A Sense of Community

Each year Summit DD processes more than 1,400 referrals in the Intake department.  Of those referrals, many are found eligible and begin receiving services.  But what happens to those who for one reason or another do not qualify for services?  How do they find help?  The answer may surprise you.

Bridging the gap

In the past, if individuals were not eligible for services, they had to locate alternative supports on their own.  Often they didn’t know where to turn and gave up in frustration.  Summit DD looked for ways to help, but creating external programs was well outside of Summit DD’s statutory authority.  So the Agency did what it does best, it got creative!  The Agency now staffs an eligibility and community coordinator to assist people by connecting them to existing community-based supports.

“Our goal is to link individuals who are not eligible for Summit DD services to appropriate supports in the community,” explained Senior Director of Service & Support Administration & Medicaid Services, Jerilyn George.  “Helping people locate local supports promotes the mission of the Agency, and aligns with Summit DD’s key pillar of citizenship,” George added.  “We are now able to help Summit County residents get access to other community resources.”

Making Connections

LaTeryl Sharpe, the eligibility and community coordinator, is responsible for researching and identifying community resources, and if necessary, assisting people through the application process.  These connections impact individuals’ lives through employment supports, medical supports and habilitation supports, just to name a few.  Sharpe recognized the many benefits associated with this new position. “I love to help people,” she humbly explained.  “This position gives me the chance to make a difference in the lives of people who thought they had nowhere else to turn.”

The position offers many challenges as well.  “Each situation is unique,” said Valerie Adams, Intake Manager.  “One person may need assistance finding a job; another may need help with daily living skills; while others might have multiple needs at once.  That’s part of the challenge that comes with this position,” Adams explained.

Early Success

With these challenges also comes a sense of fulfillment.  Sharpe, who has only been in the position since April, has already experienced some success.  She relayed a situation where a father was put in contact with her.  The man learned that his teenage daughter was ineligible for services just before her high school graduation.  Sharpe listened to the family’s needs, researched options, and identified that the young woman was eligible to stay in high school longer, where she could gain marketable job skills.  “The family was frustrated,” Sharpe empathized.  “But we were able to find an existing support that could give them a new lifeline.  In this case, the information translated into valuable training that could eventually lead to a full-time job.”

Summit DD has committed itself to link referrals that are not eligible for services to the right community-based supports.  This innovative perspective has helped reach beyond just those served by Summit DD.  In fact, the eligibility and community coordinator is evidence that there are no boundaries to the Agency’s desire to build a stronger community, which benefits everyone.

Questions? Contact Us. We’re happy to help.

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