Opportunities for Positive Growth https://www.opgrowth.com Simply put, we're in the people business! Proudly serving Indiana in Indianapolis, Kokomo, Marion, Ft. Wayne, and Lafayette including surrounding counties since 1998! Wed, 28 Nov 2018 20:31:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 The Holidays Traditionally for the OPG Family https://www.opgrowth.com/2017/12/06/the-holidays-traditionally-for-the-opg-family/ Fri, 12 Jan 2018 09:42:28 +0000 http://dev.glasswebprojects.com/clients/opportunities-for-positive-growth/?p=1 As the evenings draw in far too soon, and the temperature drops far too quickly, seasonal customs begin for every facet of the holiday season. While a single tear sheds for the long-abandoned shorts hanging sadly in the closet, the frosted windows and flurries of snow can mean only one thing… the holidays are coming. […]

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As the evenings draw in far too soon, and the temperature drops far too quickly, seasonal customs begin for every facet of the holiday season. While a single tear sheds for the long-abandoned shorts hanging sadly in the closet, the frosted windows and flurries of snow can mean only one thing… the holidays are coming.

Spirits are on high; families reunite, friends get merry, and holiday traditions are in full swing. Whether it’s Christmas or Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or Boxing Day, the holidays are the perfect remedy for the winter blues. No matter which celebration means something to you, our annual traditions are often just as meaningful to us as the holidays themselves.

For OPG self-advocate, Abby Love, Christmas is her favorite holiday. “I like getting presents, listening to Christmas music, and seeing family,” she tells me. For Abby, the holidays are a local affair, with her family coming over to celebrate an Indy Christmas. “We decorate our house and my aunt and uncle come to us every year.”

Abby Love, OPG Self-Advocate

Taking part in a game of holiday word association will undoubtedly garner one result in particular: food. Along with her mom, Abby bakes delicious Christmas cookies each year, providing the energy she needs for one of her favorite holiday traditions: playing Just Dance on the Wii with her sisters and cousins.

As Abby can attest, tasty treats are the backbone to any holiday festivity. For Behavior Support Specialist, Jen Elia, Potato Latkes and Sufganiyot (a traditional Hanukkah doughnut), is the menu of choice. This year, Jen’s holiday traditions will also be incorporated at her daughter’s school holiday program. “She’ll be singing Christmas songs with everybody and I wanted them to include one Hanukkah song, which they were happy to do. I’m excited to see which one they’ve chosen.”

One of her favorite times of year, Jen’s family celebrations are mostly on the first night of Hanukkah, but the traditional family trip to Puerto Rico is the highlight of the season. “This year, because of what’s going on, we’re not able to go. But we’re still going to celebrate all together in Indiana – my mother recently moved here from New York, and my sister and her family as well.”

While the holidays are meaningful for a plethora of individualized reasons, time is something not even Bilbo Baggins is immune to; affecting what we associate the holidays with as the years fall away. Whether you’re waking up at 6am and jumping on your parents’ bed, or being woken up at 6am by energy levels which far exceed your own, the holidays remain special even when the reasons change.

Administrative Assistant, Laura Boggs, is seeing the holidays a little differently this year. “As my brother, sister, and I are getting older, I’m seeing for the first time that we’re not going to be around forever and I want to spend more time with them,” she pauses. “It’d be nice to think that Christmas could bring people back together – permanently, and not just for Christmas.”

Laura remembers a time when she was a teenager in Frankfort, Indiana, walking through the snow at the downtown square. “Business people would decorate their office windows. This one evening, Christmas songs were being played,” she recalls. “I always think of that particular evening when the holidays come around.”

Now a grandmother living with her daughter’s family, holiday traditions are more important than ever for Laura. “It’s waking up Christmas morning and hearing the kids shout “it’s Christmas, it’s Christmas!”,” she joyfully demonstrates. And no matter how many birthdays come and go, some things never change: “I even love to see when I get my daughter something that I know she wants. We all get older, but she’s still my daughter.”

While many cite that the joy of the holidays comes from the love and laughter shared with family, for some, the true meaning behind the holidays is giving. Of course, presents are a common-place during the Yuletide season, but giving comes in a great many number of forms for a great many number of people.


