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Services for people with developmental disabilities.
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Hattie Larlham FOCUS July 2019


These Brothers Are “IT” to Constant Companions!

Josh (standing left) and Jason Maximovich (standing right) offer tips as Joey (left) and Josh (right) test out the new computers at Constant Companions in Green.

Spend a few minutes with Josh and Jason Maximovich and you will learn a lot about growing up in a family of all boys whose names all start with the letter “J.” You’ll also learn that these tech entrepreneurs have a soft spot for Constant Companions.

Their company, Maximovich IT Consulting, recently donated refurbished computers to all eight locations of Constant Companions so that our participants could build skills and discover new ways to enjoy their favorite games, music, movies and more.

Although Josh had passed by the Green location often, he first learned about Hattie Larlham at a Green Chamber of Commerce meeting where he met Hattie Larlham Community Liaison Lauri Molnar and Business Services Manager Chad Kelly. Curious to learn more, Josh scheduled a tour of Constant Companions and instantly saw a connection during his visit. “I asked what the group does with technology and, at the time, they didn’t have much to work with. I knew we could help, so we turned it into a project.”

Josh and Jason quickly learned that their donation would have a huge impact. “We’re so used to having computers that we take it for granted,” says Jason, who founded the IT company 12 years ago. “We saw a need we could fill.”

As participants began using the new computers, site managers were surprised to learn that many of them had little to no computer experience. Every site is learning the basics and some motivated participants are using the resource to plan new activities, learn to type, and explore the community. Others are even putting together newsletters.

Shireen Comeriato, site manager of the Green location, hopes that the computers will help participants become more independent and connected to their peers and communities. “We can’t say enough about how this has impacted our program,” Shireen says. “It has opened up a new world to them.”

“This donation has had a huge impact on our participants already,” says Constant Companions Program Director Stacy Timm. “Not only does
it help build individual skills and independence, but many of our participants with better skills are helping to teach others.”
Thank you to Josh, Jason, and the whole Maximovich IT team for stepping up!


A Message From Our Leaders

Dear friends,
It is hard to believe that we are already halfway through another exciting year at Hattie Larlham. We would like to thank everyone who has continued to support us as we work to enhance the services we provide to people served, improve our communication with our family and friends, and engage the community and our community partners in a more dynamic way. We would also like to welcome the new volunteers and donors who have joined the Hattie Larlham family since January – you are a vital part of our exciting, innovative organization.

We are deeply saddened by the recent passing of long-time Hattie Larlham Board Member and Board Member Emeritus Avery Cohen. Avery devoted many years of service to Mrs. Larlham’s vision of an organization that provides comfort, joy and achievement to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He will be remembered as a tireless volunteer, fund raiser and a true ambassador for Hattie Larlham and the people we serve.

We are pleased to share with you highlights of our work in 2018, featured on the opposite page. Thanks to you, our supporters, and the diligence of our dedicated and hardworking staff, we continue to deliver programs and services of the highest quality. We also remain focused on improving our financial results so that we have the necessary funding to continue to provide these programs and services well into the future. The Board of Directors and leadership team will later this year begin the development of a new strategic plan that will guide the organization in the coming years. We will be very excited to share the details of that new strategic plan with you.

As you may know, Hattie Larlham has managed and staffed three Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) homes owned by the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities for many years. We recently had the opportunity to purchase these homes and are pleased to report that the purchase was completed, effective July 1, 2019. We are very excited about the opportunity to continue to provide services and support to the 24 individuals who live in these homes. They will continue to benefit from the outstanding care and support that has been provided to them by Hattie Larlham. This is yet another example of working together with our community partners to do what is best for the people we serve.

We hope you will enjoy this latest edition of Focus, which shares a collection of stories about the people at Hattie Larlham who continue Mrs. Larlham’s mission to deliver comfort, joy and achievement throughout Northeast and Central Ohio. The people we serve, their families, our community and business partners, our volunteers, and our donors, together with our dedicated and creative staff, make happen what you will see on these pages. We cannot thank you enough for your support. Together, we are doing more for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Ohio than many ever thought possible.

Sincerely,

Stephen Colecchi, Hattie Larlham CEO

Michael Winehardt, President- Board of Directors



Making Meaningful Connections One Ride at a Time

Marcus and Tommy, friends since childhood, enjoy hanging out when Tommy attends Constant Companions.

Marcus Perry loves coming to work. As a full-time driver and activities assistant for Constant Companions, Marcus spends his days helping people, a job he says he is proud to do.

Starting in November 2016 as a part-time driver on our non-medical transportation crew, Marcus quickly stepped up to handle multiple different routes. He even volunteered to work overtime to help relocate buses to other locations where they would be needed. When a position opened for a full-time driver and activities assistant at our Stow Constant Companions location, Sarah Rager, assistant program director of Constant Companions and non-medical transportation, didn’t hesitate to recommend Marcus for the job.

A graduate of Crestwood High School, Marcus feels that working at Hattie Larlham is a great opportunity. “A lot of people are just looking at the paycheck. But you have to look past the paycheck to the opportunity,” Marcus says. “If I were a kid right out of high school, this is where I’d want to be. When you think about how much you mean to these guys it makes your day.”

