda maintains good contact with the SSAs, providing follow up and updates on the progress of outcomes. Belinda will do things with the people she serves outside of her scheduled time. Anything that is asked of Belinda, it can be certain she will get the job done! Great Job Belinda! It is a pleasure to work with Belinda and thank you for all you do!!
Julie stated, “I really like Bo and she’s fun to be around. She helps me learn how to cook and clean”, while Tara said, “I like Ms. Bo because she’s reliable, shows up on time, and does what she says she will do. She is really fun to work with too.”
“Tara and I are extremely GRATEFUL to have a very kind, caring, and sincere care giver in our lives.With everything she has to do within her own family, Belinda ALWAYS finds time to go the extra mile ?? This is not just a job for her, this is a way of life to her.” Crystal, Parent.
Staff Highlight: Cheryl Schroeder
We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! There sure is a lot to be thankful for, and today on our Featured Friday we’re spotlighting Cheryl Schroeder, a compassionate and dedicated employee here at the Wood County Board of DD.
Cheryl Schroeder is an Investigative Agent and has worked here for 14 years. She got her start in the DD field while attending BGSU when she worked as a DSP for Wood Lane Residential Services and later for Wood Lane Industries.
Cheryl and her husband Tom have a beautiful family that includes their daughter Audrey, an adorable Springer Spaniel named Halli, 5 barn cats and 6 chickens! Cheryl is adventurous and enjoys camping, kayaking, playing cards, and watching football with her family. She also likes trying new recipes along with her tried and true ones.
Another fun fact about Cheryl: Growing up, she participated in FFA and showed sheep, hogs, and raised chickens for a school project. This is something she has in common with her niece and nephew, who now also raise animals. She explained one of her favorite things to do is watch them show their livestock, saying “their dedication amazes me, and I love watching their progress and hearing about the awesome friendships and memories they have made!”
Cheryl is passionate about empowering the people we serve to live their lives to the fullest, and works hard to ensure that they’re happy, healthy, and well supported. It’s clear that she genuinely cares about the people she works with and loves what she does. When asked what the best part of working here is, Cheryl said, “Making a difference in the lives of not only the individuals we serve but also their support system. I know that we encourage and support individuals to reach their goals, but they truly inspire me with their commitment and dedication!”
We are so grateful for all that you do to support the people we serve, Cheryl! If you see her around town, be sure to give her a big thank you for supporting, empowering, and inspiring our community!
Person Served: Mike Nuzum
If you know Mike, you know he’s a great leader and a sports fanatic. He works hard to accomplish his goals, and he’s reached several lately that we’re excited to celebrate!
One goal Mike has worked towards over the past year is getting a good job. He’s excited to share that he reached this goal and started a new job at Best Buy in Findlay stocking shelves and loading trucks. (Way to go, Mike!!) In addition to his new job, Mike was also recently elected as President for AKtion Club and led his first meeting this past week.
Mike is always on the go, but in his free time, he enjoys playing Xbox and spending time with his fiancé Heather. He likes going out to eat with his friends, especially if it’s at Bdubs! He is active in Special Olympics and recently went to state with his flag football team, where they got second place. Now he’s looking forward to basketball season starting up.
Mike is also a member of Best Buddies and has been matched with his peer buddy Nick for the past two years. He’s grateful for their friendship, and always has fun hanging out with Nick. Mike, we think you’re INCREDIBLE and we are so proud of all your accomplishments!
Staff Spotlight: Holly Hernandez
We’re putting the spotlight on our very own Holly Hernandaz! Holly has worked at Wood County Board of DD for over 13 years as an Occupational Therapist with Early Intervention and Wood Lane School. Fun fact: she got her start here in 2006, the day after her mom retired from 25 years of being a Wood Lane employee!
In her free time, Holly enjoys a good game of golf, although she admits, “the best way to describe my skills would be ‘wildly inconsistent’!” Her husband and her love to travel, and in recent years they’ve spent quite a bit of time exploring New England since their son now lives in Connecticut.
Throughout her time at Wood County Board of DD Holly has consistently gone above and beyond to support the children and families she works with. She knows the students she works with well, and always challenges them to take the next step, giving them the supports that encourage independence. The best part of the job for Holly is the relationships, challenges, and rewards that come with working with the children and families served by Wood County Board of DD. She also likes that there is always something new to learn!
Holly is truly an invaluable team member, and we are so grateful for all that she does! If you see Holly, be sure to thank her for supporting, empowering, and inspiring our Wood County community!
DSP of the Month: Amijo Mayberry
Amijo has worked with Wood Lane Residential Services (WLRS) for 35+ years. She began working for WLRS after a friend recommended she try it while she was working in a nursing home. Throughout the years, Amijo has formed lifelong friendships with the gentlemen she works with and with their families and guardians. She always has their best interest at heart and is an incredible advocate for them. Amijo is very knowledgeable and helpful. Amijo thinks outside of the box and gives many different ways that one could get something accomplished. This gift has been key in helping the people she serves learn new things and provides them with new opportunities. Amijo works many hours to help the home run smoothly and train new staff. It is amazing to watch her “work”, although according to Amijo she isn’t finished yet. She is truly an asset to WLRS! Amijo will be greatly missed throughout the organization when she does decide to retire!