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Cyrus Kungu, Direct Support Professional

Cyrus Kungu, a Direct Support Professional, was born and raised in Kenya – moving to the United States back in 2009. During his upbringing in Africa, he spent the holidays celebrating Christmas with his family and community. For Cyrus, it was custom to open presents the day after Christmas (Boxing Day), with the former being reserved for another tradition entirely.

“When I was in Africa, I used to go to Church in the morning, and then after the service I would go into the community to visit the poor and give the little I had to them,” Cyrus explains. “When I celebrate Christmas, I always think about caring for others. When I spend my Christmas helping another person make their life better, I feel good about it.”

Cyrus grew up with very little, but his family always made sure to celebrate Christmas when many people in his poverty-stricken community did not. Since moving to America by himself, he has not only become an exceptional DSP, but continues to send money back to his community each year during the holidays, helping them in any way he can. Thankfully, Cyrus’ selfless nature was rewarded a few years ago when his family was finally able to move to the States to be with him.

Regardless of your background, traditions, or which cultural festival you celebrate, the holidays is a distinctly special time of year. Whether you’re embracing family you haven’t seen in years, eating your weight in ham, or hurriedly wrapping presents before the kids get home from school, the holidays provide memories that we cherish for the rest of our lives.

“I don’t give because I have, but because I know what it’s like not to have anything.” 
– Cyrus Kungu

Happy Holidays! ​


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What Thanksgiving Means to Us https://www.opgrowth.com/2017/11/21/what-thanksgiving-means-to-us/ Tue, 21 Nov 2017 00:17:18 +0000 http://dev.glasswebprojects.com/clients/opportunities-for-positive-growth/?p=290 Whether it’s Halloween or Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah, fall through winter houses a number of celebrated holidays that frequently fight for the limelight when deciding upon a personal favorite. Spooky vs. Santa, turkey vs. ham – no matter your preference, the Holidays mean so much to so many. While the inception of each holiday began […]

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Whether it’s Halloween or Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah, fall through winter houses a number of celebrated holidays that frequently fight for the limelight when deciding upon a personal favorite. Spooky vs. Santa, turkey vs. ham – no matter your preference, the Holidays mean so much to so many.

While the inception of each holiday began with a specific purpose, over time, individuals from across the United States have gleaned their own personal meaning behind each occasion. This is what makes Thanksgiving a special celebration: the nature of being thankful is uniquely personal for everyone around the dinner table, and can take on a profound new meaning each and every year.

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Andrew Lyons, OPG self-advocate

​OPG self-advocate, Andrew Lyons, tells me how he always looks forward to Thanksgiving. “I like being with friends, and the laughter with family.” Thanksgiving usually consists of a more modest gathering for Andrew, but he recalls a memory from many years ago that he thinks back on fondly at this time of year. “We went to my great aunt and uncle’s house. I remember seeing everyone and smiling.”

As Andrew’s mind casts itself over all the “flavorful food” he enjoys at Thanksgiving, he tells me that there are three things he’s truly thankful for this year: “good health, fun with friends, and making memories.” This sentiment was echoed by fellow OPG self-advocate, Jessica Steuterman, who told me that what means the most to her at Thanksgiving is her mom and dad… and the food.

​For many, Thanksgiving brings with it a number of family traditions. “I like to decorate pumpkins,” Jessica says with a smile. For others, like Andrew, it’s different every year. However, it becomes clear when talking about holiday traditions that the traditions themselves embody the true meaning behind the occasion; when asked about her favorite part of Thanksgiving, Jessica takes a brief pause and says, “I like to give out hugs every year.”
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Sherry Vickrey, Quality Enhancement Specialist

​Traditions come in many forms. For Quality Enhancement Specialist, Sherry Vickrey, it involves all of her family gathering on the floor and spreading the newspaper out to look at the ads, along with pre-Christmas festivities. “Before we eat we have to write five things we want for Christmas in the Christmas book. We’re not allowed to eat until we do,” she laughs. “It also means I get to put up my Christmas tree the next day.”

Of course, when the last drop of sentiment has been drunk, there’s the copious amount of delicious food. “Every year I have to make green bean casserole, if I don’t I’m not allowed to come to Thanksgiving,” Sherry tells me – with Jessica attesting to the green bean deliciousness being a personal favorite of hers also. “It’s the one time of year my whole family get together. We spend the whole day cooking, eating and laughing.”

For Andy Griffin, another OPG self-advocate, Thanksgiving is all about games. “I watch football with my family. We play card games too.” For Andy, he’s especially thankful for the self-sufficiency OPG has helped him achieve. “I am more independent. And I’m looking for a new job – I have a new job coach,” he expresses enthusiastically.

