February 7, 2019 – When it comes to building a new group home for individuals with special needs, there is a great deal more to consider than there is for your average home. And such a project demands a special builder — one with years of construction experience, insight and patience. After a monthslong search, Marsha Shankleton, Duvall Homes’ Chief Operating Officer, found the perfect builder.
Funded in part by a grant from the Florida Housing Finance Corporation, last spring Duvall began the long process of searching for a parcel of land in West Volusia, proximal to public transportation and large enough to build a 3300 SqFt. home for six residents with Down syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities who are cared for 24-7 by trained and certified Direct Support Professionals. The home would need both living and office space, a spacious porch and grounds for enjoying the outdoors, and sufficient parking for special needs vehicles. A 2.5-acre plot was obtained in North DeLand.
So who is the builder? “We needed someone who knew how to marry the commercial safety of a sprinkler system, fire and carbon monoxide alarms and adequate parking, with the comfort and privacy of group home living,” said Shankleton.
Meet Tanya Ebersole, licensed contractor and owner of Camelot Custom Construction Inc. Originally part of a father-daughter team, Ebersole grew up on construction sites. With more than 30 years of experience in residential and commercial construction, she came highly recommended. (Above, Tanya Ebersole with Duvall Homes’ CEO, Steven DeVane; Below, Ebersole with Johnny Hartwell of Exclusive Drywall)
February 5, 2019 – In Duvall Homes’ Adult Day Training Program, at our Opportunities Enrichment Center, participants develop skills to help them achieve the highest level of independence possible. Great volunteer experiences result from this training, like bagging at our local Publix.
January 11, 2019 – Duvall Homes celebrates the new year by sharing a sneak peek at the home site of our new group home going up in DeLand! It will have six spacious bedrooms and four Jack and Jill bathrooms, a front and back porch, a full sprinkler system and other outstanding features.
Staff are all so excited. Many more details, including photos and video, will be shared in the coming weeks and months. Duvall Homes is in good hands with Camelot Custom Construction, Inc., the Parade of Homes Award Winner Builder, who renovated one of Duvall’s 16 group homes last year.
December 14, 2018 – Rendever is an award-winning tech company out of Boston that is laser focused on improving the lives of others. Their sensory platform, operated by caregivers, helps engage special populations. Watch their video on CBS. So, how does Duvall fit in? Because possible benefits for people with developmental disabilities were recognized, we reached out to the Rendever team. As a result, a plan was set in motion for Duvall to test their virtual reality 360° equipment. And empowerment through VR emerged.
“Our platform was designed to enhance the social experience,” said Rendever CEO, Kyle Rand. “Several people can participate in real time, and form meaningful connections. With caregivers directing the program, participants are able to visit new places and enjoy the selected immersive experiences with ease.”
Rand’s background is in Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering. Rendever’s CTO, Tom Neumann’s, is a successful developer of VR applications. Since cofounding Rendever in 2016, Rand and Neumann have embarked on a journey to share their unique platform all over the world.
Discovering A New World
“Some of our participants have attention deficits or processing challenges, ” said Duvall’s Director of Adult Day Training, Shirley Zonnevylle. “The VR headset allowed them to focus on one specific subject and eliminate other visual distractions.”
Rendever continues to expand its reach. Their software is not just in retirement communities and long-term care facilities; they’re in single family homes and even cancer treatment centers. Among other things, Rendever’s platform provides a diversion for pain and anxiety.
Duvall Homes is fortunate to be given the opportunity to sample this innovative VR program, and are grateful to Rand and the Rendever team. While additional time is needed to determine the full benefits for clients of Duvall Homes, one thing is certain. Duvall’s team of Direct Support Professionals, Specialists and clients were able to explore a whole new universe. And, for a time, were taken to parts of the world they would otherwise not have gone.
September 19, 2018 – “A rock star – that’s how I feel. What job can you go to every day and feel like you’re a rock star on stage?” Those are the words Larry Hopper from DeLand said at his retirement party last Friday after working 25 years for Duvall Homes.