The role of driver and activities assistant involves scheduling
and providing transportation to and from home for Constant Companions participants and helping them as they go about their many activities in the community and at the program site. Drivers also help maintain the vehicle and all the equipment that is used to transport riders safely. Marcus, like every Hattie Larlham driver, received extensive safety training and always takes great care to make sure everyone on his bus is in the safest position before they are ready to roll.

One of the things that makes this job special for Marcus is being able to spend time with his friend, Tommy, whom he has known since childhood. Marcus knows how important it is to be a true friend to someone with developmental disabilities and it helps him to relate more easily to Diana, Dawn, Jayne, and others on his route.

“A smile is sure to follow when you talk about Marcus to someone he drives,” says Stow Constant Companions Manager Nicole Long. “He spends his time as a driver talking and laughing with the people riding his bus. He has a caring heart and never ending patience. He makes everyone laugh – the people he serves and his coworkers, too!”

Providing companionship and transportation is a big job, but Marcus accepts the challenge with a smile. “It can be overwhelming when you first start and you have no idea what to do and you have never done anything like this,” says Marcus. “You just pick up on it and eventually you figure them all out. Just seeing how happy they are and knowing that I am contributing to their well-being is the proudest thing I have ever done in my life.”


An Honorable Legacy

Former Hattie Larlham Board of Directors member Judge Joseph Giulitto will be honored for his more than 30 years of service at the 19th Annual Circle of Caring on October 19.

Born in Bitritto, Bari, Italy, Joseph Giulitto arrived in the United States at the age of 11. This was the beginning of his influential legacy as a proud Portage County resident.
After graduating from Ravenna High School and then from Kent State University, he earned an
L.L.B. from Case Western Reserve School of Law in 1961. He was admitted to the Ohio Bar in May 1961, and opened his private law practice in Ravenna in July of that same year.

In addition to his law practice, he also served as prosecutor and law director for the City of Kent for nine years. In 2005, Judge Giulitto was elected Judge of the Portage County Court of Common Pleas Domestic Relations Division. He retired on January 1, 2011, but continues to serve as a visiting judge by appointment by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Judge Giulitto holds a lengthy record of civic involvement,
which includes past or present membership in the Ravenna Jaycees, Ravenna Rotary, the Board of Directors for First Federal Savings and Loan in Kent, Ohio, the Robinson Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees, the University Hospitals Portage Medical Center Foundation Board of Trustees, the Portage County Bar Association (President, 1997-98), the Ohio State Bar Association, and the Ravenna Elks. The Portage County Bar Association awarded him the 2012 Norm Sandvoss Memorial Humanitarian Award for his dedication to the standards of the practice of law and his integrity and commitment to helping others in his community. Judge Giulitto also previously served as a board member and legal counsel for Hattie Larlham.

Judge Giulitto was a founding member of the Sugar Bush Golf Classic, which began in 1986 as a fund raiser for the Hattie Larlham Center for Children with Disabilities. Since its inception, the Sugar Bush Golf Classic has raised over $1,000,000 for Hattie Larlham. Over the years, the money raised has funded the Hattie Larlham Center for Children with Disabilities renovations, a toy tech library, a sensory playground and nature walk, an education center, a pediatric ventilator program and Hattie’s Creative Arts.

We are profoundly grateful for Judge Giulitto’s more than three decades of tireless service and support for children and adults with disabilities and the Portage County community. We hope readers will join us in celebrating his legacy on October 19.
For more information, contact Development Officer Wendy Voelker at (330) 840-6845.


In Memoriam

Avery Cohen, 1936-2019

Emeritus Director and longtime champion of Hattie Larlham Avery Cohen died suddenly on June 4, 2019. During his long tenure from 1966 to 2008, Avery spearheaded numerous initiatives including the former Research Institute, worked tirelessly to raise funds, and told the story of Hattie Larlham where ever he traveled.

“I never had an encounter with Avery when he didn’t have a twinkle in
his eye,” said Dr. Richard Grossberg, Hattie Larlham’s medical director who worked closely with Avery during his 30-year tenure as a board member. “He really wanted to see us pioneer new approaches. The dozen or so research articles we’ve published are really part of his legacy.”

Avery devoted many hours simply to spending time with the children and adults we serve, helping to innovate approaches that improve their vitality and quality of life. He was named the Rudolph H. Garfield Circle of Caring honoree in 2002 for his extraordinary efforts.

Avery Cohen made a tremendous impact on our work and helped Hattie Larlham become the innovative, respected organization it is today. We extend our sympathies to his family and to all those who had the fortune to work with him.


Neighbors Giving Back

Seated, from left: Ron Kotkowski, Kevin Kotkowski, Larry Kotkowski
Standing: Joe Kotkowski, Steve Chek III, Ben Kotkowski, Ross Kotkowski

On April 27 of this year, Hattie Larlham’s backyard neighbors, Lakeside Sand & Gravel, hosted their annual open house. The event is free of charge to attendees but Lakeside invites their guests to make donations in support of the Hattie Larlham Foundation. This year, the event raised more than $8,000 to support programs and services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Kotkowski family, who own and operate Lakeside, have proudly hosted this growing event every spring since 2002. The annual open house began as an extension of the International Watch Fob Association’s annual show, which was originally hosted in Middleburg Heights, Ohio. The event features restored antique construction equipment, opportunities to tour the working mine and processing plant, and even operate some of the equipment, which has been painstakingly restored by the Kotkowskis and a group of dedicated volunteers. There are always activities for kids, and often there will be an historical re-enactment staged during the event. This year, there was even a helicopter landing!

