2021 Partnership Award Winners


March 31, 2021

On March 30th, we held our annual Partnership Luncheon to recognize and thank our many partners in the community. In addition to supporting our work and collaborating with our agency, these partners better the lives of people with developmental disabilities. At the luncheon, we also announced our 2021 Partnership Award Winners. Learn more about all the winners below!

President’s Award
Marty Garlock has served as our Board Member for almost 12 years. He has given countless hours, never complaining about any of it. He is a willing servant who saw a need and met that need, never looking for recognition. Marty is a true, rare find in his role. He chairs the Finance Committee and has for his entire tenure. His attendance is consistent, and he’s shown up for more than 240 meetings in the past 12 years. He balances all of this along with being a Vice President and Corporate Treasurer at Lakeview Farms. Marty challenges our thinking and through his questions, we often can see funding in new ways. He is not afraid to speak up when something doesn’t seem right. When big decisions come before him, he takes the unique position of balancing funding with how it will impact people. Marty has taught us all so much, and his work has left a lasting impact on our agency. It is our privilege to honor Marty Garlock as the 2021 President’s Award recipient.

John Wilt “I Love My Community”
Carl Houts loves people. Talking to people, spending time with people, and getting to know new people. Carl doesn’t know a stranger. Carl has attended Full Gospel Tabernacle in Lima for more than 14 years. He is a good friend to the pastor and the congregation. He participates in church garage sales and tithing, and goes to church camp every summer. Carl loves sports and keeps up on the Shawnee Indians, Ohio State Buckeyes, and Cincinnati Bengals. Pre-pandemic, he was part of the Friday night bowling league at Westgate Lanes. Carl attends Friends of Leroy Brown during the week. He recently started looking for a job and is very excited about the possibility of this. If you’ve never met Carl, please stop and say hello. He is fun and friendly and easygoing. You will call him a friend in no time. We are proud to recognize Carl Houts as the 2021 winner of the “I Love My Community” Award.

Partner in Advocacy
Nick and Katie Goergens are the definition of advocates – for their daughter, Aubreigh, and really all children. They created Operation Save the Lost to keep children with autism safe. Their goal is to provide a Jiobit tracking device to all families in Ohio that have children on the autism spectrum. The Goergens have made it their personal mission to save lives and give families peace of mind. To date, 13 devices have been issued, and Nick and Katie are not stopping there. They’re currently looking for additional funding, so their mission can continue. They are doing amazing work on their daughter’s behalf. For this reason and many more to come, Nick and Katie Goergens are our 2021 winners of the Partner in Advocacy Award.

Partner in Service Provision
Kellie Nester is the Coordinator for Homemaker Personal Care Services at Goodwill Easter Seals (GWES). Kellie is known for her compassion for individuals with developmental disabilities. It’s not uncommon to hear “Everyone loves Kellie.” And it’s true – everyone does! Kellie is always professional, engaged and responsive. With the current staffing shortage, Kellie is doing her everyday job and often working direct care in the homes. Although pulled in many directions, she remains kind and dependable She wants individuals to be happy, and her concern for them is remarkable. Whether shoveling snow to make sure someone gets to his job, spending hours on a worker’s comp claim, or providing the most loving end-of life-care, Kellie comes through for people time and time again. Her heart is gold, and we are beyond happy to recognize Kellie Nester as our 2021 Partner in Service Provision.

Partner in Education
Shawn Guthrie is a natural born teacher. She inherently understands a student’s strengths and struggles and will meet them where they are. Shawn does not back down from a challenge. She knows the importance of consistency and when it’s time to try something new. She holds her students to high expectations in a positive way. She never appears flustered, even on the most challenging days. One parent stated, “She has done amazing things for my son. She understands that his improvement will be a process. She stays positive with his progress even when he struggles. I’ve caught her working Saturdays to help her students succeed.” Shawn is a quality teacher and a wonderful person, and we are happy to recognize her as our 2021 Partner in Education.

Partners in the Community

Tom Berger and the Allen County Emergency Management Agency have been a critical support to many in Allen County, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. For Allen County Board of DD, it started with hand sanitizer. We needed hand sanitizer for employees and our provider partners, so they could keep staff and individuals safe. The EMA quickly established a process for agencies in need of supplies. They have been a constant resource, coordinating weekly, county-wide communications. Tom and his staff have been quick and efficient, helping to protect people and limit the spread of COVID-19. Tom continues to be an informed and proactive voice in our community. We cannot even begin to know all that Tom and his staff have done, but from our vantage point, they are worthy of the 2021 Partner in the Community award.

Kathy Luhn is the Health Commissioner at Allen County Public Health. Kathy has been on the frontline since the beginning. She has kept county leadership and our entire community informed on the status of Allen County during the pandemic. She has interpreted countless orders from the Ohio Department of Health and assisted in crucial decisions related to those orders. Commissioner Luhn has tirelessly led ACPH – during the biggest crisis they’ve faced in recent history. As far as we can tell, she has not stopped working since March of last year. (Seriously!) To be certain, Kathy’s leadership and support in the community pre-dates the pandemic. She has always been a public health expert and a voice of reason. As she prepares to retire, it is a great privilege to honor her as a Partner in the Community.

Deb Roberts is the Director of Nursing at Allen County Public Health. Deb’s support throughout the pandemic has been invaluable. She guided our Human Resources department in many areas – from travel to quarantine issues to false positive tests and so much more. Deb is gracious, friendly, and one of the most caring people you will meet. Deb was instrumental as vaccines came on the scene in December, organizing and working at clinics all over the county. Deb demonstrates what great, hands-on nursing looks like during a very unsettling time. All this, and so much more, makes Deb Roberts a person truly deserving of the Partner in the Community Award.

Partner in Employment
Chief Supermarkets is a long-time employer of individuals with developmental disabilities. Seven people with developmental disabilities currently work at Chief. One person is beginning her 26th year and another his 30th. That is amazing! It’s clear that Chief cares about its employees. In early 2020, the Eastgate location closed. Three individuals with developmental disabilities worked there, and Chief made sure to transfer each person to other locations. All three continue to love their jobs and are doing very well. Chief offers employees a variety of positions, from carry out to cashier to bakery. They are open to job coaching and welcome employees to try different types of job training. Chief’s management team is wonderful at getting to know their employees and helping them be successful. For all these reasons, our 2021 Partner in Employment is Chief Supermarkets.