Tuesday, October 18, 2011

31 for 21 - Day 18 - Please Renew Issue 25 - We Are Summit DD

Today's post is a request, a plea and a reminder to please get out and vote to renew Issue 25. Summit DD is what has been a lifeline since we brought Joey home.  Through their Help Me Grow program we have had an Early Intervention Coordinator who comes to our home and helps us fill out scary forms like Social Security (one of those forms you cry over when you are filling it out for your 2 month old).  They have helped us see eye specialists from Cleveland (who also came to our house!) when Joey's eyes started darting back and forth last Thanksgiving and we had no idea why.  They have brought in physical and occupational therapists to work with Joey once he was healthy enough to start therapy.  They helped us prepare both Joey and his big brother Tommy for Joey's open heart surgery in June.  They have helped us go from a little boy who had jaundice, plagiocephaly, torticollis, nystagmus, feeding issues and heart surgery to a little boy who is now sitting up and is working on learning to crawl.

They have made the past year bearable because we always knew we had their visit to look forward to.  They have provided resources and reassurances when we were exhausted.  They have provided hope and answers when we didn't know what to do next.

Who is Issue 25?  We are.  Who is Summit DD?  We are.  While their statistics show that they serve nearly 4,000 individuals, in reality they serve at least double if not triple that.  Each time they visit Joey, they are not only serving him, but they serve our entire family. 

Here is the deal-- we never knew we would need Summit DD.  We never knew that we would have a child who would need "extra" encouragement, extra guidance, extra lessons and extra support, but once we had that child we were so incredibly grateful that such services were available to Joey.  I don't know how to say this, but when you have a baby you never think you are going to need this type of assistance or service.  In fact, you don't ever want to even think that one of your children will need these services.  BUT-- when it happens, and believe me--it can happen to anyone, you are so incredibly grateful and humbled by the amazing resources Summit DD provides. 

We hope you will get out on Election Day and vote to Renew Issue 25 to continue to fund and support Summit DD.  Your votes literally translate into major life milestones like sitting, crawling, walking and someday we hope talking and working for Joey and so many, many others.  For your votes, Joey, Tommy, Tom and I thank you so very much.

Summit DD Champions
Some incredible stories of inspiration from families who are supported by Summit DD.

Summit County Developmental Disabilities agency pitches renewal levy

By Rick Armon 
Beacon Journal staff writer
Todd Eisinger (left) and Kevin McGee celebrate after putting up a sign supporting Issue 25 on the lawn of a home at the intersection of W. Market St. and Mayfield Rd. in Akron, Ohio. (Ed Suba Jr./Akron Beacon Journal)
Knowing the community is weary of tax levies, the Summit County Developmental Disabilities agency is pushing a major point with its renewal issue this year: It’s not a new tax.
The fact is displayed prominently in a red box on yard signs and even on the campaign website.
The agency and its supporters are banking on that — along with its overarching message of helping a vulnerable population — to pull uneasy voters to their side during an uncertain economic time.
“We recognize that the economic environment has changed and there are a lot more people struggling now than there were back then, but we still believe that this community believes in that message and believes in people with developmental disabilities having opportunities,” agency Superintendent Tom Armstrong said.
The 4.5-mill, six-year levy — the only countywide issue this fall — will appear as Issue 25 on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The levy is vital for the agency, making up 72 percent of its revenue. If approved, it would raise $51.2 million a year, according to the county fiscal office. The owner of a $100,000 home would pay $137.80 a year.
The revenue would be used to maintain programs and make sure there are no qualified individuals placed on waiting lists for services, officials said.
Even if the levy passes, the agency would face financial challenges. With residential and agricultural property values falling an average of 7.9 percent countywide this year, the levy is expected to generate about $21 million less over the life of the issue.
But the agency also has plenty of cash in the bank to help it through. The DD board faced scrutiny earlier this year because it will have more than $66 million on hand when the current levy expires next year — nearly enough to pay its operating expenses for a year.
That prompted some County Council members to question whether the board should lower its levy request. Members later concluded that the request is fair because of the uncertainty surrounding future federal and state funding and the decline in property values.
The DD board expects to deplete most of that savings over the next six years as part of regular operating expenses.
Agency leaders say they have been good stewards of tax money. They point to an Ohio Partnership for Excellence award this year that highlighted use of taxpayer funds.
“Taxpayers have gotten a huge bang for their investment,” DD board President Bill Ginter said.
They also note that the agency has kept promises made during the last levy campaign.
The agency eliminated waiting lists for adult day and residential services. The board opened new work facilities in Barberton, Akron and Cuyahoga Falls to integrate its clients into the community. And the agency increased the number of people served by 37 percent.
Summit DD now serves nearly 4,000 people.
The board recruited three high-profile community leaders to help with its levy campaign: FirstEnergy Chief Executive Officer Anthony Alexander, University of Akron Vice President Candace Campbell Jackson and Stark & Knoll partner Philip Kaufmann.
Kaufmann, a former board member whose son is developmentally disabled, said the community cares about providing high-quality services.
“That’s why I’m glad I’m here,” he said. “That’s why you hear that people move into Summit County for our services. That’s why you’ll find out that businesses want to be here. It’s that special caring.”
Advocates have taken nothing for granted. The campaign includes a major emphasis on social media, with the http://voteforsummitdd.org website featuring numerous videos uploaded to YouTube.
The agency also has asked the people it serves to post about the campaign on their Facebook pages.
Ginter said that if the levy fails the agency would have to come back before voters again and would cut services.
“Without approval of the levy, we have no agency,” he said.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com.

