Tribune staff reports

Sandy and Doug Royer of Seymour were honored at Developmental Services Inc.’s 41st annual awards banquet Nov. 9 at The Commons in Columbus.

They were among several award winners recognized for advocacy to individuals with disabilities.

The Royers received the Volunteer and Service Award for their friendship and advocacy of the residents with disabilities served at DSI’s Elm Street Group Home in Seymour.

After delivering Thanksgiving meals on behalf of their church to area families in need, the Royers approached DSI several years ago about doing something nice for the residents of the Elm Street Group Home.

Since that time, the Royers have made the holidays special by purchasing and delivering gifts to all of the clients on Christmas Day. They also attended client events and donated to Special Olympics so individuals with disabilities could engage in some healthy competition and make new friends.

Birthdays at Elm Street were particularly memorable because the Royers would bake cakes and purchase gifts to help the residents celebrate.

This past year, DSI volunteers gave 5,400 hours of their time landscaping group homes, sponsoring recreational events for consumers, teaching individuals to cook and providing clerical assistance. Because volunteer support eases the workload for DSI staff, thousands of additional service hours are available for clients each year.

DSI is a nonprofit agency established in 1975 and provides services for children and adults with disabilities in 44 counties in central and southern Indiana. DSI’s service menu includes early intervention, respite, family support, advocacy, health and wellness, job training and placement, residential living options, after-hour activities, community involvement and daily living skills instruction.

A Jackson County man and a local company also were recognized during the banquet.

The Professional of the Year was awarded to the DSI Finance Department, which has Tom Franke of Seymour at the helm as executive director of finance and administration.

“The finance department has really come together as a team,” said Shane Burton, DSI executive director. “They’re very committed to making sure everyone does their part, and they keep things loose and personable. Without them, bills don’t get paid, service records are not recorded and there are no reimbursements for programs rendered.”

In recent years, all of these responsibilities have loomed even larger as DSI has grown to serve 44 counties in Indiana.

Franke and his team, Judy Lee, Cyndi Turner, Joe Van Why, Stacey Stillinger, Judi Heubach, Lavonda Hendrickson, Vicki Irwin, Janie Lucas, Amanda Griffin and Bekah Gatchel, have handled many challenges, including new program data entry and accounting systems.

Seymour-based Aisin U.S.A. Mfg. Inc. was named DSI’s Industry of the Year.

“In recent years, there has been a partnership developed between DSI and Aisin that is truly a ‘win-win’ situation for everyone involved,” said Mel Fields, DSI executive director of programs. “To assure that the individuals we serve are successful with the work contracts they provide, Aisin has spent a lot of time and resources engineering products that individuals with disabilities can perform and consistently meet quality standards.”

Other award winners were:

Kathy Verseman and Sandy Biddinger, co-owners of WTRE radio in Greensburg, John McCauley Community Awareness Award

Todd Weatherwax, owner of Mancino’s Pizza and Grinders in Greensburg, Employer of the Year, and Morgan Hooten, outstanding employee at Mancino’s

Mylinda England of Columbus, a member of the Client Council of Bartholomew County and DSI’s Education and Enrichment Program, Consumer Achievement Award

Greta Baker of Columbus, DSI REACH Department, Direct Service Professional Award

Sam Simmermaker of Columbus, a radio broadcaster, special service award for his tenure of presiding as the “voice” at DSI special events for more than 10 years.

Kim Opsahl of Carmel, provider of consultation, expertise and advocacy for various agencies, Paul Roahrig Memorial Advocacy Award

Lorraine Smith of Columbus, DSI board member, recognized for her service on the DSI board of directors

Also at the banquet, it was announced that DSI in conjunction with the Heritage Fund of Bartholomew County are establishing the annual Developmental Services Inc. William K. Hadar Scholarship Fund in honor of Bill Hadar. The Columbus resident retired in 2014 as DSI’s longest tenured chief executive officer in the organization’s history.

The inaugural scholarship will be awarded in the spring of 2017 to a high school student who demonstrates committed volunteer service, academic excellence and community involvement. Merit for the scholarship also will include the student’s career ambitions toward community and civic service.

The scholarship fund will be administered by the Heritage Fund of Bartholomew County, and details of the application process will be available in the coming weeks.

On the Web

For information about Developmental Services Inc., visit dsiservices.org.