Meet GCRC: Joan Miles, Financial Officer

IMG_6974Happy Friday! And thanks for reading along with us on this series as we showcase the people at GCRC who keep our organization running smoothly. Today, we are proud to introduce you to Joan Miles, our Financial Officer. Joan is funny, smart, and kind, and her engaging personality makes her a joy to work with each day. She is primarily responsible for keeping GCRC, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, fiscally compliant, transparent, and efficient. She is vital to this organization and we are so grateful for her!

Read more about Joan below:

Hi I am Joan Miles.  I have been with George Chambers for almost 12 years.  I started as the Transportation Coordinator and, a year later, I accepted the position of Business Manager. I now hold the position of Financial Officer. I love my job!  I get so much joy from sharing time with the people in our services. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my children: Tayler, (yes, “Tayler” with an “e”), Kathryn, Zach, and Jackson.  Jackson, my youngest, will graduate from Sonoraville High School this year, leaving only my other babies – Corbin and Dewey, my two father and son Yorkies, as well as Hershel, a Havana Brown cat I rescued from the Gordon County Animal Shelter – to keep me company. In my free time, I also enjoy working out, swimming in the summer, and sitting by the fire on cold nights.
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The other babies
If you want to connect with Joan, you can send her an email here.
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Meet GCRC: Glenda Collins, Assistant to the CEO

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Happy Monday!

We hope you all had a merry Christmas and a very happy  holidays! We’re excited to see what this new year is going to  hold for us and we can’t wait to share it with all of you.

Today, we are continuing our series “Meet GCRC” and we  would like to introduce Glenda Collins, Assistant to the CEO.  Glenda is a huge blessing to our organization because she is  the one we count on for all the little details. She works  incredibly hard and we are so glad to have her!

Hi! My name is Glenda Collins and I’m the Assistant to the CEO. I have been employed with George Chambers Resource Center since October of 2012. I am also the Secretary of George Chambers Resource Center’s Board of Directors. Working with George Chambers Resource Center has been a great opportunity & experience for me. I have a different outlook on life and can see things in a way I never really understood before. I am so thankful to get to share what George Chambers Resource Center provides for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Outside of work, I am a wife and mother. My husband and I were high school sweethearts and we have been married for five years. We have two beautiful little girls, Kymberly and Katelyn Collins. They are both my world! Family is everything to me!

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If you want to say hi to Glenda, feel free to send her an email using our contact page.

Meet GCRC: Wendi Nunnery, Social Media & Public Relations Specialist

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Today we want to introduce another GCRC staff  member to our readers. Her name is Wendi Nunnery  and she is our Social Media & Public Relations  Specialist. Wendi has been a part of our team since  December of 2013 and we are so glad to have her!  Learn more about Wendi below:

Hi there! As you know, my name is Wendi and I’m  GCRC’s Social Media & Public Relations Specialist.  Basically, I’m in charge of all of our social media  accounts, including the management of this blog, as  well as representing GCRC in the media. I spend my  time online all day, every day, creating schedules for our social media accounts, which include Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (where you should follow us!), reading and re-posting relevant news, researching, and writing everything from short film scripts, emails, and press releases to blogs entries and social media updates. I also attend Kiwanis meetings each week as a representative of GCRC and get to connect with other people in our community there. A few months ago, I had the very special privilege of shooting, scripting, and producing a short film you might have seen called For Your Consideration: A Look at Supported Employment. The film was created to showcase what our region has been doing to provide employment opportunities with individuals with disabilities and, most importantly, to reveal just how valuable this cause is, not only for those with disabilities but for the general public, as well.

I’ve been working with GCRC for a year now and it has been so much fun getting to know our staff and the individuals we support. It has opened my eyes to a community I have always known existed, but didn’t really understand. And now the passion our team has for helping serve those who have often been disregarded by society is a passion I share. I’m thankful that I get to spread the word about what we do with others and I hope that people will come to care about individuals with disabilities as much as we do.

