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Genesis Development Joins Broad Effort to Observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Genesis Development announced today its participation in National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “Inclusion Drives Innovation.”

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“Americans of all abilities must have access to good, safe jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions. Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business, increases competition and drives innovation.”

Reflecting this year’s theme, Genesis Development has always worked toward inclusion and innovation in the work force across central Iowa. The Employment Services department began in Jefferson in 1985 and now has ten locations serving eleven counties across central Iowa. Genesis Development Employment Services are currently serving 171 individuals with disabilities working jobs in communities across the service area in Iowa. In addition, Genesis Development is serving 70 high school students with disabilities in the Experienced Based Career Exploration (EBCE) program, the Genesis Vocational Program and the Making the Grade program in cooperation with Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services at high schools across the state.

Zac Anthony started with one of Genesis Development’s job development programs and wanted to pursue his dream job. Anthony wanted a career at Simpson College. He was even offered a job at another company, but turned it down to hold out for his dream job. When a job opened with the food service agency at Simpson College, Anthony was ecstatic and filled out an application. He began work with Sodexo in August 2015. Anthony is very happy with his dream job and enjoys that the staff and students at Simpson College are “his people.”

Chris Strader started with Genesis Development’s Experienced Based Career Exploration program while enrolled at Storm Lake High School. He entered Genesis Development’s  job development program after graduation when his position at a local company was eliminated. Strader desired to find a job that fit his skills set, that he enjoyed and that fit his needs. Strader was hired by Silk Screen, Inc. this past August. He is surrounded by people with similar interests in a friendly environment. Strader enjoys his job preparing printing shipments and makes sure that items are shipped in a timely manner.

James Allen started with Genesis Development’s Making the Grade program when he was a student at Winterset High School. After graduation, he began in Genesis’ job development program in May of 2016. Allen utilized his learned skills and began as a courtesy staff with Hy-Vee in July of 2016.  During a visit from a secret shopper, Allen had earned high marks for his customer service and helpful smile. Allen enjoys his work and desires to move up in the company.

Joel Anderson started with Genesis Development’s EBCE program when he was a junior at Boone High School. After graduation, Anderson entered Genesis’ Job Development program and utilized his learned skills and began work at the Dutch Oven Bakery in Boone in January of 2016. When Anderson started the job, he wanted to make sure that he was doing a good job and asked many questions and took notes.  Now he goes into work and swiftly performs that job he is comfortable with and enjoys.

“Genesis Development is proud to be a part of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month and a part of the communities we serve across central Iowa,” said Terry Johnson, CEO. “We want to spread the important message that we value all perspectives, including those of individuals with disabilities.”

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting To learn more about Genesis Development, please visit

Fundraising Corner: Are Your Affairs in Order?

Are Your Affairs in Order?

How important is having control of where your money goes after you’re no longer on this earth? Are there causes that are important to you that you want to include in your estate planning?   Making decisions now about what you want to do with the assets you have  accumulated during your lifetime will allow you to provide for your loved ones and leave the legacy of your choice. Maybe you have the basics covered, but more than a will is usually needed to fully protect your loved ones and your wishes. You may want to consider taking these steps to ensure peace of mind for yourself and financial support for your family and your favorite causes.

Review and update your will or living trust every three to five years or after big life changes like marriage, death, divorce, birth, adoption, or moving to another state. Both tax law changes and life changes can have an effect on your existing estate plan.

Choose an executor or trustee for your estate and name a power of attorney to handle your affairs should you be unable to do so.

Create a living will to guarantee that your wishes are known regarding extraordinary measures for keeping you alive.

Evaluate your insurance program regularly to assure that it meets your changing needs.

Be aware of what your investments are doing. Your finances can determine your future. Consider taking advantage of the annual gift tax exclusion which for 2017 is $14,000 if single or $28,000 if filing jointly to each person you wish to gift. These gifts are nontaxable.

