Waiver Home Life: an inside look at Sand Road Waiver

There’s no more serene place in the entire SKILLS universe than Sand Road Waiver Home in Newport. The facility is home to two men: Errol (66) and Karl (63).

Waiver Home Resident ErrolMost week days, Karl participates in a day program, but Errol prefers to stay at home enjoying his retirement. Before he retired he used to shovel snow and split wood. Now he spends a good deal of his time feeding the birds, keeping the bird feeders on the patio stocked year round, and painting puffy paint designs on the bottom of his socks.

He and Karl go to the bowling alley for dinner every Friday. There they eat hot wings (Errol’s favorite) and catch up with people from other programs, including staff members who have moved out of Sand Road and into other facilities.

Errol is a fixture in the Sand Road Waiver home. He’s been here longer than his roommate and most staff.

Waiver Home Team Leader Tammy WaltmanThe five staff members: Rick, Chris, Crystal, Pat and their newest edition, Mark, support Errol and Karl with the help of their team leader. They’re a diverse bunch. Chris is studying to be a minister. Pat is a former commercial fisherman. Mark was a radio host in Virginia.

What they have in common is a team mentality.

“Everybody is willing to help each other out,” says Tammy Waltman, former team leader. “There’s a lot of consistency.”

Making that happen takes flexibility, a willingness to learn, and dedication. During the big February snow storm staff had no problem keeping the steps shoveled off and the exits clear, but white-out conditions made shift changes a challenge.

Crystal pulled a double shift, staying with Errol and Karl from 7 in the morning until 9 at night.

Staff outside the team offered to help as well. Diana took the overnight shift so Crystal could go home and get some sleep.

“I think the staff is really dedicated,” Tammy says. “Anybody that’s dedicated loves their job.”

It’s hard not to love Sand Road Waiver. The team and the residents are clearly comfortable in the home and with each other.



Update on the Thrift Stores

SKILLS, Inc. is happy to announce that as a result of the generous support of a local family, whose family member has attended the LC Dill Center for 17 years, the Skowhegan Thrift Store and the work component at the LC Dill Center will remain open at least until the end of April 2016 and hopefully beyond. Due to outreach of this family, funds have been raised from our local community members via a “Go Fund Me” page, as well as major donors that include local businesses.

Over the next several weeks, SKILLS, Inc. will work closely with the family and the donors to continue fundraising and to determine the long term viability of these efforts. SKILLS, Inc. truly appreciates the partnership of all parties involved.

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SKILLS, Inc. Announces Closures of Thrift Stores

St. Albans – Our thrift stores in Pittsfield and Skowhegan will close on March 13, 2016.

“We have struggled for years to make the thrift stores break even,” said CEO Tom Davis. “This is not the fault of store employees who have been terrific. It is simply a matter of increased competition and a changing environment for these sorts of stores.”  Closing the thrift stores will result in the layoff of 16 employees.

Davis said, “SKILLS, Inc. will do everything possible to assist employees who are affected by these changes to obtain alternative employment in other SKILLS, Inc. programs and elsewhere.”

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SKILLS, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides services to people with intellectual disabilities in central Maine. Services include residential, day activities, and employment services. We employ more than 280 staff and provides service to approximately 200 individuals on daily basis.

Our Waterville thrift store closed in February 2015. With the closure of the Skowhegan and Pittsfield thrift stores, we will no longer have any thrift stores in operation.

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People with Special Needs Support People in Need

A man gets out of a van. Someone hands a bag of food out to him. He walks to the front door of a house, rings the bell, and waits. When a woman answers the door, he hands the food to her, and stands chatting.

She’s happy to receive the Meals on Wheels delivery. He’s happy to be helping. This man is one of the 28 people who attend the L.C. Dill Center, a community support program for people with intellectual disabilities. Twice a week he and his team deliver Meals on Wheels to homebound individuals in Skowhegan.

