March is Intellectual Disabilities Awareness Month

From left, Renee Chittester, Steven Barrett, Anthony Clancy and Brian Matthew Bond II, are just some of the individuals who will observe Intellectual Disabilities Awareness Month at their respective agencies in the community.


When Debbie Price recently telephoned Futures Rehabilitation Center, the call was answered by a very polite, professional individual who directed her to the appropriate party.

Price, executive director of Evergreen Elm residential services for people with disabilities, was pleasantly surprised when she learned that the woman on the other end of the line was Renee Chittester, an Evergreen Elm resident and a participant at Futures workshop.

Chittester, and three other individuals with disabilities from area agencies, spoke of their accomplishments in honor of Intellectual Disabilities Awareness Month observed in March.

Price said a highlight of the month will be a Celebrating Abilities event from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. March 20 at Futures.

“This is kind of a community kick-off (for the month) on what we do and why we do it,” Price said of testimonials from the individuals. “What we want to do is to celebrate all of their successes and all the wonderful things they have done and achieved.”

For her part, Chittester said she has lived in an Evergreen Elm group home for the past 22 years and has worked at Futures for 26 years. Chittester said she helps with the soup lunches served to community residents Wednesdays at Hill Memorial Church through the Community Participation program sponsored by Futures. In addition, she serves as president of the Aktion Club, a group sponsored by Kiwanis Club for adults with disabilities. Chittester also takes care of the cash register sales for food during the annual summer volleyball fundraiser for Evergreen at Idlewood Campground. Chittester said she enjoys her Community Participation work as a receptionist at Futures, which she does once a week. She especially enjoyed stumping Price recently, who didn’t recognize her professional voice on the phone.

“Here I am, I’ve known (Chittester) for years and I didn’t recognize her voice,” Price admitted. “But she handled it and was very calm when she said ‘Thank you for calling’ and transferred me to where I needed to be.”

Another Evergreen Elm resident and Futures participant, Anthony Clancy, said he has worked at Futures for four to five years and has lived in an Evergreen residence the past couple of years.

Clancy said his jobs at Futures include repackaging lighter and jewelry boxes. In addition, he volunteers at Bradford Area Public Library and the McKean County SPCA through the Community Participation organization and serves with an advocacy group for people with disabilities.

“He has really embraced the Community Participation group,” Price commented.

Clancy also participates in several McKean County Special Olympic sports, such as swimming, enjoys going to the Bradford Family YMCA and rides his bike for transportation during the summer months.

Steven Barrett said he attends Futures and receives help through the Supportive Living services at the YWCA Bradford. A YW staff member helps him budget, shop and clean his Emery Towers residence. Barrett also helps his mother at their church, and years ago had worked in food services at Bradford Regional Medical Center.

“I don’t know how long I’ve gotten help from the YW, but they’re nice staff,” Barrett added. “They keep me busy.”

Receiving services through the Community Links program is Brian Matthew Bond III who lives in a duplex apartment near his parents who provide help to him. Community Links staff person, Becky Swanson, said Bond works at the Goodwill Store in Bradford two days a week. He is assisted with shopping, banking, laundry and outings by a Community Links staff member four days a week. Bond said he enjoys borrowing DVD movies from the Bradford library and participates in a number of Special Olympics sports, including swimming.

“He does very good, he’s come a long, long way,” Swanson said of Bond.

In conclusion, Price said that the delivery of services to people with intellectual disabilities by agencies in the community “takes all of us.

“These agencies represented here — Futures, Evergreen Elm, the YW and Community Links —  are vital to working with our folks to keep them healthy and allow them to be out in the community,” Price concluded.