As businesses shutdown, cars line the roads, and family members embrace each other with open-arms, the importance of Thanksgiving becomes abundantly clear. Sherry tells me how this is her first Thanksgiving with her new husband, and reflects on what the holiday means to her most of all. “Since my dad passed away two years ago and my mom got cancer, I’m just especially thankful that she’s here for Thanksgiving.”

While the story of the original Thanksgiving is frequently misconstrued, the core message remains a constant. The first Thanksgiving was indeed very different from the modern-day celebration. But as families and friends gather to eat food, laugh, and give thanks, we discover a common ground with the Pilgrims of 1621: we all have something or someone in life to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Dan Kahl: An ESOP Interview https://www.opgrowth.com/2017/10/26/dan-kahl-an-esop-interview/ Thu, 26 Oct 2017 00:36:53 +0000 http://dev.glasswebprojects.com/clients/opportunities-for-positive-growth/?p=294 For 15 years, Dan Kahl has been serving Opportunities for Positive Growth, Inc. as its Chief Operating Officer. Alongside his wife and CEO, Gail Kahl, the duo has paved the way for how companies treat individuals with intellectual disabilities across the state of Indiana and beyond. In 2010, Dan and Gail handed OPG over to […]

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For 15 years, Dan Kahl has been serving Opportunities for Positive Growth, Inc. as its Chief Operating Officer. Alongside his wife and CEO, Gail Kahl, the duo has paved the way for how companies treat individuals with intellectual disabilities across the state of Indiana and beyond.

In 2010, Dan and Gail handed OPG over to their employees by turning the company into an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). Since that time, qualified participants have been accruing stock due to their personal stake in the company. Further details of which can be found here.

I sat down with Dan to discuss his thought process behind turning OPG into an ESOP, the changes he’s witnessed over the years, and where he hopes the company goes in the future.

When and why did you join OPG?

My first day was in October 2002. I was looking for a new job and Gail talked me into joining the company. At the time, I really disliked my job. I looked at OPG as a cool way to own my own business and be an entrepreneur, and so I started doing both jobs. I’d come home at 5.30pm and work until midnight on the other job. Finally, a few months later, I gave my 2 weeks’ notice, scared to death, and joined OPG. It was a rough 6 months. 

Why did you choose to make OPG an ESOP?

Dan Kahl, Chief Operating Officer

Originally our board of directors only consisted of Gail and I, our two sons, and our attorney – who in 2006, started pushing us towards our succession plan. It came down to three options: we could sell it to somebody in the company, we could list it and sell it to the highest bidder, or we could go to an ESOP. It was very costly and policy heavy, but we looked at everything and that’s the route we decided to go.

We kept it secret from March 2010 until October 2010. It was a great opportunity for our employees, who we feel a lot of loyalty to; Gail and I built the company into what it is, but really, it’s our employees that do the job day-in day-out, so we thought it was a good fit.

Did you have any reservations about turning the company into an ESOP?

Oh yeah: the audits, the high cost. Obviously, it was money well spent, but it was at a time when the Department of Labor was very anti-ESOP. All ESOPs after the first year get a DoL audit, and ours went on for 44 months. After all that, I might have told you I don’t know if I would have done it again – it was brutal, the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through in my business career. We weren’t being treated fairly. 

Since turning OPG into an ESOP, have you seen any significant change within the company and the people? 

I think it’s turned more positive. We have 133 plan participants in the ESOP, and those 133 people hold well over $1 million worth of stock. I think it encourages everybody to go out and do their job the best they can day-in and day-out – and if that’s what we do, we’ll be successful. 

The other thing that’s really important: our valuation has increased dramatically since 2010. It’s gone up by more than 200%. I think that the employees who receive their statements every year have come to realize that the money is real – they’ve got a really good appreciation of it. All you’re doing is getting a retirement income just for showing up to work. It doesn’t cost you anything. What a great deal.

What would you say are the key benefits for being an ESOP?

I think it creates a culture of creativity, of fiscal responsibility, pride, goal achievement, and of family. You really can’t buy that… you have to create it. It’s gratifying and absolutely worthwhile. 

What is the single most significant selling point of working for an ESOP company?

