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News & Happenings

Foundation helps Havar connect with community

The Building Bridges Adult Center, a program of Havar, Inc., will hold the 2nd 5K Annual Walk Around the Neighborhood on April 27.                                                            Masks created by Building Bridges participants with the help of Paper Circle in Nelsonville, Ohio.

This year’s theme is “Save the World” and is focused on reducing the amount of energy individuals use within their homes. The members of the center will be not only be participating in the walk but also assisting in the preparation, planning, set up and handling of the day’s vents.   The Building Bridges Adult Center is currently looking for additional volunteers to help with the planning and implementation of the day’s events.

“We are hoping that by going out in the community we can break down stereotypes of people with disabilities,” said David Milliken, program manager for the center. “Our participants are capable of learning, they can help out and as adults they should receive the respect they deserve.”  

The center, located in Nelsonville, recently celebrated its one-year anniversary of helping citizens throughout the community. Building Bridges is an adult-day service that provides assistance to individuals with developmental disabilities.  Since opening late January 2006, the center has evolved into an association that not only provides service but educates the general public on mental disabilities.

The Building Bridges Adult Center, like other adult-day support centers, is focused on providing individuals with developmental disabilities more options in their lives.  By coming to the center, participants benefit from having opportunities to learn new daily living skills.

“There are often services available on the weekends and at night but citizens with developmental disabilities are left with little to do during the day, which is where Building Bridges can step in,” Milliken said.

Each day the individuals participate in arts and crafts, outdoor activities, exercise, field trips and socialization.  Small tasks, such as learning how to properly open packages, can make a significant difference in participants’ lives.  

An especially popular activity at the center is the weekly lunch.  During this time, participants have the chance to plan a menu, go to the store to purchase the items, budget their money and then actually cook the meal.  This event can help them learn to do more things on their own, Milliken said.  

The center also has worked hard to become involved in the community.  Many local businesses assist them in their daily activities. Local art and craft stores provide the center with project ideas as well as supplies.  Other Nelsonville businesses have been very considerate in communicating with individuals from the center.  

They are currently starting a project with Ohio University’s Speech and Language Department.  Their goal is to create modified technology programs that help people with developmental disabilities communicate more effectively with others.

Havar, Inc., which created The Building Bridges Adult Center, recently established an endowment fund with the Nelsonville-based Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.  This fund will help to maintain support services and resources for programs and encourage growth of future initiatives, and it allows donors to contribute gifts to support the continuing assistance the organization offers.

“The funds that we have created with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio will allow us to grow as an organization and continue to improve the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities, said Debbie Schmieding, chairperson of Havar, Inc. “Our goal is to continue to provide services and programs far into the future.”

Havar, Inc., is a private, non-profit, tax-exempt corporation operated by an independent Board of Trustees in Athens and Washington counties. Havar was incorporated in 1972 to provide community-based support to citizens with developmental disabilities.