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Creating Community in Walbridge: Bowling Green Sentinel Tribune

July 28, 2018



Sunshine Communities connect with neighbors

Supports individuals with developmental disabilities

Check out this front page story in the Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune on-line here: http://www.sent-trib.com/news/sunshine-communities-connect-with-neighbors/article_174af266-9197-11e8-9863-139c33187fe0.html

WALBRIDGE — Six months after moving into Walbridge, the men and women of Sunshine Communities have been busy connecting with their new neighbors — delivering lunch-time meals to senior citizens, planting flowers around St. Jerome Catholic Church, tending animals at the Wood County Humane Society, and cleaning up trails at several area parks.

These men and women are part of a new Sunshine Communities vocational site located within the former St. Jerome Catholic School, 300 Warner St.

The Maumee-based nonprofit has supported people with developmental disabilities since 1950 and remains committed to its mission of creating community.


Check out the Bowling Green Sentinel Tribune July 27, 2018 – Photo by J.D. Pooley, BG Sentinel Tribune

While staff are trained in personal care, special diets, and support for activities of daily living, they also encourage being active in the community through volunteering. For participants who are less able to volunteer, activities include visits to local places such as libraries, pools, and parks and — at the site — music therapy and games and crafts.

All of these activities are planned with an eye to shared experiences and relationships, said Jane Austermiller, vice president of vocational services at Sunshine.

“For all of us, it is these everyday interactions that make life meaningful and fulfilling – whether in smaller settings, in community celebrations, or even in unexpected moments on the street, at a park, or in stores,” she said.

The vocational center opened Jan. 29, and within days, the men and women there began reaching out to the community. Earlier this month, for example, four individuals and their staff planted zinnias outside St. Jerome. The flowers were presented to Sunshine by the Sisters of Notre Dame Associates. At the same time, Zack Campbell and his staff began readying for an afternoon delivering meals as part of Mobile Meals Toledo.

Next door to the vocational center, Sunshine Communities is building a new family care home at the invitation of St. Jerome Church. The home is expected to open next year.

Sunshine also recently assumed operations at a family care home in Bowling Green and is considering options that will create employment to people with developmental disabilities, yet another step in supporting individuals with disabilities as they forge relationships in and contribute to their community. Until this year, Sunshine’s residential, vocational, clinical, recreational and other services have primarily been focused in Lucas and Fulton counties.

The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities has welcomed Sunshine to the area, noting that the expansion brings additional quality options for support services in the area.

“Wood County is pleased to welcome Sunshine. We are impressed with their quality and caliber of services provided to individuals with developmental disabilities and look forward to their continued expansion in Wood County,” said Brent Baer, superintendent.



Creating Community in Walbridge

Lunch on the Lawn

To learn more about their neighbors, individuals and staff at the new vocational center have planned a Lunch on the Lawn event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 9 on the lawn of St. Jerome. The public is encouraged to bring a bag lunch and learn more about their new neighbors.

Men and women at Sunshine’s new vocational site in Walbridge have been busy connecting to their new neighbors in Wood County. Check out this front page story in the B.G. Sentinel Tribune!