You’ll have a nice pile of retirement money that you can keep building on, but you have to be in it for the long run. That’s another reason why Gail and I decided to go the ESOP route; Gail’s first employee is still with her after 19 years. We recently conducted a study and found that the turnover rate for ESOP participants over a 5-year period is just 3%. It’s amazing. 

I’ve been shocked at the number of young people who really don’t take savings for granted. We have had young people leave the company who have decided to roll their investment into another qualifying plan, which tells me that they understand you have to start saving early for retirement. It’s very important. And it’s tax free!

As your retirement approaches, how does your succession plan tie into ESOP?

We decided to do 100% transfer of the ownership to ESOP – a lot of companies start out at 20%. When we leave we want the company to be in good fiscal shape, have leaders in place that will run OPG like Gail and I have, and I want to look at the ESOP as being healthy and solvent. 

One of the things that we’ve done is that if there’s something we don’t know, I can pick the phone up and call our trustee, I can call our valuation firm, I can call our legal office, and have an answer the same day. We’re very lucky to have incredible partnerships with the professionals that provide us services.

Where do you hope ESOP takes OPG in the future?

We’re still in our infancy as an ESOP and to say that we’ve got 133 people holding over a million dollars’ worth of stock is unbelievable. And if the company keeps performing as it has been there’s no reason why it couldn’t increase five-fold, ten-fold, who knows. So that’s pretty exciting.  

We have a lot of people in that 30 to 40-year-old range, so I’d like to come back in 20 years and watch those guys on their last day of work, signing off on their paperwork to get their stock and see how much they’ve got in their account. It’ll be incredible.

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The Importance of OPG’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) https://www.opgrowth.com/2017/10/16/the-importance-of-opgs-employee-stock-ownership-plan-esop/ Mon, 16 Oct 2017 00:38:32 +0000 http://dev.glasswebprojects.com/clients/opportunities-for-positive-growth/?p=297 Since 2010, OPG has prided itself on its ESOP culture and how for the previous seven years it has been a part of every member of staff who passes through the doors to the company.  ESOP has not only transformed OPG as a business – with stock value consistently rising above each previous year – […]

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2017 ESOP Award Winning Poster

Since 2010, OPG has prided itself on its ESOP culture and how for the previous seven years it has been a part of every member of staff who passes through the doors to the company.  ESOP has not only transformed OPG as a business – with stock value consistently rising above each previous year – but the way in which staff are now no longer simply employees… they’re owners.

An unknown entity until 1974, ESOPs are now a considerable factor in the way more than 6,700 companies across the United States operate. With more than 14 million plan participants (roughly 130 of which at OPG), businesses across America are utilizing ESOP as a compelling employee benefits plan, looking after their workforce long into retirement and beyond.

Simply put, an ESOP company is partially owned by each member of staff who is 21 years of age, works at least 1,000 hours a year, and works at the company long enough to become vested. The more years you work, the higher your vesting level rises. And as the company’s stock valuation grows, so too does your wallet.

Craig White, OPG’s Chair of the Benefits Committee within ESOP, drives the processes we undertake as an ESOP, and has seen significant change in the company since the inception of the plan. “Culturally what’s happened is what was intended. We’re not just employees; we are the company. There’s a shift in thinking and behavior once you decide what being an owner means to you,” he explains.

Craig has worked at OPG for 16 years, being brought onto the leadership team by Gail Kahl (CEO) and Dan Kahl (CFO) seven years ago upon ESOP’s introduction. In that time, he has seen OPG go from strength to strength, with its share value rising from $8 to $29 a share. “The more plan participants we have, the better our company gets,” he says. “It’s really a game changer.”

Though the rules regulating ESOP and its distribution depend on a number of factors – most significantly being the level of an individual’s vesting – the underlying benefit is clear: “It’s free money. It’s your money.” Whether rolling it into a qualifying 401K, or taking a lump sum payment upon retirement (or before), an ESOP’s primary purpose is to help you live a better tomorrow.

While seeing OPG’s total stock value resting at $1.1 million is undeniably impressive, ESOP is more than just investing numbers – it’s investing in people. “We not only physically own the company, but there’s also an emotional piece when people realize they’re in it to win it. There’s a sense that I become the company – I am what OPG embodies,” Craig states.

Becoming a plan participant at OPG isn’t just about a pay check; it actively encourages both engagement and loyalty for a common cause amongst each fellow employee. Every role, every action, every minute that’s effectively utilized affects the bottom line – and your back pocket as a result. Due to ESOP, while working at OPG you’re not just building a future for yourself, but everyone else around you.

