CSB Workshops Explore Inclusion, Networking and New Opportunities

“Until you’ve lived somewhere else, you just don’t realize the value of the CSB Developmental Services here in Fairfax County.” - Father of a 37-year old man with disabilities  

Following a series of four hands-on summer workshops with partner organizations, families and colleagues, the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB) held a collaborative forum on August 8 where families shared ideas and important feedback about how to help all people living with developmental disabilities live fulfilled, inclusive and meaningful lives in Fairfax County.

Photo of women at workshop

Families provided valuable insight and feedback about services for those with developmental disabilities.

As demands for CSB’s high quality employment and day services and supports continue to grow, the CSB continues to explore collaborative platforms and is looking at ideas on how to improve information sharing, explore alternative funding sources and stretch dollars to serve more people and families to best meet the needs of our community.

“Families and community partners hold the keys to our future as we continue our mission of creating truly inclusive and integrated communities, “said Jean Hartman, CSB Assistant Deputy Director of Community Living Treatment and Supports. “This is our life’s work; we are all in this together.”

Photo of women in front of colorful scarves

Katelyn, at left with a friend, knit and donate beautiful scarves for homeless individuals in Falls Church.

Participants in the workshops also shared innovative success stories from their own families. Falls Church residents Eileen and John Williams’ daughter Katelyn began her career with an idea and a passion, like many other successful businesspeople. At 22, Katelyn reached the age where she was graduating from the school system’s programs, but wasn’t sure she was comfortable with the traditional employment options that were presented to her. But, as a hobby, she loved to recycle used holiday greeting cards and create gift tags. She and her mother Eileen collected stacks of old greeting cards from neighbors and friends. Katelyn created a workspace in her basement, where she created thousands of whimsical, attractive cards for three years, often joined by her friends. Katelyn sold the popular cards door-to-door, at craft fairs, and to local businesses. She expanded and started to create gift bags and tubular scarves, using donated yarn, much of it belonging to her beloved grandmother. She knitted and donated the scarves to local homeless shelters. The business grew, and as it did, Katelyn’s skills and confidence flourished. She moved the business into an office space she calls “The HARK Center” (Hobby-Activity-Recycling-Kraft) in the Panera building on West Broad Street, in the heart of the City of Falls Church. She now walks to work each day, volunteers at the library, and goes out to eat and shop in her community, where she is recognized, welcomed and embraced by friends and neighbors.

Katelyn’s HARK Center is just one of the examples shared at the evening forum, a meeting that built connections, enthusiasm, and hope. Attendees were asked: How do we corral a person’s passion into action? How do we engage the broader community to help create opportunities for people with disabilities?

The rich dialogue will continue; we will continue to explore how to truly integrate all people in our communities; the status quo isn’t enough but together we’ll find a better way.

Keep the dialogue alive; submit ideas online for CSB’s Developmental Disabilities staff, or read other ideas that have been submitted.

August 9, 2017

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