The Arc presents awards during annual banquet

The phrase “going above and beyond” was uttered several times by Jim Shepherd as he presented awards on behalf of The Arc of Jackson County.

He is president of the board of the nonprofit organization that advocates for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Five awards were presented during the annual banquet Thursday night at the Knights of Columbus in downtown Seymour.

The first one was the Anne Baxter Award, which is named after the former director of the organization and is given to a direct service professional who is doing exceptional work and showing professionalism in the field.

Kevin Trotter received that award. The nomination letter stated he is confident, hardworking and very knowledgeable; works hard to ensure the health and safety of his clients; works extra hours; works in the day program at Jackson Developmental Industries and in group homes; and volunteers to work different hours with various people.

“I saw this individual at the summer Special Olympics games, so I know how demanding that is,” Shepherd said. “I was impressed that he was there, dedicated and everything you would expect someone who goes above and beyond with their job to be.”

The Educator of the Year Award went to Deb Schwartz, who has taught in the life skills classroom at Brownstown Central High School for 17 years. She also was the program director of the Jackson County Juvenile Home for 10 years and retired after 20 years serving with the Indiana National Guard.

“She was nominated because of really going above and beyond taking care of one of her students, making things available to him that he had not been able to enjoy (before),” Shepherd said.

The Community Service Award goes to an organization or individual that provides support to The Arc. That went to the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour, represented by Executive Director Ryon Wheeler.

“They have been very helpful this year and offered their facilities several times for us, and we’re grateful for that,” Shepherd said. “I have noticed a huge difference in the Boys and Girls Club as far as their willingness to include children with disabilities in the last year, and I really salute them for that for someone that goes above and beyond offering support to us.”

Eurest Dining Services received the Employer of the Year Award, which goes to a company that provides employment to individuals with disabilities. The company has a cafe inside Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing Inc. in Walesboro.

General manager Cynthia Thomas accepted the award with four of her employees, Dennis England, Morgan Wheeler, Amanda Ariyanto and Angela Wheeler.

“When you guys were nominated, it was said that you really opened yourselves up to those individuals and have enjoyed having them there,” Shepherd said. “It’s a great working situation for them.”

Finally, JDI presented the Melvin Maynard Award to Jonathan Graves.

“Hard work, dedication, perseverance and positivity all describe Jonathan,” said Rachel Jones, day program manager for the Developmental Services Inc. location in Seymour.

“He strives to reach his goal of independence by working in production at Jackson Developmental Industries completing work for Aisin and Delta” she said. “If he is met by a challenge, he doesn’t shy away. He faces difficulty by seeking assistance if needed.”

Through the day program, Graves has earned money selling his art created in the education and enrichment area and participated in a cooking class and learned about healthy meals. Plus, he has worked on improving his health by going to Snap Fitness every Wednesday to complete his workout routine.

The JDI staff members said he is an outstanding client and exhibits all of the qualities that honor Maynard.

“He is very social and willing to help peers throughout the day,” Jones said. “Jonathan is very polite, well mannered and always offering a friendly greeting or compliment to anyone who may cross his path. He is willing to help others learn new tasks and encourages everyone to do their best to reach their goals. His continuous positivity can bring a smile to his peers and staff’s faces.”

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The Arc of Jackson County 2019 awards

Anne Baxter Award: Kevin Trotter

Educator of the Year Award: Deb Schwartz

Community Service Award: Boys and Girls Club of Seymour

Employer of the Year Award: Eurest Dining Services

Melvin Maynard Award: Jonathan Graves