What better way to share information about an organization than to invite neighbors and friends for an afternoon social event.
This is what Bill and Vicki Morton, Lung Lane, Syracuse, did Friday evening to share information about Cardinal Services of Warsaw.
A small group of neighbors and friends gathered at their home to hear not only the Morton story of their experience with Cardinal Services, but also from Jane Wear, chief executive officer and Vickie Lootens, director of development.
The family had been coming to the Lake Wawasee for years and wanted to retire at their lake home, but without knowing what services would be available for their son Andrew, 26, during the winter, the decision was uncertain. That was until a landscaper who served on the board of directors told them about Cardinal Services.
Andrew goes to Cardinal almost daily for classes and to their manufacturing services. Vicki herself has jumped in not only serving on the outreach committee, but also on the financial committee.
Wear announced Cardinal has 500 employees serving 1,000 clients and operates on a $20 million operating budget, providing services 24 hours a day, seven days a week in residential care. There are 14 group homes in a four county area, with eight residents in each home.
“We want those with disabilities to be involved in the community.” She further stated “they belong in the community with the rest of all.”
She spoke of their programs, which follow their mission: assist and advocate for people with disabilities or challenges to live lives full of dignity, grown and opportunity.” Not only does Cardinal Service offer apartment/group home living, but family support and skill development. Programs such as Early Head Start, head start, healthy families and WIC are part of Cardinal Services.
Briefly explaining the CCI/Work Services and Career Links service, Wear noted these services provide work for those with disabilities through community partnerships, enabling them to earn money and do things. “It’s exciting when pay day comes,” she noted as the clients are excited to receive their paycheck and know they earned that money. “It does a lot for their self-esteem.”
She also noted Career Link has placed 57 individuals in jobs. “They used to be tax takers, now they are tax givers.”
Wear, however, provided some discouraging news. Financial resources are needed. “Seventy-seven percent is funded from Medicaid,” she noted unfortunately funding cuts five years ago has not provided no increases in financial support. Staff members are paid $9 an hour and there are 50 given positions available any given day.
“We are now telling people we cannot serve them as there are not enough employees to serve what we have. We have no funding to do that.”
Lootens explained the manufacturing plant at Cardinal and the community partnerships with up to 15 businesses. Consistent support is given by CTB Inc., Milford; Harmony Marketing, Belmot Communications Kilgore Manufacturing and others.
Some of the products clients make within the manufacturing area were displayed, such as some of the 750,000 calendars shrink wrapped this past year for Harmony; the 10 million water saddles the past year and 900,000 couplings assembled for CTB; 20,000 gas nozzles inspected and sorted for tape defects and plugged ports every two weeks for Kilgore Manufacturing and 750,000 U-Bolts/nuts and bolts assembled last year for IFI a division of Valmont Communications, with 1.5 million ordered this year.
Success stories were shared by Lootens and several attending, including how things have changed from the days when individuals with disabilities were hidden, sent to institutions and parents having a feeling of guilt/failure.
Mention was made of the annual fundraiser luncheon on Nov. 6 and the opportunity to donate to the 501 3(c) organization.