Originally from New York, Hopper first came to work for Duvall as a Resident Assistant in 1990. The personal caregiver position is now referred to as Direct Support Professional (DSP). DSPs provide non-medical care and services to people with special needs in their home and in the community. After working at Duvall for a respectable 11 years, Hopper left in 2001 to run a small engraving and decal business. Three years later, facing the typical stresses that come with owning a business, he decided to return to the job that gave him the most satisfaction. Hopper worked 14 more years for Duvall.
“The moment you walk in the door, residents cheer your name out loud. You feel like a rock star!” said Hopper with his large, infectious smile. “And they notice every single detail about you. ‘I like your shirt Larry. Did you get a haircut?’ Where else do you get that kind of daily welcome?”
Larry is going to be missed by many – by the Duvall residents for sure, but also by fellow DSPs and Group Home Managers. He’s part of a shrinking workforce, and an aging generation that didn’t think twice about taking on a challenging job to benefit someone else in the community.
“The DSPs at Duvall are our front line. We depend on them to provide the very best care for our residents, as well as keep our group homes clean, organized and safe,” said Sherrie Moore, Group Home Manager. Moore is one of seven supervisors who help manage Duvall’s 15 group homes and 62 DSPs. Maintaining residential care plans for close to 100 residents makes the DSP position an integral role in Duvall’s Support Team. DSPs ensure the health and welfare of the residents are priority one. “They help to keep the whole team on the same page with respect to the record keeping and progress of each individual,” added Moore.
“Larry is only one of several DSPs who have worked at Duvall for more than 20 years,” said CEO Steven DeVane. “DSP Phyllis Griffith, who retired not too long ago, dedicated more than 30 years of her life to Duvall. It can be a challenge to find younger folks to make that same commitment the way past generations did. This has become a crisis not just for Duvall Homes, but for providers like us across the state of Florida, and the nation.”
DeVane has worked continuously with state legislators for the past two years to temporarily modify hiring mandates because age, experience and other criteria practically stifled all hiring. Things are looking much brighter now because of his advocacy.
DeVane and his executive staff know full well that the probability of a new hire remaining with Duvall for 25 years, like Larry, is pretty low. What they can promise is that young hires, who make even a short-term commitment to work for Duvall, will receive valuable training and priceless experience that develops the life skills of critical thinking, effective communication and self-awareness,
“New hires at Duvall Homes develop skills that may not be developed in other jobs,” said Christina Negri, Duvall Homes’ Director of Human Resources. “Being a DSP for a minimum of one-to-two years can be a fantastic stepping stone; it can lead to work in other healthcare or customer-service related fields.”
The qualifications for, and benefits of, being a Direct Support Professional are being messaged on various hiring platforms to reach high school grads, age 21 and over, who are looking for work or looking to change their career. But, digital and print ads, social media posts and career fairs are not enough. Duvall Homes depends on parents, grandparents, teachers, guidance counsellors and other community mentors to instill the life-long value in making a short-term commitment to care for people with developmental disabilities. This way we can all be a part of retaining a crucial workforce for a population that depends on it.
Duvall Homes continues to accept applications for Direct Support Professionals and other support specialist positions for their Opportunities Enrichment Day Training Center. For more information, visit DuvallHomes.org/Careers or contact Christina Negri at firstname.lastname@example.org or 386.734.2874 x127.
“I’m proud of the work I do. If I could share with others one thing, it would be not to underestimate what those in our care are capable of doing… much more than you think.” – DSP Sanjuana (left), a Duvall Employee for 12 years, with Lyle.
June 4, 2018 – Thank you to Pastor Walter Laseter and the gracious congregation of Weirsdale Presbyterian Church for their hospitality this past Sunday and for their years of dedicated support toward the mission of Duvall Homes.
We would also like to extend a thank you to Mission Coordinator Brian Farley, who was instrumental in arranging the invitation for our visit.
Members of the Presbyterian Church and community were apprised of how Duvall Homes transitioned from the single Duvall House that Thelma and Alanson Duvall formed in 1945 to today’s operation of 16 residential care group homes throughout the County of Volusia. Highlights of the short presentation covered current programming and services offered in Duvall’s Opportunities Enrichment Center, including contract work, which will soon take place in our newly renovated Vocational Training Center.
