Welcome House

Opening doors for people with developmental disabilities

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2015 OPRA Achievement Awards Volunteer Award Nomination Jeanne Sydenstricker

Welcome House nominates Jeanne Sydenstricker for the 2015 OPRA Volunteer of the Year. I have known Jeanne Sydenstricker for over 10 years. Jeanne is truly a force to be reckoned with! She has devoted her retirement to addressing pervasive needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Jeanne’s tremendous drive and dedication has benefitted Greater Cleveland’s DD community in countless ways. Thousands of people benefit from her work each and every day.

As a parent of two sons with Fragile X Syndrome, Jeanne has unique insight into the needs of these individuals and their families. She has used this knowledge to develop innovative programs. But her extensive business background also guarantees that the programs she creates all have fully developed business plans, well-defined funding mechanisms, and plans for sustainability. Jeanne has worked tirelessly in the last 13 years to make meaningful differences in the lives of these special people, and to their family members and caregivers as well.

Jeanne identified three areas that are important to a meaningful life for everyone, and which are often missing from the lives of those with disabilities. Those areas are:

  • Employment
    • She worked on the Cuyahoga County Workforce Investment Board, creating the committee on employment for persons with disabilities.
    • Developed the Disability Navigator program
  • Social and recreational opportunities
    • Developed the Blue Ribbon program for recreational programs for adults with disabilities in which hundreds of individuals participate annually.
  • Community based independent living
    • Jeanne brought together Welcome House, Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Jewish Family Services Association, North Coast Community Homes, Kent State University, families and other volunteers to create a new independent living project. With a grant from the Cleveland Foundation, Jeanne and her team demonstrated that people with cognitive disabilities can use technology instead of constant caregivers to live independently — a safe, affordable and sustainable option for many families.

Into the Future: The Life Planning Project

Jeanne’s work on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities has not slowed down. In addition to continuing to seek out new technologies to benefit this population, Jeanne approached me with the idea of a Life Planning Project. The goal of this Life Planning Project is to develop an entity which will provide services similar to those of parents when the parents — or other family member– can no longer manage the interests of their loved ones with developmental disabilities.

This project is currently in the planning stages as we identify services to be provided, staffing, and develop a business plan and funding mechanism. We are currently seeking grant funding for this planning phase.

I can think of no better choice for the OPRA Volunteer than Jeanne Sydensticker! Her life is dedicated to bettering the lives of people with developmental disabilities. We strongly encourage you to consider Jeanne Sydenstricker for this unique and special award!!

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