Members of the Delaware County Friendship Homes staff and clients helped ring the bell in Jay for the Salvation Army as part of Home of Hope’s Fifty for 50 campaign. As part of their 50th anniversary year, Home of Hope is making a special effort to acknowledge people and organizations in the community who make a difference in lives at Home of Hope by organizing 50 acts of kindness. Neighbor Appreciation Week is just the first of many activities planned in expectation of exceeding the Fifty for 50 goal.
Home of Hope Recycling Program: Making Green Country even Greener
Did you know if every American would recycle his or her newspaper just one day a week, it would save about 36 million trees a year? One of the region’s largest recycling programs is operated by Home of Hope in Vinita, Claremore, and Jay. The recycling program ranges from newspapers and cardboard to batteries, motor oil and electronics. What makes Home of Hope’s program unique is that the staff of the recycling operation is comprised of more than 20 individuals with developmental and other disabilities along with a dozen job coaches.
“Beyond the benefit recycling brings to the environment,” explained Greg Crawford, Director of Vocational Services, “the programs at Hope Industries, Rogers County Training Center, and Delaware County Friendship Homes, provide meaningful work for our clients and a significant revenue source for our programs. As the recycling industry evolves and grows, we plan to grow right along with it.”
Recycling cardboard is a large part of the program with cardboard balers located at Hope Industries in Vinita, Rogers County Training Center in Claremore, and Delaware County Friendship Homes in Jay. Last year about 462 tons of cardboard was processed at the Claremore and Vinita facilities alone, enough to save more than 7850 trees. As Delaware County Friendship Homes joined with Home of Hope this past year, that annual number is expected to increase significantly.
Rogers County Training Center partners with the City of Claremore and the Metropolitan Environmental Trust to operate Claremore’s free drop-off recycling center at 810 West Ramm Road. The recycling center takes a large number of items including newspapers, cardboard, magazines, junk mail, and phone books. Aluminum cans, glass bottles, batteries, and used cooking and motor oil are collected there as well. The drop-off location recently added e-waste such as computers, televisions and phones. There are fees associated with the collection of some e-waste to assist with the cost of safe disposal, so please check metrecycle.com to determine details. The hours of the recycling center are Monday through Saturday: 10 am to 3 pm and Sundays 12 noon to 5 pm.
“Our partnership in Claremore is a great model for other communities,” continued Crawford. “We would be glad to speak to other communities in the area about similar partnerships and free drop-off recycling centers that benefit all involved.”
In addition to operating the Ramm Road Recycling Center, the staff at Rogers County Training Center conducts a regular route of more than 20 businesses obtaining cardboard and other recyclables.
A route from Vinita’s Hope Industries covers more than 50 businesses. A cardboard recycling bin, open to the public, is located east of the Post Office in Vinita. Besides cardboard, Hope Industries recycles a huge amount of paper received through donations as well as commercial shredding done by Home of Hope’s Centsible Business Center in downtown Vinita. The route from Delaware County Friendship Homes is far reaching as it includes over 200 pick-up locations.
According to Hope Industry Production Manager Rick Davis, the Vinita program also recycles textiles. “When a clothing donation is made to Home of Hope’s Centsible Spending resale stores that is torn, stained or otherwise unsellable, the clothing is bundled and recycled or sold to companies who send the clothing oversees to developing countries. Either way, through textile recycling the clothing is kept out of a landfill.”
“Home of Hope’s recycling program is a win in so many ways,” said Dr. Ralph Richardson, Chief Executive Officer. “Providing such a needed service to our communities while enabling individuals we serve to develop vocational skills to progress toward their full potential is a great collaboration. And the additional funding this operation provides to our programs in a time of government cuts is vital to the services we are able to provide to the more than 200 individuals we serve.”
Thirteen area athletes representing Home of Hope in Vinita and subsidiary Delaware County Friendship Homes (DCFH) in Jay were recently notified of their selection to represent Special Olympics Oklahoma in the 2018 USA Games in Seattle, Washington.
Only 36 athletes and unified partners were chosen for Team Oklahoma based on dedication, enthusiasm, and love for Special Olympics.
Jackie Long will represent Home of Hope in the Athletics division participating in the Pentathlon which includes 100 and 400 meter track events, and the field events of long jump, shot put, and high jump – his favorite being the track events. Jackie is very pleased to receive this honor and excited about his training and trip next summer to the USA Games.
For the defending national champion softball team The Fighting Peacocks, representing northeastern Oklahoma and the Delaware County Friendship Homes is nothing new. The Fighting Peacocks won the national championship in 2016 and 2015, placing 2nd in 2014 and 3rd in 2012. On the state level, the Fighting Peacock teams have been in the state play-offs several years in multiple divisions with the men’s team being state champions for 7 consecutive years.
Alicia Jory, DCFH Residential Services Director, coaches the team and is understandably proud of their record and accomplishments. “Being able to coach this team has been both and honor and a blessing. This group of athletes go above and beyond with their trainings and competitions.”
