Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled
You may find them dancing, sightseeing, hiking, tending to vegetables in a garden, or volunteering their time. One day they may be exploring Fort Ancient, the next they may be touring one of the local waterways on a pontoon boat. One day they may be sorting items at Matthew 25: Ministries, and another day you may find them giving of their time to a different organization. They may be checking out the butterflies at Krohn Convservatory, exploring one of Cincinnati’s parks, or learning about history or art in one of our area museums. Or they may be in the kitchen practicing their cooking skills.
One thing is for certain, the adults who participate in LADD (Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled)’s Community Connections Program are living fuller lives. They are surrounded by friends and a supportive network. They are learning more about this great region that all of us share.
LADD’s Community Connections is the only non-facilities based program of its kind in Cincinnati. In groups of 3 to 5 adults with developmental disabilities, participants choose places in our area to explore with one of LADD’s social guides. The Program reduces isolation and also provides an opportunity for participants to learn and strengthen life and communication skills, build confidence through decision making, and explore their own likes and dislikes.
Melissa Caywood once told me that, “Without it, I would be doing nothing. Community Connections keeps me busy and I like to be busy.”
Faith Maynard is program manager for LADD. “Part of this process of advocacy is taking stock of who they are – and what they want to accomplish by exploring what they like and don’t like in the world,” she explained.
I love that whole idea. In my work with the organization, getting an opportunity to tag along with one of the groups makes my whole week. These adults have become my friends. When they smile, I smile. When they they tell me about how their making a difference makes them feel good, it makes me feel good too. When I see the interaction between staff and participants, I am reminded of what working with heart is all about. When I see them out in the community, doing what all of us have a right to be doing, I think this is just as it should be.
Community Connections is about so much more than just an activity to occupy a day. It is about relationships being built and strengthened. It is about people who deserve to be included and valued, being included and valued.
One of the groups recently gathered at the Contemporary Arts Center to create handmade birthday cards for children at St. Joseph Orphanage. A few visitors of the CAC stopped by to help. Each card was personalized with stickers, drawings and messages.
“Our kids that stay with us love to receive cards to display in their rooms. Oftentimes they are in the custody of children services and the cards received from caring card pals will be the only cards they get. Knowing someone in the community cares enough to make a card helps them feel valued and special. Thank you LADD!,” Lisa Caminiti, community relations/volunteer coordinator for St. Joseph Orphanage told me.
And how did Community Connections participants feel about their gifts?
“I think it is going to make the kids feel good and it makes me feel good to do that,” Trip Huggins told me.
“It makes me happy to make the cards because I know I am helping someone,” Erin McDermott said.
I am so fortunate that my work gives me the opportunity to get know and be inspired by some truly incredible people. Faith Maynard is among them. Faith joined the team of Cincinnati nonprofit organization, LADD, Inc. (Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled) 14 years ago as a direct support professional, and several positions later is now program manager for LADD’s Community Connections. That program is the only non-facilities based program of its kind in Cincinnati. Groups of 3 to 5 adults choose places in our area to explore with one of LADD’s social guides. Community Connections reduces isolation and also provides an opportunity for participants to learn and strengthen life and communication skills, build confidence through decision making, and explore their own likes and dislikes.
Faith has a beautiful soul. Her passion for bringing out the best in others is evident from your first encounter with her. It is what drives her. It is how she transforms lives and gives people reasons to look forward to the day ahead.
It is very befitting that she was given the name that she has.
She shared some of her story with me. It is below.
Faith’s Own Words
“I like doing work that actually, measurably matters to someone else each day. I like dealing with real-life challenges. I like taking ideas and turning them into reality. If the realization of dreams is in some way surprising or empowering, that’s just extra fun. I feel best when the small victories that I get to shepherd people through lead to bigger, more brilliant ideas. These are not my decisions to make or my lives to lead: my job is to present a menu, envision solutions and, ultimately, walk beside them as their own decisions and solutions take root and bear fruit.