This sentiment goes hand-in-hand with the vision for OPG as a company. Michelle Steltz, Indiana Chapter President of ESOP, and OPG Benefits Committee member, understands the importance ESOP plays in the lifespan of the business, and individuals we support: “Because of ESOP, OPG could exist into eternity. Our continuity of supports is what drives our values, and fits into the spirit of what OPG is.”

ESOP is constantly evolving. National and regional conferences which take place each year, highlight ways in which companies, including OPG, can improve their service based on lessons learnt from both the good and the bad of fellow ESOP businesses. Networking develops key relationships and helps OPG’s Benefits Committee understand what it can do to better the lives of each plan participant.

Ultimately, OPG’s mission revolves around putting people first, and ESOP is a key element of that. As Craig says: “When Dan and Gail retire, people in the future won’t have a direct connection to them, but what they will have is gratitude because of what they did for the company and its employees with ESOP. Their history will live on through the ESOP and the people.”

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DSPIN Award Winner: Brian Shively https://www.opgrowth.com/2017/09/29/dspin-award-winner-brian-shively/ Fri, 29 Sep 2017 00:41:38 +0000 http://dev.glasswebprojects.com/clients/opportunities-for-positive-growth/?p=300 I had the pleasure of catching up with Brian Shively, one of our Quality Enhancement Specialists, last week. He was on the heel of what he describes as a career high. On September 13, 2017, Brian was one of five recipients of the DSPIN Outstanding Direct Support Professional Award. He, with the other 4 winners, […]

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I had the pleasure of catching up with Brian Shively, one of our Quality Enhancement Specialists, last week. He was on the heel of what he describes as a career high. On September 13, 2017, Brian was one of five recipients of the DSPIN Outstanding Direct Support Professional Award. He, with the other 4 winners, was recognized in front of over 220 attendees at the DSPIN Annual Conference. I asked him a few questions about the award and his time at OPG. Here’s what he had to say.

So tell me, how does it feel to win the DSPIN Award? Were you shocked?

Brian: It was a surprise. I didn’t expect to hear my name at all. When Gail (CEO) told us in a meeting, I had to hold back from crying. I felt excited to receive it, but thought there were others even more deserving. It’s not just me, it’s a whole team of people. I have learned from other DSPs.

With this question alone, I can already see why Brian has been chosen as a recipient of this award. He is selfless and a team player. 

What’s your favorite part about the job? Does it even feel like a job to you?

Brian: When I’m in pod, it doesn’t feel like a job. I get to see the people in pod becoming friends and I don’t really have to be involved. One of my proudest moments are the times
I realize somehow, my presence has helped others create true friendships and reciprocal relationships, and I am honored to witness it.

You said there have been ups and downs during your 5 years at OPG. What’s brought you to your breaking point as a DSP? How did you overcome that?

Brian: There have been plenty of times when pods were chaotic, causing anxiety for all. The staffing shortage is hard because there are people who need so much more support than we can give them. Whenever pod causes more anxiety, on and off, it s been hard…but it’s worth it when people are happy to be there.

Listening to Brian talk, I can hear the passion in his voice. He has gotten to know his pods so well. It’s clear he is dedicated to them.

In your opinion, what legacy are you creating at OPG?

Brian: I feel like I’m just a part of the team. I’m just doing what we all do. I think I do a good job of making the people I support feel heard. They matter and are important to me. Becoming a QES and getting the DSPIN is the highlight of my work life thus far.

What’s next for you?

Someday, I want to be a marriage and family counselor. My entire life, I’ve been really good at listening and making sure people feel heard. I focus all my attention on the person talking, so I think that would work well in counseling.

Brian studied Counseling for his Undergraduate degree. He is interested in pursuing his Graduate degree.

As we concluded our interview, Brian wanted to make it clear that he accomplishes nothing alone. In his opinion, he plays a part of a team.

We couldn’t be prouder of Brian. Congratulations on your award!

