Journeys thanks Mayor Ernest Burgess for helping out with Guess Who Contest
The staff and people served by local nonprofit Journeys in Community Living would like to thank Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess for being this year’s Mystery Guest in association with the 2015 Fall Social for people with intellectual disabilities.
It was Burgess who donned the garb of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle character Michelangelo in an effort to raise funds for the nonprofit. Members of the community were invited to guess on www.journeystn.org for a chance to win prizes, including an autographed photo of Country Music star Charlie Daniels.
“The mayor was a very good sport through the entire process, and we would like to thank him for giving back to the community, as he has done for many years now,” said Journeys Development Coordinator Mark Bell.
Journeys had around 100 people with intellectual disabilities attend the Fall Social, which was held this past Friday, Oct. 23 at Dance Murfreesboro. The space was donated by Becky and Steve Lanham of Dance Murfreesboro.
The event was sponsored by First Vision Bank and several local media outlets, including WGNS Radio, The Daily News Journal and the Murfreesboro Post, who helped get the word out about the contest ahead of the event. Al Gordon and Larry Ralston Photography Studio provided portrait services for attendees.
Those who would like to show their thanks for Burgess’ contribution to the event are encouraged to donate to Journeys either by sending a check to the Development Department, 1130 Haley Rd., Murfreesboro, TN or by going to Journeys donation page online. Those wishing to donate via phone may do so by calling Mark Bell at 615-295-3046.
Familiar face named Journeys' next Executive Director
George Cunningham becomes director after 30 years of service
POSTED: Oct. 2015
Journeys in Community Living is proud to announce George Cunningham as the successor to current Executive Director Betty McNeely, who is set to retire from Journeys after nearly 40 years of service on Nov. 1.
Cunningham has been in Journeys’ number two position as assistant director for the past 30 years.
His duties include overseeing its residential program, facility training and programming for the persons served and coordinating Journeys’ protection from harm system.
Cunningham completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Tennessee Martin, a master’s degree in clinical psychology at MTSU and a master of divinity degree from Vanderbilt University. Cunningham is also a pastor of Open Table Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
McNeely said the board decided on Cunningham after a series of interviews involving several very qualified candidates, as well as extensive advertising of the job through various newspapers and professional alliance outlets.
McNeely was not involved in these interviews but was happy to learn Cunningham had been chosen by Journeys’ board.
“Knowing that I will be leaving Journeys in the able hands of George Cunningham is definitely something I have a good feeling about,” she said. “George has always had a big heart for the people we serve here.”
Cunningham said he plans to keep running Journeys with the same caring and professional philosophy it has always operated under.
“I am very excited about this new opportunity,” he said. “Betty McNeely has done an amazing job at leading Journeys to become a successful, caring and person-centered agency. She has always put the clients and their families first and inspired our agency to support persons with disabilities in finding jobs, living in their own homes and being active members of the community.
“I hope to continue this mission into the future,” Cunningham added.
Janet Bowman, a Journeys board member involved in the final vote to extend the job offer, said Cunningham was selected because of his performance during the interview process and his extensive knowledge on Journeys and its programs.
“While there were quite a few impressive and deserving candidates, I know that we made the right decision by selecting George,” Bowman said. “He has a heart for this organization and it shows. The learning curve will also be significantly less steep with George.”
Journeys' annual Fall Social set for Oct. 23
Dance Murfreesboro donates space for third year in a row
POSTED: Sept. 29, 2015
It's almost fall and that means it's time for some fun again! Journeys in Community Living on Oct. 23 between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. will be holding its Fall Social for individuals with intellectual disabilities who are served by the agency in Rutherford and Cannon Counties.
The Fall Social is a prime example of one of several ways Journeys works to ensure that all of its program participants have a chance to live independent lives that include social and recreational opportunities.
As part of this year's festivities, Journeys will be hosting its "Second Annual Guess Who Contest." A well-known person (still to be selected) from our community will done a disguise costume to help raise money to assist Journeys in its mission to help the individuals it serves with choosing and realizing their own personal visions of how they want to live, work and socialize.
Our supporters and members of the general public are then invited in advance of the event to visit our EVENT PAGE HERE, where they can guess our mystery person's identity for $5 per guess. Winners will be entered to win a special grand prize (still to be announced).
We will then announce the winner at our annual event and reach out to them the following week with directions on how to claim the prize.
