In recognition of her leadership and dedication, Sheila Bobay-Singh, Safe Place Coordinator, received the 2018 Indiana Safe Place Individual Achievement Award. The award was presented by Robin Donaldson, COO of Indiana Youth Services Association, at the December 6 annual meeting in Indianapolis. The Individual Achievement Award also honors Bobay-Singh for efforts to ensure that youth in Harrison and Crawford Counties have access to immediate safety and resources. In presenting the award, Donaldson said Bobay-Singh singlehandedly provided information to 54% of the youth population (ages 10-17) in her two-county service area. “She is an invaluable resource and support to other Safe Place Coordinators in the state,” said Donaldson. “I am pleased to announce the first recipient of the Indiana Safe Place Individual Achievement Award goes to Sheila Bobay Singh.”
Blue River Services, Inc. teamed up with Prevent Child Abuse Harrison County to host a free Back to School Bash for students in Harrison, Jackson and Washington Counties. Children received free school supplies, backpacks, and haircuts. The event pooled resources from multiple community agencies in three counties to gather school supplies. More than 20 community resources also were on hand to distribute information to make life a little bit easier for families. One resource, Safe Kids Harrison County, provided car seat safety checks and handed out 30 plus free car seats. There were more than 700 in attendance and more than 300 backpacks filled with school supplies were given away. The community response was amazing and organizers hope to make this an annual event.
Following a decision by the State of Indiana to contract with an outside transportation broker, Blue River Services, Inc. and its Southern Indiana Transit System (SITS) will no longer be providing transportation to Medicaid participants.
Effective June 1, 2018, Southeastrans will be the designated non-emergency medical transportation provider for fee for service Medicaid members.
All Medicaid recipients who live in the four-county SITS service area, which includes Crawford, Harrison, Scott and Washington Counties, and need non-emergency transportation for medical appointments or treatments, must call Southeastrans at 855-325-7586 to schedule a ride on or before June 1, 2018. The toll-free number will be active on May 14, 2018, if you need to speak with customer service prior to June 1.
Southern Indiana Transit System, a Division of Blue River Services, Inc., is the largest and in some cases, the only transportation provider in the rural Indiana counties of Crawford, Harrison, Scott and Washington. The rural public transportation system will continue its fixed-deviated and demand-response routes for seniors, people with disabilities, children with special needs and the general public. Current transportation schedules will be maintained by SITS Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information about public transportation, including routes and times, please visit our Blue River Services Transportation Page.
Neither wind nor rain… On a breezy Tuesday morning ahead of stormy weather in Harrison County, Lacey Mitchell, left, and Stephanie Rex, plant pinwheels in support of Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. After the first federal law to protect children from abuse and neglect was passed in 1974, it wasn’t until 1982 that additional efforts were made to identify and prevent child abuse, and the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month was designated in April. Now, leadership in the Children’s Department at Blue River Services, Inc. help bring awareness to the cause by placing pinwheels along sidewalks in Corydon. The blue pinwheels also represent the innocence of childhood and stand as a reminder of the great childhoods all children deserve. Blue River Services, Inc. leaders will once again participate in the Harrison County Prevent Child Abuse Community Awareness Event. Please join us Tuesday, April 24, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the YMCA, or call 812-364-1142.
Every holiday season, the Children’s Services Department at Blue River Services, Inc. partners with Harrison County Prevent Child Abuse (PCA) to give back to the communities they serve. The 2017 season was busier than expected, but with the help of community members and organizations, Blue River Services provided assistance to more than 20 children, 200 canned goods in the North Harrison School District, and raised more than $500.
Marija Zink, Outreach Coordinator, coordinated food and Christmas gift assistance for multiple families with generous donations from Corydon Presbyterian Church, Big Splash Adventure, Horseshoe Southern Indiana, Golf Shores Fun Center, Corydon Cinemas, Hampton Inn, Department of Children Services, Warren Printing, and Butt Drugs.
