2017 DSNWK News

DSNWK to celebrate 50th anniversary with Jimmy Dee, invites public to open house


Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas plans to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a special dance for DSNWK staff, parents and persons served, followed by an open house at 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29 at Reed Developmental Center, 317 W. 13th, Hays. Jimmy Dee and the Fabulous Destinations will take the stage 12:30 p.m. at Kennedy Middle School, Hays. DSNWK plans a special lunch and a balloon launch for persons served. Following the dance, the public is invited to enjoy refreshments and a 50 year timeline tour of DSNWK and its history at Reed Developmental Center.

DSNWK is a 501c3 nonprofit serving 18 counties in northwest Kansas with a mission to advocate for persons with disabilities and those who care about them by planning and supporting a life of dignity, interdependence, and personal satisfaction in the community. DSNWK would like to thank Nex-Tech, Conrade Insurance, Styles Dance Centre, Phyllis Strecker Memorial and Hays Tees for sponsorship this special event.

50 Years of People Serving People by Kaley Connor, Hays Daily News


Approximately 50 years ago, Bonnie Burr and her husband knew something wasn’t quite right with their elementary school-aged daughter. But nothing could have prepared them for the doctor’s words. The family was told she likely would never surpass the developmental milestones of an eighth-grader, and that eventually proved to be true. Back then, there wasn’t any local help or resources for developmentally disabled children or adults, other than large, in-patient institutions. But her daughter’s condition wasn’t severe enough to require that level of treatment, and the family never would have wanted that lifestyle for their child anyway, she said. “They called them retarded then, and I was told that she was retarded,” Burr said. “I really didn’t know anything about that sort of thing, except they kept them out of sight and you didn’t have anything to do with (them). And I knew I couldn’t do that. We couldn’t do that.” That’s when Burr began her role as an advocate for the developmentally disabled, first convincing the grade school principal in her community at that time to offer special education classes, and then helping to establish services in Atwood that are now part of Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas. That agency provides a wide variety of community supports for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities in 18 Kansas counties. It also celebrated its 50th anniversary last week with a balloon launch, a dance with live music and birthday cake. A public tour of the Reed Center in Hays also was offered. Burr, who lives in Bird City, has been on the agency’s board of directors for the last 50 years. Her daughter died in 1983, but Burr has continued to advocate as a way to honor her memory. And the improvement she has witnessed not only in her daughter, but also the many others receiving help, has made the effort well worth it, she said. “Lives have been so different for so many ... that they just blossom,” Burr said. “They came to Atwood, and they would walk along and look at the cement. In a few years, they were talking to everybody and smiling. It was just a different life for them, and I’m so happy that we were able to do that. “I think those institutions must have been awful.”

It started with family Long before community-based services were the standard of care, families like Burr’s across northwest Kansas began coming together with a common desire. They simply wanted services for their loved ones that could help their lives be as fulfilling as possible. Independent, grassroots efforts had popped up in Hays, Atwood and Hill City, and those continued to expand throughout the early ’70s. By 1976, several communities had joined to form what DSNWK is today — a regional agency providing support, care and resources to individuals and families in need. “It really started with families,” said Steve Keil, director of development at DSNWK, based in Hays. “A group of families here in Hays (and throughout the region) always wanted to have some services for their children.” The organization’s growth was furthered when the state began shifting from institutions to community-based care in the late 1980s. DSNWK then began expanding the programs available in the Hays area, also extending into Russell and Norton. The agency was ahead of its time by already providing community-based supports and programs years before that service model became the standard, said Jerry Michaud, president and CEO of DSNWK. “It was kind of cutting edge,” he said. “Kansas for many, many years was kind of the (leader) for developmental disabilities.” The agency today serves more than 500 people, and offers a variety of services ranging from 24/7 care at numerous group homes to daytime programs that strive to provide education, enrichment and life skills. DSNWK has eight service locations throughout the region, including developmental centers in Hays, Russell, Norton, Hill City, Hoxie and Atwood. It also provides early intervention services for infants and toddlers in six counties, and operates the Access public transportation service in Hays. Independent living supports also are available for those who can be capable of living alone, and DSNWK also has helped many people find successful employment. The agency currently serves 149 people who are employed by 125 businesses throughout northwest Kansas.

