By: Theresa Schnipke
How many of you saw this title and thought, “Oh no, now what?” Or did you open it with excitement at what new and exciting thing is coming our way? I am definitely of the latter. I have always liked change. I was the little girl that rearranged her bedroom every couple of weeks, because changing things up is fun and new. My husband is the former. He once said to me, “I’ve had the same home, same wife, same job for the past 29 years. I will let you know when I am not happy with one of them.” He says it with a grin, but he really does not like change! To him, painting in a home should only need done once. Meanwhile, every few years I am ready for a new color. Do you know where you fit when faced with a change? We all fit somewhere on the change continuum. Some of us aren’t fans, but we adjust okay. Some thrive, others get hives.
The idea for this blog came to me when people at the board were lamenting about change. As humans, we typically only like change when it positively impacts us or we wanted it to happen. A new home, new baby, or winning the lottery are changes we want to happen, so we are good with them. The other kind – change forced on us – is generally much harder to accept. After I had a conversation with someone who was not too fond of some changes in the past three years, I really got to thinking about it. I could not believe how many quotes on change I could find. This was one I found while flipping through a magazine. The actor Alan Alda said, “I only have three minutes, so I’m going to give you the secret of life: Adapt, adjust, revise. Because the only thing you can be sure of is that everything is going to change.”
Maybe no truer words were ever spoken.
Individuals we serve passing away was the start of this blog in January. Then tons of things hit me, and here I am finishing it July 3rd. Sad, I know. In the meantime, things changed. Our Good Life team just shared a lesson on change during our department meeting. They used one of the quotes that hangs in my office: “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” I heard that many years ago at a training, and I never forgot it.
Back to the reason for the blog in January. We had another tough year of loss. We lost 22 people in 2018. (So far in 2019, 6 have passed away.) We serve around 900 annually. Statewide, I learned that 1,040 individuals in the DD system passed away, and 93,290 are served annually. So we lost 24%, which is more than double the state average. It doesn’t just feel like a high number, it is a high number! I think watching others grieve this past year taught me again that death is one of the hardest changes we will ever face.
We also faced other changes that were tough. Long-time staff retiring, staff moving on to new jobs, changes in processes at the agency…you get the idea.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid of standing still.”
We work in a field that is constantly changing. All jobs change; however, some are slightly more stable. When tax codes change, accounting principles stay fairly stable. Stamp prices change, but delivering mail is about the same every day.
This is not true in what we do.
Sometimes so fast we can’t keep up. For example, the Early Intervention team is working through new forms that were mandated to start on July 1. The Service & Support Associates have had so many staffing and caseload changes in the past six months that they have to keep meeting new people we serve and picking up where someone else left off. That is tough. Many of the jobs at the board are this way – some calls we get just ruin an otherwise good day.
Already in 2019, we’ve seen a big change in state leadership, as there’s a new Director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities. Jeff Davis has a long career in the field of DD and is now the chief change maker for our whole field in Ohio. Locally, we started off the year with a big change. We ended a long-time program called Family Support Services and started a new program called Individual Support Services. We have had three retirements of long time staff: Amy Werking, Lori Sullivan, and Vicki Ludwick. These ladies contributed so much over their many years here. Retirement is a change many of us look forward to, but it is still a big change. I am always glad when we see a retiree working or volunteering in the field again. Another change is what is happening to our parking lots. When it is all completed, guests and visitors will park out front and come in through the secure doors at Marimor School. Safety is a big change in the world of school operations. We anticipate maybe five to six new staff members in the next few months. Hang with us…we know change can be hard. If you need help adjusting, let us know and we will do all we can. I admire the resiliency our staff members show with all the change. One last quote…
“If nothing ever changed, there would be no butterflies.”