SIDNEY — The June 11, 2018, Rotary Lunch guest speakers were Superintendent of the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities (SCBDD) Laura Zureich and Appointment Manager Jeff Cody. Also joining Laura and Jeff were Felicity Berry and Julie Casiano, advocates for the good work that SCBDD does and whose lives have been affected by the organization.
Zureich is in her 13th year serving the SCBDD and oversees the operations of the board whose mission is to “promote opportunities which support people of all abilities.” She defined developmental disability as the “chronic cognitive and/or physical disability, birth through age 21, expected to last a life time, which can result in limitations in everyday activities of life.”
She provided information on the history of the SCBDD, citing that prior to 1968, children with disabilities were unable to attend school but changes in state and federal laws in 1967 supported children and adults with developmental disabilities and provided funding for 88 counties with property taxes. Services provided with that funding included physical, occupational and speech therapy, nursing, employment training, case management, recreation, adult day services and more.
Zureich described the SCBDD’s current provisions: “The number of people supported is now more than 639 of all ages and disabilities. The SCBDD currently assists with early intervention, advocacy, early childhood development, preschool, the PLAY project (which supports families and children with autism), incident investigation, community service and employment opportunities for those with DD. The SCBDD funds all providers of the service for people with DD including We Can Too, S&H Products, SafeHaven and others. Funding is approximately 40 percent local dollars and 60 percent federal dollars.” The vision of the board is that everyone would have opportunities and choices through the work that they do.
Coaty works on behalf of the board doing job placement, training and coaching of those with developmental disabilities. He is in his fourth year of service on the SCBDD and has served 16 years on the Champaign board, as well.
“In 2012, Gov. John Kasich started the employment initiative to assist those with developmental disabilities in finding employment. My job is to get to know what needs the businesses have and train the individuals to do the job,” he said.
He then introduced Felicity Berry, who told Rotarians of her journey with SCBDD and the assistance she received from her coach to gain employment with S&H Products, moving to NK Parts and now working as a bagger at Kroger. She said, “I like working at Kroger because I make more money and I like doing customer service.” With help from her coach, Berry is also working toward getting her driver’s license. “I’m thankful for the center that helps me do more things,” she said.
Julie Casiano, an advocate for SCBDD who receives support from the organization was accompanied by her daughter, Gia, who will be 2 in August and has Down syndrome. Gia appeared happy to be there and was blowing kisses and waving hello to the Rotarians. After introducing herself and her daughter, Casiano described finding out in a routine ultrasound during her pregnancy that her daughter would be born with a heart defect that is associated with Down syndrome. “You don’t know what to do! It’s not something you would ever expect to hear. I didn’t even know what to think or how to react,” she said.
She was put in contact with SCBDD and is very grateful for the guidance that they have given her. She joined the Help Me Grow Program and does in-home therapy regularly. She said, “The home visits are amazing. The people provide me guidance on how to play with Gia and how to interact with her to encourage learning. They help me identify milestones and bring new ideas to help with her development.” As Gia banged on the table with the Rotary gavel as any 2-year-old would do, Casiano said, “I am so very thankful to live in Shelby County. I know a lot of other families with similar situations that are from other counties and our program is the greatest. I am beyond happy to have their support.”