Discussion – 


Discussion – 


A Conversation with Becky | Planning for Success

People excited to be at a festival

This article is included in our Fall 2022 newsletter!

At Open Door, we’re always trying new things to help carry out our mission of inspiring life journeys. Whether that’s creating new programs, welcoming new board members, or implementing new ideas from the people we support, we understand that change is constant—and we’re always looking for ways to improve.

a person smiling for the camera

In each edition of our newsletter, we’ll have a conversation with Becky Sharp, Chief Executive Director of Open Door, who will share her thoughts on the progress our organization is making in a variety of areas.

In this edition, she talks with Andrew Stinson, Marketing Coordinator at Open Door, about the success of the DSP U program, our two newest board members, and how the individuals we support are shaping our strategic goals for 2023.

Andrew: DSP Day this year was a big success, despite the weather changing up our plans! What were your thoughts on the day?

Becky: Yes, one thing I was most impressed by was the resilience of our staff to bring many of the elements inside and keep everything running smoothly despite the rain in the forecast. People enjoyed the Let’s Make A Deal game and all the prizes! We had a lot of positive feedback from community members and families. All the individuals that came from Park West had a great time, and said it was the best event ever! While we wish the weather would have cooperated, I think folks enjoyed the event.

(Check out our DSP Day Slideshow below!)

Andrew: Tell me a little bit about the DSP U program, and how it’s been successful for the individuals we support.

Becky: Sure, we’re working with Franklin Heights High School in the DSP U program, which is run through the Ohio Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (OADSP). Students learn through hands-on work and earn badges for things that they do to create positive outcomes for individuals. They get the basic training needed to work in the field, including CPR. Our students are assigned to Park West, where they come on-site every day to help with recreational and therapy activities with the individuals. This is part of the school day for these students—the bus brings them to and from school each day.

a group of women sitting at a table with a red tablecloth

We have four students—Eva Marcum, Aicha Thiam, Jasmine Thornton, and Beyonca Wright. They’ve been great! They create activities for the individuals, get equipment and supplies, and make it fun. They also attended the recent OADSP event at Scene 75. Their teacher, Mr. Huber, said that the students have come back with lots of great stories from their experience here, and they want to work in the field! That’s the whole mission of the program, so it’s going well!

Andrew: We have two new board members: Tina Pollock and Cody Myers! They each bring a unique skillset to the board.

Becky: Yes, Tina works in the field of mental health, so she does a lot of psychiatric services for folks. She also brings with her a new idea of healthcare services that are outside of our realm and brings expertise of working with nonprofits. She’s very enthusiastic and we’re happy to have her!

Cody works as an attorney for Kegler, Brown, Hill + Ritter, specifically in nonprofit governance, which certainly applies to us! He assisted with our bylaw revisions and most recently has worked with us on exploring copyright and licensing options for our theater program, Open Door Stage & Screen.

a woman smiling for the camera
a man smiling for the picture

Andrew: I know we’re currently working on strategic planning for next year and the individuals we support have played an important role in our approach. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Becky: I like talking about this because it’s been the highlight of our strategic planning process this year! As usual, we met with stakeholders, did surveys, and got lots of feedback. We did two separate sessions for individual and family feedback and used a lot of pictures throughout the meetings so that everyone was able to participate even if they couldn’t read the words.

Andrew: What did the individuals prioritize during their meeting?

Becky: It was enlightening because they came with a list of things that were important to them, and everyone in the room provided input. In their words, what we do well includes: assisting with going on trips, having ‘the best staff in the world’ as they put it, helping them plan for and deal with issues, and providing the opportunity to meet with people through our Advocacy Group.

We also asked what things we can do better. One thing is communication can be better, including having our scheduling department connect directly to the individuals we support instead of through our staff. We’d like to set up a new volunteer page on our website that matches a potential volunteer with activities the individuals are interested in doing and learning more about. For example, we have some folks who are interested in computers, and they want a volunteer who is interested in that subject to come help with that.

The individuals also want to host a variety of different in-person and virtual clubs, including audiobook club, a coffee club, and a cooking class once a week where individuals can take turns hosting. Other topics discussed included more weekend opportunities for events both at our facilities and out in the community, and the need for individuals to learn more ways to use technology to connect with others. And that’s just some of the things they came up with!

Andrew: Wow, that’s a lot of great ideas. Which individuals were involved in coming up with these?

Becky: We had 23 individuals that attended the Advocacy Committee. We met with people representing all divisions of Open Door, including Park West, Supported Community Living, Career Activity Community, Open Door in Union County, and Open Door Art Studio and Open Door Stage & Screen.

Andrew: And all these ideas will go into the strategic planning for 2023. When will the plans be finalized?

Becky: Hopefully by November 1st. We’re currently typing up all the detailed feedback and then we’ll digitize it in a document that makes sense to share. And then the idea would be to have the overarching categories posted on our website, so people can see them and hold us accountable. We’re so excited to finalize our plans for 2023 and can’t wait to share our goals with everyone!

Open Door

Open Door is a Columbus-based nonprofit provider for individuals with developmental disabilities. Our mission and vision are to inspire life journeys and cultivate valued roles for all people. What door can we open for you?


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