DARKE COUNTY — As we inch closer to those longer, brighter days of Spring and the promise of a return to our cherished outdoor activities, barbeques, and gatherings, it is important to remember that a kind gesture, a word of encouragement, and the company of good friends can provide a sunny boost amid rainy, April days. Darke DD has been “on the move,” since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, providing programs, services, and opportunities for the people and families they support, and most recently, receiving the highest three-year accreditation from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD).
“I appreciate the hard work of our staff that resulted in a three-year accreditation by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities,” said Michael Beasecker, Superintendent of Darke DD. “Our staff members have a passion for coordinating quality person-centered services and supports for people served by Darke DD.”
Darke DD’s Aktion Club — a group of over 50 adults with disabilities that provide service projects and volunteerism to our community, is sponsored by the Greenville Kiwanis Club. In January 2020, they presented 175 “survival kits” to Darke County law enforcement/judges/probation officers/essential staff in honor of National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. More recently, they helped make Christmas a little brighter through their Adopt-A-Family program, providing toys, clothes and food to six families. They were also pleased to partner with the Darke County Road Hoggs and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of North Star.
Most recently in March 2021, the Aktion Club, in partnership with Greenville Kiwanis Club, has been collecting non-perishable food items to support local food pantries, including Ansonia UMC, Grace Resurrection in Greenville, and the Union City Help Center.
“Kindness matters,” said Darke DD Aktion Club member and president, Lauren Warner. “Showing kindness, being respectful to others and having courage. We do this through Aktion Club.” Warner, who was recently named the March, 2021 “Member of the Month,” has provided strong leadership for the group by attending meetings and participating in the club’s various activities.
In addition, the Aktion Club has initiated an ongoing project to deliver fresh Eikenberry IGA donuts and Coffee Pot coffee (both located in Greenville) to COVID “front line” workers, such as nurses, doctors, EMTs, hospital and nursing home staff. To date, the Aktion Club has made deliveries to staff at State of the Heart Care and Wayne HealthCare, and plans more deliveries in the future.
“Aktion Club members participate by giving suggestions to shape the service projects. It is a very member-driven group,” said Sue Huston, Darke DD Community Connections and Advocacy Coordinator. “Members wanted to thank our front line workers for providing services and support that the Darke County Community depends on.”
In addition to the Aktion Club, Darke DD also coordinates three Next Chapter Book Clubs, a group which meets weekly to discuss a book. Pre-COVID, the group held meetings at The Coffee Pot (Greenville), Art Sense (Union City) and the Bradford Library; however, during COVID, the group has continued to meet via Zoom. While getting back to in-person meetings, facilitators will continue to offer zoom as a way for people who either do not have transportation or are unable to participate. Recent books discussed by the group were Where the Red Fern Grows, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Shiloh. Before COVID, after reading each book, the Greenville Public Library would host a ‘movie matinee’ where book club members could compare their readings to the characters on-screen. With the pandemic slowing down, many members look forward to resuming in-person meetings and activities.
While Aktion Club members work hard to raise funds throughout the year, they rely on their partnerships with other organizations to expand their outreach. One Darke DD program, “FANS” (an acronym for Friends, Allies and Neighbors) encourages community involvement and support of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through this program, businesses, service organizations, churches and volunteers can help further the mission of Darke DD, through supporting the 14 ongoing service projects throughout the year developed by Darke DD members, including the Wick’s Pie Sale (before Thanksgiving) and Trophy Nuts Sale (occurring after the first of the year).
“We support people being fully engaged,” said Huston.“Our mission is to empower people with developmental disabilities to explore possibilities for their lives by maximizing independence, community participation, employment and economic self-sufficiency in their daily life experiences.”
To learn more about Darke DD, located at 5844 Jaysville-St Johns Rd., in Greenville, visit the Darke DD on the web at www.darkedd.org or call at 937-548-9057. For photos of recent activities and events, visit the Darke DD Facebook page.