A special thank you is due this year to Becky and Steve Lanham of Dance Murfreesboro, who have donated their business space at 730 Middle Tennessee Boulevard, Suite No. 14, for the third year in a row for this event! Special thank yous are also owed to Al Gordon and Larry Ralston of Gordon-Ralston Photography studio, who will be providing portraits of all of the spooky ghosts and goblins who attend the event.
If not for generous donors like First Vision Bank in Murfreesboro, which donated $350 to sponsor this year's party, the opportunities of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities in our area would be much more limited.
Anyone with questions about this year's Fall Social or the Guess Who Contest may call Mark Bell, development coordinator, at 615-295-3046 on any day of the week between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. If there is no answer, please leave a message and Mark will get back to you as soon as possible.
Longtime Journeys Director Betty McNeely to retire Nov. 1
Leaving behind legacy of improving lives for those with disabilities
MURFREESBORO — The longtime director of a local nonprofit organization that supports people with intellectual disabilities will retire Nov. 1, leaving behind a legacy of expanding opportunities for the population she served for 38 years.
Betty McNeely, executive director of Journeys in Community Living, announced her impending retirement in a recent email to fellow employees and in a letter to the family members of people with intellectual disabilities currently served by the organization.
“I wanted you all to know how much I have enjoyed working with you over the years (some of you have been here from the beginning),” she wrote to family members, adding that she respects and admires the love and devotion they show to their loved ones. “I know this is why they are such amazing people and have brought so much joy to my life.”
McNeely started her career in the field of special education in the early 1970s, where she worked for Sumner County Schools identifying students that would benefit from special education services. She also spent three years as a comprehensive development classroom teacher. She obtained her masters of special education from George Peabody College at Vanderbilt in 1973. In 1979 she obtained a special certificate of competency in developmental disabilities program management from the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
She earned several education honors during her years as a student, including a special education traineeship at George Peabody from 1972 to 1973.
State Rep. Mike Sparks honored McNeely with a special proclamation from the state legislature in 2014 for transforming “the organization from a small activity center into a large multi-program agency supporting more than 100” people with intellectual disabilities.
McNeely was honored by former Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Commissioner James M. Henry in 2012 with a certificate of appreciation in recognition of her longtime service on the DIDD Advisory Council. It was there, wrote Henry, McNeely promoted “the best interests of Tennesseans affected by intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
A journey has to start somewhere
Her career at Journeys began in a rather unintentional manner when Beverly Carlin, former director of Journeys and a friend of McNeely, asked McNeely in the late 70s to join Journeys and to help out its then roughly 30 employees for one year.
The rest is “history,” as McNeely has said in the past.
She fell in love with the atmosphere and the adults with intellectual disabilities served by the organization and ended up staying. She was hired in 1978 as the organization’s full-time director after Carlin’s departure.
Journeys, which up until 2011 was called the Rutherford County Adult Activity Center, functioned primarily as a recreation and daycare service for families of people with intellectual disabilities in earlier years.
Virtually no one with an intellectual disability was in the workforce back when the organization opened its doors and even fewer lived in their own homes.
McNeely led Journeys’ staff as those things began to change over the years, but she is always quick to point out that neither she nor her staff were really leading the people with intellectual disabilities.
Instead, she explains, “they (the people with intellectual disabilities) were leading us.
“We didn’t even realize it at the time,” McNeely said, “but with every program we established, they were learning new skills and then utilizing those skills in ways which we had never dreamed. They led us where they wanted go, which was further into the community and into more integrated settings. They were adults and they wanted to live like adults.”
Though McNeely tends to shy away from taking credit for the successes of the organization’s population, those who have worked with her understand that without her leadership, much would not have been possible.
For example, not long after becoming director, McNeely led the organization as it launched a Vocational Program for the people it serves. The program continues today to support them in learning work skills and holding down competitive jobs in the community. McNeely also took over and transformed the operations of Rutherford Industries, the name given to Journeys’ production facility on Haley Road where individuals supported by the program completed contract work to earn money.
She was also at the helm as Journeys launched its Residential, Community Day and Healthcare Oversight Programs, all of which continue to aid the people served by the organization as they live independently.
The Residential Program is aimed at helping the people served by Journeys find and rent their own homes and apartments, providing staff support as needed.
“Our people live regular lives in the community as a result of this program,” McNeely explained.
The agency’s Community Day program remains focused on expanding recreational and training opportunities for the people being served by the agency, while also giving them volunteer experience with organizations like Meals on Wheels. This allows them to give back to the community and show everyone they are not just recipients of charity, but also assets to the community.