How I came to my career with LADD was a journey. In college I studied comparative social sciences: sociology, anthropology, psychology with minor emphasis in history and economics (because economics is a social science!). I also did lots of organizing (politically and otherwise) through my association with punk rock music, it’s sort of the defining thing of my life so far. I’m not sure what I learned from this part of my life, but I know I felt that there was no cooperation as pure as volunteer cooperation towards an immaterial, non-monetary goal. Cooperation for joy. For cooperation’s sake. Graffiti on the world.
I love the variety that my work life here at LADD encompasses. I love the occasions to work fully with my body as well as the time I spend envisioning a better way and a better world. I love the try-it-and-see opportunities to sample the veritable smorgasbord of approaches and solutions to the problems we face each day. I love helping the folks I support develop visions of their own and put them into play.
Beyond that, though, the most amazing thing about my job at LADD is how much of my life fits inside it. I still book bands, I just do it for LADD. In my capacity at LADD I throw parties, volunteer, make art, bake cookies, go to museums, do yoga, canoe and the list could go on and on! In my newest role I feel like a kid in a sandbox. Here I’ve got ten groups of adults with disabilities that I can send out to be a force of good (and joy!) in the community.
As for someone who has greatly impacted my life, I’d say my most obvious influence is DJ Gatwood. She has been my supervisor for 12 of the past 14 years here at LADD. I’ve been taking great care to learn as much as I possibly can from her and I haven’t quite captured her magic. She’s fantastic at making people feel heard, getting them to hear others and weaving solutions. She is the picture of fluidity, flexibility and creativity.
Of course, my relationship with John Roach, someone with whom I have been a part of his life through my work, is pretty important. His experience and strength is so different from my own. He’s the one who insisted I start taking folks with disabilities on amazing, ambitious trips. He practically dared me to go on the dog sledding adventure (which I did with Gena Wade), pestered me into planning the Disney trip and wheedled me into canoeing through the Florida Everglades into the Gulf of Mexico. He’s so up for anything. Without him in my life, I wouldn’t have joined the Unitarian Church or volunteered with Mobo Bike Coop. He loves to work hard and take big risks.
There have been other fantastic folks that I’ve served here at LADD. Neil Dignan, Mike Weber and Dale Jackson jump to mind. Their involvement with Visionaries and Voices and Thunder Sky has led me to build even more community ties.
Amazing doesn’t mean easy. Life will be better when you figure that out.
CINspirational People is a feature of Good Things Going Around profiling diverse people of Greater Cincinnati, what inspires them, and what is inspiring about them. You can read more profiles by clicking on the link at the top of the blog. Do you know someone to suggest? Please reach out. Thanks!
Today I want to introduce you to my friend, Terri Hogan, a Cincinnati volunteer and philanthropist. We met when I was working on the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival and she was the Premiere Weekend co-chair. If you know Terri, then you no doubt have also been inspired by her. She gives of herself tirelessly to causes and people she holds close to her heart. When knocked down, she bounces right back up with an invigorated determination. She practices her gratitude strength every day.
The mother of a beautiful daughter from a previous marriage, Heidi, Terri was in her 40s when she and her husband Paul decided they wanted to adopt. The couple were in the delivery room when a tiny, four-pound premature baby boy made his entrance into this world. Bailey was perfect in every sense, hitting normal milestones for infants. But then things suddenly changed and at 2 ½, their little boy was given the diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum.
Terri walked out of her doctor’s office asking herself, “Now what?” It was overwhelming, she shared. So much so that she was given a prescription for her depression, and she never cried as much as she did the day she took her first and only pill.
“I just said, ‘no more’,” she told me. And that was her turning point.
She went back to school so she could learn how she could get her son to talk; and, about a month after she began learning about Applied Behavior Analysis, Bailey said his first words, “Mom, green train.”
If you have ever been a parent, you know, you will never forget your child’s first words. For Bailey, that sentence was the door that unlocked an entire world of exploration. And for his mom, it was the driving force for her relentless quest to keep learning, keep teaching, and keep giving.
Seventeen years have passed now since the Hogan’s first took their baby boy home and he spells words to him mom. On Facebook, Terri posts regularly about his progress and about the lessons Bailey teaches her about life. She writes of the people she has impacted and those who have touched her, as a result of his being in her life.
