Annually, the Fayette County Board of Developmental Disabilities recognizes individuals throughout the community who go above and beyond in their advocacy efforts for those being served by the board.
The two awards presented are in honor of the late Martha Wagner and Dr. Robert Heiny, two of the founding members of the FCBDD. Both Wagner and Dr. Heiny spent all of their lives in an advocacy role supporting the needs of individuals with DD. It was personal to them, as both had children in need of specialized services who continue to receive these services to this day.
The FCBDD has awarded the Martha Wagner Community Service Award annually for over a decade. The 2018 honor was recently awarded to Shelia Johnson.
Johnson, the store manager at Kroger, believes in community partnership, outreach, and is a strong supporter of the Fayette County Board of DD programs. Through these efforts, Johnson has been instrumental in hiring students and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Johnson has also offered resources; such as the Kroger conference room where the adult FACT self-advocacy group meets monthly; has provided dinners for the meeting at a reasonable cost; and has attended these meetings on occasion to serve the food. Over the last two years, Kroger and Johnson have donated food and drinks for the 5-county Transition Expo (serving over 400 students) and provided hot dogs for the annual Dragons Dime A Dog night.
She has also organized a group of volunteers from the Kroger community outreach program to assist with the Dragons Fundraiser basketball game, Dragons Dime A Dog night, and the Dwight Turner Memorial Spaghetti Dinner. Johnson regularly participates in the Community First Business Advisory Team meetings.
Johnson truly values all people and will go above and beyond to ensure that every person has a chance to be successful.
In 2016, the FCBDD initiated the Dr. Robert Heiny Community Service Award and in the same year, Dr. Heiny himself became the first recipient. Debra Grover is the 2018 recipient of the Robert Heiny Community Service Award. Grover is a volunteer and facilitator for the Next Chapter Book Club, is the head bowling coach and the assistant track coach for the Dragons.
Grover has a kind and generous spirit. She goes above and beyond for the book club, making name tags for each member, ensuring that everyone’s birthday is celebrated, offering transportation to and from the club when needed, and if a member doesn’t show up, she will call them to make sure all is okay.
When Grover assumed the head coaching position for the bowling team, she typed up an “about me” paper so that each athlete would know her a little better. At track meets, Grover can be seen running alongside the athlete cheering them on, jumping up and down and celebrating with them as they cross the finish line. During the Dragons Dime A Dog night, Grover set up a lemonade stand and donated all supplies and all profits to the Fayette County Special Olympics program.
What Grover has done goes far beyond the outward things witnessed; she has given people hope, encouragement, belief in themselves, and most importantly she lets each and every person know that they are valued and have a purpose in life.
Thank you to Shelia Johnson, Debra Grover, and to all who support the programs offered by FCBDD. For more information about any of the programs offered or to volunteer, please call 740-335-7453 or visit www.fayettedd.com.