Kevin Gaiser is a clever and determined young man. He is active in his faith and loves to go horseback riding at Centaur Stride Therapeutic Riding Facility in Chautauqua County. Kevin is also very active in his community and loves to volunteer.
In fact, Kevin was named Volunteer of The Year in 2005 for his service to the Meals on Wheels program. Kevin’s love for giving back to his community didn’t stop there.
During the early winter of 2017, Kevin, along with help from his support staff, organized a winter food drive on behalf of the St. Susan Center in Jamestown, NY, when he saw they were looking for supplies. Kevin made flyers and organized people at a couple churches, a local pre-school, and some of his friends to help collect items.
Kevin’s food drive ended up raising more items than they anticipated, and he was pictured in the local newspaper along with the supplies that were donated, the staff from St. Susan Center, and his support staff.
Thanks to the constant teamwork and collaboration between Kevin, his family and his support staff, Kevin has been able to be an active, dedicated community member and volunteer. However, things haven’t always been easy for Kevin. Recently, there have been a lot of difficult events in Kevin’s life and Brenna, his Care Coordinator, has been working with him and advocating for him in many ways.
“Kevin has been through some tough times, but he is resilient with every challenge that comes his way,” says Brenna Schleigh who has worked with Kevin since September 2017.
When it became clear that Kevin’s needs could no longer be met through traditional services, Brenna assisted him and his family in creating a plan for Self-Direction
“My favorite moment so far while working with Kevin would have to be when he was approved for Self-Directed Services (SDS),” Brenna says. “It sounds so simple, but it was definitely a process.”
Self Direction gives an individual the power to design, with help, the supports, services, schedule and structure that they want. A Care Coordinator can play a big role in the planning once a person decides they will use Self-Directed Services.
When Kevin’s Day Habilitation determined he could no longer receive their services, Brenna and Kevin’s team advocated strongly for him to be able to stay for an additional month until they made a plan moving forward.
“Before I worked with Kevin, SDS was denied for various reasons, so we were a little worried that it would not be approved again,” says Brenna.
Kevin’s parents, Carol and Ken Gaiser, and Brenna worked with a liaison at the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to advocate for Kevin so he could receive the services he needed. Within three days of applying Kevin was approved for SDS.
“This was a turning point for Kevin and his team because we were finally able to get a plan in place to provide services to Kevin the way he needs them, in a more flexible environment, and with activities geared towards his specific interests,” Brenna says.
“[Brenna] is dedicated, professional, and persistent in her advocacy,” said Carol and Ken Gaiser. “Brenna is always prepared and is especially strong on follow-through and checking to make sure details are in place. Her personality and work ethic are superior and make her a pleasure to work with.”
“She always has time to listen and give valuable suggestions. Her calm but firm advocacy results in good results and smooth working relationships with staff, agencies and government personnel.”
Kevin and Brenna make a great team. Through Kevin’s dedication to his community and Brenna’s dedication to Kevin, it appears there is nothing he can’t do.