Outside of work, I am an author, wife, mother, and friend, among other things. I am active in our church where I volunteer and lead a small group of some really incredible women. My husband and I have been married for six years and we have a little girl named Lucy who just turned one. She is the sweetest baby and we adore her! I am also a Huffington Post blogger and my debut noel, The Best Kept Secret, will be released by BookFish Books on June 2, 2015.

Thanks for letting me share a bit of my world with you today. Please feel free to keep up with our work by following us on Instagram and Twitter @GCRCOfficial. You can also Like our Facebook page here. If you want to know more about me, you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @ladynunnery or Like my Facebook page here. You can also read my blog.

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. 

 

From the CEO

The George Chambers Resource Center (GCRC) is coming to the close of its 13/14 FY and what a year we’ve had! We would like to thank the many individuals and businesses in our area who are responsible for making this FY one of our best. As a private non-profit, GCRC depends on the support and generosity of all community members in maintaining progressive and expansive services for individuals seeking our services and support. This year we have been fortunate to receive continued support from the United Way of Gordon County, Mohawk Industries, Shaw Industries, Home Depot of Calhoun, Belwood Nursery, Calhoun Kiwanis Club, WJTH, Gordon County and Calhoun City Schools, Calhoun Women’s Club, Calhoun Convention Center, GCRC Board of Directors, Gordon County Government, and the City of Calhoun. We are also fortunate to have the support of many community members, Nancy and Sam Ratcliffe, Photography for our 1st and 2nd Annual Prom events, Derrick Williams with Dukes BBQ, Kris Jewell with WJTH, Viridiana, aka Vinnie and Ray Stone with Belwood Nursery, and last, but certainly not least, GCRC staff and the many families and individuals who have selected GCRC as their service provider.

This year has been a year of changes. We here at GCRC share a united philosophical approach to our reason for being a service provider of developmental disabilities, and this shared philosophy has been the drive behind our changes. We believe that all individuals within the community contribute to the community at large and that all individuals should have the opportunity to be involved. We have taken a look at exactly what being a service provider means and have determined that our path is not a path that should be just a business. While we certainly must follow a budget, offer a service, and maintain the business aspect of our organization, we feel the real work we are trying to do is debunk myths, ensure the rights for individuals, advocate and integrate to the point that maybe one day our services will no longer be needed. That’s a powerful statement! Our services may no longer be needed? Correct. If we do the work the right way and the community involvement supports our work, then a change will occur. Communities will reach a higher level of understanding around valuing, employing, and involving all members. Once that level of commitment is reached, then you will not need us to make sure individuals with disabilities are integrated. You, as a community whole, will naturally embrace all members, including those with developmental disabilities. Until then….here is what we have been up to this FY and our plan for the upcoming 2015 FY.

GCRC held its second annual prom on May 17, 2014, with 100 people in attendance. The night was filled with dancing, singing, food and fun. A prom king and queen were chosen and last year’s prom king and queen honored. The theme was, “The Time of Your Life” and it was certainly appropriate. You can see pics on our Facebook page. Please take a look. Next year, we plan to change the title to the GCRC Ball and will extend an invitation to all community members to join us in the fun. You can even participate in the voting of our King and Queen.

GCRC, with the support of the Gordon County Board of Commissioners, has been able to apply for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) This grant, if received, will mean a 3,500 square foot addition that will house a theatrical area, driving simulation training area, a mock Italian restaurant, a kitchen, for cooking those vegetables grown in our greenhouse project, a grocery store for  the actual purchasing of non-perishable goods, a banking area and a therapy area. These will be our areas for training that will ensure those “rites of passage” missed by individuals can be fulfilled. We believe it is an overlooked area of an individual’s life; the rite of passage to turn 16, get a car, and then a job (cause you gotta have fuel), and eventually move into your own place in the community. We have many individuals who desire this opportunity and we intend to support those desires. Does this mean that once all of these goals have been accomplished we stop our support? No, unless we are asked to. We provide many services and can continue supports in the form of Community Living Services, helping support individuals to live independently in their own home. Other individuals may want to pursue other avenues, such as, employment, yet still live at home with their family, and they may not want to drive a car. We can still support those pursuits and provide the needed transportation and employment training. Keep your fingers crossed for us for this Block Grant. Our agency has tripled our services over the last two years and we must have the additional space.