Originally organized and presented by just the Lakeside Sand & Gravel team and their families – including all of the food preparation and serving – the event became so well-attended and popular that it outgrew their capacity to handle alone. The Kotkowskis reached out to their friends in the Crestwood Lions Club, who now generously prepare and serve lunch to attendees as part of the event; their famous hand-cut French fries are always a crowd favorite.

“We believe that Hattie Larlham is truly a gem in our community,” said Ron Kotkowski, one of the owners of Lakeside Sand & Gravel, and a Hattie Larlham Board member. “We all feel that it’s important to support the good work that is done at Hattie Larlham, now and into the future.”

We are honored that Lakeside Sand & Gravel allocates the proceeds
of this event to Hattie Larlham each year, and are grateful to them for their ongoing support of our mission.


Hole in One (Million)!

A tradition of giving that began in 1986 continued May 15 at the Sugar Bush Golf Club in Garrettsville, where nearly 200 golfers gathered to raise over $63,000 for Hattie Larlham. The 2019 event brought the total proceeds of the Sugar Bush Golf Classic to more than $1,012,000 to benefit the residents at the Hattie Larlham Center for Children with Disabilities.

Over the years, the money raised has funded services to the medically fragile people who live at the Hattie Larlham Center for Children with Disabilities, as well as facility repairs, a community special needs toys lending library, an adaptive sensory playground and nature walk, a transitional ventilator program and the Hattie’s Creative Arts program. This year’s proceeds will help fund the ongoing need to replace the specialty beds residents rely on for safe and comfortable sleep.

Thank you to all of the volunteers, sponsors, donors, and golfers for making it such a wonderful success and helping us surpass the one million dollar mark for total funds raised by this event!


Addventures Await!

From left, Eric smiles as Will surveys his gardening handiwork. Activity Leader Latasha and Victoria are excited to see that their plants are growing, too.

Rain or shine, sleet or snow, the adults in our Central Ohio Addventures program can always count on exciting daily trips and activities that appeal to their own unique interests. Participants choose from an extensive catalog packed with classes and activities that draw on the rich community assets the Greater Columbus area has to offer.

“Addventures is a place where people are encouraged to try new things, make new friends, conquer fears, and do things thought to be impossible,” says Liz Jones, Add’s director of day programming. “We provide every opportunity for people to succeed and grow as individuals, focusing on the whole person because we believe a healthy, balanced life is the key to happiness. If you speak to the people at Addventures, they will tell you each day is in fact an adventure, and that’s the way we like it.”

Many of the activities offered are free, while others require a modest fee. Each class or activity runs for a full seasonal session and, if the schedule permits, participants may choose more than one. The recent spring session offered classes and activities on topics such as music and movement,
a Columbus history tour complete with visits to various Columbus neighborhoods, meditation and aromatherapy, jewelry design, career exploration, the region’s extensive park system and natural areas, sign language, career planning, and self-advocacy.

Another in-demand activity? Gardening. Will, who has attended Addventures since 2018, recently discovered a warm weather hobby that he truly enjoys. “Will seems to really be in his element in the garden,” says Eric, the seasoned gardener who lends his expertise and business site for an Addventures class. “He’s a good learner and has developed a sensitivity to plants, along with many gardening skills. It’s simply good for the spirit, body and mind. I use it often to unwind from the world and can see how it benefits Will as well. This makes the gardening class so enriching for me to see how it affects him positively.” Thanks to an expanding network of community partners like Eric, Will and his peers in the Addventures program are able to broaden their horizons with new skills and interests.

Addventures also offers participants unique opportunities to volunteer with local organizations, such as preparing food for delivery through Meals on Wheels. The work not only provides the positive experience of making a difference but gives them a chance to socialize with other local volunteers and work together on a common goal.

Cultural Connections

Columbus is known for its rich cultural diversity, which provides many opportunities to learn about different ethnic traditions through Addventures programs. Recently, a group explored the traditions and culture of Africa.

Guided by Activity Leader Rita Peprah, the group learned about the different regions and countries of Africa, sampled cuisine, and delved into African art, music, and storytelling traditions. On the last day
of class, Rita brought each participant a dashiki, a colorful, loose fitting traditional garment worn for both formal and informal occasions.
“The class was a chance for individuals who haven’t had a chance to travel outside of the country to learn about a different continent and many different ways of life,” shares Rita. “The class was fantastic. The food was delicious and I still have all the maps we learned about at home,” says Wilhemina J., an Addventures member who thoroughly enjoyed learning and experiencing African culture.

To learn more about Addventures, contact Director of Day Programming Liz Jones at (614) 259-0202 or EJones@addohio.org.