Randy Hall never meant to become president and CEO of Cardinal Services Inc. of Indiana in Warsaw, the position he assumed July 1.
In fact, he never intended to invest 28 years — and counting — working with adults and children with disabilities.
“It wasn’t my plan to work in this field and certainly not make a career of it,” said the Peoria, Ill., native.
But the residents in the organization’s eight group homes and 16 apartment complexes in Kosciusko County are fortunate he did.
Hall found out about Cardinal Services from his classmates at Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, where he took classes in 1987-1988. New to the area, he was seeking employment to dovetail with schoolwork.
“They said, ‘Work with Cardinal Services. They’re flexible with your schedule.’”
He started with the 501(c)(3) organization in 1988. “My first job duty was to cook and clean in one of our group homes,” he said. “I’m not a good cook or very good cleaner. That has always been the joke around here.”
He was promoted to group home manager the next year and has worked in management ever since. “Over the years Cardinal has been very good to me.”
The community has been very good to Cardinal, according to Hall.
“I have always felt like Warsaw and Kosciusko County have been very supportive of Cardinal Services over the years. It is a partnership and we cannot do it without them.”
The Warsaw Cardinal office manages Head Start, WIC, KABS and Healthy Families, a home-based program providing parental guidance to families with children up to age 3.
“The mission of Cardinal Services is to assist and advocate for people with disabilities or challenges to live lives full of dignity, growth and opportunity,” said Hall, reciting the statement from memory.
Hall’s upbringing drilled into him the character necessary to sustain a steadfast and successful career.
“My parents always impressed extremely good values,” he said. “They taught us to always do right by others.”
His experience at Cardinal carved a second quality into Hall’s repertoire of intangibles.
“My understanding of people with intellectual disabilities was very limited when I began here. Although I had the core values, my understanding of an individual’s value was not there.
“I struggled at the beginning to see them as being like me; I tended to see the differences and not the similarities,” he said.
“Through some wonderful mentors and training here I recognized I was not applying my values to the people I thought were different from me. It was a transition I went through but going through that process was a major ‘Aha!’ moment for me.”
His greatest fulfillment comes “through individual success stories. You see somebody with so much potential but often they have not been given the chance to fulfill that potential.” Hall revels in “seeing those goals and dreams become a reality.”
“Being a part of that is the reward,” he said.
Hall highlighted some “pressing needs” at Cardinal “that keep me awake at night.”
“The industry faces a real staffing challenge,” said Hall, noting the Warsaw facilities have openings for paid “front line staff” in “all shifts seven days a week.”
The residents also need volunteer companions. “They have paid staff,” he said, “but paid staff shouldn’t be their only friend. Volunteers can take residents out for a cup of coffee, fishing, shopping or to church.”
For more information, or to volunteer, call (574) 371-1326 or visit www.cardinalservices. org.