GCRC has completed the renovation of their dining area, their coffee shop area, and the personal care room. During FY 12/13, we came to the realization that our agency was, in subtle ways and without meaning to, devaluing the very individuals we served. We took a look around and took real notice of the type of furniture we were using. While the staff and visitors were afforded comfortable, although faux, leather chairs, the persons who had chosen us as a service provider were seated in plastic chairs at plastic tables. Should this matter? Sure. It sends a very subtle message about importance.

We determined that we wanted to send a message that everyone was “equally” important. We were able to write a grant request to the Ratner Foundation and with their financial support were able to purchase comfortable, oversized, cushioned chairs and very nice blonde wood training tables. Additionally, GCRC was able to write a grant request to Mohawk and this provided the financial means to renovate the dining area and a personal support area. Shaw Industries, Kiwanis, and the Calhoun Women’s Club purchased items and completely redecorated a training area into a coffee shop, complete with recliners, coffee service, and music. This area is used by individuals who just want to relax. They may not want to be in service mode for an hour, or two or three. They just relax. This is not a billable service, but remember it is not all about the money. Developmental Disabilities Services are a non-retirable service. You can’t retire, no matter your age, and still keep the service. We have individuals who are aging and don’t want to be in full services all the time, but still need our supports. We offer home services based on these needs, but folks still want to get out and about, so we created a spot to relax for a bit if someone gets tired while they’re out and about. Trust me, these changes in just furnishing certain areas, have made a difference in how people value others and themselves.

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If you have an opportunity, please take a look at our Facebook page, The George Chambers Resource Center, Inc., and you can see pictures of our changes. While there, please “Like” our Facebook page and you will receive regular updates on our community involvement.

During FY 15, beginning July 1, 2014, look for us to be active in our community with the following programs/initiatives.

GCRC is involved in some very innovative and progressive changes for the upcoming FY 15. We are currently working with the the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) and their joint agreement with Vocational Rehabilitation (Voc. Rehab) to take part in a “Supported Employment Pilot Program” set to begin on July 1, 2014. This program will actually be responsible for developing new rates for providers for Supported Employment Services, and will support at least 10 of our individuals and/or individuals identified by Voc Rehab and DBHDD in the pursuit and successful establishment of a job in our community. Much of the work on this program will be time limited and will have goals and expectations we must meet as an agency in order to be successful.

A second program we are involved in is an additional supported employment “initiative” begun by the DBHDD Region 1 Office and their Quality Council.  Region 1 includes Banks, Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Cobb, Dade, Dawson, Douglas, Fanin, Floyd, Forsyth, Franklin, Gilmer, Gordon, Habersham, Hall, Haralson,Hart, Lumpkin, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, Walker, White, and Whitfield counties. The GCRC has two members of its staff, myself and Sarah Stone, and a consultant who is an expert in the area of Supported Employment and a former State Office DBHDD colleague of mine, Kate Brady, who have been involved in helping establish two workgroups that also includes members of the State Regional Office, whose main goal is to educate families, community members, business leaders and employers in the community on the employment of individuals with developmental disabilities. The two workgroups, one for the families and one for the business community, intend to hold portable Family Cafes with family members and Business Meetings with local Chambers of Commerce and employers in the community. We have now identified  the first of the counties to hold these meetings and are working on dates, times, motivational speakers, and locations. The counties identified are beginning in Dade County, down to Floyd, over to Cherokee, up to Fannin and back over to Dade. This is a perfect square on our state map and right in the center is Gordon County.  The first Family Cafe and the first Business Meeting sessions will be held in Gordon County and we will be seeking a location once we identify how many families we can expect. The number of families identified should be completed at our June 11, 2014 meeting. As the Chair of the Family Cafe Committee, and the Co-Chair of the Business Committee, and a representative of our county’s developmental disabilities services, I want to see our county take the lead on this initiative and be known as a progressive community in the area of employment for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Keep your fingers crossed that we receive the CDBG in the fall of this year and work can begin on the addition to the agency. We are just a few numbers away from full capacity for services and in order to meet the need of upcoming graduates who may request our services, we must add an addition to the agency, or should we not receive the CDBG, seek an additional location to expand our services.