I asked Terri some questions.
GTGA: How has your life been impacted by having Bailey?
Terri: Prior to Bailey, I was self centered. I didn’t know the people I know now and didn’t feel as happy as I do now. Now I wake up and think, ‘What can I do today? Who am I going to help?’, because I feel like a single act of kindness can transform a person’s life forever. I never would have felt that before.
In my world now, I go to a luncheon and I am in awe. I realize there is still so much in this world to learn.
I also don’t worry about silly things.
GTGA: How would you describe Bailey to a stranger?
Terri: Bailey is really smart and he has a cute sense of humor. If he is motivated, he can to the moon and back. His eyes are amazing and he speaks a lot with his eyes. He is really social and high fives the waiters and waitresses. He loves to play ball and swim. He also loves his Reds and Bengals.
GTGA: What has Bailey taught you about life?
Terri: He has taught me to not worry about the small stuff and he has really opened my life to a whole new world and made me happier than ever.
GTGA: Tell us about some of your volunteer work.
Terri: It was about two years after I began learning about Applied Behavior Analysis that I got on the board of the Autism Society of Greater Cincinnati, and now serve on committees. At the time, they had just lost about $100,000 and Paul and I were determined to help them recoup that. We pounded the pavement and organized events. We raised $80,000 for them that year because they do such a great job.
I am involved with so many organizations. Among them are Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled (LADD), Visionaries and Voices, Melody Connections, Impact Autism, Birthright, Hyde Park Senior Center, and Crayons to Computers.
Paul and I like to help the small guys to help them get on track because we feel like the bigger organizations have a lot of support.
GTGA: This year you lost your greatest role model, your dad. Tell us about him.
Terri: My parents raised eight kids. My dad was a self made man who was so giving and sacrificing. What I always loved about him was that he was always into something. I remember as a little girl that I’d follow him around. I’d sit down with him and he’d tell me everything he was involved in. And then when I began getting involved with things, he would help me and write me notes and send things he read in the paper. He’s say, ‘Terri, you need to see this. Your group may benefit from it.’ He was a teacher. I miss him.
When I was hired by the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival (organized by Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled and presented by Macy’s) late summer of 2014, much of Greater Cincinnati had never heard of it; and few people who I reached out to had any idea of the scope of the event or its value to our community – including me, admittedly. Even those who worked for the nonprofit host agencies did not realize the magnitude of what was to unfold.
People experiencing a disability or cognitive, genetic, physical and behavioral difference are often misunderstood. They are portrayed in photos and sometimes news stories as ‘less than’ normal or super human just by virtue of their own being. They are often not included, or at least not to the extent that they are people first with interests, hopes, dreams, talents, and even bad days, just like everybody else. Yet ‘they’ are about 20% of our population. And ‘they’ are the only minority population in which all people will be counted among them at some point in their lives.
The overarching goal of LADD and ReelAbilities in hiring me to serve as the director of public relations and communications was for me to support the unrelenting drive of determined volunteers and staff organizing the events by being a catalyst for change – to bring the community together in support of not only an event but a cause so powerful as to have impact on each and every one of us in a direct or indirect way. I wanted to get people in this region talking to each other and realizing that inclusion and togetherness is not about ‘other people’, it is about themselves and each other. I wanted to get people excited about ReelAbilities as a world class film festival, and come out to support and learn from it. The challenge was to do all of this with a very limited budget including for my own time, but I was up for the challenge as the cause is something very important to me.
For eight days beginning February 27, Greater Cincinnati was transformed into a film screening mecca with out-of-town celebrities helping Cincinnati explore our differences, and our shared humanity. Internationally acclaimed photographer Rick Guidotti; Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein; Project Runway fan favorite Justin LeBlanc; Cincinnati icons Ted Kremer, Drew Lachey, Nick and Nina Clooney, Dave Parker and Ken Anderson; former snowboarding champion Kevin Pearce; and actors Danny Woodburn, Kurt Yaeger, Daryl ‘Chill’ Mitchell, John Lawson, David DeSanctis (from Where Hope Grows), Jesus Sanchez-Velez (from Stand Clear of the Closing Doors); veterans SSG Travis Mills and Michael Schlitz; and Steve Wampler, who climbed El Capitan, where just some of the big name personalities who came to Cincinnati to be part of ReelAbilities. Academy Award Winning Actress Marlee Matlin was our keynote speaker for our Kick Off Celebration Luncheon that hosted hundreds.
