Individuals at Sunshine Live Life Positively By Lana Smucker, Communications Coordinator, Sunshine Communities March 2021 Positivity overflows at Sunshine Communities. Sunshine is a non-profit organization in northwest Ohio supporting people of all ages with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Founded over 70 years ago, Sunshine has touched so many lives through residential, vocational, supported employment and therapeutic programs. While Sunshine has grown to support dozens of homes within the community, there are nine living areas right on our Maumee campus supporting individuals who are more medically fragile. Each living area is named after a type of quilt pattern, an ode to our connection with the Mennonite denomination. One of those areas named, “Pine” is where 12 amazing individuals live and exude happiness, despite the many obstacles that have come in their lives. Life in Pine can look different than most people in our community. Many individuals supported in Pine are wheelchair users, and require staff support to do everyday tasks. When the pandemic came into our lives last year, Pine, like all Sunshine areas, took precautions very seriously. But precautions haven’t hindered Pine from keeping busy, connected, and having fun. Hunter uses Skype to call his Mom every evening at 7:30 p.m., and sees her through window visits on the weekends. Aaron is close with his father, who visits on the weekends and uses Skype to call with extended family in Florida. Joel connects virtually with his parents and recently enjoyed a car ride with them, a familiar family activity that left Joel beaming. While life with developmental disabilities can seem un-relatable to some, individuals in Pine experience many of the same obstacles shared by the broader community. Skylee is a hardworking student navigating the transitions of virtual and in-person learning. She’s been able to return to school in-person for four days a week at her new school as a junior high student. This year she is receiving services to help utilize her talking device, walker, and doing exercises. When Pine individuals aren’t connecting with loved ones or finishing school work, movie nights can commence. They can all watch together on the TV in their living room, while some prefer certain genres. Eric, Charles and Joel love comedies, cracking up the whole time. So much so, that they are proud owners of Step Brothers t-shirts. Aaron and Ryan enjoy watching The Proposal and like the scene when Sandra Bullock learns a dance. Jackie, a direct support professional, and Sarah, a medical technician, are just two of the many dedicated staff that support the Pine home. They started this tradition of movie nights to bring everyone together. “We let the individuals pick out the movie by asking them if they would like to watch it, and get their reaction,” Jackie said. It has become a regular event for Friday and Saturday nights. At Sunshine, staff are important parts of everyday life, resulting in close bonds with the individuals they support. Not only do staff provide support, but they go above and beyond with creativity and innovation. Nicole, a residential manager, recently held a Walk-A-Thon with a hallway and backyard scavenger hunt, and custom t-shirts which she hand-lettered in her spare time. “We oftentimes form a plan at the beginning of the shift for instance, today, we decided at the beginning of the shift that after dinner we were going to bowl. Each individual got a couple turns and it brought out so many smiles and much laughter. Pine is full of positivity. We try so hard to keep the individuals busy with activities and celebrate even the smallest victories!” Sarah said. Positivity and contagious smiles aren’t in short supply in the Pine home. Whether you’re at Pine, at another Sunshine home, or just relating in your community, people with developmental disabilities will bring positivity into your life. Page 8

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