One such individual is Robert Skeers, who has received supports from DSNWK for many years. He has his own place to live, and takes pride in being able to work within the community. “I like to make some money, and I’m a good worker,” Skeers said. A major change over the last five decades has been a transition of many consumers from internal business opportunities — such as an in-house sewing shop — to employment within the communities. “Businesses began to kind of open up, and our people began to move into those competitive arenas for employment, which is just exactly what you want to see people do,” Michaud said, “to progress and get the skills to be successful, just like anyone would want for their own children.”

Today, DSNWK frequently receives calls from area businesses who are wanting to employ individuals they serve, Keil said, noting many of their employees are hard-working and loyal. “The truth of the matter is we have employers that call us looking for employees, because they have positions that are difficult to fill, and they also know they will get an employee who will be dedicated and have longevity,” he said. “Just last year, we had a gal who got an award for 30 years of employment, and she was a dishwasher.” More employment opportunities and greater community acceptance has even made it possible for some individuals receiving services to successfully own real estate, Keil said, noting that would have been unheard of 50 years ago. The agency also employs approximately 350 people throughout the region, with an estimated economic impact of more than $9 million. IDD service organizations in Kansas have faced challenges in recent years due to largely flat state funding, but the anniversary provided an opportunity to reflect on all the progress achieved over the last several decades, Michaud said. “Let’s just say it’s a complicated path to follow,” he said of the current climate. “But it’s still rooted in our mission, which is to help people to navigate their community. And the amazing story about 50 years of developmental services is it’s the people serving the people, helping others to be stronger in their skill set and independence.”

DSNWK establishes first endowed fund in honor of Blume, receives grant from Hansen Foundation


DSNWK -- To celebrate 50 years, Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas announced the establishment the Jim and Rose Blume Endowment Fund and a $300,000 grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation during their annual awards banquet Tuesday night. Sue O’Connor, DSNWK board member and daughter of one of the organization’s founding fathers, Clem Hammerschmidt, made the announcement. “The DSNWK leadership, both staff and the Board of Directors, have recognized the need to take a major step that will ensure that DSNWK will continue to serve western Kansans for the next 50 years and beyond,” said O’Connor. “We are excited to announce that DSNWK has established a permanent endowed fund titled the Jim and Rose Blume Endowment in honor of two of our most beloved and respected leaders, Jim Blume and his wife Rose. While honoring this amazing couple for their many, many years of dedicated service to DSNWK, this fund will be an enduring, sustaining source of new funding to support the mission and vision of DSNWK in perpetuity.”

The goal is to raise $1 million for the Blume Endowment by the end of 2018. O’Connor’s husband, Deron, announced $200,000 of the Hansen grant will go towards the endowment. DSNWK is a quarter of the way towards reaching the $1 million goal. Jim Blume is often referred to as a visionary and pioneer for services in northwest Kansas. Blume, who was CEO/President of DSNWK from 1982 to 2005, was featured in a anniversary video presentation and was the featured speaker at the banquet. In the video, Blume shared a story about opening the Prairie Developmental Center in Atwood in 1975. To recruit individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to come the center, Blume went to Norton State Hospital and sat at a table in front of a stage with a stack of files and candidates were brought out 10 at a time for Blume to interview. “I could see them standing up straight and hear them saying ‘pick me,’ ‘pick me,’” said Blume. “That alone was a motivation for me to work for what they needed.” “We encourage you to give serious consideration to a donation to the Blume Endowment,” said Deron O’Connor. “Your support will have a forever, positive impact on DSNWK, where we will build a legacy together.”

To donate, or to find out more about the Jim and Rose Blume Endowment, visit www.dsnwk.org, or contact Allen Schmidt or Sophia Rose Young at 785-625-5678. DSNWK is a nonprofit serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families from the counties of Cheyenne, Decatur, Ellis, Gove, Graham, Logan, Norton, Osborne, Phillips, Rawlins, Rooks, Russell, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Thomas, Trego and Wallace.

