Champaign Residential Services (CRSI) took time to recognize 40 years of service to the community during a celebration dinner Monday.
Members of the CRSI administration and other guests spoke on the impact of CRSI and how the service provider has grown over the last 40 years.
CRSI CEO Than Johnson served on the original incorporating board in 1976 and spoke on the original purpose of the organization.
“Some of the parents of kids with disabilities or young adults with disabilities in those days … kept them at home or they went to a state institution,” Johnson said. “Our early purpose was purely to have an alternative to parents that no longer could provide the services we could but instead of going to the developmental centers and state institutions they could stay home.”
Johnson said CRSI provides home care so individuals can live as independently as possible from teen years to elderly years.
He said CRSI now serves nearly 800 individuals in 30 counties throughout the state. Johnson added the success CRSI would not be possible without the work of its nearly 1,400 staff members.
One of the biggest changes for CRSI has been moving from what Johnson described as a facility-based system in which people lived in facilities to a system in which home care is provided for two-thirds of services.
John Martin, director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, said CRSI was one of the early agencies in the state in its field.
“We don’t have a lot of agencies who are celebrating 40 years; it’s very few,” Martin said. “They were one of the real early agencies who got into this business. They were on the cutting edge when they started and over the years they’ve remained on the cutting edge.
“They expanded services in many different areas in the community, they went from just being residential to now doing vocational services and just many different expansions over the years and we as a state we’re dependent upon community agencies like CRSI to provide the services. It’s with deep appreciation that we look at the work that CRSI has done, the quality of the services that they’ve provided and the leadership they’ve provided in the state by their willingness to jump in and try new things.”
Asked about what has been the most rewarding aspect of CRSI’s 40 years, Johnson said it was John Hannah. Johnson said Hannah, a person with disabilities, has held a full-time position with CRSI for 20 years.
“He reminds us every day of why we have a mission here,” Johnson said. “John also is an example of someone with a disability that even though he may have some problems with reading and writing he has a computer system that does that for him so he can do our customer satisfaction surveys so he fully engages himself in the vocational part of living. With CRSI, there are some individuals we’re just doing daily living skills, for some we’re just helping them get to their job – what has kept us going is wherever the customer needs a service we try to be the ones that can do that service.”
Looking to the future, Johnson said CRSI’s goals are to have as many individuals with disabilities in the work force as possible and striving to have individuals achieve as close to independence as possible.
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.