Overcoming All Obstacles

Firm helps disabled adults live productively


Small-town caring fits the business plan for Developmental Systems, Inc., a company that helps developmentally disabled adults in Payson live normal lives.

"I was very surprised at how accepting and loving the community is," Program Supervisor Sherrie Kinnard said.

DSI, which is funded by state and private contributions, helps nearly a dozen adults who have a variety of physical and mental disabilities live productive lives.

The folks at DSI manage two group homes where the residents live much like a family. They eat together, take trips together and support each other.

Four of the women live in a home on Summit Street and three of the men share a place on Bentley. Two of the gals live in their own apartment, and two are living at home with their families.

Of DSI's 11 clients, 9 have jobs.

On a typical Monday, you can find Judy Nims, Lori Carter and Scott Palmer cleaning the Giant Gas Station on Highway 260 while job coach Ruth Smith stands by to help with advice and directions.

"The coach is with them always -- just to instruct so they can be as independent as possible," Kinnard said.

The group, which is called the "Lots-n-more Crew," cleans the service station's bathrooms while Smith keeps an eye on them, directing and redirecting them as needed.

The crew members get paid for their efforts, but the highlight of the job is the free sodas they get at the end of the shift.

The workers then set off for Cablevision where they sweep up the parking lot. The crew works four or five hours a day, five days a week. The "Lots-n-More Crew" cleans seven businesses during its weekly round.

"We try to introduce them to new things, expose them to new things," Kinnard said.

Another DSI client, Danny Parker, works five hours a day, four days a week washing dishes at JB's Restaurant under the watchful eye of his job coach, Linda Wilkinson.

Working fast to hustle dishes in and out of the restaurant's massive dish washing machine, Parker shyly said he likes his job and living in the group home.

Jodi Legassie and Chris Phillips help code inventory at Bashas' under the direction of job coach Pam Palmer.

Diana Neal, Bob Ralston and Janet Youngberg work at Perfect Impressions, a screen printing shop run by DSI. The four produce T-shirts for places such as Macky's Grill under the direction of job coach Jack Irvine.

"They have a great deal of love, they are not as inhibited as we are," Kinnard said. "They are extremely caring and fun loving."

Their personalities vary as widely as their skill levels. Bob is outgoing, Lori is inquisitive, but all of them thrive on the love and attention they receive from DSI and the community.

"They pick up on the little things that you and I miss," Kinnard said. "They enjoy the little things, things you and I take for granted like one-on-one recognition and praise."

They also teach patience, DSI manager Rose Olsen said.

"I think it would be great if the whole world was with them for one week," she said. "It does not matter if you have to redirect them every five minutes, you'll get hugs and kisses."

The more love they give to the community, the more it comes back to them, Kinnard said. For more than 10 years, the community has not only welcomed them, it has the supported them, she said.

"If I run errands with Judy or Lori, and they don't have their glasses, I'll have six or seven people stop me and ask 'Where are their glasses?'" Kinnard said.

People in the community often give DSI's clients gifts, discounts and surprises, Kinnard said, and the clients really appreciate them.

Bob, "the news guy," closely follows daily events and will share them with anyone who will listen, she said. His most coveted possession is a helmet he got to wear while riding on one of the Payson Fire Department's engines.

"It's his favorite thing," Kinnard said.

In return, the DSI group has taught many people in the community the simple pleasures in life that are so easy to forget, Olsen said. "You learn how to give love freely," she said.

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