“With the help of our community, we were able to coordinate Christmas assistance for children in our programs and emergency needs that arose within the community,” said Julia Baylor, Director of Children’s Services. “We all came together and made a difference by meeting many needs in our community. We also raised critical funds that will help the agency continue its after school programs.”
Baylor said the agency is faced with funding shortage each year and relies solely on community support to continue services once grant funding runs out. Blue River Services accepts clothing, non-perishable food items and financial contributions at any of its locations. Donations also can be made online at www.brsinc.org. For more information regarding donations of clothing or other items, please contact Marija Zink at 812-364-1142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Healthy Families Program Offers New Parents Source of Comfort, Hope
In rural Crawford, Washington and Harrison Counties, single parents and poverty rank especially high. With 2,547 single parents in the tri-county area in 2016 and 6,812 food stamp recipients in 2017, the area also is known for its continuing drug epidemic.
Just ask Crystal Hess, a single mother who struggled with drug addiction for many years.
With the help of Healthy Families, though, Hess has become a nurturing mother, wife, homeowner and restaurant manager. The state-funded program, offered by Blue River Services, Inc. in Harrison, Washington and Crawford Counties, offers new and expectant parents free, voluntary and confidential assistance. Hess successfully graduated from the program in January 2018.
A Family Support Specialist, who helps parents like Hess cope with stress, identify needs and build on strengths, can even help families with parenting skills and developing goals. The ongoing services also include screening for post-partum depression, a grave condition affecting Hess, along with 600,000 other women in the United States annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control. With referrals to community resources and doctors, and developmental in-home assessments, Hess and her son also began receiving services through First Steps after Healthy Families staff identified a developmental delay. Her son received in-home speech and language therapy through First Steps, and at 3-years-old, he is now eligible to participate in an Exceptional Learners program at North Harrison Elementary.
Blue River Services, Inc. Partners with Local Schools, Awarded $475,000 for 21st Century Community Learning Centers
Blue River Services, Inc. has received funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant that will provide afterschool programming at North Harrison, Morgan, East Washington and Medora schools for the next four to eight years. Blue River Services was awarded $300,000 per year and Medora Community Schools, in partnership with Blue River Services, was awarded $175,000 for programming at the elementary and Jr. High schools.
The original grant cycle is for four years, beginning with the 2018-19 school year. However, for the first time, if grantees remain compliant with all expectations during the initial four-year period, the state will allow them to request annual extensions for four additional years.
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program is a federally-funded program that provides at-risk students a safe environment during non-school hours. Programs may be held at one or multiple sites, which may be in schools, or community or faith-based facilities. All centers must provide a range of high-quality services to support regular school-day academics and development, including tutoring and mentoring, academic enrichment, such as homework assistance, reading, math, science, and technology programs, service learning, character education, physical education, recreational activities, and dropout prevention.
Blue River Services, Inc. has been awarded the highest level of accreditation by CARF International for its programs in Employment Services (Supports, Job Development and Organizational Employment); Community Integration; Home and Community Services; Respite Services and Supported Living.
This is the eighth consecutive survey Blue River Services has been awarded a three-year accreditation, which demonstrates the agency’s commitment to exceptional personalized care, accountability and satisfaction of persons served.
CARF International is an independent, non-profit accreditor of health and human services providers and a public seal of trust and commitment to quality based on internationally accepted standards.
For additional information about the CARF accreditation process, please visit www.carf.org.
Community Resources Department Holds Annual Team Challenges
Now in its 17th year, the Community Resources Department at Blue River Services, Inc. held its annual team building event, where In-Home Services and Habilitation program staff went head-to-head in team challenges and were recognized for their outstanding work.
On December 14, In-Home Services North and South once again battled it out, and the south won bragging rights. On December 20, Habilitation staff competed. Challenges included building the highest structure possible with Legos while wearing oven mitts, and moving candy canes from the table to a coffee cup using only their mouth and another candy cane. Teams also competed in a spirited Jeopardy-inspired Q and A game and scavenger hunt.
