Blue River Rendition of The Amazing Race Teaches Teamwork


CBS may be the original proprietor of The Amazing Race reality TV show, but the Community Relations Department at BRS has redefined it as a fundamental team building series for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

In the American competition show, teams of two race around the world in competition with other teams to complete challenges, solve clues and win the grand prize of one million dollars. The concept led Blue River Services COO Tammy Seitz to create the agency’s version as a friendly competition with clever challenges designed to capitalize and improve upon social, decision making, fine motor and problem solving skills while interacting with the community.

Now in its third year, the month-long race between the Corydon and Salem habilitation groups took place throughout October. The teams competed one day each week, receiving clues with information leading them to the destination of their next challenge. The goal was to complete the challenges in the least amount of time without incurring any penalties.

The teams made their way to the administration building to take a picture with CEO Daniel J. Lowe for the first clue. Teamwork was key in the next challenge popping a bag full of balloons while wearing oven mitts then piecing together the letters inside to spell out the location of their next stop. Another day, a challenging selfie scavenger hunt led the groups across the county to pose with local celebrities and 19 other items on the list.

One of the favorite challenges included a visit to Salem Industries where each group had to find a smiley face at the bottom of a container. The best way to reach the bottom? Eat M&Ms! After eating their way to success in this challenge, it was time to prepare for the final day of the race.

On a dramatic final day of seven challenges, the Corydon team narrowly won, reclaiming bragging rights and a trophy from Salem’s win last year.
“This event has grown in both size and popularity,” said Seitz. “Several of the consumers have asked if we can do this activity every month! They really enjoyed and benefitted from interaction with their peers, community members and Blue River staff.”

As the Corydon team celebrated their win, the Salem team was already looking ahead to next year’s race. “We will get you next time,” they said.

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Day of Action at Blue River Services, Inc. Helps Residents at Stepping Stone Apartments


A group of volunteers gathered for a “Day of Action” at Stepping Stone Apartments September 20 to help spruce up the development dedicated to providing support services and housing to homeless young adults ages 18 to 25. Joined by Blue River Housing staff and Metro United Way’s Dee Dee Flynn, teams from Horseshoe Southern Indiana, Heritage Ford and Humana lent their afternoon and talents to several projects. Some applied a fresh coat of paint to the playground and exterior, while others helped clean up many of the outside fixtures, landscape and decks, and several brave individuals built desks for two new tenants who will be moving in this month.

Residents at Stepping Stone receive services from various Blue River Services, Inc. departments to ensure they reach their maximum potential at home, work and in the community. All apartments come completely furnished and include a desk for dedicated workspace to encourage continuing and ongoing education, and workplace advancement.

Amber Gray, Community Outreach Coordinator at Heritage Ford, said she and her colleagues are always looking for ways to give back to their community. “Heritage is one of the top five contributors to United Way,” said Gray while replacing a failing bush in front of one of the apartments. “Our annual United Way campaign kickoff is soon, so this is the perfect way to commemorate that and get the momentum going.”

This year’s Metro United Way Day of Action included more than 500 volunteers across seven counties serving more than 5,000 children and families.

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BRS Consumer Ron Blackman, Jr. Gives Back to the Community

On a typical day, Ron Blackman, Jr. works diligently at Salem Blue River Industries, where he receives vocational training and is employed as a material handler and packager. At the workshop, he helps his peers and general laborers fulfill light manufacturing contracts with local businesses. He also works in the community on the lawn care crew for other Blue River Services, Inc. sites.

This summer however, Ron had a unique opportunity to test his skills. Volunteering alongside his father, Ron worked with neighboring non-profit, Washington County Helping Hands, to build a wheelchair ramp for a family home in Salem.

“People need this for their wheelchairs and walking with canes; they have problems using stairs,” Ron said. “I like helping people. It makes me very happy.”

Production manager Staci Dorton, who has supervised Ron’s work since he came to Blue River Industries in 2014, echoed Ron’s enthusiasm for a job well done.