DSNWK’s Employment Connections invites public to Employer Appreciation event


Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas’ Employment Connections is planning a special Employer Appreciation event from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on October 26th at 660 Commerce Parkway in Hays. Employment Connections would like to take this time to say thank you to all of those who support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in their employment. They would also like to invite the public to stop by and learn more about Employment Connections and the services that they offer. Appetizers and drinks will be provided for the come and go event. DSNWK is a 501c3 nonprofit serving 18 counties in northwest Kansas with a mission to advocate for persons with disabilities and those who care about them by planning and supporting a life of dignity, interdependence, and personal satisfaction in the community.

DSNWK celebrates successes at Awards Banquet


Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas celebrated its 50th Anniversary as it hosted its annual awards banquet in Hays on October 17th. Along with many awards, the evening featured a video presentation on DSNWK’s history and former President and CEO Deacon James W. Blume as it’s keynote speaker. Below are a list of awards that were given throughout the evening to staff, persons served, and community members. The first awards were given to employees of DSNWK for their years of service. Those staff recognized and listed by location, were: Atwood - Virginia Carver, Beverly Drain, Marlena Vrbas Hays - Carol Bedore, Kimberly Boyle, Samantha Diaz, Karen Edwards, Brandon Hatfield, Darcy Kaiser, Alison Krier, Bill May, Susan Nebel, Sheila Pfeifer, Lisa Raudis, Dilene Reinhardt, Scott Stults, Audrey Ummel, Kaitlyn Wagle, Kim Wellbrock, Crystal Young Hill City - Aida LeClaire Norton - Amanda Davis, Heather Frew, Ward Grammon, Bethany Wollard Russell - Annette Anschutz, Rita Avila, Charles Bowker, Anita Gerhardt Stockton - Mary Wise Six retirees were recognized at the Awards Banquet. All these former staff were long time employees of DSNWK and are listed by location: Atwood - Karen Focke, Lynette Kanek, Mary Krus Hays - BJ Hiser, Linda Schoenthaler Stockton - Ann Forell

DSNWK gave special recognition to six staff members who made successful efforts in coming to the aid of persons served by DSNWK in need and providing emergency assistance. Those recognized were: Kayla Alvis, LeAnna Carrier, Jaidra Lott, Johanna Musgrove, and Paul Wildeman of Hays. With one staff person, Peter Cochran of Hays, recognized for providing emergency assistance to a DSNWK staff person. Special recognition was also paid to one staff

DSNWK receives $6,068 grant from HCF to purchase CPR Mannequins


Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas received a $6,068 grant from Heartland Community Foundation's Dane G Hansen Foundation Fund to purchase CPR mannequins and AEDs to improve its CPR certification program. The grant will allow for the purchase of 8 adult mannequins and 8 infant mannequins for the DSNWK Stockton location, and 8 adult mannequins for Hays. By 2019, it will become a CPR certification requirement to have mannequins with compression measures. The grant and purchase of these mannequins will allow DSNWK to meet this requirement.

Another portion of the grant will go towards the purchase of two AEDs (automated external defibrillator). One will be installed at the Reed Developmental Center, 317 W 13th St., Hays, and another in a group home. The AEDs will be accessible to EMS and the community during an emergency, such as cardiac arrest. "With more than 230 staff in the counties of Ellis and Rooks, we certify a lot of community members in CPR, which can save more than just the lives of those we serve." said Steve Keil, Director of Development for DSNWK. "We are grateful for the support the Heartland Community Foundation and Dane G. Hansen Foundation brings to our communities and to our organization." DSNWK is a 501c3 nonprofit serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families in 18 northwest Kansas counties since 1967.

RCACF Grant to benefit DSNWK’s Kid-Link Program


Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas (DSNWK) is proud to announce that the Russell County Area Community Foundation has awarded a grants to it’s Kid-Link program. This $436.00 grant will be used to purchase evaluation bags, blocks, nesting cups and books. These items will support Kid-Link with referrals and assessments of the children Kid-Link serves in the Russell County area. These materials will be an integral part of Kid-Link's focus on early intervention, the importance of development and identifying children who have a delay or concern. Kid-Link is a program that serves the Russell County area for children age birth through 3 years of age. This infant and toddler program serves children free of charge who have developmental delays and special needs. DSNWK would like to thank the Russell County Area Community Foundation for their support of both children and adults with developmental disabilities in the Russell area.

