Six Months After Moving in, New Walbridge Neighbors Brighten

Posted: Monday, July 23, 2018 by: Sara Wilson | Category: Community Interest

WALBRIDGE - Just six months after moving into Walbridge, the men and women of Sunshine Communities have been busy connecting with their new neighbors — delivering lunch-time meals to senior citizens, planting flowers around St. Jerome Catholic Church, tending animals at the Wood County Humane Society, and cleaning up trails at several area parks.

These men and women are part of a new Sunshine Communities vocational site located within the former St. Jerome Catholic School, 300 Warner St., Walbridge.

The Maumee-based nonprofit has supported people with developmental disabilities since 1950 and today remains committed to its mission of creating community. In pursuit of its core mission “creating community” or what others may call “community integration,” it provides residential, vocational, recreational and other services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities primarily in Lucas, Fulton and Wood counties. In addition to its Sunshine-owned homes, Sunshine finds jobs for people with disabilities and assists in supported housing settings. It offers a broad range of medical and clinical services, including a unique ventilator support program for adults and children.

While staff are trained in personal care, special diets, and support for activities of daily living, they also encourage being active in the community through volunteering, visiting local places of interest, or participating in local events. For participants who are less able to volunteer, activities at the site include music therapy, games and crafts, and daily visits into the community’s library, pool and parks.

All of these activities are planned with an eye to shared experiences and relationships.

“For all of us, it is these everyday interactions that make life meaningful and fulfilling – whether in smaller settings, in community celebrations, or even in unexpected moments on the street, at a park, or in stores,” ” said Jane Austermiller, Vice President of Vocational Services at Sunshine.

The vocational center opened Jan. 29, and within days, the men and women there began reaching out to the community. On a recent Friday, for example, four individuals and their staff planted zinnias outside St. Jerome – flowers presented to Sunshine by the Sisters of Notre Dame Associates. At the same time, Zack Campbell and his staff began readying for an afternoon delivering meals as part of Mobile Meals Toledo.

The new vocational center also is part of a larger story unfolding in Wood County. Next door to the vocational center, Sunshine Communities is building a new family care home at the invitation of St. Jerome Church. The home is expected to open next year.

Additionally, Sunshine recently assumed operations at a family care home in Bowling Green and is considering options that will create employment to people with developmental disabilities, yet another step in supporting individuals with disabilities as they forge relationships in and contribute to their community. Until this year, Sunshine’s residential, vocational, clinical, recreational, and other services have primarily focused in Lucas and Fulton counties.

Wood Lane – Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities has welcomed Sunshine to the area, noting that the expansion brings additional quality options for support services in the area.

“Wood County is pleased to welcome Sunshine. We are impressed with their quality and caliber of services provided to individuals with developmental disabilities and look forward to their continued expansion in Wood County,” said Brent Baer, Superintendent of Wood Lane.

To learn more about their neighbors, individuals and staff at the new vocational center have planned an ice cream social on the lawn of St. Jerome, 300 Warner St. The public is encouraged to bring a bag lunch and learn more about their new neighbors and the gifts and talents they have to offer.

For more information or to attend, media is asked to contact Robin Erb, V.P. Communications at Sunshine Communities: or 419-340-3604.

For families interested in learning more about the vocational services, contact Jane Austermiller at or at 419-865-0251.

Press Release Contact Name: Sara Wilson
Press Release Contact Email:
Press Release Contact Phone: 419-865-0251
Organization Name: Sunshine
Website or Link:
Organization Address: 7223 Maumee Western Road, Maumee, OH, 43537