Portage County to open two new adult facilities

Angela Hoover

Two new adult services facilities for the developmentally disabled are set to open in March.

Akron-based United Disability Services opens its first Portage County facility March 1, and it also will open a Twinsburg location March 13.

Both sites will provide vocational workshops of assembly piece work from area companies as well as social recreational programs, said Phyllis Boerner, United Disability Services community relations director.

United Disability Services, a private non-profit agency that has been serving Summit County since 1949, approached the Portage County Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities last summer to become a new service provider for the county.

Although United Disability Services has served Portage County in limited capacities in the past, this is its first facility in the county, said Kay Shellenberger, director of adult services for United Disability Services.

The United Disability Services facilities will not be fundamentally different than the already-existing area providers, Shellenberger said. Rather, they can shorten wait lists by offering another option.

“One of the things we are trying to encourage is choice,” Shellenberger said.

Recent changes in Ohio law allow individuals to choose service providers instead of counties assigning them.

“Counties are now trying to broaden their menu of providers,” Shellenberger said. “If you look at all the surrounding counties like Summit, Stark and Cuyahoga, Portage is the most limited in choice.”

The Portage County Board of MRDD currently contracts with four providers offering adult centers, one of which is only for retired seniors.

Adult service centers for the developmentally disabled include employment, job training, life-skills training, and social and recreational programs.

As of December, 710 county residents are enrolled for services with the Portage County Board of MRDD, of which 278 participate in adult day services, said Bev Puelo of the Portage County Board of MRDD.

“Our model for developing the social and recreational component is based on therapeutic recreation,” Shellenberger said.

Kent State has therapeutic recreation, vocational rehabilitation and leisure studies programs. Shellenberger said there are ample intern and volunteer opportunities at the new facilities.

United Disability Services has had a relationship with Kent students in the past, mainly in social programs. Now with a facility in Kent, it will be easier to continue cultivating this relationship, she said. Call Kay Shellenberger at (330) 762-9755 for more intern and volunteer information .

Some United Disability Services employees will transfer, but there will also be entry level positions and positions requiring a four-year degree at both locations. Job openings are listed on the Web site www.udsakron.org.

An informal open house for the community and individuals who have already expressed interest in the Kent site will be from 1 to 7 p.m. Feb. 27 and 28 at 1010 W. Main Street. Contact Lana Stryker at (330) 379-3337 for more information.

The official open house will be sometime at the end of April and is the better venue for intern and volunteer applicants to attend, Shellenberger said. The date will be posted on the Web site.

Contact public affairs reporter Angela Hoover at [email protected]