“Ron is a great part of our team at Salem Blue River Industries,” Dorton said. “He is a hard worker and can do just about any task we give him, and do it very well. He is also polite and friendly with everybody. We are blessed to have him as a part of our team.”

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Rainbow’s End Corydon Receives $15,000 Through Samtec Cares Grant Program

After helping wipe down some tables in a classroom for 4- and 5-year-olds, Tina Denzik, Manager of Rainbow’s End Preschool and Child Care Center in Corydon, chats with staff about fixing a dollhouse – again – and places the top back on a play kitchenette. Affixed temporarily, the dramatic play element likely will not survive another week with 94 eager little hands. But soon, thanks to a generous $15,000 grant from Samtec, center staff won’t have to worry about such repairs.

Awarded through the Samtec Cares Grant Program, the funding will allow Blue River Services, Inc. to purchase long-needed supplies for each classroom. The toddler classroom will receive a play kitchen and new acrylic mirror and art display center with write-on/wipe-off panels. The 2-year-old classroom will get a dramatic play area makeover with a table and chairs, storage center, classroom carpet, kitchen, dress up center and dollhouse. In the 3-year-old classroom, young learners will benefit from a new sand and water table, LEGO play table, dress-up center and rugs. The preschool classrooms for 4- and 5-year-olds also will soon have a new kitchen to help them develop their social and problem solving skills; a reading nook complete with book tree to promote early literacy; a mobile STEM station; dress-up center; sand and water activity center; and lots of new storage space and classroom carpeting shapes to provide a clean, safe place for learning.

“I’m certain the new equipment and supplies will not only help brighten the center, but will have a positive impact on programming,” said Daniel J. Lowe, President and CEO of Blue River Services. “As a non-profit, community support is essential, so we are very thankful for Samtec’s support of our mission to serve our community, especially its youngest members.”

The Samtec Cares Grant Program was created to positively impact and assist organizations within the communities in which Samtec employees live, work, go to school and play. Grants were awarded at a July 11 reception attended by Julia Baylor, Director of Children’s Services, and Stephanie Rex, Afterschool Program Coordinator.

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Blue River Services Holds 2nd Annual Color Walk for Children and Families

Blue River Services, Inc. held its second annual Color Walk for Children and Families April 27 at Buffalo Trace Park in Palmyra. The event raised $2,500 for the Department of Children’s Services and its programs serving Harrison and Washington Counties.

As the 160 attendees gathered, guest speaker Gregory Brodfehrer, Family Case Manager for the Indiana Department of Child Services, recognized April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and its nationwide symbol – the pinwheel. He then led the group in planting a garden of pinwheels at the park to help raise awareness of community efforts to stop child abuse and neglect.

The event has become a way to promote these important efforts while bringing families together for a day of fun, says Marija Zink, Outreach Coordinator for Children’s Services at Blue River Services, Inc., who planned the event.

“With little opportunities in our area for families to engage in community events, it is important to provide an affordable opportunity to do something fun and active with the whole family,” Zink said. “Of course, we would not have been successful without the support of local businesses and community members.”

Blue River Services would like to thank First Harrison Bank, Heaven Sent Gifts, Smith Animal Hospital, Links Clothing, Life Springs Health Systems, Miller and Sons Lawn Care, Affordable Tax Income, Conrad’s Transmission, Kent Java Bar, El Nopalito, Edward Jones Investments, Centra Credit Union, BR Grafix, Regions Bank, Jim Sieber, and Christina Tomey for their support that helped make this year’s event a success.

As part of the event, other organizations that serve the community attended to provide information about available resources. Thank you Harrison County Sherriff’s Department, Harrison County Safe Kids, Harrison County Department of Natural Resources, Harrison County Department of Children’s Services, Harrison County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), New Hope Services, Indiana Anthem Medicaid, Harrison County WIC, Covering Kids and Families of Indiana, Community Action of Southern Indiana, and Hoosier Hills PACT for bringing valuable information to our community members.

And a special thank you for the Holy Smokers from the Palmyra United Methodist Church for cooking up some delicious food!

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