Jory explains the significance of what some might think is an unusual name. “We are the Fighting Peacocks in remembrance of one of our late athletes, Travis Ellis. Travis loved Special Olympics and everything about it. He had a natural competitive nature, and loved to compete, but most of all, win. When he got upset or excited he called everyone “peacock chickens.” One practice he was excited about a hit that he had gotten and started calling people his favorite, Peacock Chickens, and it just stuck. From then on, we were the Fighting Peacocks.”
From July 1-6, 2018 more than 4,000 Special Olympics athletes and coaches from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will gather in Seattle to compete in 14 Olympic-type team and individual sports before tens of thousands of spectators and volunteers. “Competing at USA Games is an opportunity for our athletes to showcase their skills on a national level. Some of these athletes will come home as national champions!” said John Seals, Head of Delegation and Special Olympics Oklahoma Program Director. “Just as every athlete in the world aspires to reach the best level of competition, the athletes of Special Olympics have those same aspirations.”
Home of Hope CEO Dr. Ralph Richardson agrees. “Home of Hope is so proud of the Fighting Peacock softball team and Jackie Long as an individual pentathlete. Not everyone realizes that Special Olympians work, train, and sweat like all other athletes who are devoted to preparing for competition. To see these men and women being recognized nationally for all their hard work is truly exciting.”
Home of Hope celebrated National Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week last week in honor of direct support professionals who provide services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in our area.
Home of Hope, headquartered in Vinita, provides services throughout northeastern Oklahoma to more than 240 adults with disabilities with a staff of nearly 600, including 200 men and women with developmental disabilities and nearly 350 direct support professionals.
Direct support professionals (DSPs) assist individuals with a disability to lead a self-directed life and contribute to the community, assists with activities of daily living if needed, and encourages attitudes and behaviors that enhance community inclusion.
“Our direct support staff – the men and women who provide daily personal care in each of our 55 homes in five different communities and who work as job coaches in our full range of work settings for individuals with disabilities – these folks are truly the heart of everything we are able to do,” says Dr. Ralph Richardson, CEO at Home of Hope. “They are the ones out there making a difference, helping to make life not just bearable but enjoyable and meaningful for people who have disabilities that make going it alone impossible.”
The national direct support workforce is made up of over 3.6 million workers and the demand is expected to increase by 35% in the next 10 years. While the job can be very demanding, the rewards are great as evidenced by the following stories from a sampling of DSP staff at Home of Hope.
Stephen Bradley started his work life as a heavy equipment operator but an interest in healthcare and a special place in his heart for individuals with disabilities attracted him to his job. “It’s not really a job to me; it is a way of life. The clients are a joy to be around and no matter what is going on in their life, or in my life, they make my day brighter. I want to do my part to help the people I work with achieve their potential. It is amazing what I get to see and be a part of.”
Unlike Stephen, Kristen Black has always known her career path as her mother and father both work at Delaware County Friendship Homes (DCFH) in Jay. Kristen loves her job and often receives compliments from parents of the consumers she works with. “The best part of my job is knowing I make a difference in their lives. I enjoy how the little things, like helping with nails and hair, make them light up. I like going on outings in the community and helping with daily tasks like cooking and cleaning, knowing that everything learned is with the goal of helping them live more independently.”
DeShawn Ewing, who receives services in Jay, expresses the importance of direct support professionals in his life. “Heather (King) makes me feel good about myself and motivates me to do better.” Through his 4 years at DCFH DeShawn has made steady progress toward his goals moving up through the jobs in vocational from working in the recycling program and stocking the snack shop to counting money and working in the office and commissary. DeShawn also credits Shawna Foreman and her family for teaching him many things, especially how to be more patient. Delbert Foreman helped DeShawn become a member of the Fighting Peacocks softball team and he enjoys playing traditional Cherokee marbles with Delbert and Jacob.
A shining example of the dedication and motivation provided by direct support professionals is the story of Tiffany Haddock. Tiffany’s journey with DCFH began 4 years ago when she graduated from Grove High School and joined the DCFH vocational program as a consumer. Tiffany worked very hard and, with the inspiration from direct support professionals, obtained the skills and training to be a DSP herself. Tiffany joined the staff at DCFH as a job coach and receptionist almost 2 years ago. Tiffany says she was nervous at first but proud to have met her goal and gets great satisfaction from helping others. She says she learned a lot about doing her job well from the days when she was receiving services. Many consumers see Tiffany as a role model and follow her example of hard work. Tiffany leads by this example telling those she serves to work hard and do their best. She loves to teach and help people. Her favorite part of her job is seeing people smile. In her spare time Tiffany raises pigs and likes to square dance, teaching clients this talent as well.
Those interested in making a difference in a career as a direct support professional can contact Charlene Lee, Home of Hope Human Recruitment Specialist at 918-256-7825.