Many were surprised to learn of the critical need for trained Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) across Florida – the lowest DSP-funded state in the U.S. – to help care for the daily comfort, safety and empowerment of people with I/DDs, 24/7. Before changing legislation and government mandates took hold, members of Weirsdale Presbyterian were part of the contingency of volunteers who for years selflessly gave of their time to support and build, create with and watch over many individuals who resided at Duvall.
During the service, everyone was elevated by the sounds of Ellen Laseter, Dr. Laseter’s wife, on the piano, who performed, among other heartfelt hymns, The Old Rugged Cross. A surprise barbershop performance took place at the end of the service as Pastor Laseter’s newly formed quartet practiced for their choir-replacement summer schedule.
It was a delightful visit to Weirsdale; however, due the small size of Duvall’s administrative staff, it can be challenging to make all of the visits we wish we could make in and outside of the county. One thing we are always happy to do, is to share words of gratitude for the impact people have made on the hundreds of lives of individuals with developmental disabilities living in our state.
If you are an organization who has supported Duvall Homes this year, or in years past, and have a company newsletter, please let us know as we’d love to share inspiring stories and images with you and your members or employees.
May 25, 2018 – Inside Duvall Homes’ 2018 Spring Newsletter, you’ll once again be connected with the inspiring stories that bind our community together. Stories like Building Opportunities That Impact Our Community give insight to the tangible benefits that result when business partners get involved with the work we do.
Articles like The Duvall Difference provide an overview of the services and personal care Duvall residents receive from Direct Support Professionals and their Support Team every single day and of a father’s discovery of these services after putting the future care of his son above all else.
We also like to highlight community news and events in each issue. Our Spring Fling; service from high school and college students; the retiring of an employee after 37 years; and the Tim Tebow Foundation‘s very special Night To Shine event are just some of the newsworthy events that took place this past quarter.
Many of our friends, families and business partners have just received Duvall’s 2018 Spring Newsletter in the mail. You can enjoy it too by clicking on the cover to flip through the digital version.
Please share the many heartwarming stories with your own family, friends and colleagues. You’d be surprised who can benefit from the many different perspectives shared. Let us know what inspires you most about this issue at ImInspired.org. #TheDuvallDifference
April 26, 2018 – We are once again blessed with the musical talents of Instruments of Healing (IOH), the community group of students from Stetson University’s School of Music.
Formed last year by Guitar Performance major Lauren Baucum, IOH comes to Duvall’s Opportunities Enrichment Center to entertain, and engage with, participants in our Adult Day Training program once a month. They’re inspiring repertoire provides a nice balance to the work contracts, co-curricular activities and life-skills training ADT participants keep busy with throughout the week.
During their visits, the IOH student musicians encourage viewing guests to sing along or pick up an instrument to join in on the fun, and each month a growing number learn a few new skills related to properly holding and playing a particular instrument. Staff, residents and family members extend a heart-felt thank you to these young volunteer musicians for their talent, patience, compassion and goodwill. We are all better for it.
In case you’d like to hear these skillful young leaders perform their craft during their end-of-year recitals, click on the links below.
April 13, 2018 – Happy Spring Fling Friday! Participants in Duvall Homes’ Opportunities Enrichment (ADT) Center have fun in the beautiful spring weather flying kites, blowing bubbles, playing frisbee and more. View more photos. #TheDuvallDifference #ImInspired
March 21, 2018 – Another busy day last week in our ADT Workshop fulfilling bulk mailers at Duvall’s Opportunities Enrichment Center.
While Duvall Homes’ ADT Workshop completes contracts on its Glenwood campus for the contracting business, ADT participants develop social and vocational skills that empower them to become independent members of our community’s workforce who earn a paycheck.
Those organizations who recognize the unique attributes and experiences people with developmental disabilities bring to their workforce reap a multitude of benefits by creating an inclusive positive environment and a cohesive confident team.
Since disability is a natural part of diversity, businesses can benefit by taking steps to ensure people with disabilities are represented in their workforce. Visit What Can You Do Campaign?
Since Duvall’s 7000 sqft. Deltona store came under new management last fall, the nonprofit store has taken on a whole new look and vibe. New signage was recently installed and a new floor plan implemented to attract new customers, retain current customers and improve the overall customer experience.