“The point of the challenges is that groups must work as a team to accomplish the task,” said Tammy Seitz, Director of Community Resources. “Working well as a team significantly impacts our consumers’ success. That’s why staff have participated in the annual team building challenges since 2000.”
Two staff members also were honored for their hard work and dedication. Cindy Ehle was named Residential Staff of the Year, and Marlea Williams received Day Services Staff of the Year.
Blue River Services, Inc. was honored as a 10 year accredited business at the Better Business Bureau’s 2017 Torch Awards, held November 1 at The Olmstead in Louisville. The award was presented by Reanna Smith-Hamblin, BBB President and CEO, while local reporter Kirby Adams, who emceed the event, told the sold-out crowd about the agency and its mission.
Blue River Services meets all 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability and is a seal holder.
Marking one decade of a distinctly memorable tradition, the annual Habilitation Prom was at its peak October 7 at Southern Hills Church in Salem. More than 65 Blue River Services consumers and their dates gleamed and grinned as they entered an imaginative enchanted forest – this year’s theme.
Trees with fairies, woodland creatures, toadstools and gnomes were just a few of the things prom goers encountered. From an actual forest complete with park bench, to intricate centerpieces and thoughtful take-home gifts on each table, staff volunteers, who even wore butterfly wings and frilly tutus to add to the ambiance, left no enchanted stone unturned when planning the night.
“Thirty volunteers came together to make this night special,” said Tammy Seitz, Director of Community Resources, who has been planning the event since its inception. “They donated their time, talents and kindness – we had a wonderful group.”
The evening started with fettuccini “magnifico,” breadsticks and fruit salad for dinner, followed by cupcakes for dessert. After the Italian feast, DJ Phil Stahl got the dance floor rocking and rolling.
Then it was time for the royal moment everyone had been waiting for -- crowning of this year’s court. Led by Seitz and Habilitation Manager Donna Davis, Eddy Howell was crowned King, and Karen Ellenbrand was crowned queen. The 2017 Prince was Ralph Baker and Princess was Annie Gilstrap. Kevin Smith was honored as Duke and Caroline Johnson, Duchess. This year’s sweethearts were longtime couple Dennis Martin and Cindy Lawson.
After the excitement and photo ops with the royal court wound down, Bob Hampton, an Elvis impersonator, elated the crowd, and the true Elvis fans broke out their best King-inspired dance moves as they sang along.
As the evening ended, everyone collected a fairy or enchanted dragon necklace and a painted ladybug rock as a memento of their magical night in the enchanted forest.
“This year’s event was a huge success because of our wonderful staff, volunteers and several donations, including nearly $1,000, food and craft supplies for decorations,” said Seitz. “We had a wonderful turnout and the consumers had a great time – the true measurement of our success. I look forward to continuing this tradition for many years.”
A Very Special Thanks to Our Donors:
Steve Trusty (Trusty Tires), Lucas Oil, Thriftway, Patty Coglazer, Tony Burns, Bill Lookatch, Linda Smith, Barb Miller, Roxanne Snider, Mary Stockton, Dennis Wessel, Sandy Beams and Lynn Eliot.
And Our Amazing Volunteers:
Charity & Jeffrey Ash, Linda Hardin, Ashley Walton, Vicki Saunders, Kay Hamilton, Charna Linsk, Marlea Williams, Tonia Elkins, Lynn Eliott, Sandy & Brian Beams, Brenda Callahan, Ronda Elrod, Barb Miller, Liz & Jess Pendygraft, Sonja Oakes, Cynthia Porter, Murie, Wayne, & Tim Medlock, Donna Davis, Mandy Davis, Dennis Wessel, Jessica & Mike McKinley, Michelle DeWitt, and Stephanie Sabins.
