Art Sense a boon to community

UNION CITY, Ohio —Art Sense, located at 388 State Route 571, Union City, is an Adult Day Service providing pre-vocational training, vocational supports and opportunities for the intellectually disabled.

The 18,000-square-foot facility was recently awarded one of the Rising Star awards handed out at the Union City Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet and awards night.

It opened on St. Patrick’s Day 2014.

“We are owned by Christel Manor Co.,” said Adult Day Service Director Jessica Schiavone. “Work was started here in December 2013 and we opened in March. I picked the name.”

She said Art Sense is certified through Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities for the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities. We got our three-year license for our certification,” she said. “We are certified in seven counties in the state of Ohio.”

The Art Sense building features a gift gallery; computer lab; a space for computer games; a performance arts theater; dining room called an Italian bistro; a pet therapy area; art studio, marketplace being set up to make a free community library; cowboys and Indians room; a homemaker personal care training room; conference room space; laundry training area; tinker shop; therapy space for occupational, physical and speech and language pathology therapy; a gym which is under construction with the walls in that area painted every color of the rainbow; a doctor’s office for the residential facility; a music area which Schiavone calls the “hot spot” because of its popularity; baking activity area; Roxie’s Java Hut;and a sensory room.

There is also a “yellow brick road” which also serves as an escape route for fire escape evacuation training.

Paintings hanging on all of the walls have been created by the clients. And, most are for sale.

Schiavone also noted that there are seven chickens on the 11 acres where Art Sense is located.

“We sell the eggs,” she said. “And, we hope to get a couple of goats later on.”

She also pointed out that they are trying to build a greenhouse next year.

“We have a garden and hope to have a community garden this year,” she said. “And we can donate food that is grown to the food banks in the area.”

According to Schiavone, there are 14 full-time staff. At the time, there is no volunteer program offered.

Transportation is provided to and from not only Christel Manor but also to such areas in the county as Greenville, North Star and Rossburg. And, clients go on various outings throughout the week.

“We have 25 client employees in-house,” she said “They make minimum wage for completed tasks. They do anything from janitorial, landscaping, shredding purge files and helping me file.”

Baking activities, she said, are held a couple of days a week, and she noted that the facility offers meals; hot food two days a week and cold food the other three days.

Dr. William Osterbur is medical doctor for the facility.

Schiavone, who noted that there is NetFlex available at Art Sense, said some of the clients at volunteer at Grace Resurrection Community Center’s food bank in Greenville.

“We provide them with volunteer opportunities as they increase their skill levels,” she said. “We have job coaching.”

This past October, the clients and staff put on the production “Wizard of Oz.”

“We are looking to do ‘Through the Looking Glass’ or ‘Alice in Wonderland,’” she said. “We do so much training here that like a little excitement on the side. We try to have a lot of fun. We encourage each individual to identify what is meaningful for them.”

She hopes the facility can have an arts and business fair in the spring.

“We have a vendor’s license for the gift gallery,” she said.

Schiavone grew up in Celina and started working in 1993 at Christel Manor, where Kristina Becker is the administrator.

Schiavone’s husband Lou’s parents at one time owned the Ben Franklin Store at the north end of Union City, which was where Kaup Pharmacy is today.

The couple have been together quite a few years and were married five years ago. Together, there are three children.

As for the Rising Star the facility received, Jessica had this to say. “I was very honored. The community is so supportive. I joined Rotary early on and those connections are fantastic. I felt welcome to the community. The people are friendly. It’s a fascinating and wonderful experience, and I’m excited about the future.”

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Art Sense a boon to Union City, Ohio, community

By Linda Moody

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This writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.