TROY — In 2016, the Kiwanis Board took an idea to have an annual Kiwanis Honors program and assigned to the Marketing & Public/Media Relations Committee. That committee came up with a handful of possible organizations, events and individuals as candidates for the award and then went to the membership for some more suggestions. Then the list was presented to the board for the selection. In 2016, The Kiwanis Honors went to Ron Erwin.
In 2017, the committee again went to the membership and came up with additional candidates. This list now includes two events, 14n organizations and two individuals. The committee went back to the board for a secret ballot vote. And this year’s winner is the Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
This organization began in the early 1950s as a labor of love by a few dedicated Miami County families. At a time when students with intellectual and physical disabilities were not included at public schools, these parents took it upon themselves to begin training classes for their own children. In 1952, eight students attended a summer class in the Forest Elementary School in Troy. In 1962, a school was constructed for these students at 1625 Troy-Sidney Road in Troy. What began in a small classroom grew to fill one building, and the building grew to support job training opportunities in a second building, and now more than 1,000 people with developmental disabilities receive numerous services out in the community, with this agency supporting them from birth through the end of their lives.
The Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities, better known in the community as Riverside, came under jurisdiction of Miami County in 1967 when Ohio Senate Bill 169 was signed, creating a county board of developmental disabilities in all of Ohio’s 88 counties. Riverside kept its original name, although it is officially the Miami County Board of DD. People are often surprised to learn that Riverside is no longer a school, since children with disabilities are now educated in their home districts. However, Riverside’s services have expanded greatly in 65 years. It is now an over-arching presence in the lives of the more than 1,000 people it serves, by funding and coordinating a multitude of services in their lives, services such as homemaker and personal care services in their homes through agencies like BLESS, CRSI and Total Homecare Solutions; adult day services at places like Goodwill, RT Industries and Vision Mentors; job training and placement; early intervention services for children ages 0-3; school age support for children 6-22; advocacy training; and recreation services and Special Olympics programming.
With a mission to empower people with developmental disabilities to live, work and play as full members of our community, Riverside embraces community partnerships — like this one with Kiwanis — to create new opportunities for the individuals served by the agency.
At the helm of Riverside is superintendent Brian Green. A lifelong Miami County resident, Green connected with Riverside in the 1990s when he owned a computer technology business. After receiving Riverside’s services for his young son, Greenn applied for and was hired as the Information Systems manager in 2000. After a few year, he was promoted to operations manager, then to assistant superintendent a few years later, before taking the role of leading the agency as superintendent in 2014.
Onedevelopment under Green’s tenure is the formation of the Aktion Club of Miami County. Aktion Clubs are Kiwanis service clubs, similar to Key clubs, and is the only service club for adults with disabilities. Miami County’s Aktion Club’s first meeting was Jan. 20, 2016, and was officially chartered on May 11, 2016, with 28 members. They now have more than 40 active members who attend meetings and activities twice a month.
According to Riverside’s Community Awareness & Opportunities Director Melissa Nichols, “The partnership we’ve been able to forge with the Kiwanis Club of Troy under Brian’s leadership has been life-changing for many people. Riverside’s connection to Kiwanis has opened all of us up to new friendships and new possibilities. Kiwanis’s involvement with Riverside to begin an Aktion Club has helped us take leaps forward in our achieving Our Vision to build a community that values and supports people of all abilities!”