When 23-year-old Sammi Hudson first started attending day programming at Chimes Delaware, she was prone to aggressive and self-injurious behavior.
“She would just lie in her room on her mat all day and wouldn’t really come out and interact with anyone,” said Jessica Townsend, a direct support person at Chimes.
One year later, Hudson, who suffers from autism and intellectual disability, spends a lot of her time in her chair, which is located in one of the activity areas, or in the multi-sensory room, where she can listen to music. Chimes officials attribute her transformation not only to some much needed dental work, which was funded by the organization and could be a reason Hudson was hitting herself in the face, but also to continuous work with staffers and participation in a recently-developed enrichment program.
“The enrichment program is activity-based, as opposed to our other programs which are vocationally-based,” said Steve Parris, Kent and Sussex work services coordinator for Chimes Delaware. “It’s a series of activities they do throughout the course of the day and it’s for folks who do not have incentive to work, but we want them to be active and involved.”
Parris said activities include music and movement, dance, recreation and leisure, arts and crafts and fitness. Chimes would like to add “community awareness” to this list, creating an opportunity for those in the enrichment program to visit places like the beach, grocery stores and restaurants. However the facility’s limited transportation options impedes their ability to integrate Hudson and the others into the community, and Chimes is asking for donations to purchase a $55,000 wheelchair accessible van.
Dr. Lois Meszaros, director of Clinical Services at Chimes, said the facility’s two existing vans are utilized by the employment program, which provides intellectually disabled persons with work and paychecks. Meszaros said Chimes has secured employment agreements with Marshalls, Home Goods and local governments for cleaning services in courthouses. Because Chimes is transporting these people to work, Meszaros said there’s a serious need for another van for use in the enrichment program.
“We’re just trying to enrich their lives, create more social opportunities and provide more integration in the community,” she said. “Sammi has really come a long way but we can’t take her any further because we need to get her out and become integrated into the community, and we need a van in order to do that.”
Chimes has launched an online campaign through www.razoo.com that allows supporters to “buy” portions of the van. For example, a window is $10, the steering wheel is $50, a seat is $100 and so on. The fundraiser can be found by visiting the website and searching for “wheelchair van.”
Page 2 of 2 - Donations can also be made directly to Chimes, located at 28393 Dupont Blvd., Millsboro, Del. 19966.
The current Chimes facility opened on July 5, 2012 and is named after Irv and Phyllis Levin, who contributed $100,000 toward the cost of the $1.6 million 8,000-square-foot building. The new location replaced the former leased space on Del. Route 24 in Millsboro and allows Chimes to serve double the amount of intellectually disabled persons.
For more information, call (302) 934-1450 or visit www.chimes.org.