Make a gift to your favorite charity or cause. Great tax benefits exist for those who give to a qualified charitable organization, such as Genesis Development.

There are many charitable donation  options available to you that would not only benefit Genesis and the people served by Genesis, but can also provide a substantial tax benefit for you. A gift to Genesis would enable you to help us unleash the potential in a great many people and change their lives in ways that they’ve only dreamed of.

Seriously consider investing in the mission of Genesis Development, the people with disabilities that we serve, and the future of this organization.

In addition to cash donations, Genesis is prepared to accept gifts of property, securities, life insurance, excess retirement funds, and vehicles.

New Website and Marketing Tools

The Development Team has been working on some new tools to help ease the flow of information about Genesis Development and its programs.

The first project was the redesign of the company  website. In early 2017, Genesis partnered with Rippke Designs, a small web developer in Ames, IA. The task was to easily convey the complex information that makes up Genesis Development and do so in an eye catching, appealing and professional way.

After some focus groups, design meetings and coding, the new site was ready to have all of the content added and went live in the first part of August. The new website is available at

While the website was under construction, Genesis also  partnered with Morgan Park Studios, a video production company in Madrid, IA, to create a promotional video for Genesis and the many programs that are offered. After a couple days of shooting member activities and interviews and a couple of months of editing, Genesis received a new promotional video. This video can be seen on the homepage of Genesis’ new website or on the Facebook page.

Genesis Continues to Look Toward the Future with Changes to Facility-Based Work Centers

Genesis Development started in 1973 as the Greene County Sheltered Workshop with a building at the Greene County Fairgrounds. Forty-four years later, Genesis has thirteen sites across central Iowa and is serving over 3000 individuals with disabilities and helping them to integrate into their community.

With more and more individuals living, working, volunteering and recreating in their communities, Genesis has continued to look toward the future and made some big changes in facility-based work centers. Genesis has had four major work centers across central  Iowa. These are the recycling center in Boone, promotional printing and can redemption in Storm Lake, Custom Boxes Online and recycling center in Jefferson and Genesis Development Textiles in Indianola.

In the past, these work centers were used as a training ground for members as they learned work skills and trained for community employment. Now, due to the success of our Employment Services programs and other federal initiatives (like Employment First), fewer and fewer people are working in these facility-based programs. The lack of individuals to work led to Storm Lake’s can redemption closing over a year ago and Boone’s recycling center closing earlier this year.

This past summer, the Board of Directors of Genesis Development decided to continue with the forward progress and close the promotional printing work center in Storm Lake. Custom Boxes Online in Jefferson and Genesis Development Textiles in Indianola will remain open and will be re-evaluated next year.

Genesis Development continues to move forward by integrating our members into their communities. The closing of these facility-based programs is a positive because it means that more of our members are in community-based work and that is what Genesis is always striving towards.

Genesis Development Honors Employees For National Direct Support Professional Recognition Week

Genesis Honors Frontline Workers Who Support People with Disabilities

Genesis Development of central Iowa recognizes their staff in honor of National Direct Support Professionals (DSP) Recognition Week which is Monday, September 11th through Friday, September 15th. The Board of Directors purchased gifts and wrote letters, to honor the work of direct support professionals who provide services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in our community. Genesis Development direct support professionals help individuals with disabilities live as independently as possible.

“Our direct support professionals are hard-working, dedicated men and women, who sacrifice a lot to support the people with disabilities we serve,” said Terry Johnson, Genesis Development CEO. “Medicaid reimbursement rates make it challenging to pay the wages they deserve, so we have found a few other ways to show our appreciation.” In addition to the gifts, many regional service directors are planning special recognitions of their own.

Direct Support Professional Recognition Week is part of the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) National Advocacy Campaign, whose mission is to enhance the lives of all people with disabilities who rely on long-term supports and services by obtaining the resources to recruit, train and retain a highly qualified and sustainable workforce.

