Small Steps, Big Dreams

Supported employment is one of the most important supports that we offer at George Chambers. For those of you who don’t know what supported employment is, we created an award-winning video a few years ago about that very subject, which you can watch here. (There’s also an episode about it on our podcast!)

Supported employment helps give individuals with disabilities access to greater independence. One way this is achieved? A paycheck. And, today, we want to tell you about someone very special to us at George Chambers, a young woman with a very specific dream for her future…a dream that has now become a reality.

Her name is Chelsea Harris.

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Chelsea moved to Calhoun from Powder Springs and attended the SET program at Kennesaw State University. This program assists students with job skills in various areas, which proved beneficial for Chelsea when she set out to find employment. Her dream job, she said, was “Chick-Fil-A because it’s a Christian company with good morals. And I love eating there.”
(Who doesn’t, right?)
With a heart for serving others and a deep love for God, Chelsea soon snagged an interview with Chick-Fil-A and was hired. Last week, she began work as a host in the dining room, greeting patrons as they walk through the door and checking on them as they enjoy their meals.
Chelsea is one among many in supported employment programs across the country, and her story proves just how important these supports are. But more than anything, it proves that anyone, anywhere, can have a dream and see it come to life.
Cheers to you, Chelsea! And congratulations!

“For Your Consideration” Available to Watch Now!

It is with great excitement and very thankful hearts that we present our supported employment short film, “For Your Consideration”, for your viewing pleasure.

We are so proud of this project and of the initiative from which it was born. The Region 1 Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities, along with the Quality Improvement Council and all Region 1 providers, came together to ask the question: How can we really create change regarding the employment of individuals with developmental disabilities? Will anyone listen to us? We weren’t exactly sure. But we thought they would listen to the individuals themselves. And, as a result, “For Your Consideration” transformed into a story, rather than a monologue. A compilation of lives and goals and passions, rather than just statistics.

Our goal with this film is to reveal the true value in hiring individuals with developmental disabilities. We understand that the hesitation in doing so comes with the need for experience – for knowledge – and those things can only come from taking risks. Employers take risks every single day for the sake of business. And studies have shown that supported employees, on average, cost employers less money, have higher satisfaction and retention rates, and ultimately require less supervision than do traditional employees. So, truly, the benefit of hiring these individuals is far greater than it is anything else.

Don’t believe us? See for yourself.

Watch the whole video now and let us know what you think in the comments!

“For Your Consideration”

 

For Your Consideration: A Look at Supported Employment

For the last few weeks, we’ve been working on a short film that takes a peek into the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities who are working and living independently. It also delves into the importance of hiring these individuals, and how, as our CEO so articulately states in the film, “An investment in a person with a disability is the same as an investment in a person without…They’re being given opportunities so that when they are integrated and walk out into the world, they walk the same way we do into all those experiences that we’ve been able to have.”FYC

And, today, we’re proud to announce the title of this short film: For Your Consideration.

During brainstorming sessions over the title, we thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of commonly-used phrases in the hiring and job application processes. We wanted to convey a sense of need that could also be married with a sense of purpose. All individuals need to work and make an income. And all individuals look for purpose in their lives. It can come in many forms: family, friendships, faith, service, art, and, of course, work. So we’re here to help make that happen, not just as a provider of supports for individuals with developmental disabilities, but as people who genuinely care about our fellow men and want their lives to be enriched by opportunity.

The truth is these individuals don’t need to believe they can achieve something. They know they can. And now it’s our turn to believe it, too.

The film is currently in the editing stage and will be submitted for review next week. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter @GCRCOfficial, and also Like us on Facebook, to keep up with our agency and receive updates about the film’s release. A few of our team members will also be attending the Business Expo at Calhoun High School on October 22nd from 10 a.m.-2:00 p.m. where we’ll be handing out a limited number of free DVD copies, so stop by and see us!

Until next time…

A Thousand Words // The Man with the Green Thumb

Ever since he was a little kid, Douglas has found solace in the outdoors. The warmth of the sunshine, the dirt under his fingernails, new life that sprouts up from beneath the ground. His mother had a garden and it was theirs together. Their place. Their home.

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Each week, Douglas spends much of his day at the center, where his quiet enthusiasm and tender heart have earned him friends among the individuals and staff alike. He’s tall and lean, with an eternal smile that spreads wide across his cheeks. Ask him about that garden and it stretches even wider. Light shines from behind his green eyes and, suddenly, you’re there with him, in the garden, where tasty things grow and life is simple:

Plant, water, harvest.