(Brian Shively pictured here with the other 2017 recipients)

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This is how WE celebrate Greatness. https://www.opgrowth.com/2017/09/25/this-is-how-we-celebrate-greatness/ Mon, 25 Sep 2017 00:44:44 +0000 http://dev.glasswebprojects.com/clients/opportunities-for-positive-growth/?p=303 Once a year, Opportunities for Positive Growth comes together to celebrate the gems of our organization- our people. This event, aptly named Day of Greatness, is a day of honoring the men and women who make our organization standout among competitors. Their dedication to the individuals, community and each other are what makes OPG strong.Today we look […]

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Once a year, Opportunities for Positive Growth comes together to celebrate the gems of our organization- our people. This event, aptly named Day of Greatness, is a day of honoring the men and women who make our organization standout among competitors. Their dedication to the individuals, community and each other are what makes OPG strong.Today we look back on this year’s event; highlighting our teams and having fun. This is how we celebrate GREATNESS.

On September 15th, 2017, we held our annual Day of Greatness at Conner Prairie. The space was perfect, and allowed us to set up our committee booths outside of the ballroom, giving us a more intimate feel. The Conner Prairie team did a marvelous job setting up! Soon, our teams from all offices were pouring in; sharing hugs and handshakes, and getting to know the new faces in the room. The vibe was joyful. What a way to kick things off!


The day was filled with presentations and conversations. Our own Dr. Lucy Lund, was the Keynote speaker. During her presentation, Lucy provided information needed concerning the state of Direct Support by providing evidence from the past, present and future. It was truly an inspirational moment, and many walked away with a deeper understanding of the work they do everyday. At OPG, we are change agentswe don’t accept the status quo, we re-invent and re-imagine on a daily basis. On this day, a powerful moment was shared among like-minded individuals.  Just another example of our “greatness”.

All of that sharing and discussing drives an appetite, and oh how we treat our teams! From an array of coffee and juices, to a delectable dessert spread, we had it covered!​ Our teams were the VIP’s and we treated them like it! Again, OPG Inc., would like to thank the amazing staff at Conner Prairie for ensuring excellence in execution.


Our employees aren’t just working for OPG, they’re owners! As an ESOP company, we encourage our teams to get involved and become educated about our company. At Day of Greatness, we set up booths to get information out to our teams in a fun way. With games, contests and giveaways, every booth wants to take home the coveted prize of “most popular”. Take a look at a few of our favorites!


​At OPG, we have several people that go above and beyond on daily basis. During the conclusion of Day of Greatness, we honored those who make an impact in the following ways: Contributing to the Life of a PersonCommunity Involvement or Employment, and Contributing to the Value of the Company. This year, we had an overwhelming response of nominees, making the task of selecting three from each category laborious, but meaningful. In the end, we had our winners. Our CEO, Gail Kahl handed out certificates to our nominees. What a way to end the day!


A great day was had by all. See you next year!

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Day of Greatness Awards: Contributing to the Life of a Person https://www.opgrowth.com/2017/09/22/day-of-greatness-awards-contributing-to-the-life-of-a-person/ Fri, 22 Sep 2017 23:55:14 +0000 http://dev.glasswebprojects.com/clients/opportunities-for-positive-growth/?p=330 Taking place on September 15th at Indiana’s historic Conner Prairie, OPG’s annual Day of Greatness welcomed all staff members to gather and celebrate the company and individuals’ achievements alike. As CEO, Gail Kahl, took the stage and the room’s cheering crescendo reached its peak, the awards began. Creating a roster of the hugely talented pool […]

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Taking place on September 15th at Indiana’s historic Conner Prairie, OPG’s annual Day of Greatness welcomed all staff members to gather and celebrate the company and individuals’ achievements alike. As CEO, Gail Kahl, took the stage and the room’s cheering crescendo reached its peak, the awards began.

Creating a roster of the hugely talented pool of Opportunities for Positive Growth Inc. employees, and another of those deserving of an award, is ultimately one and the same. Honoring individuals of OPG who have most significantly contributed to the life of a person is as effortless as it is rewarding, but narrowing down the list of eventual nominees to a select few winners proved a daunting task.

Through a finalized list of nine nominees, three winners were singled out for the passion and hard work they have epitomized throughout their time as part of the OPG family. Below, you’ll find each winner coupled by a quote from their nominator, explaining how their dedication has positively impacted the lives of others.

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Danielle Woods, Quality Enhancement Specialist

“She showed extreme patience, kindness and grace in some dire circumstances and now that person is thriving. She led her team to show that person how to live in a non-violent home, how to make her own choices and empowering this woman.”


