2008 Annual Report
In 2008*, Via of the Lehigh Valley provided services for more than 630 children and adults with disabilities throughout the greater Lehigh Valley, in Lehigh, Northampton, Bucks and Berks counties. Below is a summary of each program Via offers and significant milestones from the past year.
* 2008 refers to Via’s fiscal year 2008, running from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008.
Children deserve a bright and healthy start in life. Recognizing developmental delays and treating them early is vital in the growth of children. Via’s Children's Services can make all the difference in a family’s life.
Early Intervention Program
Via’s Early Intervention program is staffed by highly qualified and experienced professionals from a variety of disciplines. Via’s speech therapists, occupational therapists and physical therapists work with children in their natural environments (homes, daycares, etc.) to meet the individual needs of each child and their families.
Children are assessed by their therapist to determine their strengths. A plan is developed that helps each child learn and grow according to their needs and abilities. Via’s Early Intervention program offers:
- Licensed, highly trained professional staff of speech, occupational and physical therapists
- Community-based, services delivered in child’s natural environment (home and childcare settings)
- A plan designed to meet the child’s individual needs and centered around family routines
- Team-based approach
- Family training
- 177 children, from birth to age 3, and their families were provided with therapy and first steps towards school readiness. 16% of children receive multiple therapies.
- All therapies are provided in natural family home or day care settings. Therapists provide therapy to the child and instruction to caregivers who provide “practice” with children between therapist visits.
- Via offers nationally recognized Sibshops program for siblings of children with disabilities in the Lehigh Valley.
Two-year old Gracie and her older brother’s arguing seemed to be just a part of family life. However, Gracie had extreme difficulties communicating and was frustrated in her interactions with those who love her most. After evaluation by the Via’s Early Intervention program, it was discovered that Gracie’s speech development was slower than that of most children her age. This discovery helped the family understand that Gracie’s temper tantrums and arguments with her brother were a result of her frustration of not being able to communicate her feelings using speech.
Via began working with Gracie and her family on a weekly basis. The change has been dramatic since Via started working with her. Gracie’s speech has improved and she has learned how to tell her family what she needs and wants without frustration.
Dear Ms. Kathy,
We greatly appreciate all you have done in your work with Jacob. It is obvious that his improvements are because of your hard work with him. We believe Jacob would not be as advanced in his developmental milestones if not for your patience, kindness and love for your work and the children you serve.
You have gone beyond the expectations that are required of you and Jacob has made such excellent progress in not only the occupational therapy area but also social expression, development of individual interests, personality development, and expression of wants, needs and feelings. Thank you for all of your efforts and know that you have brought joy to our family every week.
Our deepest thanks,
Via’s Community Employment services are based on the belief that Everybody Works™ and no one should be excluded. Work is a typical part of adult life and everyone should have the opportunity to benefit from being a part of the employed community. Every day, Via staff work on innovative ways to help people find and maintain community employment.
Via works to provide the best employment option for individuals and excels at creating innovative employment solutions that match business’ needs. Via enables adults with disabilities to work in integrated settings in the community and provides ongoing support so people can perform their job well. Via works one-on-one with adults and employers to make effective job matches and provides onsite job coaching and support to assist individuals in getting, learning and keeping a job.
- 222 people were assisted in acquiring and maintaining employment through job development, work assessments, follow-along support and small business ownership.
- Program received grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and Autism Speaks for more than $100,000 to focus on job development for people with autism.
- City of Bethlehem established a $50,000 revolving loan fund to help individuals develop and grow small business.
After doing production work as part of a school program, Bruce wanted to pursue the same type of job after graduation. Cigars International gave Bruce the opportunity to participate in a work assessment and after two days, offered him a part-time job on the packaging line.
Bruce’s coworkers have been very supportive and were quick to recognize his talents and capabilities. His manager went out of his way to provide opportunities for Bruce to learn more responsibilities. After five months on the job, Bruce was offered a full-time position. Bruce has found Cigars International to be a great place to work and his coworkers have made him a part of the team.