“DSP Recognition Week is one way we try to say, “thank you” to the people who turn the intentions of our laws and regulations written to provide opportunities for people with disabilities into actions,” said Barbara Merrill, CEO of ANCOR. “It’s also a very important reminder to our legislators and policymakers that this workforce is essential, and their wages and training deserve attention as states set rates for IDD services.”

Direct Support Professional Recognition Week is celebrated annually across the country with special events and ceremonies earmarked to honor the tens of thousands of workers who enable people with intellectual, developmental and other significant disabilities and their families to live healthy lives in their communities.

Grants Allow Us to Create Opportunities, Choices and Supports for Our Members

At Genesis Development, we are very fortunate to have support from individuals, businesses and organizations in the communities that we serve. Some of this support comes from our great donors and their passion for what we do. Other support comes from grants and organizations that exist to better the lives of everyone they surround. Here are the grants that we have received in the last fiscal year. Thank you to the great organizations that provided these.

Benton County Community Foundation

Belle Plaine Supported Community Living Program was awarded $2,900 to provide “The Power of Safety in an Uncertain World.” This funding allowed our members to purchase Basic Emergency Preparedness Kits; Portable Weather Alert Radios; & First Aid Kits for all of their homes. The staff then had professionals come in and train the members on the use of all the items. It was an       awesome grant for our members and very well received information for all!

Benton County Community Foundation

Belle Plaine Supported Community Living Program was awarded $2,900 to “Build Relationships Through Community Inclusion.” Funding will be used for specific community activities for the members. A few of those will be a trip to Isle Casino & hotel for an overnight; a day trip to Lost Island Water Park in Waterloo; A Rough Riders Hockey Game; and bowling outings to the Belle Plaine Bowling Alley. Thank you Benton County!

Bock Family Grant

Perry Mental Health Services was awarded $5,000 to  provide School Based Therapy in the Perry Community Schools.

Boone County DCAT Minigrant

Boone Explorer’s Camp was awarded $700 to cover rent of the Boone Historical Center where the campers meet every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Boone County Endowment

Boone Explorer’s Camp was awarded $5,000 to cover fees associated with activities and outings for the campers throughout the summer. A few examples of outings are:    I-Cubs games; Fort Frenzy; Bowling at the Tiger Bowl in Madrid; Blank Park Zoo & arts and crafts items. These activities would not be possible without these generous funds from the Boone County Endowment!

Boone Early Bird Kiwanis

Boone Explorer’s Camp was awarded $250 to pay for a summer pool pass at the Boone Municipal Pool and pool snack punch cards for the campers. Thank you so much Boone Early Bird Kiwanis!

Buena Vista County Employment Services

Storm Lake was awarded funding for our members who have paid employment in the community. This is crucial to the success of our members in finding and keeping jobs!

Leonard A. Good Trust

Boone Explorer’s Camp was awarded $12,500 to allow the program to provide scholarships to youth who can’t afford the camp or don’t have allowable funding to participate. We are so grateful to the Leonard Good Trustees for this funding!!!

Poweshiek Community Foundation

Grinnell Supported Community Living Services was   awarded $3,884 to provide “The Power of Safety in an Uncertain World.” This funding will allow our members to purchase Basic Emergency Preparedness Kits; Portable Weather Alert Radios; & First Aid Kits for all of their homes. The staff will then have professionals come in and train the members on the use of all the items. It’s an  awesome grant for our members, thank you Poweshiek Community Foundation!

St. Martin’s Grant

Hope Wellness Center in Woodward was awarded $975 for the purchase of science based curriculum for the   program as well as items to build a resource library at the center. Thank you to the board at St. Martin’s for this funding!

The Second Mile

Grinnell was awarded $1,000 to apply to programs and services! Thank you board of The Second Mile. It’s through grants like this that we’re able to do what we do!