The community is invited to join the Bargain Store staff in celebrating the re-opening over refreshments, rock bottom prices, a prize wheel, seasonal sales and much more.
All proceeds from Bargain Store sales benefit the residents of Duvall Homes. Donated gently used household items, such as furniture, appliances, electronics, clothing, shoes, accessories, toys, books and art are greatly appreciated.
Support people with developmental disabilities in our community by shopping at, and donating to, Duvall Homes’ BARGAIN STORE in Deltona. It’s Time To Bargain Shop!
Address: 1200 Deltona Blvd. Deltona, FL 32725 (386)860-4110
Store Hours: Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Pickups: For inquiries of picking up donated, please call (386)734-2874.
Duvall Homes has been providing residential care and adult day training for people living with a developmental disability since 1945. Learn about the many Programs & Services Duvall Homes offers in our community for people ages 22 and up, by clicking here.
Created by Tim Tebow and the Tim Tebow Foundation and hosted by Stetson Baptist Church in DeLand, residents of Duvall Homes participated in this incredible international event that took place February 9 in DeLand, Florida, in 16 countries at 537 host churches, where 90,000 VIPs with developmental disabilities were crowned Kings and Queens by 175,000 volunteers! Staff from Duvall Homes participated as well.
View additional images on Instagram at #ImInspiredDeLand #NightToShine and #NTSDeLand. This special night was a memorable global event recommended for anyone who wishes to get involved and be inspired. Be sure to put February 8, 2019, on your calendar.
February 9, 2018 – We may not be Elon Musk headed toward the asteroid belt launched by the Falcon Heavy Super Rocket to the tunes of David Bowie; however, we are absolutely just as excited as Duvall staff make last minute pre-prom preparations for tonight’s Night To Shine Prom at Stetson Baptist Church in DeLand for individuals with developmental disabilities in our community. And, the tunes of Bowie very well may be played!
Thanks to the Tim Tebow Foundation, and Stetson Baptist, residents of Duvall Homes can be part of this very special international event close to home in West Volusia County that will also occur in 16 different countries, at 540 host churches by 175,000 volunteers for 90,000 VIP Kings and Queens!
Direct Support Professional Jolene Hunt (grey shirt) stands with Maggie as Group Home Manager, Sherrie Moore, measures and hems Maggie’s new gown. Sherrie modified several gowns and suits for our VIP Queens and Kings attending tonight’s event, including Jason’s below. Follow images posted throughout the night at #NTSDeLand, and on Duvall Home’s Facebook Page.
Read how residents of Duvall Homes helps out Night To Shine: A Team Effort
February 6, 2018 – A few ladies who work at DuvallHomes.org participated in the 7th Annual ME STRONG 5K Run/Walk in DeLand this past Saturday, February 3. They joined close to 3,800 people from Volusia County, and beyond, in their fight against cancer, walking in honor of people they currently know who are hanging tough in their fight against cancer and in memory of family members who lost their battle in recent years.
Attracting more than 1,000 people than last year’s run, DeLand Mayor, Robert Apgar, reported that the monies raised was a result of 1 in 10 people in our community came out. (DeLand’s current census is 31,000.) The race was initiated when four women, Kim Winters, Barbara Underhill, Kim Martin, and Kathy Guyer wanted to honor their friend Linda Ryan who was diagnosed with recurrent cervical cancer at the age of 43. Following the race, the founders, tallied an incredible $152,000 raised from the event.
Participants of Duvall Homes’ Adult Day Training (ADT) Program are periodically reminded of the importance of raising awareness in their community for those who are fighting cancer. Last year, they took to the sidewalk proudly wearing personally designed t-shirts created at ADT in Duvall’s Opportunities Enrichment Center. This is only one inspiring example of the many ways in which Duvall Homes’ residents and community participants get involved and practice community engagement and awareness for all populations in need of attention.
Founded in 1980, VMA provides information, education and networking opportunities to help manufacturers grow and succeed. This new relationship with VMA is fitting with the programs and contract work services we offer at Duvall’s Opportunities Enrichment Center to people with developmental disabilities who we serve.
As we move into a new year, expanding our own contract work program and facility, we look forward to the professional opportunities and connections that await us through VMA.
Learn about the many programs and services at Duvall Homes here, More Duvall News & Events.