What Can You Do To Help?
  1. Sign an endorsement form - Endorsement forms are easy to fill out online at www.VoteForSummitDD.org.  
  2.  Put up yard signs - Placing Issue 25 yard signs up at your home and place of business. Distribute Issue 25 literature.
  3. Distribute literature -   The quickest way to get literature to pass out is to www.VoteForSummitDD.org and print the Issue 25 Fact Sheet, postcards or newspaper ads.
  4. Talk about Issue 25 - Tell coworkers, family and friends that Issue 25, is a renewal on the Nov 8 ballot.  Tell them it is not a new tax.  
  5.  Wear an Issue 25 T-shirt - Contact Kevin McGee Issue 25 Campaign Coordinator (see below).
  6. Go to a rally – Go to a Flash Rally’s (Smart Mob) being planned throughout October. Quick, easy and fun! (See Facebook page for dates)
  7. Set up an Issue 25 Speech - Arrange for someone from the levy speakers bureau to come and talk at your church, service club or social group. Contact info below.
  8.  Help someone vote - Ensure that persons with developmental disabilities can get an absentee ballot or get to the polls should they wish to vote.

Internet and Social Media things you can do to Support the Levy Effort . . .

  1. Link the Issue 25 website and Facebook page with your website.  www.VoteForSummitDD.org andwww.facebook.com/friendsofthesummitdd
  2.  “Like” the Friends of the Summit DD Facebook page.
  3.  Share the levy website link with your social networks. www.VoteForSummitDD.org
  4.  Email the Issue 25 YouTube video links to coworkers, friends and family.
  5. Make sure people know about the Issue 25 Champion’s Stories  and other stories of how the Summit DD and your agency are impacting the lives of the Summit County families.

Levy Contacts:
If you need levy fact sheets, t-shirts or other levy materials, you can get them by contacting Issue 25 Campaign Coordinator Kevin Mcgee at (330) 634-8877 or at kmcgee@voteforsummitdd.org

If you need yard signs, you can obtain them by contacting Melissa Skiljan at (330) 634-8672 or mskilljan@VoteForSummitDD.org

You can volunteer to help by calling Issue 25 Volunteer Coordinators Bonnie Binns at 330.634.8873 or Georgi Smith330.634.8885.


  1. I always voted in the past for these levies...never realizing how much I would need them with Hailey! Good luck with election day!

  2. This will get my vote for sure. I don't know what I would have done without the services we were able to get for Kate.


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