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Board of DD honors community partners

Mar. 26—LIMA — The Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities has worked for years to help people who struggle with disabilities reach new heights and achieve their dreams. On Tuesday, the board honored area partners who have helped make some of those dreams come true.

The board's partnership luncheon is a tradition going back to 2013 in which the board honors individuals in the public and private sectors as well as collaborating agencies that assist in the work of the board in assisting those with developmental disabilities.

"It's for our partners in advocacy, our partners in the community and our partners in education," board superintendent Theresa Schnipke said. "We have a wide range of people that we thank and honor today."

The theme for Tuesday's event centered around the social media hashtag #AccessibleAllenCounty, with Schnipke and others highlighting the progress that has been made in increasing accessibility for the disabled in the county. That progress is just the beginning, Schnipke said.

"We were just awarded a $584,000 grant in December, which I talked about and how shocked we were to get it and how much good we can do in Lima and Allen County with that money and accessibility," she said. "We have kind of tied that grant to physical access and inclusion of access for everybody. So it can benefit all people, if you're a 30-year-old man who had a traumatic brain injury or you're a 70-year-old woman who had a stroke."

The board is currently working with 10 area partners in applying these funds, working on projects like obtaining a wheelchair accessible van, making modifications to a parking lot, including curb cuts, to make that lot more accessible, installing 15 adult changing stations, aiding five organizations with issues with automatic doors and door buttons for accessibility and renovating three bathrooms to make them more accessible. Funds are also being used to support interpretation services and software and for specialized technology to help make meetings more accessible and inclusive. Work on all of the projects is expected to be done by December.

Schnipke encourages all area businesses and facilities to consider if they have any issues with accessibility, as there may be ways to address them.

"Just being aware of how your facility is not accessible is half the battle and then letting us know so as we get toward the end of the year, if we still have funds freed up, we can work with all the agencies and not leave any of the money on the table," she said.

2024 Allen County Board of DD Partnership Award Winners

—John Wilt "I Love My Community" Award — Bridget Kennedy

—Partner in Advocacy — Beth Bish

—Partner in Employment — Buckeye Coating Technology

—Partner in Service Provision — Zoe Benroth and ASH Payee Services

—Partner in the Community — Tammie Colon and Sarah Newland

—Partner in Education — Tera Viola

—President's Award — Thomas Fleming and Phyllis Montrose