The films of ReelAbilities were selected from some 500 plus submitted for jurying, many of them with wide international acclaim and awards to their name. Their common thread was that they celebrated the lives and stories of people experiencing disability. Many were shown with the film actors/subjects as special guests; and all screenings included a thought provoking discussion at the end.
I saw and still do see ReelAbilities as an opportunity to open dialogue and doors about topics that, for the most part, have been barricaded from our conversations – or at least in productive ways out of discomfort or lack of interest or personal connection.
There were so many strategies that I put into place (with help from wonderful volunteers and staff) to reach out to our community and pull people in through their personal stories and connections – their differences, and their shared humanity. And, in the end, it all came together to create a community that supported the film festival beyond our wildest dreams in classrooms, board rooms, businesses, entertainment venues, stores, nonprofits, and universities. Nearly 4500 people attended our events, with numerous film screenings having sold out.
The honest questions that were asked, the open answers that were shared, and the comments afterward from film goers told all of us that others grew from it too with expanded and even new perspectives.
There were so many people whose words and actions touched me in meaningful ways that it has been difficult to find the right words to capture its impact on me.
There was Kevin Pearce who took us into his life and shared his family tradition with all of us, ringing a Tibetan singing bowl to facilitate awareness of the moment – even at our formal Mingle with the Stars Gala. And, speaking of the Gala, anytime you have comedian actors in a room together and give them center stage to improvise, laughter is bound to follow. That was the genius idea (and somewhat brave too) of Festival Managing Director Susan Brownknight.
I remember the first time I met Richard Bernstein. He was so filled with genuine flattery of everyone he met. That, I came to learn quickly, is just his way. It is a gift and something I came to treasure about being around him.
We brought our VIPs to the Seacrest Studios at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center where kids could interact with them. It is there where I saw the infectious laughter of Danny Woodburn, Daryl ‘Chill’ Mitchell and John Lawson banter between each other; and again when Steve and Elizabeth Wampler sat side-by-side. Steve shared this message with hospital patients, “Don’t let anyone tell you, no, you can’t do that. Anything is possible.”
Justin LeBlanc promoted literacy by reading a book about inclusion to an entire gymnasium filled with school children; promoted creativity by helping students who are deaf to design and show fashions; and promoted abilities by speaking about his own personal story. Young students at Ohio Valley Voices also got to ask Justin lots of questions – like ‘When is your birthday?’, ‘What is your favorite color?’ and ‘Do you have a dog?’
While here, SSG Travis Mills , one of five surviving quadruple amputee veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, met for the very first time a critical care doctor who provided medical care after his 2012 injury during his air care transport from Kandahar to Bagram. Together we took them to tour UC Health’s Center for Sustainment of Trauma and Readiness or C-STARS where Major Dr. Laurae Rettig was trained. I’ll always remember Travis’ wicked sense of humor…and his rotating hand that he can make go round and round and round.
I always welcome Rick Guidotti’s bear hug. The lens from which he sees the world has opened eye across the globe to see the gift of each individual and the beauty in difference.
I treasured all of the time I got to spend with my friends, Danny Woodburn, and his wife, Amy Buchwald. They are two incredible people who I look up to as examples of role models when it comes to integrity and perseverance. Equaled with their talent is their fearlessness when it comes to standing up for what they believe in.
ReelAbilities gave me the opportunity to get to know and admire John Lawson, an encourager and leader, with a gift for bringing out the best in others.