DSCF9034Some members of the team are employees of the Center, but most are people with intellectual disabilities. “Everybody has always helped them, and now they get to give back and help other people,” said Tammy Worth, Team Leader of the L.C. Dill Center.

The Center is one of the five community support sites and 17 residential and home-based programs run by SKILLS, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to helping people with intellectual disabilities achieve their goals.

“One of the enrichments it provides for people is camaraderie, friendship,” said Pam Erskine, Director of Program Services at SKILLS, Inc.

Some of these friendships have been growing for a long time. A few long-time attendees have been going to the Dill Center for nearly 30 years. The Center hosts SKILLS, Inc.’s oldest Special Olympics Team. Formerly called the Dill Pickles in playful reference to the center, the 18 athlete team is now called the River Hawks.

But the Special Olympics is just a small part of what the L.C. Dill team does. They attend the center to learn life skills and to become a part of the community. The program provides guidance on handling money, nutrition, fitness, cooking, computer skills, and work skills, while offering opportunities for paid work and community service, like the Meals on Wheels program.

“You walk in and it’s a team,” Worth said. “We’re all here doing things together.”DSCF9017

Many team members help to sort donations for the Skowhegan Thrift Store at 78 Water Street. Proceeds from the store help fund the L.C. Dill Center and other SKILLS programs. When they have too much of any one item donations can be passed on to other organizations, such as Trinity Men’s Shelter or the local animal shelter.

Periodically, the team takes gently used children’s books to local schools and sells them at book fairs for a quarter or fifty cents. “It helps the kids see the people we serve in a good light,” Worth said, and the team loves hanging out with the kids.

“I have this group of people here that want normal lives and want fulfilled lives,” Worth said.

Erskine added, “We give back to the community. People with disabilities don’t just take. When people come to us and they’re searching for something, we want to help find it.”


Employee of the Quarter: Cheryl Dixon

SKILLS, Inc. is pleased to recognize Cheryl Dixon as Employee of the Quarter. Cheryl works at the Quarry Road Residential Center where she consistently goes beyond her job description to keep things running smoothly.

CherylDixonWhen the Quarry Road cook was out she stepped up to make menus and grocery lists. She often covers positions when other staff members are sick or absent, either working those hours herself or coordinating with other team members to get the shift covered.

She tirelessly seeks out opportunities to improve the lives of the people we serve, often identifying new and interesting activities.

Cheryl will be recognized with a $100 bonus, a SKILLS backpack, and up to 8 hours paid time off. Thank you Cheryl for all your hard work.


Excelling in the Special Olympics

We at SKILLS, Inc. are honored to support Special Olympians. Ten people from Ervin Community Supports competed in the Summer Games of the Special Olympics in Orono, ME on June 4th through 6th.

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Laurie Boulette (far left) won 4th place in the Softball throw and Michelle Perry (far right) won 7th in the the Softball throw as well as 1st in the 50 meter walk.

The team had been practicing for months, and it showed. Cheered on by family and friends they gave it their all and brought home the ribbons and medals to prove it. Our team of ten competed with 1,500 other athletes of 125 other teams from across Maine.

Most team members have been competing in the Special Olympics for years, like Michelle Perry who won gold in the 50m walk contest. The Phoenix Flames Bocce team also placed first in their event and brought home the gold. Our rookies made a great showing as well. First time competitor Shawn Carroll won a silver medal.

Congratulations to all the athletes. We look forward to supporting you in the Winter Games.


Senior Support Services Added in Pittsfield

SKILLS, Inc. is pleased to announce the addition of Senior Support Services to the existing Community Support Services already offered in the Pittsfield area. The new Senior Support Program will be housed at 460 Hartland Avenue in the same building as the Community Support Program.

With a new function comes a new name. Pittsfield Community and Senior Support Services opens May 19th, 2015. Its mission is to support community integration and increased independence while assisting with skills maintenance and helping people to understand the aging process.

The Senior Support Services Program is able to provide services to 15 people in the newly renovated facility. For more information on services offered contact our St. Albans Administrative Office at 207-938-4615.