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Editorial: Disabilities Board worthy of attention

  • Photos Tina Wine/ Special to JCST. Corey Owens was first in his age group at the run.

One of our fondest memories of detailing life in Jasper County occurred almost seven years ago when we were introduced to Paula, the life of the party at the Jasper County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs in Ridgeland.

Paula enthusiastically flashed an ever-present smile as she posed for pictures and made sure we knew all the names of the Jonas Brothers. Since then we’ve always remembered Joe, Nick and Kevin Jonas.

We were there to spotlight the Board of Disabilities, but we were privileged to also meet consumers Paula, Ricky and Donald (and his artwork).

We were reminded of that experience recently when the Resource Foundation For Jasper County hosted a 5K run and 1-mile walk at Sgt. Jasper Park in Hardeeville that benefited the Board of Disabilities and Special Needs.

The event, which featured 40 runners and 20 walkers, raised $6,235.

The money raised from the run and other yearly benefits, including a bake sale and raffle, helps those with disabilities pay for extra medications, dental work and even ramps for their houses – things Medicaid or state waiver programs don’t cover.

About $10,500 has been raised in the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The Board of Disabilities and Special Needs, which also gets support from the United Way, has about 200 consumers, including 24 who live among six group homes, who do yard work, housekeeping, wash cars and enjoy movies and play ball outside.

“They are busy and want to be involved in the community,” Board of Disabilities and Special Needs Executive Director Deborah Walsh said.

Consumer Corey Owens was first and Dinell Anthony placed second in their age groups at the benefit run.

Walsh said the Board of Disabilities and Special Needs provides transportation for 40 to 55 consumers to and from its day program each day, which includes those living at home with family members and those at the residential program.

But despite all it offers, the Board of Disabilities remains in hiding.

“People don’t seem to know we are here,” Walsh said.

The approximately 29-year-old building is situated behind the nursing center and elections building off Grays Highway. The employees welcome the community to stop by and get involved.

Walsh said the Resource Foundation, which has also bought vehicles for the Board of Disabilities, is looking for people to serve on the board, put together fundraisers and offer new ideas. She believes there are many more in the county with disabilities and special needs that her department can help.

“Come see what we do,” Walsh said. “We are always happy to see people.”

If you go, be sure say to hello to Paula and the rest of our friends for us.

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