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A good fit

A good fit

July 13, 2018

(Editor’s Note: The following is part of a series of stories about the provider partners that work with Richland Newhope who offer services for people with developmental disabilities in Richland County.)

Cassy Hehmeyer says she has to be her own boss.  That’s one of the reasons why being an independent provider is a good fit.

Cassy’s career in the developmental disabilities field began in 2003 when she began working in one of Richland Newhope’s group homes. 

“I never thought I’d be able to do that kind of work in a group home, but it was interesting how fun it was,” says Cassy.

After a few years, she became a workshop specialist and later a recreation coordinator at Richland Newhope Industries, Inc. (RNI).

That lasted until 2010 when she left to marry Tom Hehmeyer, the area coordinator for Special Olympics.  Cassy briefly opened her own gift shop and even returned as a substitute worker at RNI in 2012 before leaving again to have her son, Josiah.

In the spring of 2016, she was certified as an independent provider and wondered why she hadn’t done that sooner.

“You think the whole process is going to be really hard, but it wasn’t,” Cassy says.  “It just fit everything, like what we needed in our schedules.”

Cassy currently has about a dozen clients on her caseload and works, on average, about 25 to 30 hours a week with more hours during the summer.

“Everything I do has to be pretty flexible,” she notes.  “I have the option of picking clients who have flexible schedules.”

“It’s a business and you market yourself like it’s a business,” adds Cassy.

She also looks for individuals who want to achieve a specific goal.

“I’m looking for clients who want to grow skills, who want to become independent,” says Cassy.  “I try to take each person and figure out what they like and then I try to find things in the community.”

Tammi and Grace are two of her clients.  Tammi enjoys learning how to cook with Cassy while Grace is learning how to drive.  She also helped both young ladies participate in a choir at the Richland Academy of the Arts.

“It’s fun to help support people to get them in the things that they like,” Cassy says.  “If we’re never offered anything different than what we’re used to, then how are we going to try anything new?”

Cassy says she’s always looking for opportunities for her clients, from taking classes to volunteering or even finding employment.

But she also does a lot of typical fun stuff, like camping, going out to eat or to the movies, or spending a day at Cedar Point.

Cassy also has provided respite and emergency placements for individuals in her home and says offering a long-term shared living arrangement might be something she and Tom will do in the future.

“I enjoy it because they do become part of our family,” she adds.

Cassy also acknowledges that, just as she has encouraged her clients to learn something new, she also has learned to try new things, too.

“I get paid to help other people and to see them succeed in things that they’re doing,” says Cassy. “That’s kind of like a no-brainer for me.  It’s very rewarding, and it’s fun, and it’s crazy that I didn’t do this sooner!”

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