BRS Plants Pinwheels for Prevention and Awareness of Child Abuse

The perfect childhood symbol, a pinwheel and its whimsicality capture the treasure of carefree years and innocence that all children deserve. In 2008, Prevent Child Abuse America introduced the pinwheel as the new national symbol for child abuse prevention, and launched its signature campaign – Pinwheels for Prevention.

Since then leaders nationwide, including Heather Richard, President for Prevent Child Abuse Harrison County, have campaigned for awareness by planting pinwheel gardens as a reminder and symbol of child abuse prevention. This year, the Harrison County group doubled the number of participating businesses.

“Prevent Child Abuse of Harrison County prides itself on working within the community to help prevent child abuse and neglect among our children,” Richard said. “If PCA and the community work together, we can form a vital team that will help us nurture and grow our greatest assets -- our children and youth -- paving the way for them to become tomorrow’s leaders.”

Richard, who also serves as Manager of After School Programs at Blue River Services, Inc., and the PCA Harrison County group will host its annual awareness event for the community on Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Buffalo Trace Park in Palmyra.

The event will coincide with Blue River Services’ second annual Color Walk for Children and Families hosted by the Children’s Services Department. As part of the Color Walk activities, attendees will plant a large pinwheel garden at the park before the event. Both events are open to the community.

Members of Harrison County PCA also meet bi-monthly to discuss ways to build community resources and relationships for families and children. For more information about the awareness event, Color Walk or PCA Harrison County, please email Marija Zink at brcsoc@brsinc.org.

Harrison County Boy Scout Completes Service Project Benefiting BRS

Seventeen-year-old Richard Ley, an Eagle Scout candidate from Palmyra Indiana, proved that it takes more than just knowing the Scout Oath and preparation as he demonstrated his leadership skills March 23. Ley led 16 other volunteers in an improvement project he planned at Georgetown Rainbow’s End Child Care Center to complete his Eagle Scout Service Project. The required project emphasizes his intention to give leadership to others through proper planning and development. The group painted two classrooms, two bathrooms and contributed part of their day’s work to cleaning up debris, trash and landscape outside the facility.

Ley recruited volunteers from his troop, friends and family, and secured donations for nearly all the supplies needed to ensure that the job was done right.

“Parents want the best for their child, so painting the four rooms and making sure they were done right was a challenge, but with the help of adult volunteers, I believe it turned out perfect,” said Ley. “We also turned over the rubber mulch in the play area to prevent water build-up, cleaned up tree branches, and removed trash from a fence row next to the building to make sure there is no hazard to the children.”

In addition to developing, leading and executing the community project to fulfill his Eagle Scout Service Project, Ley was also tasked with earning 21 merit badges, while demonstrating leadership qualities during his tenure with the Boy Scouts (Lincoln Heritage Council number 205).

“Scout groups and the volunteer work they have completed for us throughout the years have been a huge benefit to Blue River,” said Lea Mosier, properties manager for Blue River Services, who organized the volunteer work. “They put a lot of effort into planning these projects, and it shows in their work. It is a pleasure to help them develop the leadership skills they need through these partnerships.”

Living – and Thriving – with Disabilities Jon Combs Wins 2019 Imagine Award

Longtime Blue River Services, Inc. consumer Jon Combs was the honored recipient of the 2019 Individual Imagine Award, presented March 2 at Horseshoe Southern Indiana.

Since 2001, The Rauch Foundation has sponsored the Imagine Awards to honor individuals with disabilities who have excelled, and community leaders and businesses that have had a positive impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities in the community.

Jon Combs Receives AwardJon, who lives in Salem and began vocational services with Blue River in 1991, has indeed personified what it means to excel. Whether it’s working in the community, where he has been a bagger at Jay C Food Store in Salem for more than 10 years; attending church; or advocating for his peers at consumer council meetings, Jon has become a vital member of the community. 

“He is a man of high moral values and influences those around him through his solid character,” said Tammy Seitz, Director of Community Resources at Blue River, who nominated Jon for the award. “He has taught his peers, staff and family that perseverance is the key to success, for Jon never stops pursuing his dreams until they are achieved.”

The night was emceed by WHAS radio personality Tony Cruise and took place in Horseshoe’s elegant Showroom, where attendees enjoyed silent and live auctions, raffle drawings, a four-course meal, and the rock band Flame, a New York group of entertainers with disabilities.

Jon was presented the award by John Kraft, member of the Board of Directors at Rauch, Inc.

As he accepted his award, Jon beamed with a sense of achievement. “I told them I was real proud of this,” he told the sold-out crowd of 400 people. “I told them I had a good time for my interview and everything. This is a good time.”

Blue River Services, Inc. President and CEO Daniel J. Lowe, who attended the event with 20 other staff members, was duly proud of Jon’s accomplishment, noting that his success story expounds the passion with which the agency serves families and individuals, particularly those with disabilities.

“Jon is a prime example of why we’re here,” said Daniel J. Lowe, President and CEO of Blue River Services, Inc. “He is living a very happy, fulfilled, positive life – in part because of the services he has received, but also as a result of his hard work and great attitude.”

The event also celebrated the inspiring deeds of Greg Smith, who has worked in group homes for individuals with disabilities since 1986, and Rauch’s Angels, a combination of local motorcycle clubs whose members help raise funds and host get-togethers for Rauch residents.

BRS Healthy Families Programs Accredited for quality Service

Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA America) announced January 22 that the Blue River Services’ Healthy Families America affiliates in Crawford, Harrison and Washington Counties have been accredited as a provider of high quality home visiting services to families who want to improve their child’s health, nutrition and developmental outcomes.

HFA is a signature program of PCA America that has been providing home visiting services for more than 20 years. Expectant and new parents have common questions about their child’s development. HFA connects with families through community partners, such as hospitals and pediatricians, to find the answers to their questions, meeting within the familiarity and convenience of the family’s own home. HFA is an accessible, voluntary and well-received service.

“The American Dream starts with a happy, healthy childhood,” said Dan Duffy, President and CEO of PCA America. “As parents, we all have questions from time to time. Our HFA professionals offer evidence-based best practices to provide answers to questions, individualized support when needed most, and linkages to community services. As we congratulate the Blue River Services programs in Crawford, Harrison and Washington Counties, we also recognize the state and community leadership that has contributed to success in these areas.”

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BRS Awarded FSSA Grant for High-Quality School-Age Child Care

Blue River Services, Inc. has received a grant for $80,000 from Indiana’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning to fund high-quality care to school-age children. The grant will benefit Blue River’s after school programming through the 2020/2021 school years. Blue River was one of 22 recipients chosen from a competitive field and the only in Harrison County.

“One of the challenges that working families face every day is knowing that their children are being cared for in a safe and enriching environment even outside of regular school hours,” said OECOSL Director Nicole Norvell. “We are pleased to support working families through these grants, and provide necessary resources to help these high-quality programs.”

The grant will supplement 80 percent of program staffing costs and allow children from low-income families to attend on a sliding fee. 

Blue River’s Children’s Services Department includes extended day learning programs for school-age children, grades kindergarten through 12, in nine public schools in Harrison Washington and Jackson Counties. This grant will help support after school programs at Morgan Elementary and North Harrison Elementary.