Good stuff goes in, and good stuff comes out.

When the opportunity came for a greenhouse to be built and a garden to be planted on the center property, Douglas helped make it happen. And now he oversees the care of every living thing. He weeds. He plants. He waters. He picks.

He also sells. Earlier this summer, Douglas sold a mini-harvest of vegetables at a local wholesale market and earned a check that he proudly displayed to his friends and staff at the center.

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This is his job. But it’s more than that, too.

It’s his life. And because of him, more life begins each day. 

 

Let Your Light S.H.I.N.E.

Flyer Gordon County

This weekend, Saturday, August 23, we will be hosting our very first S.H.I.N.E. event at the historic GEM Theatre here in Calhoun. S.H.I.N.E. stands for “Smoking Hot Initiatives in New Employment” and, really, it’s all about getting local business owners together to talk about the potential we have, as a community, to change people’s lives.

The individuals we serve have developmental disabilities. Some are high-functioning and others need more constant care. But they share one thing in common: they have dreams, hopes, and goals like every other person on this planet. So it should come as no surprise that many of these individuals are working to make their dreams become reality.

Take Douglas, for example. He used to work in the garden with his mother, and those experiences cultivated a love for the earth, and for being outside, in his heart. Douglas was a catalyst for building our own garden and greenhouse here at the center. And, thanks to some very generous community and business members who gave both their time and their money to see it happen, he is able to care for it and sell the vegetables at local markets. He is making connections with the community, building bridges, as we like to say, and the ripple effect from his small success has the potential to grow much, much wider.

So here’s an important question to consider: Why do we work? For an income, that’s obvious. But, mostly, we pursue what we think will give us purpose. What we think will offer us a future. What we think we will enjoy. We take our skills, our passions, and our goals and we put them down on a resume, hoping an employer will take notice and choose us for the job. Douglas, and the many other individuals we serve, are no different.

Well, now is your time to take notice.

We hope you’ll join us at the S.H.I.N.E. event this weekend and learn more about how you can play a role in this exciting, and crucial, time for our community! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @GCRCOfficial, and Like us on Facebook to keep up with all the news about this event and others. And, as always, you can send us an email if you have any questions or would like to RSVP for S.H.I.N.E.

See you Saturday!

A Thousand Words: In The Eyes of an Artist

A Thousand Words Part 2

She is shy about sharing her drawings with the group, but there’s a pride that still shines through, despite her misgivings. She loves to sketch, to trace, and to color, but will everyone else love what she’s done? Will they laugh at her work?

Or will they see what she sees?

Beverly stands from her chair and holds up a sketch of a dinosaur, a triceratops.

“This is one of my favorite drawings that I’ve done,” she says, shifting her feet from side to side. “I trace the ones I like most from other books and color them. I draw my own sometimes, too.”

The colors are soft and shaded between the lines. She’s careful and precise with her work. All artists are with the things they love.

A rounding chorus of “That’s pretty, Beverly!” “I like that!” and “I wish I could draw!” sound from around the room. Beverly visibly relaxes in the wake of their interest and then pulls out a whole book of her drawings, eager to show off more of her favorites.

She guides them through each page, telling a story with her words and with her pictures.

A story worth hearing.

A story worth seeing.

As all good stories are.

A Thousand Words // Carry the Torch

Danny Robinson Story Photo

The pavement is hot and hard beneath his running shoes. His arm is starting to grow heavy from the weight of carrying the flame high above his head. But he keeps going. It’s his turn.

Danny Robinson holds a picture frame in his hands, a picture of himself from eighteen years ago, running through a crowd of people on a summer day in Georgia. It was 1996, the year of the Centennial Summer Olympics. The year Atlanta was selected to be the host of nations and athletes from across the globe. The year of The Magnificent Seven and 44 United States gold medals. Most of us remember that summer with pride and excitement. We can recall parades and marching bands and small town street parties celebrating the “Running of the Torch”. But no one lived it quite like the runners themselves…none quite like Danny.

He shares the story of how he was selected to carry the torch with clear, articulate words. Every few moments, he grows shy. But his hesitation doesn’t last more than a few minutes. The memory of that run is as strong as it was nearly two decades ago, and his joy along with it.