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Justin Dahlem, Music Therapist

“He gives each person the gift of his full attention. He understands how important each interaction is for every person. He connects with people, staff and families to create an atmosphere with the perfect balance of support and fun.”


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Susan Nicolls, Direct Support Professional

“She uses her patience to help this person achieve goals, such as helping fix her own meals, do her laundry and assist in cleaning her house. This person now feels empowered enough to change her clothing by herself, and has begun using 3-4-word sentences when previously, she only really used 1-2 works. She is strong and more confident in part because of their hard work together.”

Congratulations once again to every deserved winner and nominee alike!

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Day of Greatness Awards: Contributing to the Value of the Company https://www.opgrowth.com/2017/09/20/day-of-greatness-awards-contributing-to-the-value-of-the-company/ Wed, 20 Sep 2017 23:56:26 +0000 http://dev.glasswebprojects.com/clients/opportunities-for-positive-growth/?p=332 OPG’s annual Day of Greatness recently took place on September 15th at Indiana’s historic Conner Prairie, celebrating the hard work and passion of its staff members who make Opportunities for Positive Growth Inc. an industry leader in the field of intellectual disability support. As lunch came to a close, all eyes fell forward onto the […]

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OPG’s annual Day of Greatness recently took place on September 15th at Indiana’s historic Conner Prairie, celebrating the hard work and passion of its staff members who make Opportunities for Positive Growth Inc. an industry leader in the field of intellectual disability support.

As lunch came to a close, all eyes fell forward onto the stage as CEO, Gail Kahl, took the mic to honor a number of talented individuals who were nominated for their contribution to the value of the company. While writing a list of employees deserving of an award could be accomplished by pulling random names out of a hat, deciding upon a few select winners from a list of nominees is no easy feat.

Seven nominations were ultimately decided upon, with three people welcoming a trophy for their years of invaluable service to the company. Below, you’ll find each winner and a quote from their nominator, illustrating how their unwavering dedication has affected countless lives throughout their time at OPG.

PictureJessica Graf, Quality Enhancement Specialist

“She has a professional and dedicated approach with all of the people she supports and team members to ensure quality of care is provided and the bar is always raised. Her strategies surrounding positive communication, team training and team collaboration exemplify what makes OPG so incredible and unique.”


PictureKathy Williams, Music Therapist

“If she is not already attending an extra event, music therapy conference, intervention workshop, she is likely leading it herself. She is always willing to collaborate with others to enhance therapy, or simply to boost camaraderie. Her awareness of what really matters contributes to the value of OPG in many ways.”


PictureDan Kahl, Chief Operating Officer

“He has done what many have failed to do. Think people first, but understands that OPG is a business that must succeed for the longevity of support which we all provide. He brings humor & sternness, respect & honesty, comfort & wisdom.”

​Congratulations once again to every deserved winner and nominee alike!

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Day of Greatness Awards: Community Involvement & Employment https://www.opgrowth.com/2017/09/18/day-of-greatness-awards-community-involvement-employment/ Mon, 18 Sep 2017 23:57:36 +0000 http://dev.glasswebprojects.com/clients/opportunities-for-positive-growth/?p=334 On September 15th, Opportunities for Positive Growth Inc. celebrated the kindness and dedication illustrated by every member of the OPG family, at Indiana’s historic Conner Prairie. With staff members lining the room, a string of awards and rapturous cheers capped off our Day of Greatness. Selecting an OPG staff member deserving of an award is […]

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On September 15th, Opportunities for Positive Growth Inc. celebrated the kindness and dedication illustrated by every member of the OPG family, at Indiana’s historic Conner Prairie. With staff members lining the room, a string of awards and rapturous cheers capped off our Day of Greatness.

Selecting an OPG staff member deserving of an award is an easy task indeed. Narrowing that list down however, is a different story. With numerous staff members nominated for three categories of awards, the Day of Greatness finale kicked off by honoring those individuals who distinguished themselves through their community involvement.

From five nominations, three winners were awarded a trophy for the hard work and resolute passion applied throughout their community. Below, you’ll find each winner and a nominator’s quote exemplifying the difference they’ve made in countless lives across their respective careers.

PictureAlyssia Lopez, Direct Support Professional

“She has reinvigorated an art group that meets within the local community. The weekly group has immense potential for ongoing partnerships in the local community. She has expanded opportunities within the community for all the people she supports.”