United Way of Boone County

Boone Vocational Services was awarded $6,000 to provide transportation to, and from, work for our members who are employed in the community. This ensures they are able to keep their full-time jobs. Transportation costs are an issue at all of our sites and a huge THANK YOU to   United Way of Boone for your assistance at our Boone site.

Winterset Kiwanis Club

Winterset Discovery Program was awarded $300 to be used for outings and activities of the sites Discovery    Program. Thank you Winterset Kiwanis Club!

Three State Grants

Vocational Services were awarded funding for our members to get and find employment in our communities. Almost all of our sites get these funds:
1) Employment Services Grant (ES) funding
2) Iowa Vocational Rehabilitative Services (IVRS) funding
3) Making the Grade Grant

Explorer’s Day Camp in Full Swing

The Explorer’s Summer Day Camp in Boone is underway for the 2017 season.

Starting in 2009, the Explorer’s Program was created to provide an organized program that would     provide a safe, structured environment for children with disabilities during the months when they are not in school-based programs. Participants are referred through case managers, social workers and school teachers. Any child with disabilities under the age of 18 in Boone County is eligible to apply for the camp.

The camp staff work on goals that are specifically created for each child so that they can keep up and continue progress in social, academic and interpersonal areas.

This year’s Explorer’s program is as full of life as any other year. Campers are participating in a number of events such as: visits to the police and fire stations, swimming at the Boone Community Pool, picnics, games at Fort Frenzy, crafts, movies and so many other activities. Explorer’s meet every Mon., Wed. and Fri. through the summer.

A program like this could not be done without support from our community partners and monetary support from grants and our great donors.

To find out more about the Explorer’s Summer Day Camp and how you can get involved, please contact Cathy Miller at the Genesis Development Boone office.


Many Changes on the Board for 2017-2018

With a new fiscal year, comes changes to the Board. This means a change in the officers and can also mean some board members leave while new ones are added. A term is three years and no board member may serve more than two consecutive terms.

We said goodbye to five board members and we can’t thank them enough. Jim Barnett, Jane Heun, Brian Phillips, Jerry Roberts and Gretchen Rowedder, have attended their last meeting with Genesis.

New faces were added to the Board. Kathy Bravard, Sue Richardson, Dan Emmert, Karen Carman and Bill Steussy joined our board for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

Genesis Development is governed by a volunteer board of directors. This board makes executive decisions and casts a vision for the organization. It is one of their duties to make sure that we are following our mission and caring for our folks.

Our 2017-2018 Board is helmed by Board President, Donna Sutton, Vice-President, Timothy Heisterkamp, Secretary, Bill Steussy and Treasurer, Pam Nystrom.

Storm Lake’s 4th Annual Golf Tournament Brings Community Together for a Good Cause

Genesis Development in Storm Lake had a beautiful day for their 4th annual charity golf tournament at Sunrise Pointe Golf Course. Twenty-five teams of golfers enjoyed the great weather and networking opportunities all while supporting a very good cause.

The day’s activities included golfing, a meal, a silent auction and a raffle. All of the proceeds from the tournament go to support Genesis Development of Storm Lake. This year, the tournament raised over $10,000.

Tournament organizer, Sarah Bartling said, “Most of the money goes towards our Discovery program. We use it to go to places like sports games, the zoo and other places. Our folks have the   biggest say in how we use the money to benefit them.”

The whole community of Storm Lake gets into the fundraiser through golfing in the tournament, sponsoring a hole, donating items for the silent auction, selling raffle tickets and putting up flyers for the event.

In addition to the communities involvement in the golf tournament, there are many volunteers that are needed to make an event like this like this happen. From prepping, setting up, serving food, cleaning up, to many other things, there is always something for a volunteer to do. Many of our members also come out to help with grilling, serving food and making sure everyone has a great time.

“This is a great fundraiser and community event and we look forward to continuing it for many, many years. Thank you to everyone that helps make this possible.” said Bartling.

For more information about this event, or to get involved next year, contact the Storm Lake office.