2013 Event Schedule
Wednesday, May 15 · 5:30 p.m.
Centre County Candlelight Vigil
“We Believe in It”
The Match Factory, Bellefonte, PA
(behind Tallyrand Park)
For more information, contact Opportunity Centre Clubhouse at 814-867-1454
Wednesday, May 22 · 5:30 p.m.
Cambria County Candlelight Vigil
“We Believe in It”
Cambria County Courthouse, Ebensburg, PA
For more information, contact Vines of Hope at 814-472-1036
Saturday, May 18
Discovery Garden Plant Sale
Discovery Garden at
Saturday, June 1
Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community
7:45 a.m. sign in; 9 a.m. start time
Central Park in Johnstown, PA
Monday, July 8
8th Annual E.F. “Pat” Houser
— Register Now —Toftrees Resort, State College, PA
Friday, July 19 · 7:05 p.m.
with the State College Spikes
Spikes v. Williamsport Crosscutters
Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community to Benefit Vines of Hope
Saturday, June 1 • Central Park, Johnstown
Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community is holding its 3rd annual fundraising walk to benefit Vines of Hope— Skills Ebensburg drop-in center.
Last year, Skills had more walkers than any other organization and raised nearly $4,000!
Register at Walk for a Healthy Community to become a "Team Skills" walker or to donate your support to a Team Skills member — and remember to tell your friends about “Team Skills” too.
USAF Pilot Visits, Thanks Skills ATS Programs
Adults at the Adult Training Services programs in Richland and Cresson and the senior program in Ebensburg were recently thanked for making hand-made holiday cards for the troops.
Of the many troops who received cards from these programs, U.S. Air Force TSgt Matthew Bracken, who was deployed to Afghanistan during the holidays, received 60 cards.
Upon receiving the cards, Bracken shared them with his unit and bought three American flags. He labeled each flag to represent one of the Skills program locations that made the cards and took the flags in the cockpit of his plane during a combat mission in Afghanistan.
In early February, between deployments, Bracken stopped by each of the three Skills locations to express his gratitude on behalf of the service men and women in his unit in Afghanistan and presented the flags taken on the combat mission to each of the three Skills day programs.
Skills Adult Training Services in Richland and Cresson and the Senior Day Program in Ebensburg made 1,000 Christmas cards for the troops this past holiday season. Each also received a certificate of membership from Friends of Our Troops, an organization that receives millions of letters and disperses them to the troops.
Becky Aungst Announced as Skills Chief Operating Officer
Becky Aungst is now the first ever Skills Chief Operating Officer. In her new position, Becky will work directly with the Regional Vice Presidents to provide oversight of all programs and services provided to the people Skills supports to include Community Homes, Community Services, Behavior Support, Mental Health Services and Life Sharing.
Additionally, she will work directly with the Quality Improvement and Training Department to monitor and increase consistency throughout Skills 16 county service area.
”I’m looking forward to the opportunity this new position brings with renewed energy and dedication to the people we support,“ Becky said.
Becky served as Regional Vice President in Blair County for the past nine years, adding Bedford County to the region two years ago. Her 25 years of service with Skills includes roles as Residential Manager and Residential Director.
“We are truly pleased that Becky will continue with Skills in this new position,” said David M. (Mike) Rice, Ph.D., President/CEO. “Her experience and knowledge regarding the organization and its programs will be critical to our future, especially in light of new State regulations.”
Justin Beigle Promoted to Regional Vice President
Justin Beigle has been promoted to Vice President of the Blair and Bedford Region.
As regional VP, Justin will plan, direct and lead the delivery of Skills comprehensive array of programs and services within Blair and Bedford counties to include Community Homes, Community Services, Behavior Support, Mental Health Services and Lifesharing.
“I’m looking forward to continuing my career with Skills in this new capacity and contributing to the organization’s success in new ways,“ Justin said.
Prior to his promotion, Justin worked for nine years as Skills Director of Community Services in Blair and Bedford Counties.
“We are always pleased to be able to offer advancement opportunities for our employees. Justin’s experience within Skills will be a great strength in his position as Vice President,” said David M. (Mike) Rice, Ph.D., President/CEO.
Staff Spotlight: Jean Forry
Jean Forry is the Team Leader at a community home in Lewistown. She has been with Skills residential since 1986 and has been a team leader for over 25 years.
Forry says the most rewarding part of her job is “spending time with the guys” at the community home. “I have one guy that just transferred to my house and he has improved by leaps and bounds.... It’s nice to see that. He knows people care about him.”
Jean said she is happy where she is in her line of work and wants to continue working with the people she supports in her community home because “that is the fun part of the job.”
If Jean was not a Team Leader at Skills, she said her dream job would be to have a huge house so she could take in foster children. In the past, Jean opened her home to two girls who needed a place to stay. “I couldn’t say no,” she said.
When Jean is off the clock, she enjoys spending time with her son, daughter and their friends.
The Journey to Become a Person Centered Organization
There is something to be said about putting yourself into someone else’s shoes.
Over the last few decades our society began changing its thinking about people with disabilities and the way services are delivered to them. Our society started a transformation from a system dictating lives to one of individuals choosing their own lives.
In 1998, Skills adopted the Person Centered Thinking developed by experts Michael Smull, Bill Allen, and Mary Lou Bourne. In 2009, all Skills staff in Blair County as well as all executive staff came together for training on becoming a Person Centered Organization (PCO). Skills staff members attended monthly meetings and underwent training to be coaches. Coaches help teams for individuals find out what each individual really likes and wants in their life then help guide teams to make decisions based on the individual’s choices.
Skills goal is to become a PCO, initially in Blair County, and to improve the lives of the people we serve whether in residential or day programs. Skills mission has always been to enhance the lives of the people we serve and give them every opportunity we can. Now Skills is taking it one step further — having the people we serve be the authors of their own lives. This is not an easy step to take; state regulations, doctors, hospitals and other agencies need to be on board with this philosophy.
To accomplish this goal, Skills included training opportunities for county support coordinators and state representatives from the Office of Developmental Programs. Skills is offering this training to other counties. In November 2009, Skills held a two-day training in State College (Centre County) for Skills employees and county support coordinators about this philosophy. The journey to becoming a person centered organization is underway, thanks to Blair County, and spreading throughout the agency. Skills goal is eventually to become a PCO throughout all of our 16 counties.
Environmentally Friendly Place Mats
Skills of Central PA, Inc. has been making place mats out of recycled, biodegradable paper for over 10 years. The Deli, a restaurant in downtown State College, has been a loyal supporter of this project by purchasing Skills recycled place mats. Hotel State College also uses Skills recycled place mats in Bill Pickles Tap Room Restaurant & Bar. This project is both good for our environment and supports individuals with disabilities by providing valuable work.
Individuals who attend WOSKOB Vocational Training Services in Centre County earn a paycheck to make the place mats. Until now, client-workers had been using a home-made cutting contraption that could only cut two place mats at a time.
Thanks to Penn State University Students and the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS), Skills now has a newly refurbished place mat cutter that can produce six place mats at a time — tripling production with one cut! Tim Wheeler, research assistant for the Department of Electrical Engineering, is the program coordinator. Matt Cornwell, Penn State mechanical engineering student in the EPICS program, designed and built the new place mat cutter for Skills.
The EPICS program at Penn State gives engineering students the opportunity to use their developing skills for the community. Students put what they have learned into play to help agencies like Skills solve everyday problems, which in our case helped Skills increase production to better serve our customers.
Interested in purchasing Skills environmentally friendly place mats for your restaurant or business? If so, please call the WOSKOB Industrial Site Manager at 814-234-2330 ext 318 for details.