Travis, a student at Bangor High School, wanted to be sure he was prepared for adult life after school. His school brought Via in to began working with him through a process called discovery, providing him opportunities to volunteer and job shadow in the community.
Through this process, Travis narrowed down his interests and likes to continuous interaction with people and organization. Through job shadowing, he learned organization and communication
skills. In addition, Travis’ hard work and dedication earned him a part-time job at CVS. Travis stays busy outside of work and school, volunteering at a local rehab center, assisting at his church and volunteering at his school. Travis’ opportunities for success continue to grow with his dedication to volunteering and love for his job.
Workshop & ViaWorks
Via’s Business Services & ViaWorks are avenues provided to help adults with disabilities develop skills and gain valuable work experience so they are prepared to ultimately move to a job in the community. Via’s Business Services subcontract to complete assembly and packaging services for businesses. ViaWorks provides job training and work in community settings in positions including clerical, food service, housekeeping, janitorial, light manufacturing and production.
- 99 People, engaged in packaging, assembly, and other light industrial jobs for local manufacturing companies such as Crayola, B. Braun, Martin Guitar and Lutron.
- Workshop census is reduced by an average of 20% annually due to individuals choosing community based services.
Via’s Community Connections facilitates relationships between individuals and the communities in which they live. Via connects people to their community through volunteer, recreational, social and educational activities.
Community Mentoring & Retirement Services
People want to be valuable, active, and productive members of their community. Via helps individuals discover preferences and choose recreational and volunteer activities in their community to participate in as independently as possible. Via also helps people who are over or nearing age 55, transition to retirement to maintain skills, participate in leisure and volunteer activities, stay active, and connect with activities in community settings.
Teen Summer Experience
Via works with teens and their family to develop educational, recreational and vocational goals, centered on developing life skills. This intensive 11-week program includes job shadowing, career counseling, volunteering, and a series of recreational and team-building activities that help prepare young adults to become successful members of the community and workforce upon their graduation.
Via’s Supported Living program helps individuals live independently in their own accessible apartment or home. A planning process helps individuals explore where they want to live and if they want to live with a friend or on their own.
- 140 people received support for volunteer, recreational, and education activities, in-home support and supported living so individuals may live on their own.
- 48 Lehigh Valley agencies and organizations provided opportunities for volunteer, recreation, education, and vocational exploration opportunities in this program.
- Grant funded high school transition program connected 17 families to Via’s services and helped families access Office of Vocational Rehabilitation funding to assist young adults train for and acquire employment.
- Summer Teen Experience attracted 19 teens to vocational recreational program. This program will be expanded in 2009 to after-school hours and double in size in summer 2009. This program is also attracting grant funding to cover outcomes measurement and program development.
As a volunteer at the Crayola Factory in Easton, Taren works with hundreds of children every day. Taren’s shy and quiet demeanor disappears once she puts on her volunteer smock and starts handing out craft projects to the children. When Taren started volunteering, she was shy and rarely talked to anyone other than her Via Community Coach. But over the past two years, Taren’s sense of independence has grown and so has her confidence.
Now she readily initiates conversations with other volunteers and interacts with staff, her volunteer director and the children and families at the Crayola Factory. Taren was recently recognized with The Crayola Factory Spirit of Volunteerism Award. She is a valuable member of her team, giving of her time to support the community and working with hundreds of children every day.
Alan was focused on his routine and didn’t want to do anything to alter his daily activities. Fast forward to today and you can catch Alan at any number of community sites volunteering with his friends. Alan requests certain sites that involve activities he enjoys most like clerical work and any site that involves working around other people.
Alan’s sense of humor has flourished and he’s always ready to joke around with his friends and other volunteers with one of his one-liners. Alan continues to develop communication and other life skills needed for independent living and through Community Connections has developed bonds and relationships within his community.