A few months ago, Abilities Services – better known as ASI – lost its leader. Executive Director Bob Cook, a leader who had been there for quite some time, passed away. That left a big void at the top and started a long and careful search for a worthy predecessor.
As reported a little more than a week ago, the search may have been exhaustive but ultimately it did not have to venture far from home. Michelle Leonard-Smith, the director of administration and human resources at ASI, was promoted to the top position.
Recently, Michelle was kind enough to answer some questions. It’s obvious that ASI not only got a qualified individual, but a quality one as well.
Q: ASI covers multiple counties. Talk a little about the impact it has in Montgomery County please.
A: Montgomery County is our corporate headquarters. We have been serving Crawfordsville for 45 years. Over the years we have witnessed many changes. I believe that we are currently in an exciting time as we are rapidly growing and changing our service delivery model to better reflect what families right here in Crawfordsville are looking for. In June we added music therapy which has turned out to be so popular that we are already looking to hire an additional music therapist. In July, we are investing $25,000 to bring a completely new and exciting platform to our day program called Creative Abundance. Creative Abundance is all about taking items that would normally be considered either trash or recyclable items and turning them in to local art. It also focuses on things such as horticulture and bee keeping that has been outside of our norm in the past. We have a vibrant Vocational Rehabilitation department that works diligently with local industries to find job placement for those with a disability. You would be amazed to know how many people you encounter during your normal day that are currently working as a direct result of ASI. Respite care has really taken off over the past few years. We are able to offer caregivers a break from the day-to-day routine, which for most of them could be their only disruption from 24/7 care. We are now offering this service for children as young as 4 years old as long as they have a qualifying Indiana Medicaid Waiver.
Q: ASI gets financial support from MUFFY. Many non-profits are facing financial challenges now. How is ASI doing?
A: I feel that we are very fortunate for the support of our community. Montgomery County always seems to step up when we are in need and we cannot be more grateful. Over the last few months we have really began to enhance our programs and add even more services so that families have options to be able to meet the needs of their loved one. We are looking at even more changing occurring over the next 12 months and we eager to bring on new families who in the past we have not been able to assist.