Fenner Drives, a local production company; Cape Fear Vocational Services; NC Vocational Rehabilitation; and New Hanover County Schools are working together to place students into paid internships. This program assists students as they to go through an interview process with one of the production managers. Of the interviewees two are chosen to work for the semester gaining knowledge and work ethics to preparing them for competitive employment. Cape Fear Vocational Services supports the students on the days they work to ensure they are learning the job tasks as well as create tools for the students for them to be successful on the job. Ashley is one of the Laney High students chosen for the paid internship program last year at Fenner Drives and spent two semesters working and learning how to operate some of the machinery. Program participant, Ashley was offered a part time position with Fenner Drives, after her paid internship and continues to perform at an outstanding rate of production. People at Fenner Drives are very welcoming to our students. One of the coworkers mentioned “Ashley brings a smile to my face every time she walks in the door”. Cape Fear Vocational Services is extremely grateful for the opportunity to be working with Fenner Drives, NC Vocational Rehabilitation, and New Hanover Schools to give these students an amazing experience.


WILMINGTON, NC. Once it’s completed, a group home in Wilmington for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities will provide care to four adults, making a small dent in the large need for this kind of housing. The Tammy Lynn Center, a non-profit organization, is renovating a home on Beauregard Street. The home, donated by a local couple, is projected to be open by Thanksgiving and will create 22 jobs. “When completed, the $480,000 project will provide long-term and inclusive, affordable housing with 24-hour staff support for four adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities,” said Dan Daniel, director of development and public relations. Funding for the renovation project has been provided by the City of Wilmington and the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency. One neighbor, who wants to remain anonymous, expressed concern on Thursday that the group home might decrease property values on Beauregard Street. “We will be great neighbors, and the value of the property post-renovations will be significantly greater than it was before,” Daniel said in response to that concern. “That may bring some benefit to the neighboring properties as well.”

Ed Walsh, executive director of Cape Fear Group Homes, said the new group home in Wilmington is an exciting addition for families in need, but there is still a worsening long-term housing need for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “There is a dearth of residential options for people with intellectual disabilities throughout North Carolina,” said Walsh. “New Hanover (County) is certainly symptomatic.” Walsh said the waiting list for group home placements in southeastern North Carolina has hundreds of people. WECT has reached out to Trillium to find out how many are on the waiting list. “A lot of people have quit looking,” said Walsh. “I will talk to families, and they say, ‘We were on the waiting list for years, and we just gave up on it.’” Cape Fear Group Homes has two homes in the Wilmington area, each serving six people. “I have a waiting list of at least seven or eight people today that, if I have opening, they really want Cape Fear (Group Homes),” said Walsh. When a family is searching for a group home for their loved one with a disability, they usually reach out to the managed care organization (MCO), which Walsh said is Trillium in Southeastern North Carolina. Trillium will help the family come up with a list of possible group home placements, but the waiting time is typically years before they move in, said Walsh. “What you’ll find is most providers don’t have openings, or they don’t have the right funding in order to get the person in there,” said Walsh. This is the first year Cape Fear Group Homes has been forced to turn to fundraising to help keep its doors open. A Medicaid waiver program is the primary funding source. “A lot of us are now going into fundraising,” said Walsh. “We’ve never really had to do this before.” What can you do to help? Walsh recommends calling elected officials to express your concern about the housing need. “Advocate for people with disabilities. It is a great group of people out there,” said Walsh. “Help advocate to give them the lives that they want. They have a lot of the same desires and goals that everybody else has.”


Well, we are nearly a month into 2016, and Cape Fear Vocational Services is going strong! The job placements did not stop through the holidays, and thanks to the hard work of our employment specialists, the job opportunities are still coming! With the New Year, Cape Fear Vocational Services staff is expanding their professional and educational awareness and abilities through various trainings, committees, and networking opportunities. Courtney Horton, Eastern Regional Director, continues to be on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina National Association of People Supporting EmplomentFirst (NCAPSE), as well as serving as the co-chair for the NCAPSE Public Policy Committee. She also continues to serve on the New Hanover County Schools Transition Advisory Board, the ODEP committee, and on our internal Program Development committee. Courtney has also joined the VR Trinity Planning committee to assist in the planning of this conference. Megan Dulaney, Program Development Specialist, has taken a role on the NCAPSE Professional Development Committee; and Erin Vance, Assistant Director for a portion of the eastern counties, is also now serving on the NCAPSE Public Policy Committee. We hope to use these opportunities to maintain awareness of upcoming changes to legislation and service provision, and to train our staff on new information. Scott Porter and Amber Taggert, both Employment Specialists with CFVS, have verbalized their interest in working more with the people that we serve to make an even greater impact ….consequently, we would like to congratulate them both on their new FULL TIME positions within CFVS!!! Also, a huge congratulations and thank you to Peggy Heusinkveld, who has accepted and flourished in a role within Cape Fear Group Homes, as a support staff for the management team. Peggy is a success story in and of herself as she recently closed successfully in the VR system. Our management team now wonders what we would do without her. Throughout our growth as an organization, we have maintained an exceptionally high level of person centeredness, and are proud to continue upholding that standard for the people that we serve. We look forward to a great year full of successes for the people that we serve and for our organization.