The Spring Dell Center focuses on providing services that can assist people with disabilities and help them integrate within the community, whether in terms of finding a job, joining a group or something most people take for granted, such as walking. They give people with disabilities the opportunity to reach their highest level of independence that they desire. Spring Dell is an inspiring organization to take part in through volunteer, employment or sponsorship; it’s an organization that makes a real difference in people’s lives. For this week’s Friday Focus we spoke to Sheebah Smith, Spring Dell Center and learned all about the grand event they have coming up, programs they offer and true success stories. Are you ready to join Spring Dell?
Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)
A: Created in 1967, Spring Dell Center has been dedicated to supporting people with disabilities in our community for almost 50 years, advocating for those with more specialized and intensive needs as well as those requiring less assistance. Today, the organization’s programs have expanded to supporting over 200 people. Some of these efforts include job placement, housing, transportation and hand-to-hand training to develop desired skills. In conjunction with providing supports, Hooks & Hangers quality resale stores in La Plata and Charlotte Hall help fund programs provided by the agency.
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
A: There are many life changing moments that can be remembered due to the opportunities and supports Spring Dell Center staff provide. Some include seeing people we support walk for the first time, thanks to our Movement and Wellness program, after a lifetime in a wheel chair. Another is learning how to use communication books and other specialized equipment to have a conversation with someone who is non-verbal. Things, which at one time, could have been seen as impossible. Spring Dell focuses on making possibilities, realities.
Most recently, with the support of our Movement and Wellness Program, program participant Susan lost 100 pounds and has been able to utilize a pacer in order to walk for the first time in years; she was also recognized with a Maryland Association of Community Services Achievement Award this past May! Nicole, in our Day Vocational Program was signed up for Meals on Wheels for the very first time. A little hesitant, she went through training on the first day, learning what to do, how to approach customers and the specifics regarding deliveries. Her second go around, she stood confidently saying “I don’t want help, I got this!” Kristin and Brett, who has utilized our Supported Employment program, secured paid positions at Hampton Inn, where they both work regularly and independently. Then there is Marsha, who obtained a position as Crab Picker for Thompson Seafood, but her roll quickly expanded to include other duties as needed. The stories of success are endless!
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: There are many challenges that arise, but we are grateful our community is always there to lend a helping hand. As a result, we have positively changed stigmas associated with having disabilities. We have increased skill development through strong partnerships with organizations such as Meals on Wheels, Food and Friends, as well as the Food Harvest Program. We have provided programs that aren’t funded by the state thanks to sponsors such as the Greater Waldorf Jaycees, Community Bank of the Chesapeake, Dennis Anderson Construction Corporation, Guy Motors/Mobil 1, Price Financial Group and so many more. With the support of community businesses like Thompson’s Seafood located in La Plata and Hampton Inn in Waldorf, we continue to place those we support in viable positions throughout the county. Yet, still challenges arise.
Currently our biggest challenge is staffing. We love what we do, but lack the amount of staff needed to seek out new opportunities that can further expand our programs. Lately, it has been a struggle due to coverage issues, but the employees who are here do what they can to ensure everyone receives the individualized attention necessary for goal achievement. We are always looking for people who want to join our team. Energetic, patient, personable, creative thinkers looking to help others and make a difference in someone’s life are the characteristics we look for in employees. Once employed, staff can take advantage of many benefits including annual and sick leave, paid training, tuition reimbursement, retirement plan, a FREE $10,000 life insurance policy, paid holidays and so much more. The great thing is there is something for everyone. The agency has entry level to management level positions available and focuses on staff development. There are so many opportunities for anyone who wants to get involved and all they have to do is call (301) 934-4561 or visit the employment section of our website.
Q: Are there any upcoming events?
A: We always have something going on and encourage community members to join us. Our next large initiative will be in October for National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Then in November we will hold our Annual Auction, known as the agency’s largest fundraising event. Save the Date! It is scheduled for Friday, November 18th at the Waldorf Jaycees Center and includes over 200 auction items placed throughout live and silent sections. Past items included Hopper Passes to Disney’s Theme Parks, a three night stay at The Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, V.I.P. Passes to Maryland International Raceway, golf packages, antiques, event tickets, sports memorabilia, additional trips and much more. There are many ways to get involved whether you want to give a donation, sponsor the event or simply attend. This year’s theme is “Maryland, My Maryland” and with approximately 400 attendees year after year, it will be an event you won’t want to miss.
Additionally, we are gearing up for our 50th anniversary in 2017! So, mark your calendars because there is much more to come. To learn more about all the events coming up simply join our mailing list.
Q: How can people get involved with your organization?
A: The agency and its staff will always strive to find various ways we can connect the people we support to the community or different employment opportunities, regardless of the severity of their disability. Maybe you are going out to the movies or fishing and want some company. If you are a local business, you may have an employment opportunity that is just right for someone in our employment program. You may be involved in an activity which would be perfect to help build skills needed to get someone to the next step of their goal development success. Any opportunity provided that can contribute to our mission of offering life changing experiences are welcome. Simply giving your time or providing an experience for someone is gratifying for all, including YOU! What might be something small to you could be the very opportunity someone has been hoping for.
This is just the start. Other options include sponsorship opportunities and activities where we need the help of community volunteers. If someone wants to help but doesn’t quite know how, we would love to sit down with them and come up with some ways that will benefit everyone involved. Just let us know!