In the two years since Puzzle Pieces launched Employment Opportunities, our team has placed 17 clients in successful employment with 12 more in job development ready to be placed. Two of those recent placements have been at the south Frederica fast food chain Zaxby’s.
In the eight years that Puzzle Pieces has been serving this community, this is by far the most difficult time we have faced. More challenging than launching our nonprofit in 2012 and relocating our campus in 2019, surviving the Covid-19 crisis has proven to be our biggest obstacle. And while we are confident that we will overcome this months-long hurdle, we believe it is important to share with you our struggles as we strive to continue our services for those with intellectual disabilities.
The bottom line: We are open, but we are not OK.
Despite the onset of a global health pandemic, there have been shining examples of people showing up for their neighbors, for their community or even for complete strangers. Locally, social media groups quickly formed, offering help to those in need. Restaurants gave away free meals to the hungry. Sewers, or just those willing to learn to sew, handcrafted masks to protect frontline healthcare workers. And while this positive spirit has been witnessed across the community, we have seen it in our Puzzle Pieces family just as much.
As the world closely monitors the spread of Coronavirus and makes decisions to protect the health and safety of its citizens, I can’t help but think about the domino effect. While many are scrambling to stock up on toilet paper, Lysol wipes and re-scheduling their spring break reservations, I can’t help but go deeper in the effect it has on those families raising a child with special needs. Not just because some may be more vulnerable to the virus due to a compromised immune system, but because the disruption in the school schedules and now everyday life events.
The eighth annual Color Blast 5K is set for March 21 and organizers are excited to announce that the siblings of those with disabilities will be honored at the event. There has never been an event in the region that brings together and celebrates the siblings of those with disabilities.
Puzzle Pieces client Jeff Rhinerson has become a community icon, emceeing popular local events and interviewing Owensboro leaders on his Facebook talk show, “Live with Jeff.” On March 3, 2020, Jeff celebrated his 100th episode of his popular live show, which was commemorated with a celebration at Old National Bank with many of his previous interviewees in attendance.
Puzzle Pieces is excited to announce that Olivia Hardy will be joining the all-female administrative staff starting March 9 as the Behavioral Services Director.
Olivia will enrich the scope of services offered to current Puzzle Pieces clients and also allow the nonprofit to reach new clients. Through Olivia’s new role, Puzzle Pieces will now be accepting clients who need positive behavior support, but may not attend the campus for other services. Positive behavior support is defined as shaping a behavior that one wishes to change through evidence based practices, and providing the training within the home and community to ensure success.
Friends of Sinners resident paints murals at Puzzle Pieces as a part of recovery program
Steve Lane has a storied past, one that involves raising three children as a single father in government housing on Owensboro’s west side and an alcohol addiction that controlled a lot of his life. A recent relapse left Lane, 62, at a crossroads -- return to a life of addiction or fight for his sobriety. He chose to fight.
Lane connected with Joe Welsh, executive director of Friends of Sinners, and drove across the state to check himself into the Owensboro treatment facility.
“I couldn’t find happiness,” Lane said. “After I broke my promises to God and stopped abiding in him like I should, I wasn’t happy anymore. I’m at Friends of Sinners right now to try to get my happiness back. I don’t want to live like that anymore and I see that coming if I don’t do something.”
Ashley Wedding is the Public Relations Director of Puzzle Pieces and the newest team member to the administrative staff. In her role for just a month, she was excited to attend the Fill Your Cup Conference on Feb. 7 and shares her thoughts on the women-only event.
As just one team member of an all female administrative staff, I can testify that women truly do run the world. In the few short weeks that I have been at Puzzle Pieces, I have witnessed women, from all different backgrounds, excelling at what they do and coming together to better the community. But I also know that as moms, wives, daughters and working professionals, we get drained and often neglect ourselves while trying to fulfill all of these roles.