Pathfinder celebrates self-reliance, inclusion at annual dinner

Pathfinder Services activities specialist Sarah Schwab (center) holds the 2017 Timothy Hancher Direct Support Service Award, presented at Pathfinder’s annual dinner Thursday, Nov. 9, by Barbara (left) and Bill Hancher. Schwab has worked at the organization since 2009. The award, presented each year to an exceptional employee, includes a check for $250.
Pathfinder Services activities specialist Sarah Schwab (center) holds the 2017 Timothy Hancher Direct Support Service Award, presented at Pathfinder’s annual dinner Thursday, Nov. 9, by Barbara (left) and Bill Hancher. Schwab has worked at the organization since 2009. The award, presented each year to an exceptional employee, includes a check for $250. Photo by Rebecca Sandlin.

A celebration of self-reliance and inclusion brought supporters of Pathfinder Services together for the organization’s annual dinner and awards ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 9, at the Huntington PAL Club.

The theme of the evening, “Helping Dreams Come True for People Along Their Path to Self-reliance and Inclusion,” focused on the recognition of talents and celebration of dreams come true for individuals served in the four main service areas offered by Pathfinder Services: education and training, employment services, aff- ordable housing and community integration.

The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the recipient of the Herbert D. LaMont Award, presented annually to an individual or organization serving as an example of empowering people with disabilities.

Diane Adams, daughter of LaMont’s wife, the late Kay LaMont, and 2016 recipient Carla MacDonald presented the 32nd award to Marie Gerrard for her work as an employee of Pathfinder Services and later in her position with the State of Indiana.

Gerrard served as Pathfinder’s public relations liaison and also wrote the Infants Stimulation program, preschool curriculum, ran the first group home and oversaw the opening of the second group home. In 1979 she left the organization but remained connected through her position with the state Bureau of Developmental Disabilities.

“This is most appreciated and most unexpected,” Gerrard said. “I’m proud to be a part of all this, and it’s still in my heart.”

The 2017 Timothy Hancher Direct Support Service Award, presented to an outstanding Pa-thfinder Services employee, was given to activities specialist Sarah Schwab, who has been with the organization since 2009.

Barbara and Bill Hancher presented the award, named for Bill’s son who was born with severe developmental and physical disabilities.

Bill Hancher said Schwab helps her Pathfinder clients in “creating an atmosphere of creativity” through Path-finder’s Creative Abilities Art Studio.

“She is exemplary in the attention she gives to her clients,” he said. “She’s a very positive person.”

The award included a check to Schwab for $250.

“I love my job so much coming in every day and having people that have passion like I do for art and creating,” Schwab said.
Pathfinder Services also gave Community Partner Awards to five individuals and organizations that supported the organization during the past year. Recipients included:

• The Children’s Choir of Huntington County, for implementing and directing the Joyful Songsters, an integrated choir for adults with and without disabilities.

• The Parkview Boys & Girls Club of Huntington County was recognized for its growing partnership with the summer teen program offered by Pathfinder Community Supports.

• Pathfinder OutSource Manufacturing thanked Shuttleworth, Inc. for being a loyal customer.

• The Big R store in Wabash was honored for its partnership with Pathfinder Resource Connection and for employing individuals with disabilities at their store.

• The Pathfinder HomeOwnership Center thanked USDA Rural Development Single Family Housing for its partnership in making home ownership possible.

• The Indiana Lions Club was honored for the work it does for the children served by Pathfinder Kids Kampus. The Lions Club offers free vision screening for children up to 6 years of age, often identifying eye disorders at an early age.

Also during the evening, Lisa Garrott of DeLaney Hartburg Roth & Garrott LLP was recognized for her service on the Pathfinder Foundation Board of Directors. Garrott is leaving the board after nine years of service.

During his remarks, Pathfinder Services President John Niederman noted that among the organization’s strategic priorities is its involvement in the transformation of the empty, 48,000-square-foot Odd Fellows Hall, IOOF trust building and United Brethren Publishing building — collectively known as the UB Block — into a multi-use structure housing Pathfinder’s Creative Abilities Community Art Center, Huntington Univ- ersity’s Center for Entrepreneurship and market-rate apartments.

Niederman also announced that the LaFontaine Arts Council will run the community art center, which will be open to artists of all abilities.

“This is a big deal for Huntington,” he said. “I think it puts us on the map as a place for the arts.”