Karen Stewart has noticed a change in her daughter Alison since she started going to Russell Nesbitt Services' training center in Wheeling.
"It's been great. She has grown so much since being here. They have done miracles with my daughter. She has come out of her shell a lot. She is talking more and she has become more independent," Stewart said.
Alison Stewart, 28, has Down syndrome. She was among the many people who attended the agency's open house Thursday.
Photo by Shelley Hanson/Russell Nesbitt Services clients, from left, Michael Spencer, Mary Eaves and Alison Stewart attend Thursday’s open house at the Fulton facility.
Executive Director Brian Breyer said he wants more parents and the community in general to know about the services offered by Russell Nesbitt to people with developmental disabilities. For example, Alison Stewart and her fellow classmates Michael Spencer and Mary Eaves all attend day treatment training, which teaches participants daily living skills such as shopping, cooking and cleaning. They are paid for work they do at the center, such as washing dishes and taking out the trash. Eaves said she enjoys cooking and her favorite dish to make is taco salad.
"Disabilities are a forgotten area. ... We have an increasing number of parents looking for services for their child," Breyer said.
Breyer said it is important for parents of children with disabilities to start thinking about the future, when they are not there anymore to take care of them.
In addition to daily-living training, Russell Nesbitt also owns 14 houses where clients can live and receive help. Other services offered at Russell Nesbitt include job training, respite for caregivers, employment at the Watch Center or Mobile Work Crew, coordination of services and therapeutic consultants.
Carol Marcinek, a therapeutic consultant at Russell Nesbitt, said some clients also learn basic reading, writing and math skills.
"I've been doing it for about 25 years. It's wonderful watching how they've progressed over time," Marcinek said. "Mike and Mary have come such a long way since I've been here. They are so much more independent than when I first started. ... Some parents are out there and they don't know what to do or where to go."
During the open house, Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie read a proclamation about March being national Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.