Every voice matters. 

    Each year, Wildwood representatives meet with our legislators and legislative aids to remind them of the importance of ensuring state funds are allocated for developmental disability services and staff wage increases.  On Friday, March 4, 2022, via Zoom, we ensured our annual advocacy visit took place. 

    Over the years as we’ve been visiting our senators and assemblymembers, we have developed impactful relationships. These relationships have become a vital pathway to both our state government and to our Governor. 

    “The legislators listened to me and my team. They understood our perspective.  It felt good to represent Wildwood.  I want to make a difference and I encourage other self-advocates to speak up as well,”  Eugene Holmes, self-advocate, says about his experience.  He felt it was very positive.  He explained the advocacy visit included a team of Wildwood staff, parents and self-advocates. 

    He also had the opportunity to meet in private with Assemblymember Santabarbara.  Eugene said,” 

    “It was an awesome experience. We made a connection,” Eugene says  “He liked my perspective on increasing staff wages and agreed with me.” 

    When asked if he felt confident the new Governor would listen to us, Eugene indicated he was hopeful. 

    Please, continue your advocacy efforts.  It’s important our legislators hear our voices on a regular basis, not just once per year.  What can you do?  Attend rallies; sign petitions; write letters; speak up! 

    Together our voices are loud and strong.  We will be heard.


    Emily Homa, Benefits Specialist in Human Resources, and Melinda Burns, Director of Adult Education, teamed up this winter to provide staff with practical information about managing their money. Short videos on financial topics were offered each day. Staff viewed the videos, completed a quick quiz and submitted their answers to try to win a raffle prize.  

    The program ran for twelve consecutive days and highlighted a variety of financial topics such as organizing documents, budgeting, loans, automatic payments and deductions, saving, reducing debt and preparing for taxes. 

    Over 60 staff from 10 different departments responded with 164 different staff responses. 

    CAPCOM and Key Bank helped create the content for the short daily videos. Plans are in place for more community partner involvement in future projects. 
    The next campaign will be “Take 5” featuring topics relevant to open enrollment and offered once per week. The dates for the next campaign will start in April and run through May which is open enrollment month.

    In the field of direct care, there are so many things that make for a good residence.

    Team work and team building is essential. When strong teamwork is exhibited, you’re able to create a safe, comfortable space for the residents.

    Team building helps keep the trust strong between colleagues and improves productivity. The residents thrive on seeing a strong team that works cohesively.

    They begin to collaborate on everyday tasks and work together better when they see teamwork modeled daily.

    Another great example of what makes for a good residence is including the residents in decision making. Allowing the residents to make informed decisions creates a space where the individuals feel their opinions are valued and heard in their home. For example, when assisting with medication administration it is important to ensuring the resident is aware of and understands the details, benefits, risks and expected outcome of each medication before beginning the first dose. Along with informed decision making- keeping a person-centered approach builds a strong trust with the residents.

    Taking a person-centered approach when supporting someone allows them to build trust and enjoy one-on-one time spent with that specific person. Quality time with staff is something resident’s might not get to enjoy too often since the COVID pandemic due to staffing shortages across the healthcare field.

    Community integration is vital to a quality life. Promoting community integration for the people we support helps fix the disconnect that is so often present by creating inclusive and diverse relationships through social connections, employment and other regular daily activities. One great way to promote community integration is to involve our residents in community activities.

    Community activities play a huge role in the lives of the residents. Community activities can be anything from bowling, swimming, gardening, social groups, or even exercise classes like Zumba! Any activities that can be used to promote good holistic health while having fun enriches their lives and creates opportunities for them to socialize outside of their home.

    Community activities are a great way to learn what your residents like to do and can help you find other opportunities for them with similar interests. An important piece of community integration is finding businesses that are handicap accessible. Oftentimes we have individuals with wheelchairs and walkers for safety.  Ensuring a business has ramps or an elevator lift is crucial as they cannot safely enter the establishment if it is inaccessible. Businesses that have begun to utilize adaptive and assistive devices promote community integration since it makes for greater accessibility and creates inclusivity which allows the residents who need these devices to enjoy these activities without any limitations.

    There are so many other benefits to community integration. It helps build practical life skills, gives inclusive employment opportunities within the workforce, prevents isolation and allows for the opportunity to engage with others overall. It also teaches appropriate social behaviors and gives the opportunity to build valued social roles like relationships, marriage, and parenting. 


Today, OPWDD Acting Commissioner, Kerri Neifeld visited Wildwood, participating in a listening and discussion session hosted by CEO Lou Deepe with representatives from the Wildwood Board of Directors, Executive Management, Day Supports, United People's Self Advocacy Group, Communications, and Community Integration. She also took time to visit a WithOut Walls Values activity and meet the staff and participants.


The acting commissioner is clearly focused on listening to people who receive supports, the concerns of direct staff, and the challenges service providers are facing in today's environment.

We are very excited to launch The Wildwood Digest, our new quarterly multi-media publication!

It features letters from leadership, a summary of our media appearances, our top YouTube and Facebook posts, our self-advocacy corner and it encompasses our newsletter Reaching Out.

Click here to view the Wildwood Digest:


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