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Tue, Oct 21, 2014 09:38 PM
Issue of October 15, 2014
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Blue River Services' spirit abounds


My Opinion


June 25, 2014 | 10:38 AM

Thirty years ago, when I was living west of Corydon, in the Springs Valley subdivision, I had new neighbors move in across the road. The couple was about the same age as my first husband and me. They had a young son; we had just had a son. They were from northern Indiana; and we were familiar with the area, having moved to Harrison County six years earlier from Purdue University.

The man said he had been hired to work for a nonprofit agency that I wasn't familiar with. Remember, until that year, 1984, I didn't have any children, the only relative I had here was my husband and I was not yet employed by this newspaper.

Question of the Week
Have you or a loved one been served in any way by Blue River Services Inc.?
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Our new neighbor was Daniel J. Lowe, who took the helm of Blue River Services Inc.

Blue River Services already had 25 years under its belt when Lowe was hired. It was started by six families in Palmyra who had children with special needs but wanted to find a way to incorporate them into the community.

Through the years, not only did the mission and vision of the agency expand, but so did its service area. BRS now provides a variety of services to more than 16,000 individuals in 29 Southern Indiana counties. It's grown from 35 employees when Lowe was hired to about 400.

One of the earliest stories I recall about Blue River Services was when a Corydon day care was ready to close its doors with little-to-no warning to the parents who used the facility. Lowe found a way for BRS to take over the service; the parents and children never missed a beat. Later, my own children attended Rainbow's End Day Care in Corydon and now my granddaughter goes there. Other Rainbow's End facilities have been added since then.

I also became acquainted with some of Blue River Services' group home residents as they began attending Corydon Presbyterian Church, where I am a member. Both the residents and church members grew from the experience.

However, it has been since joining the newspaper staff in 1991 that I've really had the opportunity to learn about this agency and the opportunities it provides to the community, both those with disabilities as well as the population in general. I've written numerous stories about BRS, from its housing opportunities to its transportation program and everything in between. I've heard Lowe's presentation on more than one occasion when making requests for United Way funds when I served on the Metro United Way's Community Action Team.

Earlier this month, at the Spirit of Blue River fundraising toast and dinner hosted by BRS, Lowe outlined the agency's programs — and, believe me, the list was lengthy — while speaking about its past and future.

"I believe Blue River Services will continue to improve the quality and richness of life in Southern Indiana for another 55 years," Lowe said.

Being as humble as I've always found him to be, Lowe didn't say that it would continue because of him. Rather, his toast was made to the individuals whom BRS serves, its employees and the community.

I missed the opportunity that evening to share my toast to the agency that many of us would be lost without.

So, imagine me raising a glass in recognition of an organization that continues to serve a purpose and isn't afraid to take on challenges of offering new opportunities whenever the need arises. But let's not overlook the man who's been behind it for the past 30 years.

Cheers to Blue River and to Dan Lowe!

  1. print email
    June 30, 2014 | 11:24 AM

    I do not have anyone in my family that has had the opportunity to use Blue River Services. However, since joining the staff here in 1999, I have become very close with many of the clients that use Blue River's services. That would be a lot of the clients that attend the Corydon Blue River Industries work shop. Without this facility, most of the clients would have nothing to do. This gives them something to look forward to on a daily basis. The staff that work with them everyday are a blessing, and are so good with them. It humbles me daily to see what they do not have, and they are so happy with the simplest things. They are part of my family now. So, I guess my vote should have been yes!

    Twila J. Hawkins
  2. print email
    Cheers to Blue River Services!
    June 30, 2014 | 08:10 PM

    Twenty-five years ago when I gave birth to my youngest son I had no idea how dramatically Blue River Services (BRS) was going to touch our lives.

    When Eric was just a few weeks old I was very concerned because he cried a lot and nothing seemed to comfort him. My concerns grew because he did not start crawling until he was a year old and he was not trying to stand up, walk or talk. The doctor showed me a child's growth chart that indicated he was slower at reaching developmental milestones but was he still within the age range listed on the growth chart.

    Even though the doctor was telling me not to worry I still could not get it out of my mind that there was something different about Eric. There were so many unanswered questions. Why was he not talking? Why did he not make eye contact? Why did he just stare at you like you were not there? Why did he cry so hard when you hugged him or held him?

    When Eric was two years old, I enrolled him at Rainbow's End Child Care center that is operated by BRS. A few weeks later his classroom teacher told me she did not want to upset me but she noticed that Eric appeared to have some developmental delays. I was so relieved that someone else had the same concerns that I had since he was born.

    Eric was tested and he was diagnosed as being mildly mentally handicapped with a learning disability. He was enrolled in the BRS infant-toddler program where he received early intervention services.

    At the age of three he was enrolled in special education preschool at BRS. We reached another milestone when they introduced us to a new word "autism"¯ which in 1993 was an unfamiliar word and only 1 in 10,000 children were being diagnosed with it. Now our new challenge was to learn more about Autism and how we could help him to deal with his behavior and social issues.

    Eric successfully earned the Rank of Eagle Scout in 2005 after completing the merit badge requirements and his Eagle Scout project. He chose to power wash and paint the child care center that had greatly impacted his life as his Eagle Project. With the help of his family and friends it took 48 gallons to paint the backside of the building.

    Today, Eric is receiving vocational, habilitation, and transportation services as an adult at BRS. The same agency that helped him as a child is now giving him the tools to be successful as an adult. Our lives have been truly blessed by Blue River Services and the staff that daily practices the agency's motto of "People Serving People!"¯


    Evelyn McPherson
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