GCRC will be working closely with our Board of Directors to revise our Mission and Vision statements. We feel this is an important step based on the changes to the agency during the past FY. We want to make sure both statements speak to our belief in full integration of individuals with developmental disabilities.

We will hold the GCRC Ball in May of 2015 and are extending an invitation to you all now. Please mark a tentative date on your calendar for May 16, 2015. 

We thank you all for your belief in the work we do and for your support, advocacy and friendship. If I did not mention you by name or business, please know you are ALL valuable to us!

 

Talking About: Supported Employment

One of the most important things for us to keep in mind for our individuals are the standards of supported employment. This is why our CEO, Mary West Barclay, is an active member of the GA Region 1 Supported Employment Committee, along with our guest on the blog today, Kate Brady, who is sharing a little about her experience during their most recent meeting:

This group convened with the mission to exceed state standards in Supported Employment services for adults receiving developmental disabilities services in the region. In-depth conversations identified challenges, barriers, and opportunities for improvement. While the Regional office works to collaborate with the State, this group of dedicated providers will engage in problem-solving activities across their 31-county region.

First in a series of activities will be an employment conference held for families. The event will be portable and offer an evening of information and resources relevant to employment. The committee will request collaboration from partners including Vocational Rehabilitation services, Social Security services, and Work Incentive Planning and Assistance projects. The event will be replicable and held in multiple locations across the region.

The group also identified employers as a key resource for advancing employment for people with developmental disabilities and as such has planned to join and present to local Chambers of Commerce. Upon the development of a PSA-style video about the merits and opportunities afforded to employers who engage in hiring employees with disabilities, this resource, also under discussion by the committee, will be distributed broadly to employers and community members.

Thank you, Kate, for visiting us today! We’re excited about the work the Supported Employment Committee is doing for our individuals and for the state of Georgia. Keep up the great work!

More about Kate:

Kate Brady, PhD ABD, has over 12 years of experience leading organizational, team, and individual change through the development and implementation of elaborate research endeavors. As Director of Research at the National Organization on Disability, Kate led the Return to Careers project investigating the career goals and support needs of veterans with PTSD and TBI, collaborated on the resulting development of NOD’s Intensive Career Transition Support Model™, and subsequently co-authored the Wounded Warrior Careers Demonstration report, which was published in 2013. Prior to NOD, Kate served as the Director of Employment Policy for Georgia’s State Developmental Disabilities Agency. She entered the field of disability employment by coordinating a U.S. DOL ODEP Customized Employment Grant designed to support people with high-impact of disability in reaching customized employment goals. In addition to this work, Kate has consulted nationally on best practices in the support of employment for people with disabilities.

From the CEO

Happy Friday!

Today, it is our privilege to introduce you to our fearless leader, Mary West Barclay, and hear a few words from her on what The George Chambers Resource Center is all about…and why our work is so vital for our communities:

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Welcome! At GCRC, we are proud of our shared philosophy in individualization of our services. We want to know who you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go, and provide any service that will ensure your success. We believe that our reason for being is not complete until we advocate, educate, and provide integrated opportunities, not only for individuals in services, but for members of our community, as well. Our agency is a reflection of this belief and we are proud of the steps we have taken to provide an organization that is welcoming and provides a multitude of services that can be coordinated to meet each individual request. 

Now that our new website has launched, and the blog is up and running, we’ve seen an incredible response from the community. We’ve begun receiving emails regarding our ability to provide services to additional individuals and we want to thank you all for taking the time to visit and learn more about us. Please know that a site visit from any individuals interested in our services, or families inquiring about future services, for their sons/daughters, are always possible. No appointment is necessary. Drop by anytime! We would love to meet you.

Thanks for reading today! To learn more about Mary, please visit our Who We Are page.