In Rootstown, there is an agency which, for many, has become a second home. At Leeda Northeast, Inc., a number of individuals with developmental disabilities are involved in a day program where they learn to become self-sufficient. As they learn skills and gain competence, they are given the opportunity to participate in the community. The cheerful staff consists of many compassionate, encouraging caregivers who desire to improve the lives of these individuals so they can reach their potential and live as independently as possible.
Christina has been involved in Leeda’s day program since 2010. Her life has been significantly transformed to the point where she has been able to find employment and move into her own apartment. “I’m happier because I got my own place,” says Christina.
“When Christina came to us,” shares Christy Rill, Program Coordinator for Portage, “she was transitioning from living at home with Mom and Dad to living in her own apartment. Though the change was scary, she welcomed the challenge with open arms. She developed a support system within her family, friends, and Leeda and grew the confidence needed to share her wants and likes with those that could assist her. Because of the various challenges she has experienced the last few years, she has become a stronger, more independent young woman.”
Christina describes herself as a bit shy. “I like to get to know people before I talk a lot,” she says. Christy adds, “She’s extremely caring and thoughtful of others, especially her mother and father! She’s hard working and has a gentle tone and demeanor. She has the ability to put a smile on your face just by entering the room.”
In March of 2013, Christina became an employee at It’s All Fine Consignment & Gifts in Ravenna. She works part time and really enjoys her duties, especially dusting. (Hmmm…I bet lots of moms out there wished their kids had that attitude about dusting!) Christina also sweeps, cleans windows, washes and organizes clothing that comes into the store, washes glassware, and helps to decorate for seasons and sales. “Every day is different; it makes it fun,” she says.
It’s All Fine is an extension of the Leeda Day Program which makes community employment a reality for individuals who have been trained in those skill areas. It is full to the brim with a large selection of household items, gifts, and collectables and carries handmade items by those involved in the day program. This is Christina’s favorite part of attending the day program – making crafts and selling them.
Emily and Brittany, who run the store, say Christina has come a long way since she started working in the day program. She has gained more confidence in herself while improving her skills. She has done many things including wood working, baking dog treats, and making assorted craft items. She gets along with her coworkers and is always willing to lend a helping hand. She has had perfect attendance and always shows up ready to work!
What does Christina enjoy doing on her days off? “Playing on the computer and watching sports,” she says, whose favorite teams are the Indians and the Browns. She also loves to bowl and continues to participate at Pegasus Horse Camp every Monday which she has done for 25 years. She rides a horse named Shazam and has won many awards.
Christina’s favorite season is fall because it is her birthday month. “She also favors February,” says Christy, “as it is the month of her ‘Gotcha Day’ on February 2. It can be said that she celebrates two birthdays. On February 2, her parents adopted her and took her home. This makes her very special and unique!”
Christina is one of many very fortunate individuals who has been able to experience a full life through the Leeda Day Program due to the vision of owner Winifred Hosking. Winnie has worked in this field for over 34 years and initially set out to provide residential supports so that people with disabilities did not have to live in nursing homes or institutions. The program continues to grow and expand their services in Portage, Ashtabula, Mahoning, and Trumbull counties. If you would like to know more about their programs, they would be happy to meet or talk with you.
Leeda Northeast, Inc.
1441 Parkman Rd NW
Warren, Ohio 44485