Then there is the Festival Chair Kathleen Cail, Co-Chairs Sara Bitter and Kara Ayers; Managing Director Susan Brownknight; staff team – Jesse, Hannah, Molly, and Jen; and all of the committee volunteers for whom I have so much respect. They are such an awesome group of passionate, hard working, and dedicated people without whom this would not have been possible.
The Festival was about people coming together, standing up for and embracing eachother. It was about opening eyes and minds to see beyond people’s differences to what we all share – our humanity. I celebrate LADD for having the vision, foresight, courage and strength to create and organize such a community changing event. I am especially in awe of Susan Brownknight as our leader.
In her luncheon speech, Marlee Matlin looked out into the audience and shared, “We need to keep opening doors when people want them shut. We need to shine the light on ignorance when people want to keep us in the dark. And we need to make noise when they want to keep us quiet. But most of all, we need to keep on being ourselves, follow your heart and in the end accommodation will happen. We are the ones who can make it happen.”
Yes, Marlee, you are right we are. Let’s make our voices be heard!
Over the past few months, it has been such a great experience for me to work with the Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival. Their work is truly about impacting perspectives and impacting lives, inspiring people to see the greatness in everyone. Next week will be one example of how they are accomplishing that….
Internationally acclaimed fashion photographer Rick Guidotti has photographed many of the world’s most elite super models; however, it is the story of focusing his lens on the beauty of those who have genetic, physical, and behavioral differences that has inspired millions around the globe to reinterpret the meaning of beauty. Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival is bringing him to Cincinnati September 23 to 26 to share his message with schools and the greater community through a series of events…and will also photograph Cincinnati families who have a member with a disability for an exhibition during the 2015 Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival. The events are FREE and open to the public thanks to the generosity of local sponsors the Edwards Foundation, managed by Crew Capital and Contemporary Cabinetry East.
Rick Guidotti – Artist Talk and Reception
Thursday, September 25
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Obscura Cincinnati lounge (625 Walnut Street, 45202)
Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival presents Rick Guidotti’s Positive Exposure, The Spirit of Difference FotoFocus exhibition – opening night reception
Friday, September 26
5:00 to 7:00 pm
Art Academy of Cincinnati Convergys Gallery (1212 Jackson Street, 45202)
Positive Exposure, The Spirit of Difference FotoFocus Exhibition
Sep. 26, 2014 – Oct. 24, 2014
Mon–Fri: 9 am–9 pm | Sat–Sun: 9 am–5 pm
Art Academy of Cincinnati Convergys Gallery (1212 Jackson Street, 45202)
The Cincinnati ReelAbilities Film Festival organized by LADD, Inc. and presented by Macy’s is our region’s largest film festival that unites our community around world-class films and celebrities who explore and experience disability. It will be held February 27 to March 7, 2015. Guidotti’s visit is part of 2014 ReelPrograms-a series of events leading up to the Festival to connect people through shared humanity.
More about Rick Guidotti
Rick has spent the past 15 years working with advocacy/non-governmental organizations around the world, medical schools, universities and other educational institutions to inspire a sea-change in societal attitudes towards people living with differences. His work has been published in such diverse newspapers, magazines and journals as Elle, GQ, People, The American Journal of Medical Genetics, The Lancet, Spirituality and Health, The Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly and Life Magazine.
He is the founder and director of Positive Exposure, an innovative arts, education and advocacy organization working with people who have genetic, physical and behavioral conditions of all ages. Positive Exposure provides new opportunities for individuals to see people with differences as human beings first.
“As an artist what I try to do with every image is to reflect back at the viewer their best qualities. So now you have a new tool, when you see someone who has a difference you don’t stare or look away—there’s a steadying of the gaze and you see beauty, you see life and energy and then you see around that difference to what we share, which is humanity, that’s what we all have,” he told Houston Style Magazine.
Living Arrangements for the Developmentally Disabled was founded 40 years ago by families who dreamed of a better life for their children who had developmental disabilities. Now, LADD serves nearly 500 adults with developmental disabilities in Hamilton County with housing, teaching life skills, employment and day programs. Our mission is to integrate people we serve into our community and support adults with disabilities in achieving their dreams. Go to: www.laddinc.org for more information.