The Healthcare Oversight Program provides individuals with the support and tools they need to live healthier lives. That program is funded primarily by the United Way of Rutherford & Cannon Counties and allows Journeys to employ a staff of social workers and a registered nurse to coordinate the medical care of the people the organization works with.
A never-ending journey
McNeely has continued to help Journeys navigate a changing industry in very recent years.
Journeys and similar programs — which have for more than 20 years been operating under the umbrella of the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities — are now beginning to work more intensively with TennCare in anticipation of contracting with managed care organizations for service delivery. Opportunities will also become available for people with autism and other developmental disabilities in addition to people with intellectual disabilities.
Currently, Journeys is in the process of completing a transition plan that was crafted under the direction of McNeely and Journeys’ board of directors, which is aimed at pushing the entire organization and its programs towards being more community based.
The production center (Rutherford Industries) is being converted into a focused, time-limited training program for high demand employment areas. Changes will also include a more focused emphasis on learning more generalized vocational skills, such as how to dress for a job and how to participate in an interview.
Even more recently, McNeely led Journeys’ board members as they voted to expand services to include elderly people with any type of disability. That has effectively paved the way for further integration in Journeys’ programming.
In fact, all of the changes instituted under McNeely have been aimed at further expanding opportunities for the people served by the organization, as well as more fully integrating them into non-disabled society.
The impact of one woman’s journey
Perhaps McNeely’s greatest legacy, however, is the rapport she’s earned with people served by Journeys and their families. Families have trusted her and the organization daily with ensuring that their loved ones lead fulfilling and happy lives, many of whom have been a part of the program since its humble beginnings.
She’s also garnered the respect of her fellow co-workers and board members.
“For the past 31 years, Betty has been my supervisor, mentor, and friend,” said Frances Cook, Journeys’ social services director. “She has played a major role in my life and in the lives of those with intellectual disabilities. Her imprint on the organization will be everlasting.”
Joyce Ealy, current chair of Journeys’ board of directors and a former county commissioner and school teacher, said McNeely’s steadfast leadership of Journeys for so many years has been admirable. Ealy said the board knows it will be difficult to find someone to fill her shoes.
Ealy had the job of coordinating with McNeely on an exit strategy and transition plan, as well as working with Journeys’ human resources department on advertising for McNeely’s replacement.
“There are not many people left today like Betty McNeely,” Ealy said of McNeely recently. “Betty has exhibited a strong commitment to supporting people with intellectual disabilities. Her ability to direct the organization through so many changes in this field over the years is truly impressive, especially when you consider what things were like for most people with intellectual disabilities when she entered the field so many years ago.
“Myself and the rest of the board would like to congratulate Betty on her retirement,” Ealy added. “We hope she knows how valuable she has been to the lives of so many individuals and families and how dearly she will be missed!”
44 - 99
Ramsey takes home this year's 'Individual Achievement Award'
POSTED: June 13, 2015
MURFREESBORO — Making significant contributions towards one's own independence. Working hard and smart at multiple jobs. Volunteering. Being a good team member. Always upbeat.
Those are just a few of the qualities that landed James Ramsey, a person supported by Journeys in Community Living, this year's Individual Achievement Award at our 2015 Annual Celebration & Silent Auction at the DoubleTree Hotel on Friday.
Ramsey was one of five people awarded at this year's event, aimed at both honoring those who have contributed to our organization's success over the past year and years past, as well as raising funds the organization can use to support individuals like Ramsey.
Executive Director Betty McNeely said Ramsey was selected by an internal panel at Journeys to receive this year's award due to strides he has made in recent years towards becoming independent.
"Anyone who has ever had the opportunity to meet James knows right away that this is a man with a kind heart, the type of person who would do anything to help someone else," McNeely said. "In a world where this personality type seems to be on the decline, James is a refreshing breath of air."
Ramsey is participating in a full range of services at Journeys, including both working in the production center at our Haley Road facility and working at a regular job in the community.
Others recognized at the Annual Celebration included:
— Rachel Burch, Staff Achievement Award
— Faye Holmes, Staff Achievement Award
— Piete Ferguson (RN-BC), Healthcare Leadership Award
— Julie Ferrara (DIDD), Robert Rose Community Service Award
Couldn't make it out to this year's event? No problem! Take a look at the following photos snapped by Journeys sponsor Al Gordon-Larry Ralston Photography at this year's event:
Spring 2015 Edition of Journeys in Review now available
POSTED: May 18, 2015
Check out the latest edition of Journeys in Review, Journeys in Community Living's quarterly newsletter. Featured in our spring edition are details about our upcoming Annual Celebration & Silent Auction, along with a question and answer session with Journeys' new financial director, Jim Robert.
