At Open Door, we start each year with new goals and objectives that align with our mission of inspiring life journeys and our vision of cultivating valued roles for all people. Now that we’re (already!) halfway through 2022, we’d like to give everyone an update on some of the fun and exciting ways we’ve been working towards achieving our strategic goals for the year.
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 many ways we’re achieving our strategic goals, including new Open Door vehicles, Park West kitchen remodeling, our electronic filing system, and updates to staff compensation and bonuses.
Andrew: We have a whole long list of awesome things we’ve been doing lately to support our strategic goals! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on these. Let’s start by talking about the new kitchens in Park West.
Becky: Park West was built in the late 1970s and opened in the early 1980s…so the buildings needed some refreshing! Some of the updates staff wanted to have done in the apartments were the kitchen cabinets, countertops, and new appliances. We’ve prioritized those things that this year. It’s been a little bit of a challenge getting all the parts in, but we’ve now ordered everything and have completed apartment C3! The company that did the work is willing to do our other apartments back-to-back; we’re hoping by the end of the year all the kitchens will be renovated at Park West—and by ‘renovated’ we mean new sinks, new cabinets, beautiful new countertops, and backsplashes.
Andrew: Our board has new committees now, which was a goal for 2022; can you talk a little about what that means?
Becky: One of our goals was to create leadership infrastructure for the future. The board bylaws were reviewed, and part of that process was to have committees that oversee different areas of governance such as finance, outreach, development, fundraising, and personnel. So, we have board members that have an interest in chairing those committees and are stepping up to lead their direction. We’re hoping that staff, individuals, and families will also connect with them to provide direct input for our governance.
(If you’d like to connect with our board committee chairs to provide feedback, email us here.)
Andrew: We’ve also had some exciting news about our transportation?
Becky: We applied for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) grant two years ago and have now received three new vehicles which will allow us to increase our community presence in both residential settings and our community on-the-go groups. In addition, we have also secured contracts through Enterprise to put us as a priority for new vehicles so we can receive up-to-date minivans and other smaller vehicles which will allow us to replace vehicles with significant repair needs and increase the accessibility for those that require wheelchair lifts. We’ve also continued to focus on safety by updating the GPS systems and backup cameras in all vehicles.
Andrew: Something that affects nearly everyone in the organization is paperwork. We now have a new electronic personnel filing system—which has been a long time coming!
Becky: Yes, that goal has been on our plan for like three years! We’ve successfully created an electronic personnel filing system that meets all survey and regulatory standards. Right now, we have high school volunteers assisting us with scanning the files and creating the electronic personnel files so that HR will be able to get rid of a whole lot of paper! This will increase efficiency in orientation and the annual training process.
Also, one of our goals was to create more efficient onboarding for new employees. Through JotForm, we’ve created a “one-stop shop.” Historically, a new employee would have to click a bunch of different links to complete their onboarding, but now everything is done with just one link. It stores all of their data and then seamlessly moves it into our electronic personnel files. It also emails the staff with copies of all their paperwork instead of them having to come to the corporate office to get physical copies of all their training documents.
Andrew: I heard we have new On the Go (OTG) group at CAC related to sports?
Becky: Yes, CAC has launched new on the go opportunities, which are small groups that go into the community and are out of the building 100% of the time. Some of the folks at CAC wanted to have a group focused on sports so that’s been their focus recently—including basketball, swimming, and going to car shows—they’ve been enjoying it!
(Folks interested in our OTG groups can learn more here.)
Andrew: There have been some new additions to the website, particularly surrounding the artists we support.
Becky: One of the goals for our artists at Open Door Art Studio is to be able to highlight their own individual artwork efforts through their profile updates on the website. Thanks to the support of staff at the art studio, they’ve been able to create individual artist profiles on our website including a bio, a brief exhibition history, and photos of some of their artwork. We continue to promote the artists’ work on social media as well. We love to see this translate to sales at the art studio because that means income for the artists.
(Check out our artist profiles here.)
Andrew: It’s also been an exciting time for our new theater group, Open Door Stage & Screen!
Becky: Yes, they had their first public performance recently! And thinking about the big picture, one of the things we knew we needed as we host community events was to have our acoustics updated in the gym for the dances and future Open Door Stage & Screen theater performances. Those have been installed and tested during our Beach Dance Party in June and they work very well! This was part of our strategic goal to open up and inspire the life journeys of folks in the community as well.
Andrew: How are we addressing staff compensation given the workforce challenges that exist throughout not only the industry but the entire country?
Becky: DSP wages are our #1 priority at this time. During the pandemic, bonuses were provided to staff based on funding provided by federal, state, and local government sources. It was clear in our staff survey that these bonuses were very important. In order to feel valued, DSPs need their position to be compensated at a level that meets their skills, talents, and expectations.
We have been able to provide two bonuses so far in 2022 related to staff performance and their service to the individuals we support. In addition to that, we’re looking at other ways for employees to be rewarded for going above and beyond and inspiring life journeys. We’re also sponsoring an upcoming Ohio Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (OADSP) Direct Support Professional Recognition Event and are participating in the OADSP Jamming for DSPs at Scene 75, which provides fundraising support.
Andrew: How are we approaching advocacy efforts regarding the state budget?
Becky: Every survey from our stakeholders—whether it’s individuals we support, families, the county, our staff—has made one thing clear: the priority is to advocate for the individuals we support to be valued and our field to be valued. In order to do that, our DSPs need to receive value in their compensation and benefits.
Open Door has participated in multiple work groups and state initiatives to strategize what is important for inclusion in the upcoming budget discussions for the state of Ohio, as well as federally and locally. It’s clear that we have to look at the reimbursement rate for the services we provide and how we can then, in turn, use that rate to evaluate and elevate our DSP compensation and benefits.
In addition to that, we’ve put a focus on supporting individual self-advocacy not just at Open Door, but throughout the state with legislators and with national objectives. We’ve participated in some of the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) objectives with #AllInForHCBS. We believe that advocacy is something everyone can do, and we’ll continue to be strong advocates for our staff and the individuals we support.