Blue River Services, Inc. held its annual job fair October 16 at the Harrison County Community Foundation in Corydon, where candidates were able to meet and even interview on the spot with hiring managers from throughout the organization.
The agency hopes to grow its team of caring professionals to better serve community members. If you missed the job fair, but are interested in joining Blue River Services, click on the Careers tab for a list of open positions and contact information.
Do you have a student loan debt that you would like forgiven?
If you are a former student with an outstanding Federal loan, you may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program if you come work for Blue River Services, Inc. Check out all the job opportunities we offer and visit the Public Service Loan Forgiveness website for more details.
As Blue River Services, Inc. held its All-Staff In-Service on September 28, most of the agency’s 383 employees who gathered at Lincoln Hills Christian Church realized an apogee of history, hope and hospitality that has changed the societal landscape for people of all backgrounds. Since its humble beginning in 1959, Blue River Services has been changing the outlook and outcomes for children with disabilities, developing and maintaining healthy lifestyles for adults with disabilities and improving the lives of all people in 33 Indiana counties through programs as diverse as the population they serve.
With the fitting theme, “Agents of Change,” the mass training articulated the agency’s magnitude and impact through video, testimony and staff accolades.
“It’s not until we get everyone together in one room that the magnitude of what Blue River Services does becomes evident,” said Daniel J. Lowe, President and CEO. “You do incredible work in changing the lives of individuals and families we serve, but the changes you make go far beyond the obvious.” “Societal changes are not as obvious and immediate as individual changes,” he continued, “but they are just as real.” “Add together all those changes you are helping to make and your work is improving the collective quality of life in Southern Indiana.”
Blue River Services, Inc. adapted its motto of “People Serving People” to “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” for a day in support of Rauch, Inc.’s inaugural Rauch & Roll event July 8 to help raise funds for services that support people with disabilities and the WHAS Crusade for Children.
The Blue River Services team, led by Nona Besendorf, BSW, social service liaison in the Residential Supervised Group Living Department, raised $350 for the cause and walked a mile around the Industrial Park in New Albany where Rauch is located.
“The residents all enjoyed the walk,” said Besendorf, who was recently recognized for her 30 years of service at Blue River. “We enjoyed music, food and everyone was given a t-shirt for participating. It was a great day.”
Rauch & Roll is a non-competitive walk/roll (by wheelchair, stroller, etc.) around the one-mile course at Rauch, Inc., followed by music and a cookout.
BRS group home residents Tom Davito, Stephen Ledford (white sunglasses), Randy Beckett, left, and Donald Fancher participate in Rauch and Roll.
From left, Pat Borho, Stephen Ledford, and Nona Besendorf, BSW, share a laugh during lunch following their 1K walk.
Eastern High School and Blue River Services, Inc. have joined forces to create an academic and career focused afterschool program known as D.E.L.T.A. (Determination, Excellence, Leadership, Talent, and Achievement).
D.E.L.T.A. kicked off this summer with a “Healthcare Careers” mini-camp at Eastern High School. During the camp, healthcare professionals from St. Vincent Hospital in Salem came to EHS to give presentations and provide valuable information on many different healthcare career paths. The camp culminated with a trip to St. Vincent Hospital where hospital staff provided a complete tour of the facility and students were able to shadow healthcare professionals on the job. The camp helped students increase knowledge about their current career interests. The D.E.L.T.A. program, designed to provide enriching academic activities and introduce high school students to a variety of career options, will be provided throughout the school year.
"We are excited to provide this opportunity to our students at Eastern High School,” said Principal Darrin Farris. “Our partnership with local businesses is a key component to the success of our program."
While the Healthcare Camp was provided over the summer, the first year of programming will be laid out as follows:
- First 9 weeks – Starting Over, Starting Off Right – No matter what a student has done in the past, now’s is their chance to start over and this time do it right!
- Second 9 Weeks – Honeymoon is Over – Time to get the work done! Earn the credits, take the online classes, etc.