PictureSara Jo Fliflet, Behavior Support Specialist

“Every day has a purpose of connection. Whether it’s taking someone to a concert, driving people to a bonfire, helping people find a job, volunteering, going out to eat, seeing a movie, developing friendships, having a picnic, etc.”


PictureNicole Gilberti-Martin, Music Therapist 

“She has helped to increase access to OPG music therapy to two new facilities! She works hard to build relationships with people in these facilities and show them the benefits of bringing our services to their space. This has helped OPG bring a desired service to people in their own communities.”

Congratulations once again to every deserved winner and nominee alike!

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A DSP Appreciation Week Story https://www.opgrowth.com/2017/09/13/a-dsp-appreciation-week-story/ Wed, 13 Sep 2017 23:58:38 +0000 http://dev.glasswebprojects.com/clients/opportunities-for-positive-growth/?p=336 Being a DSP is as rewarding as it is challenging. Whether working in a home setting, or out in the community, DSPs are the foundation of any company providing support to those with intellectual disabilities. That support continues to change the lives of countless individuals, within OPG and beyond. David Woodhouse has been receiving supports from […]

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Being a DSP is as rewarding as it is challenging. Whether working in a home setting, or out in the community, DSPs are the foundation of any company providing support to those with intellectual disabilities. That support continues to change the lives of countless individuals, within OPG and beyond.

David Woodhouse has been receiving supports from OPG since November 2007. David has struggled with anxiety and social skills since high school. Due to this, upon seeking the support of OPG, he was initially only comfortable taking part in one-on-one sessions.

Now 10 years later, David is thriving within a community habilitation group of four other adults. Receiving minimal individual support, he is also volunteering at The Well Coffeehouse in Fishers, IN. “I like being a cashier,” he told me. “I restock sugar and wash tables. The people are nice.”

David volunteering at The Well Coffeehouse

Mark Loggins, a DSP who works directly with David at the coffeehouse, has been able to see the progress David has made within the workforce first-hand. “He used to work at the YMCA folding towels. He also worked at Carmel library. It’s a pretty big deal.” When asked what DSP appreciation week means to him, Mark reflected on the role he has in David’s life. “It’s unique. It makes me thankful for the job I have.”

While David does receive one-on-one support at work and through Music Therapy, his heart resides within the community. At work, David greets people as they walk through the door, and has incrementally increased his responsibilities – something which he struggled with when volunteering at the YMCA. “I like OPG. It gets me out the house,” he says. “It helps me be a part of the community. I have made friends.”

David’s involvement in the community has been primarily facilitated through his pod group at OPG – a group of individuals who get together each week to take part in activities, both in and out of the office. Brian Shively, a Quality Enhancement Specialist who runs David’s pod group, has been working with him for almost five years.

“No matter the day or what I am feeling, it is always so refreshing to spend time with the people I support,” Brian tells me. “It helps to ground me and remind me of the bigger picture of humanity.”

In thinking about the true meaning of community habilitation, Brian recalls the way in which his childhood youth group formed the friendships he holds closest to this day. “I want that same experience for all of the people I support.” And how pod groups at OPG are the catalyst for both lifelong friendships and memories. “It puts people together who may never have known each other otherwise.”

Since being part of a pod group, Brian has made great strides in keeping David engaged, which has led to him becoming more accepting of both new activities and people alike. When I asked David about his favorite community outing he’s been involved with, “going to a baseball game” was an instant highlight. “I also enjoy going to the YMCA because it’s calm and collected,” he added.

Brian hopes that his work with David opens his eyes to the influence he has on the world. “He is consistently surrounded by friends each week. I hope he can see how the things he says and does impacts not only himself but others. David’s life is so much bigger than being involved with OPG.”

In the span of a single decade, David’s life has completely transformed. From struggling with anxiety and limiting himself to one-on-one interactions, to now cheering at seeing a home run with his friends at a baseball game. David is living life to the fullest.

David’s story, while extraordinary, is far from unique. Each and every day the incredible DSPs and QESs of Opportunities for Positive Growth, Inc. help shape better lives for a vast number of individuals, each leaving a mark of kindness that will make a difference that lasts a lifetime.

As Brian proudly states, “DSP appreciation week is important because it reminds us that no matter what else is going on (meetings, paperwork, etc.) the core of our work is to add some more goodness to people’s lives and to our world.”

To all DSPs and QESs, thank you for everything you do!

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