He hears the shouts and cheers of onlookers as he passes by, flame in hand. Cameras click and flash. The motorcade surrounding him rumbles, the smell of gasoline hanging like a curtain in the hot, humid air. But he barely notices. All he can think about is this moment, this opportunity, this day. He keeps running.

“I still have the shirt and shorts I wore,” Danny tells us. “I could probably still fit into them, too!”

Everyone laughs. Danny smiles.

“What was it like?” someone asks from the group.

Danny looks at the picture in his hands. “It was the best day ever.”

What She Understood

Maya Angelou Blog Post

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou

Words are our most powerful weapon. With words, we can build up and strengthen; we can tear down and destroy. This is not a new idea. But it is, perhaps, an idea overlooked. How often do we actually speak with intention? How much do our words represent the goodness of our souls, rather than our fleeting emotions? What are we giving back when we open our mouths or put pen to paper? In a digital age where smart phones have overtaken the cultural landscape and shifted our perception of communication, we ask ourselves: How can this be a positive thing? It certainly isn’t going away. So what can we do to ensure healthy, meaningful connections are formed in light of this change? We don’t fight it. We use it.

We use it to share a Tweet that, in just 140 characters, brings encouragement to someone in the form of a joke, a good news article, or an uplifting blog post. We use it to send smiling photos and heart emojis and Snapchats with our best friends singing our favorite songs. We use it to tell others that they are valuable just the way they are…and they haven’t been forgotten. We become fierce with our love and our words. We just do it differently these days.

Maya Angelou understood the power of words. As a world-renowned poet, author, civil-rights activist, and former U.S. Poet Laureate, she used them to transcend the division we create amongst ourselves and bring about an awareness of shared values and beliefs. She once declared, “By demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends”We’re all people. The deaf, the blind, the hearing, the disabled, the black, the white, the heartbroken, the optimist, the thinker, the feeler. Each of us is evidence of something greater, handcrafted to represent one part of a whole body. So there is inherent value in our differences because they all work together. Or at least they can if we let them.

Angelou leaves behind a legacy of advocacy through words. And while she certainly fought for equality and justice in other ways, her greatest gift was sharing the simple truth that we are all equipped with a powerful weapon.

And it’s up to us how we want to use it.

“The Time of Your Life”: GCRC Prom 2014

On Saturday night, GCRC hosted its 2nd annual prom at the Calhoun Convention Center. This year’s theme was “The Time of Your Life” and it was such a treat to see everyone dressed up in their gowns and suits, dancing and laughing, and having a blast together.

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Tammie looking lovely in her gown!

Each year, we crown a prom king and queen, and we also recognize each individual for his or her contribution to the agency with awards honoring character excellence. We handed out certificates for traits like “Gentle”, “Courageous”, “Funny”, and “Compassionate” and a number of others. We want our individuals to know how much we cherish them and, most importantly, that they each have something important to contribute to our organization and the world.

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Our beautiful centerpieces!

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Our CEO, Mary, and our Social Media & PR Specialist, Wendi

We enjoyed a lovely dinner of grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, and buttered rolls with lots of dessert options! Red velvet cake was a big hit.

We want to thank everyone who came out to celebrate our prom this year, and we hope you’ll come back again in 2015!

P.S. More photos to come!

Come Have “The Time of Your Life” With Us!

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Most high school students get to attend prom at least once in their lives. They spend weeks planning what they’ll wear, where they’ll have dinner, and what kind of flowers to buy. They get all dressed up in gowns and tuxedos and, years later, they can look back on that night and reminisce, hopefully about all the fun they had together.

For many of our individuals, prom was never a reality. But, now, GCRC is proud to host an annual prom so everyone can have the opportunity to feel beautiful (or handsome) and celebrate a night of fun and laughter, food and dancing! This Saturday, May 17th, we’ll be hosting our annual GCRC prom and our theme is “The Time of Your Life”. We had a wonderful time last year and the votes are being tallied for Homecoming Queen and King as I’m typing these words. We’re also excited that we’ll be announcing awards for every individual from GCRC! We invite you to come join us as we celebrate one another and the progress we’ve made as an agency this year.

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Tickets are just $8.50 per person and will go towards your dinner (which is sure to be delicious!). Doors open at 5 p.m. and close at 9 p.m. For more information, please call our office at 706-629-2987.

We hope to see you there!

Photos from GCRC prom 2013