- Third 9 Weeks – Hobbies – Students choose what they want to learn – Building drones, for example, or taking CNA classes.
- Fourth 9 weeks – Crossing the finish line
The D.E.L.T.A. program is made possible through a 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) grant received by East Washington from the Indiana Department of Education. Eastern High School will receive $292,767 during the 2017-18 school year to fund this exciting new program.
Blue River Services, Inc. and East Washington partnered to write and submit the 21st CCLC grant application. Blue River Services, Inc. has been involved in the education of children throughout the community, including after-school programs, for many years. The agency is the afterschool provider at both East Washington Elementary and Middle School. Blue River Services, Inc. will provide program staffing, be responsible for coordinating all activities, and work with the school to recruit students and add additional partners.
“This will be our first experience with high school programming,” said Julia Baylor, Director of Children’s Services at Blue River Services, Inc. “I am thrilled to be able to work with East Washington on this project. For students to truly be prepared to be successful after high school, they need the skills necessary to balance work, life, and school, as well as the connections required to gain access to interviews, classes and careers. Our program will not only prepare students for immediate employment if desired, but will also give them the training and certifications needed to work their way through further post-secondary education and training.”
The annual Structured Family Caregiving Appreciation Luncheon, held June 15 at Southern Hills Church in Salem, was “a day at the beach.” With lots of sea shells, sun and activities, the afternoon honored the program’s 16 residents and their caregivers.
Part of the Community Resources Department at Blue River Services, Inc., the program offers a unique approach to assisted living for adults with disabilities. With funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Indiana’s Aged and Disabled Waiver, consumers are matched with caring, responsible families who welcome them into their home and provide daily structure in support of improving self-sufficiency.
This year’s resident of the year was Kenny Taylor, who won over staff with his “million-dollar smile” and “mischievous giggle.” Taylor also overcame many physical obstacles and continued to succeed in reaching his goals.
The householders, as the support families are called, also were recognized for their service to Blue River Services, Inc. and the people the agency serves. Debbie Byrd was awarded householder of the year for her 12 years of service and going above and beyond for her consumer, who is considered part of the family.
“Debbie involves the consumer that resides with her in every aspect of her family’s life,” said Tammy Seitz, Director of Community Resources. “This includes family vacations, church events, family reunions and birthday parties. Debbie is an amazing asset to Blue River Services, Inc. and her consumer.”
As everyone finished a beach picnic-inspired lunch provided by Shady Patch Farm, Murie Medlock, program manager, presented a video chronicling residents and their adventures throughout the past year.
The staff at Blue River Services, Inc. Nichols Avenue Group Home in Salem have a lot to celebrate this year. The team accomplished a nearly impossible feat -- receiving a citation-free state survey.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, there are hundreds of regulations a supervised group home must comply with, from documentation, medication administration, custodial care, and health and safety, to individual rights and responsibilities, confidentiality, environmental requirements, and resource availability.
“We have a long history of great surveys at this facility, but it is extremely rare to receive a citation free survey,” said Tim Beitzel, Director of Supervised Group Living. “This shows the exceptional quality of care that Blue River Services provides to their consumers.”
The Indiana State Department of Health, which is responsible for licensing Indiana health care facilities, also serves as the state survey agency for Medicare/Medicaid certification programs, such as group homes. A state surveyor conducts an onsite assessment annually to observe staff and consumers. Interviews with consumers also are held to discuss their level of participation in and choice of services, as well as outcomes.
“The annual recertification process is important,” said Beitzel, “because it holds us to the highest quality standards to provide supports to the individuals we serve.”
Nichols Group Home, operated by Blue River Services, Inc. under the Supervised Group Living program, has been serving adults with developmental disabilities since 1987.
Pictured Above: Nichols Group Home staff members are, from left, Tyra Gant, Stephanie Scifres, Holly Troncin, Carolyn “Susie” Robinson, Elizabeth Navarro-Johnson, and William “B.J.” Spencer, and seated, Deana Williams, left, and Robin Swartz.
