A Farewell from Our CEO

Mary's Retirement Photo
It is with great excitement—and also sadness—that I announce the news of my upcoming retirement. While I am looking forward to my future adventure thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, I will certainly miss my colleagues, and my friends, at the George Chambers Resource Center.
I am most appreciative of all the years I have been able to devote toward advocacy on behalf of all individuals supported by George Chambers. I am equally appreciative and grateful to the Board of Directors of George Chambers for their unwavering support throughout my tenure.
We have seen some wonderful things happen and made some significant impacts in the area of human service, and I’m proud of the work we’ve done. The organization has expanded its mission and vision to support the full integration of individuals with cognitive disabilities and operates fully on a person-centered philosophy. In the last ten years, George Chambers has expanded the organization to include significant contracts with vocational rehabilitation, transportation, developmental disabilities supports, employment, specialized medical supplies, respite, in-home supports, and employment training. Audits and Accreditation visits of the organization consistently show compliance at 100% and the organization is well-respected for maintaining excellent records and supports. The most important success, though, has been our commitment to the belief that all individuals, regardless of disability, have a right to engage in community and have access to community in the same way as those without disabilities.
I’ve made some of the most unconditional and loving friendships here. This has never been work for me; it’s just been a beautiful human experience engaging with people in the place where they’re at and having them engage with me in the same unconditional way.
Advocating for and with people with disabilities is still my life’s work, and I will forever continue to advocate on behalf of any disenfranchised person.
I wish George Chambers Resource Center, my colleagues, all individuals and their families, our Board of Directors, and all stakeholders a wonderful future and continued success in advocating and continuing the great work that has been a part of this organization for so long.
Hike on,
Mary

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!

Happy 2017!

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Now that what many viewed as a tumultuous 2016 has passed, we are looking to the new year with equal parts excitement and hope. It’s easy to get bogged down in what seems like the never-ending cycle of tragedy and loss, but there is always light in the darkness.

And how do we know that? Because we woke up this morning.

The sheer fact that you are alive today means that this moment has a purpose. Such an idea requires diligence and intentionality if it’s to be lived effectively—if we are to really embrace today for the gift that it is—and that can be a challenge. We rush from one thing to the next—checking tasks off our work, family, and social calendars—because in many ways it’s what we’re required to do. But how we schedule our lives determines how we live our lives.

Is it cliche to ask that in 2017 we learn how to live slowly? Perhaps.

But cliches ring true because they are rooted in truth.

Living slowly in 2017 is not asking you to stop being busy; it’s asking you to stop filling your lives with things that zap your energy, to stop saying yes to things when you should be saying no, and to cease the endless striving for more. There will always be tasks that require sacrifice and effort on our part, and they won’t always be enjoyable…but it’s time to ask ourselves: Are they beneficial? Are they useful? Are they meaningful? These are the things we want to spend our time doing in 2017.

There is important work to be done. There will always be important work to be done. But let’s get busy doing what matters, not running a race that doesn’t belong to us.

Cheers to you—and to all of us—this new year. May our days and our lives spark a new hope in our world.

Grand Opening and Open House!

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Last Tuesday, we hosted the ribbon cutting and grand opening celebration for our brand new employment training center. It was a perfect day! We hosted visitors from all across the community and the state, including GA House Rep. John Meadows and Calhoun Mayor Jimmy Palmer, and celebrated with music, food, and even a fun little photo booth.

It’s been a long road to get here, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of the people in our community. If you’d like to learn more about the grand opening, as well as the training facility itself, please check out our mentions in the Calhoun Times below:

Groundbreaking made on George Chambers Resource Center

George Chambers to host grand opening for facility that will train adults with disabilities

George Chambers holds grand opening for recent expansion

 

 

Gordon County Chamber Breakfast

A few weeks ago, our agency hosted the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Booster Breakfast. We were honored to be there and speak on behalf of the people we support on a daily basis. And the most amazing part of the event was that, by sharing our mission and, most importantly, our passion for helping individuals with disabilities lead independent lives, our community received an intimate glimpse into what this work is all about. And why it’s so incredibly important.

