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ABC 17 News This Week with Woodhaven

Woodhaven is an organization that helps people with disabilities live as independently as possible, and it’s on the grow.

Woodhaven workers, residents and community members celebrated the groundbreaking of two new buildings on Friday. Thanks to community support, the group is building a health services and training center at its current headquarters in Columbia. It’s also building a new home to let the people it serves stay at Woodhaven instead of a nursing home.

Woodhaven’s CEO, Mark Palmer visited with us for “This Week.” He starts our conversation by talking about the group’s mission and what led up to Friday’s groundbreaking.

This is a transcript of our conversation:

MARK PALMER: Today is a great day we’ve been looking forward to for about the last four years. From concept to this time, so we are very excited of Woodhaven.

JOEY PARKER: The groundbreaking represents so much more than just your construction. It’s a combination of a capital campaign that was quite impressive.

MARK PALMER: Right, yes, thank you, Joey. Today’s groundbreaking and, ribbon cutting is really about an idea that was formed about four years ago. The board of directors and staff were looking at a way to celebrate our 50th anniversary which was in 2014, which you were a part of and we thank you for that. We decided we want to celebrate the last 50 years but we want to lay the foundation for the next 50 years. So, we had a number of board meetings and focus groups and really kind of plan strategically what does this organization want to do in the next generation, so to speak. And we looked at where our needs were and our needs within the organization were. We needed to have accessible housing for individuals so they can age in place, so they wouldn’t have to go from home to home to home; they could stay in one home.

JOEY PARKER: And certainly not an Institution.

MARK PALMER: And not an institution, in the community base. Another one of the areas that we needed help with: our health services department. The individuals Woodhaven are serving are growing older. New folks that are coming into this service have more significant disabilities and we are providing more and more health services. And of course we have to have a well-trained staff. Woodhaven has about 300 employees, so there is a continuous training. And, so what we did is we came up with an idea of building two properties. One, being a six unit aging-in-place apartments. The other being a health services-in-training department which we are having the ribbon cutting for today, so that’s really exciting. It was a 1.9 million dollar Capital Campaign…very, very successful. We have reached our goal so we are a little bit over that. But we will continue to raise a little bit of money because there is always needs and contingencies and those sorts of things.

JOEY PARKER: That money came from a wide range of sources.

MARK PALMER: We had over 300 folks donate to the organization for that project. We had gifts from businesses, individuals, foundations, churches, family members, board members, staff. And I think the most important thing is we even receive gifts from individuals that we serve, so they really felt strongly about the project as well.

JOEY PARKER: And speaking of board members, with full disclosure, I am a member of the board. And proud to be a member.

MARK PALMER: Well, thank you, and we are proud to have you.

JOEY PARKER: Thank you. Let me ask you, what would the community be without Woodhaven? I don’t want to think about it, but what would it be like.

MARK PALMER: That’s a tough question. I mean I think about that a lot. (Woodhaven has) been a leader in the field for providing services for people with disabilities for the last 50 years. The folks we serve are the most in need. If Woodhaven were not here, these individuals would be living in probably institutional type of settings. They wouldn’t be part of the community. They wouldn’t be in the community. We work and strive for the highest level of independence as possible, and I think we set the bar for, not only Woodhaven but, other organizations as well. I can’t imagine Woodhaven not being a part of Columbia.

JOEY PARKER: Most of the community, if not all of the community would agree with that.

MARK PALMER: Thank you.

JOEY PARKER: Mark Palmer, thank you for joining us.

MARK PALMER: Thank you Joey.

JOEY PARKER: Good luck.

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