May 11, 2018 – Happy Mother’s Day from the staff and residents of Duvall Homes! Adult Day Training Support Specialist, LaToya (right), tests out the new white board with Jon and Priscilla in Duvall’s newly renovated Vocational Training Center.
Created by Tim Tebow and the Tim Tebow Foundation and hosted by Stetson Baptist Church in DeLand, residents of Duvall Homes participated in this incredible international event that took place February 9 in DeLand, Florida, in 16 countries at 537 host churches, where 90,000 VIPs with developmental disabilities were crowned Kings and Queens by 175,000 volunteers! Staff from Duvall Homes participated as well.
View additional images on Instagram at #ImInspiredDeLand #NightToShine and #NTSDeLand. This special night was a memorable global event recommended for anyone who wishes to get involved and be inspired. Be sure to put February 8, 2019, on your calendar.
August 22, 2017 – This past month, participants at Duvall Homes’ Adult Day Training (ADT) Center began reviewing and preparing for the “arrival” of the spectacular solar eclipse that would pass the U.S. August 21, 2017. While the skies over DeLand, Florida, were not sunny and clear that afternoon, it didn’t seem to have any impact on the cosmic excitement of the rare occurrence.
ADT supervisors and support specialists used Nasa’s Eclipse Activity Guide to form appropriate-level curriculum to both educate and inspire all individuals on the developmental disability spectrum. Adults with special needs, who are fortunate to take part in programming at Duvall’s Opportunities Enrichment Center, learned a great deal in varying STEM subjects including science and technology. They reviewed current events, geography and astronomy, and received instruction and hands-on guidance to build and create several science and art-based masterpieces.
Participants learned Eclipse Basics, viewing and hearing the differences between solar and lunar eclipses, the difference between ultraviolet and infrared lights, and learning the sun’s essential role in our world. After several “Q and A” sessions with the participants, they built box projectors to view the eclipse indirectly and safely, and solar ovens to measure light and temperatures and bake s’mores! They also used paint and chalk to create works of planet art – each activity building to a culmination in the viewing of the actual solar eclipse. Precautions were made for many individuals to view the solar eclipse outdoors through the purchase of Nasa-approved eclipse glasses; however, due to inclement weather, the eclipse was thoroughly enjoyed on television, with and without the glasses.
Taking part in the same activities and experiences that millions of people across the nation are taking part in is not new to us at Duvall. “We take pride in the fact that we stay current, keep involved with the community and create opportunities of personal growth, pride and independence on a daily basis,” said Marsha Shankleton, Chief Operating Officer of Duvall Homes.
The solar eclipse is the first of its kind, where the path of darkness crossed both East and West coasts exclusively in the U.S., since 1918 – Duvall Homes has been empowering people with developmental disabilities since 1945!
July 31, 2017 – When Ruby Helton learned that the image of her developmentally disabled son, Jason, would appear this August in one of 16 banners that would adorn Woodland Boulevard (US Hwy 17-92) north and south of New York Avenue downtown DeLand, she was ecstatic. “Oh my, I will be driving down Woodland Blvd. every single day,” said Ruby in her sweet Georgia-native accent. Ruby and her husband moved to DeLand from Georgia seven years ago specifically for Jason. “Duvall Homes was the best place we could find for our son that makes him feel like a real person.”
Jason wears a helmet, because like so many individuals with a developmental disability, he also suffers from a seizure disorder. This however, does not curtail the goal setting and -achieving set by Jason and his personal Direct Support Professionals in his supportive housing nor reduce the educational, cultural and social opportunities organized by his team at Duvall’s Adult Day Training (ADT).
“We aim to provide daily experiences that produce opportunities of learning at various levels on the cognitive spectrum,” said Shirley Zonnevylle, Duvall’s ADT Director. Many experiences have a lasting positive impact on the participants’ lives and their families, while other experiences offer valued moments of curiosity and joy, which the images on the boulevard banners so clearly depict.
Banner images also include one resident, Meg, smiling after endorsing her check following fulfilled obligations for MBI. Other banners show residents holding art they have personally created (or discovered through #DeLandRocks) and young music students from Stetson University with residents who they performed for, or worked with, through their Instruments of Healing group.
“That’s me! I did that painting!” announced Shirley T., an ADT community participant, as she pointed at an image of herself holding a painted vase of colorful flowers. When asked what she thought about being on a very large 7′ banner that will hang downtown DeLand, she smiled and said, “I’m happy… my painting is in that room over there.”
Duvall Homes will celebrate its third annual Inspiration Gala fundraiser, presented by Reames Employee Benefits Solutions, September 29, 2017, at the Sanborn Center, with the focus of honoring those inspirational experiences. The evening will also pay special tribute to businesses and individuals who support and sponsor the empowerment of those in Duvall’s care, including this year’s special honoree, John Olivari of Olivari & Associates, CPA.
Maureen Kemp, Kemp Realty Group Broker, and her husband Chris are the 2017 Gala entertainment sponsors, which will be Johnny Wild & the Delights. “I was first introduced to Duvall through the Keyettes Club at DeLand High School more than 30 years ago and am proud to support them today.” said Kemp
People are always amazed when they discover what the developmentally disabled are capable of doing, including community service and earning a paycheck, and these banners shine light on just a fraction of the inspiring stories of those who quietly live, and struggle, in the background, unknowing to the average person.
While the government does provide funding toward housing and training for developmentally disabled, not surprisingly, there remains a persistent gap between actual costs and what Medicaid Waiver covers. “Coupled with federal mandates tied to licensing and certifications, there remains additional costs for insurance, group home operations and special need vehicles. So we are dependent on the generosity of the members of our community to help us minimize this gap,” said Elizabeth Bhimjee, Chief Marketing & Development Officer. “Our Inspiration Gala has become an essential event to help us with those financial challenges.”
The installation of these symbolic banners is yet another milestone in Duvall Homes’ enduring 72-year history that began in the single-family home of Thelma and Alanson Duvall and their Down syndrome son, which has now grown to 16 group homes. Learn more about Duvall Homes and its 2017 Inspiration Gala, an RSVP ticketed event, at ImInspired.org. Members of the public are encouraged to comment what inspires them about the banners and Duvall Homes.
July 7, 2017 – A symbol of independence and empowerment: ADT Support Coordinator Beth Conrad, a Duvall Homes’ employee of more than 20 years, recently completed an inspiring quilt that began as a labor of love in 2015, on her own time. The quilt depicts various hand patterns of approximately 90 residents and participants of Duvall’s Opportunities Enrichment Center. The sentimental work of art currently hangs in the Adult Day Training facility in Glenwood, Florida.
May 30, 2017 – Stetson University School of Music students brought their “Instruments of Healing” to Duvall Homes and entertained residents on three different occasions in the Duvall chapel. View a short video here.