You'll also find an update from Journeys Executive Director Betty McNeely on the transition towards community-based services from facility-based. She explains some exciting things happening now with Journeys vocational program setup.
The last few months also have unfortunately been full of heartache here at Journeys, as three of our individuals have passed away. All three of these individuals are memorialized in both the print and digital editions of the newsletter this month.
On page 3 we say thank you to several groups and individuals who recently helped make Journeys and its residential program a better place for the individuals we serve. Several groups visited homes in Journeys' programs during the United Way's 2015 Days of Action!
As always, page 4 is loaded with staff anniversaries. So what are you waiting for? Click here now to start reading the lastest newsletter!
Grammy-winner confirmed for Journeys 2015 Annual Celebration
POSTED: June 1, 2015
Grammy-Winning Country artist Linda Davis, who over the years has performed with the likes of Reba McEntire and opened for mega-stars like Garth Brooks, will perform at our annual event this week as she supports our fundraising efforts for the more than 120 people with intellectual disabilities we serve daily.
Davis has confirmed she will be on stage at our 2015 Annual Celebration & Silent Auction fundraiser, which is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Thursday at The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel on Old Fort Parkway.
Tickets are still on sell and we plan to continue sales up until the event starts! Get yours now at our Haley Road facility, by phone or by following this link. All tickets include access to the silent auction, awards show, appetizer buffets and of course Davis' performance. Tickets may be bought at main facility between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday thru Thursday. On Thursday, depending on availability, tickets will be made available at the sign-in table, while space is available.
Davis said she signed on to help raise awareness of our mission to support people with intellectual disabilities as they travel on their own paths towards independence and control in their lives. All of people helped by Journeys reside in either Rutherford or Cannon Counties.
“When I first learned about [Journeys], my thought was, ‘It’s so important for people with intellectual disabilities to have a group of loving people supporting them as they find their own place in life,’” Davis said. “The thought of them using that support to take control of their lives in meaningful ways made me so happy.”
Journeys long-time Executive Director Betty McNeely said she is humbled by Linda’s commitment to Journeys annual event, which is entering its fourth year.
“To have someone of Ms. Davis’ talent and celebrity put her name and face on our cause to me really shows the importance of the work that is being done by our organization on a daily basis,” McNeely said. “We are immensely grateful, not only for what she is doing for us as an organization, but also for the people with intellectual disabilities whom we serve. It just shows how human Ms. Davis is, how much she cares about people and the kind of person she truly is at heart. I can’t thank her enough.”
Those who have already purchased tickets or a table for the event don’t need to take any further action, according to Journeys in Community Living Development Coordinator Mark Bell. He does urge those who have purchased tables, but haven't yet turned in their guest lists to call him as soon as possible at 615-295-3046.
For those who haven’t bought tickets, we are urging you do so quickly now, as Linda's presence will effect attendance.
“We do anticipate Linda’s presence will have an effect on attendance, so now it’s even more vitally important for those people who have been kicking around coming in their head to take some action and purchase the tickets to RSVP," said Mark Bell, development coordinator for Journeys. “We did come very close to selling out in 2014 when MTSU Womens Basketball Coach Kermit Davis presented for us.”
Just as it was in all previous years, all proceeds of the event will be used to support people with intellectual disabilities served by Journeys in Rutherford and Cannon Counties.
Most locals and fans of the country artist Davis will recognize her as the talent who paired with Reba McEntire to sing the duet entitled, “Does He Love You?” The song went on to become a number one hit and earned both artists several awards, including a Grammy for Best Country Vocal Collaboration.
Davis, whose first record deal was with CBS/Epic Records, has been labeled in the past a ‘song stylist,’ someone who has a unique ability to interpret a song and turn it into her own.
Kenny Rogers, a longtime friend to Davis, has proclaimed about Linda: “In this business, there are people who can sing and there are singers. Linda Davis is absolutely one of the best singers in the business. I defy you to find anyone whose ever worked with her or heard her sing to disagree with that statement.”
Those who want to learn more about Davis can do so by visiting her Web site at www.lindadavis.com.
Journeys in Community Living was established in 1975, originally under the moniker of the Rutherford County Adult Activity Center, to support people with intellectual disabilities with choosing and realizing their own personal visions of where and how they want to live, work and socialize.
DAVIS, LINDA. PHOTO SUBMITTED.
