Beneath the Leaf…The Hidden Needs of Geauga County

Leadership Human Service Day

Local business leaders gathered momentum to the tune of 40 participants bringing awareness to Geauga County’s plentiful human services resources. The Leadership Geauga class of 2015 trekked ”Over the river and through the woods” to learn about local resources available to the young and the very young at heart.

Starting their full day at Newbury Preschool, they shared breakfast learning about the new day programming and after care services offered by the facility. These programs allow working families to have flexibility with child care while maintaining their work schedules and commitments. Megan Barton recognized this need and has crafted the vision behind this outstanding program!

Next, the 2015 team headed south to experience a little north – the North Pole that is! Santa’s Hideaway in Middlefield was the perfect setting for outdoor fun and being inspired by St. Nick himself, aka Bill Dieterli. Mr. Dieterli is committed to putting smiles on the faces of young children, even those in the hospital. A regular “Patch Adams”, he spreads joy and laughter to those in failing health while providing donated gifts to brighten their day.

While traveling through the Geauga County “Winter Wonderland” to the next destination, the team had a special speaker, Deanna Brant, who is a member of CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocacy). This program fosters the philosophy that the power of volunteers can change the lives of children in difficult family circumstances. As sworn in officers of the court, these individuals give of themselves to put the best interests of the children first – altruism at its core.

The team then ventured to explore the next hidden treasure….lunch! They “Decked the Halls” and enjoyed a taste of Blazin’ Bills, in Burton, with the help of owner Joyce Piteo. While enjoying a delicious lunch, Andrea Pollacj provided an up close and personal overview of the Next Step program of Geauga County. This valuable program provides support to young adults transitioning to independence. The program helps connect the individual to housing, employment, education and healthcare.

Back on the road, the next stop…Geauga County Job and Family Services. Here, the team heard from Sara Shininger, program coordinator, where she put us to work helping to create excitement about “Santa Clause Coming to Town”. The group actively participated in packing and preparing food items and toys for tots for that special delivery day!

With thoughts of “Sugar Plums Dancing in Our Heads”, we had a special visit from Kimm Leininger, Executive Director of United Way Services for Geauga County. United Way strives to unite people with resources to improve lives. Their 2-1-1 programs help people connect with health, social and government resources. This dedicated program puts the jingle in “Jingle Bells”!

Throughout this glorious day, the team has secretly been practicing holiday carols for their debut at Pleasant Hill Home. Bringing a little holiday spirit to the residents and learning about the programs and services from Administrator Karen DeCola enabled all of us to give a little “Joy to the World”!

Continuing their journey, the team next visited Woman Safe, in Chardon. Emily Heckman discussed support services and emergency shelter resources for survivors of domestic violence. Providing information, education, and counseling services this special safe haven is a Geauga County diamond. Raising spirits, confidence, and perseverance was extremely humbling and captured the true essence of the human spirit.

Feeling exuberant after that visit, we boarded the bus and had another fabulous, personalized one on one encounter with Jessica Boalt, our classmate and expert on services from the Department of Aging. These services address a wide array of senior services from health, wellness, education and activities! Jessica’s vibrant passion for helping seniors is contagious and puts the “Fa-La-La-La-La” in our step!

As our enlightening journey came to an end, the team gathered at Lowes Greenhouse in Bainbridge to reflect on the day’s events. We ended the day as more informed citizens of Geauga County and anxious to share our experiences with others. We gathered round, joined hands and in unison exclaimed, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”


Information can be found at or by contacting Dr. Bob Faehnle, Executive Director, Leadership Geauga County, at 440-286-8115

This Story is Sponsored by Blazin’ Bills Restaurant

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Geauga News
Author: Geauga News