What’s Your Story? Meet Jim!
The Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities has provided Jim with many life changing services over the years. Jim is an active community member in Allen County, working to get his story out there in order to help others with disabilities. When we sat down to talk with Jim, it was evident how important it is to him to spread awareness, to exhibit independence, and to share his story of how the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities has helped give him the power to do these things.
Question 1: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Jim is the president of People First of Auglaize County, he is on Mike Dewine’s board for abuse, and he is running for People First president of Ohio. These groups are advocacy groups for individuals with disabilities. It is important to Jim that he sits on these boards so that he is able to educate others with disabilities and inspire them to advocate for themselves.
Jim lives in a home that he owns, thanks to the help of his late stepfather who cosigned on the loan for the home.
Question 2: When did you become involved with the ACBDD?
Jim became involved with the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities shortly before he graduated from high school. At that time, his mom called ACBDD to help with Jim’s transition from high school to adulthood. Up until that point, Jim had lived with his mother and someone from the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities would come into their home and help Jim and his mom with certain things. Wanting more independence, Jim became a part of the supported living program, which he is still a part of today.
Question 3: What kind of work are you involved in?
Jim works at We Can Too two days a week, which involves working in a factory setting placing the labels on water bottles. With this program, the jobs that he completes are adapted to his disability, allowing him to be a successful and productive part of the community.
Question 4: What kind of services/activities does the ACBDD offer you?
As mentioned above, through an Individual Options waiver, Jim is able to choose the services he would like to receive. Along with this, he is also able to call Josh, his SSA, and change his Individual Support Plan (ISP) any time. Jim can change his home services and where he attends day programming or works at any time. Presently, Jim’s home services and daytime services are provided through Benchmark Human Services. If Jim is unhappy with his provider or his services, he is able to change either of these at any time.
Many times, Jim will look to Josh from the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities, for advice, brainstorming, and just friendly conversation. Jim calls Josh to bounce ideas around, to see if he’s on the right track, etc. For example, recently, Jim called Josh to see if there was any funding available to install a door opening system in his home. This system would give Jim more independence around the home. Josh also assists Jim with setting up meetings with his providers.
Question 5: What does it mean to be able to tell your story?
The main thing Jim wants people to understand is that they can also put their story out there and not be afraid to do so. He wants people to know that he is more than his disability; he wants to be recognized as a person and not his disability.
Question 6: How has being involved with the ACBDD changed your life?
Jim said that without the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities, including the funding and the staff, the challenges he experiences would be much more difficult. He is grateful that there are agencies that are able to provide the waiver support that he needs.
Question 7: What are the most important things you would want to tell people about ACBDD and your experiences with everyone?
Jim wants others to know that the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities will help find a provider and will help with the entire decision process. The Board will ensure that you are given the services that you want, need, and deserve. Jim wants others to know that if they need help and don’t know where to go, that they should contact their local county board. They shouldn’t be afraid to go out, to ask questions, and to find what they need. There is no harm in asking.
It was also important to Jim that he mention the MUI (Major Unusual Incident) process. This is a service provided through the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities that will take care of issues of rights being violated or of abuse. MUI Investigators works in connection with law enforcement in order to take care of any prosecution and any other issues that may occur.
Finally, Jim was especially adamant on reminding all people with disabilities that there are people out there advocating for them, people like Jim. With his involvement with People First, he fights against discrimination and the use of words that are hurtful. All individuals with disabilities can join in the fight for equal rights among everyone.