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.

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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. 

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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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Together We Are Better

At Blue River Services, Inc. our commitment to inclusion across race, gender, age, religion, identity, physical or mental ability, ethnicity, perspective, and experience drives us forward every day. In celebration of African-American History Month this February, we would like to thank our employees for their continued commitment to diversity – in the services we provide, for those we serve and one another. 

The many significant contributions African-Americans have made and continue to make in our nation and workplaces are more than just an integral part of our society. These contributions exemplify the spirit of Blue River by bringing perspective, innovation and equality to the important work we do every day. Together – and inclusive of the value that diverse talent brings to the workplace – we are better.


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