For more information contact: Steve Keil Director of Development Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas 785-625-5678

DSNWK’s Blume Endowment receives contribution from Schmidt Foundation


A $125,000 commitment from the Robert and Patricia Schmidt Foundation, Hays, helps Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas surpass 35-percent of the $1 million fundraising goal for the Jim and Rose Blume Endowment. The establishment of the Jim and Rose Blume Endowment was announced in October during DSNWK’s annual awards banquet commemorating 50 years of services. "We greatly appreciate the Robert and Patricia Schmidt Foundation for their generous contribution,” said Jerry Michaud, DSNWK President and CEO. “It means a great deal to all of us and to our mission. Bob and Pat were longtime supporters, and I believe they both would be very excited to see DSNWK take this step towards establishing an endowment that benefits families in the same communities they held dear to their hearts too.” “Bob and Pat Schmidt were leaders and visionaries in the community. This grant, through their foundation, continues that leadership and vision for our future by helping us pave the way forward for this special fund to support our programs today and into the future."

The fund is named in honor of DSNWK’s former President and CEO Jim Blume and his wife Rose. Blume, who has always been considered a visionary, dedicated his life to ensuring people with disabilities were given equal opportunities, dignity and respect. Over his many years of service to DSNWK, Blume changed the way people saw one another. No longer were people being cast off because of their disability; they were being recognized for what they could contribute. Blume retired from DSNWK is 2005. He is a Deacon at St. Pius X Church in Aurora, Colo., where he lives with his wife.

To give to the Jim and Rose Blume Endowment, visit www.dsnwk.org or contact Steve Keil, Director of Development, at 785-625-5678 or at steve_keil@mydsnwk.org. DSNWK is a 501c3 non-profit serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 18 northwest Kansas counties since 1967.

DSNWK announces an endowment in memory of Joey Weber


Hays, Kan. -- At a news conference Tuesday morning in Hays, John and Nancy Weber, Oakley, and Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas President/CEO Jerry Michaud announced the establishment of the Joey Weber Endowment. The endowed fund is in memory of an Oakley man with autism who lost his life in a police officer involved shooting in 2016. “Although tragic, we are excited and honored to build upon Joey’s legacy and make sure he is not forgotten,” said Michaud. The Joey Weber Endowment is a permanent fund that will continuously support services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families in northwest Kansas. Because of quality programs and services, families thrive and those with disabilities are included in our communities.

Funding in the endowment will serve DSNWK families in the Kansas counties of Cheyenne, Decatur, Ellis, Gove, Graham, Logan, Norton, Osborne, Phillips, Rawlins, Rooks, Russell, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Thomas, Trego, and Wallace. Joey Weber’s parents, John and Nancy, and friends, worked to pass Joey’s Law, a Kansas law allowing for the voluntary identification on vehicles, drivers licenses, ID cards and placards for those needing assistance with cognition. Joey began driving a Ford pickup as a teenager and took driver's education when living in Oakley. When he moved to Hays to live independently, he utilized public transportation and a bicycle but soon decided to start driving again. He wanted to make sure he was the best driver he could be and took it upon himself to take driver’s education a second time. “Joey was a cautious driver. Maybe even too cautious,” said Nancy Weber. “Joey had grown so much and achieved many of the goals he set for himself,” said Patti Hoffman, DSNWK case manager. “He was enjoying the success that came from working hard and never giving up. It was such a joy to watch him achieve personal satisfaction and be true to himself.”

Donations are now being accepted. Donate online at www.dsnwk.org or by sending a check paid to DSNWK with a memo of Weber Endowment to: Attn: Director of Development DSNWK 2703 Hall St., Ste. 10 Hays, KS, 67601 DSNWK is a 501c3 non-profit serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 18 northwest Kansas counties since 1967.

DSNWK’s receives grant from Hays Lions Club


Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas is proud to announce that they have received a $500.00 grant award from The Hays Lions Club for the vision needs of the people they serve who have developmental disabilities. The grant will go to support DSNWK's Consumer Medical Fund which assists individuals with the cost of medical items and care that are not covered by Medicaid such as eye glasses and other vision needs. DSNWK would like to thank the Hays Lions Club for their continuous support of people with developmental disabilities. DSNWK is a 501c3 non-profit serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in 18 northwest Kansas counties since 1967.