2015 Annual Celebration and Silent Auction set for June 11
POSTED: March 20, 2015 UPDATED: May 18, 2015
MURFREESBORO — Tables and tickets for our 2015 Annual Celebration and Silent Auction are continuing to sell quickly! If you haven't already bought your ticket or a table for this year's event then do so now, as time and space is running out!
This year's celebration will once again benefit the more than 120 individuals served by Journeys in Community Living on a daily basis.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel on Old Fort Parkway will once again serve as the location of the silent auction and awards show, which is aimed at honoring those who have played a role in helping individuals with intellectual disabilities achieve their dreams of a normal life!
The event is scheduled to be held 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel and a full-service all-you-can-eat appetizer buffet will be available, along with free wine!
One person served by Journeys will also receive an award for the strides he or she has made over the past year towards independence. Several other honorees will also be awarded at this year's event.
An internal panel at Journeys is still working to determine who this year's award winners will be, but if you have a suggestion, email email@example.com.
Journeys in Community Living Development Coordinator Mark Bell said he is expecting this year's event to build even more on last year's successes.
"This event is entering it's fourth year and has really picked up traction over the past couple of years, becoming established as one of the area's premier silent auction fundraisers," he said. "I really expect us to come very close to having a sell-out event this year, and I know that the crew we have out there hunting down auction items is the absolute best in the area. They will bring back some real treasures for people to bid on this year."
Bell said he and his staff of volunteer fundraisers learned a lot last year about what makes an event successful. He and the staff are also taking advice from those who attended last year about ways to make things better.
"We are definitely going to streamline things," he said. "Faster auction checkout. Access to your seats as soon as you arrive. A more condensed awards program. These are all things we've heard about from others last year and we are addressing them head-on, as we want our guests to be as comfortable as possible."
Tickets and tables for this year's event can be purchased by visiting THE EVENTS SECTION of our Web site; by visiting Journeys in person at 1130 Haley Rd., Murfreesboro, TN 37129 Mon. - Fri. between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to pay with cash or check; or by mailing a check, along with a list of guest names to Attn: Mark Bell/Development, 1130 Haley Rd., Murfreesboro, TN 37129. Cost of tickets can be found by clicking here.**
**Those paying in person and by mail can avoid convenience fees associated with purchasing tickets online this year through Eventbrite. Eventbrite receives those convenience fees, not Journeys.
Items featured in 2014 Annual Celebration & Silent Auction
Good News: No cuts for Journeys in Gov's proposed budget
Posted: Feb. 9, 2015
MURFREESBORO — We've got great news for Journeys and our supporters! The governor took our petition to heart and recommended in his State of the State address today (Feb. 9) that there be no across-the-board cuts to programs like Journeys across Tennessee.
In addition to rescinding the waiver rate cuts, Gov. Bill Haslam also recommended there be no ICF rate cuts. Family Support is also fully funded in the administration’s budget that goes into effect July 1 in large part due to a successful media campaign waged by TNCO and its agencies.
Our supporters may recall that in December, DIDD proposed in its budget presentation to the Governor a 2.75% waiver rate cut that would have affected programs like Journeys, along with completely discontinuing the Family Support program and special needs assessments. TennCare proposed to the Governor a 4% cut for ICF providers.
The TNCO Board of Directors decided in early January to engage the DVL Seigenthaler public relations firm to help in efforts to impact the Governor’s final decisions about funding programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
With the leadership of TNCO’s Governmental Affairs and Public Relations Committee chairs, Tonya Copeland, Walter Rogers and Anthony Hicks, along with TNCO’s lobbyists Estie Harris and Meagan Frazier, working with DVL Seigenthaler, TNCO’s successful media campaign hit its mark resulting in the perfect outcome of continued funding.
Journeys in Community Living would like to thank all of the local community members in Rutherford and Cannon Counties who took the time to sign the Change.org petition over the past several weeks. The goal of 5,000 signatures was met and then exceeded by more than 2,000.
The organization also extends its thanks to Gov. Haslam for recognizing the true level of need that exists among those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and those who care for them.
Keep in mind that the budget is still a proposal at this point and there is still work to be done, including keeping our local legislators informed about the needs of those with intellectual disabilities and those who care for them.
You can find your local legislator and get contact information HERE. Contact him or her today to voice your support for the governor's budget lines on waiver programs like Journeys and the full range of DIDD and TennCare services he recommended for people with disabilities.
Journeys in Community Living
1130 Haley Rd., Murfreesboro, Tenn. 37129
Business Line:(615)890-4389 | Fax: (615)849-8727
Hours: Mon. - Fri. 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. | Join our email list.