Mary introduced our speaker and GCRC’s Program Services Coordinator, Brandy. Having their leadership has made so much difference for our agency. It’s not an easy thing to stand up in front of a crowd and speak period, much less tell those people why – in so many words – our culture still has a lot of work to do when it comes to embracing individuals with developmental disabilities. But Mary and Brandy did it with grace and class. And it made people take notice.

Or, it could have been this rocking performance:

Either way, we are truly grateful for the opportunity to connect with our community and we look forward to all the ways – big and small – in which we can help improve the lives of those we support.

Thank you to the Gordon County Chamber of Commerce for allowing us to host this year’s Booster Breakfast. And thank you for all you do in this community!

Meet GCRC: Melissa Bagnoche, Quality Compliance Director

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It’s Friday again and you know what that means…another installment of our “Meet GCRC” series! Today, we’re proud to introduce you to a woman of many talents, our lovely Quality Compliance Director, Melissa Bagnoche. Melissa is involved in a number of projects and teams both here at GCRC and in a variety of community service organizations. She gives so much of herself and we are grateful for her hard work!

Hello! My name is Melissa Bagnoche and I have worked at George Chambers Resource Center since January 25th, 2011. My background is actually healthcare and I worked as a Radiologic Technologist for 10 years prior to starting my career with George Chambers Resource Center. I left Radiology because of the long commute I was making to Atlanta each work day. I decided to apply for a part-time position as a Receptionist at George Chambers Resource Center while my daughter was in school. I then became full-time as the Administrative Assistant. I am now the Quality Compliance Director. I am the Chair-Person for the Quality Improvement General Committee and also the UM/Peer Review Sub-Committee. I am the Vice-Chair for the Training Sub-Committee and the Policy & Procedures Sub-Committee. I also serve on our Board of Directors. I am a member of the Kiwanis Club of Calhoun and serve with Wendi, our Social Media & Public Relations Specialist, as a representative from George Chambers Resource Center at the Kiwanis Meetings. I honestly feel I have not only found a career that certainly has changed my life, but also a second family in the staff and the wonderful individuals we have the pleasure of serving each day. The individuals we serve literally teach me something new about life each day and inspire me to be a better person.

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Outside of work, I live in Adairsville with my husband of 25 years, Shawn. We have one beautiful 10-year old daughter named Madilyne and she is the light of both of our lives. My husband transferred with his company thirteen years ago from Terre Haute, Indiana to Cartersville, Georgia. We bought our home in Adairsville three months after the move.   have an amazing family in Indiana and Arizona that I miss dearly, but we have no plans on moving anywhere else. We are home!

If you want to connect with Melissa, you can send her an email here or follow her on Twitter.

Meet GCRC: Brandy McConnell, Program Services Director

Brandy Happy Friday! It’s time for another installment  in our “Meet GCRC” series and, today, we are  proud to introduce you to our fabulous  Program Services Director: Brandy McConnell.  Brandy is stylish and sweet and we can always  count on her to provide some comic relief  when work gets too stressful (because, let’s  face it, even the best jobs have hard days,  too!). Most importantly, Brandy keeps our  services in line with the goals we have set for  this organization and she ensures they will  truly benefit the individuals we support.

Hi, I’m Brandy McConnell, Program Services Director for The George Chambers Resource Center. I have been a part of the GCRC family since August 2002. I began my career as an instructional aide, next as a CNA, and further on down the road I began working with Supportive Employment before splitting duties as a Program Coordinator. Now I have the fun task of overseeing several programs under the Medicaid Waiver and State Funded Programs. I am currently working towards receiving my Bachelor’s degree from Shorter University so that one day I can push my boss out of the way and have a new title as CEO (by the way, I know Mary would find this very funny).

I really enjoy the work I do for GCRC; it is not only is fulfilling, but it also has helped me to be able to work with my son, who was diagnosed with Autism at the age of three. I am proud to say that I am the mother of three teenagers who are my pride and joy. My daughter Shasta is a junior, my son Ashton is an eighth grader, and my son Dorian is a freshman. I would love to bore you with interesting things, such as my hobbies, but I really don’t have any to give you; however, I will say I am a true southerner who loves to sip her sweet tea and watching countless hours of one of football, one of my favorite past times.

If you’d like to get connected with Brandy, you can send her an email here. Thanks for reading! We hope you all have a great weekend!