Summit View Group Home resident Lowell Norskov brought home gold in three events at the May 13 Special Olympics event held in Seymour, Indiana. Norskov competes in the long jump, 50-meter run and softball throw.
At the April 27 Harrison County Prevent Child Abuse community awareness event are, from left, Heidi Waynescott, foster parent; Brad Fortner, Harrison County DCS Director; Heather Richard, PCA President and BRS Program Manager; Mike Kurz, foster parent; Julia Baylor, BRS Children’s Services Director; Otto Schalk, Harrison County Prosecutor; and Stephanie Rex, PCA Vice President and BRS District Coordinator. The event, held in collaboration with Harrison County DCS, highlighted the importance of child abuse prevention efforts.
Pictured: From left, Dennis Martin, Cindy Lawson, Chad Vandeventer and William Carter pose for a picture at Night to Shine prom, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation.
Consumers from the Community Resources Department at Blue River Services, Inc. had their “Night to Shine” February 10, thanks to the Tim Tebow Foundation, a charity organization committed to celebrating people with special needs.
Dennis Martin, Cindy Lawson, Chad Vandeventer and William Carter joined 75,000 other honored guests around the world for an unforgettable prom night experience held simultaneously at 375 churches in 50 states. Sponsored by the Foundation at Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville, IN, this was the first year Blue River Services’ clients attended the event.
Guests arrived in limousines and made a red-carpet entrance with friendly paparazzi. Everyone was crowned King and Queen and received a silver picture frame to commemorate the occasion.
“We are thrilled to be a part of this amazing event, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, said Tammy Seitz, Director of Community Resources at Blue River Services, Inc. “It was a great opportunity for our consumers to socialize and have a true prom night experience, which is something we might take for granted. They are already looking forward to next year’s event.”
Parents and Students Enjoy “Paint With Me” Family Night at Local Elementary Schools Thanks to Art Grant
Children at Morgan and North Harrison Elementary Schools and their parents participated in a family “Paint With Me” event led by local artist Vanessa Lawson thanks to a generous grant from the Indiana Arts Commission, in partnership with the Region 12 Community Arts Program at Hanover College, and matching funds from the Harrison County Community Foundation. Blue River Services, Inc. received the funds to provide an art enrichment program during the 2016-2017 school year.
The grant was made possible by appropriated funds from the Indiana State Legislature in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts.
Heather Richard, after-school program manager in the Children’s Services Department at Blue River Services, Inc. in Corydon, Indiana has been selected for the prestigious Executive Journey Fellowship. Richard will join 27 other youth professionals for a series of residential retreats designed to promote innovative thinking and approaches within existing youth programs. In addition to the retreats, fellows receive personal renewal scholarships.
Funded by the Lily Foundation, Inc., the fellowship is facilitated by The Journey, a leadership and career development agency for youth professionals.
For a complete list of the 2017 Executive Journey Fellows, visit http://www.thejourneyonline.org/2017/Executives/2017_Exec_Announce.pdf.
The Indiana Department of Education awarded 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program Grants to 57 organizations throughout the state that provide after-school enrichment programs to Indiana students. Awards range from $75,000 to $325,000 and total nearly $10.3 million.
Blue River Services, Inc. was among the recipients, receiving $112,500 to begin a new after-school program at North Harrison Middle School. Julia Baylor, Director of Children’s Services at Blue River Services, Inc. said while the agency has been providing after-school programming at North Harrison and Morgan Elementary schools for several years, parents expressed concern that once their child leaves elementary school, there was nothing available for them.
“Their child is too old for child care, yet too young to simply go home alone, Baylor explained. “Also, once leaving the elementary schools, there is no longer an opportunity for homework assistance or tutoring. “Many of these children have siblings that participate in programs provided in the elementary schools, meaning that parents not only must pick up their elementary child at the school, but then travel another 15+ miles out of the way to retrieve their older child.”