One of the most difficult aspects of having a developmental disability, aside from the disability itself, is loneliness. Individuals, especially those on the autism spectrum, often go their whole life without a best friend and rely almost exclusively on their family for socialization and understanding.
This unintended side effect of life with a developmental disability is part of the reason Ryan and Heidi Ballinger, owners of Wings of an Angel, a Marion-based developmental disabilities service provider, created the RISE adult day program. RISE, which stands for the goals it supports — recreation, independence, socialization, and education – serves 75+ adults with disabilities locally, providing group activities and education aimed at improving their quality of life.
The Ballingers have a heart for the people they serve. They parented a child, Blake, who had multiple disabilities and passed away at age seven in 2009. They founded Wings of an Angel to honor Blake and act as his legacy.
“We understand firsthand what is involved with having a child with special needs and the cost to give them the best quality of life,” said Heidi Ballinger. “Our hearts are full of passion and drive to help special needs individuals and their families here in the Marion community.”
There are many costs for persons with disabilities and Wings of an Angel strives to address as many needs as possible though their services which, in addition to RISE, includes transportation and funding for therapies such as equine and service dogs, and specialized medical equipment. They also help with summer camp and funeral and burial expenses for families with disabled children.
This is where charitable endowments like the Jane Ann Caton Dean Fund at Marion Community Foundation come in. The Dean Fund, created in 2021 in memory of its namesake, supports causes important to Jane during her lifetime – specifically assisting people and families in Marion County who have learning, intellectual, physical, and developmental disabilities and special needs.
“Jane was an educator for 35 years—27 of them with the Marion City Schools—and she had a particular caring attitude for people with disabilities,” said John Dean, creator of the fund and Jane’s husband. Because of this, John honored her memory with this field of interest endowment. This year, the endowment awarded $3,500 to Wings of an Angel for its RISE program.
“I wanted to create an endowment that could assist in a broad way with the many needs of people with disabilities, as Jane Ann would have wanted,” said John. In establishing the endowment, he created criteria for grants to support young people, ages 13 to 21 years, with needs in education, health, and quality of life. The Jane Ann Caton Dean Fund does this by supporting organizations which provide resources, services, environments, and support to improve equity and independence and the general welfare and recreation of persons with disabilities. It also awards grants to assist and encourage professionals who teach children with special needs.
Learn more: Jane Ann Caton Dean Fund
The field of interest of the Jane Ann Caton Dean Fund is a perfect match to Wings and their vision to ”ensure people with disabilities achieve life goals, improve their quality of life, and support every aspect of their wellbeing.”
“The grant will be used by four of our groups at RISE,” said Ryan Ballinger, explaining that the money helps to fund social activities that provide group members with opportunities to develop friendships and a much needed sense of belonging, such as trips to COSI, the zoo, museums, and other quality of life experiences and activities in the community. In addition to social skills, according to Ballinger, the trips help developmentally disabled adults learn and understand budgeting, money concepts, and collaboration.
“Field of Interest Funds offer donors, like John Dean, the opportunity to support a specific cause or area of interest that is near to their heart,” said Julie Prettyman, Vice President and Director of Programs. “For the past 25 years, Marion Community Foundation has existed for just this purpose – to match donors’ generosity with community needs – and to do so in a permanent and meaningful way.”
The Jane Ann Caton Dean Fund is one of 12 field of interest endowments at Marion Community Foundation, which this year generated nearly $54,000 in grants to 20 local nonprofit organizations and programs. In addition to the grant from the Jane Ann Caton Dean Fund, the 2023 Field of Interest Awards include:
2023 Field in Interest Grant Awards
Child Care Choices Fund | $1,181 to Emanuel Lutheran Preschool & Daycare
This fund awards grants to support a qualified childcare provider. Specifically, the grant funds are intended to improve programming and for staff development, such as curricula materials, playground equipment, and classroom materials with a focus on literacy, math, and science, and professional development of staff members. The 2023 award supports Emanuel Lutheran Preschool & Daycare.
Learn more: Child Care Choices Fund
Patricia Anne Chapman Animal Welfare Fund | $500 to Homeless to Home Animal Rescue & Cat Sanctuary
The Chapman Fund supports animal welfare in Marion County (Ohio). This award will assist Homeless to Home to spay and neuter stray cats and general care of animals in their shelter.
Patricia Anne Chapman Animal Welfare Fund | $500 to Marion Area Humane Society
The Chapman Fund supports animal welfare in Marion County (Ohio). This award will assist the local Humane Society with expenses to spay and neuter stray cats and dogs and with the general care of animals in their shelter.
Learn more: Patricia Anne Chapman Animal Welfare Fund
Marion Speech and Hearing Fund | $10,171 to Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities
Created by Marion Speech and Hearing Center, Inc. in 2018, this Field of Interest fund supports habilitative and rehabilitative services for individuals with speech, language, and hearing impairments, including hearing aids, evaluation, testing, diagnosis, therapy, counseling, and referral to additional appropriate therapy/treatment services in Marion County, Ohio. This year’s grant will assist MCBDD and their clients who need speech and hearing services.
Marion Speech and Hearing Fund | $5,000 to Marion General Hospital Foundation
Created by Marion Speech and Hearing Center, Inc. in 2018, this Field of Interest fund supports habilitative and rehabilitative services for individuals with speech, language, and hearing impairments, including hearing aids, evaluation, testing, diagnosis, therapy, counseling, and referral to additional appropriate therapy/treatment services in Marion County, Ohio. This year’s grant will assist patients at Marion General Hospital in need of speech and hearing services.
Learn more: Marion Speech and Hearing Fund
Francis & Thelma Wise Fund | $1,370 to Marion Family YMCA
The Wise Fund supports, among other health-related causes, programs to improve the lives of those with arthritis. This award supports the Marion Family YMCA’s arthritis exercise programs.
Francis & Thelma Wise Fund | $1,370 to Marion Family YMCA
The Wise Fund supports, among other health-related causes, programs to improve the lives of those with Parkinson’s Disease. This award supports the Marion Family YMCA’s Parkinson’s Disease program.
Francis & Thelma Wise Fund | $1,370 to Prevent Blindness Ohio Affiliate
The Wise Fund supports, among other health-related causes, programs to improve the lives of those with vision impairment and blindness. This award supports the Prevent Blindness Ohio Affiliate.
Learn more: Francis & Thelma Wise Fund
Dave & Anne Brown Family Fund | $500 to Marion Family YMCA
The Brown Fund is a donor advised fund that supports a number of causes; awards favor organizations and programs which address neurological diseases and disorders, agricultural programs for youth, and end of life care. The 2023 award supports the Marion Family YMCA’s Parkinson’s Disease program.
Learn more: Dave & Anne Brown Family Fund
James & Margaret Coulson Charitable Fund | $524 to Marion Family YMCA
The Coulson Fund is a donor advised fund used by the family to support a variety of causes important to James and Margaret. This year’s award supports the Marion Family YMCA’s Parkinson’s Disease program.
Learn more: James & Margaret Coulson Charitable Fund
Smith-Brown Family Fund | $2,151 to Marion Family YMCA
The Smith and Brown families use this donor advised fund to support their favorite causes, especially organizations and programs which address neurological diseases and disorders. This year, the grant will help support the Marion Family YMCA’s Parkinson’s Disease program.
Learn more: Smith-Brown Family Fund
Janis & Greg Swepston Family Fund | $481 to Marion Public Library
The Swepston Fund is a memorial fund supporting literature and elementary education, live theater, the performing arts, and animal welfare. This year’s award supports the Marion Public Library, where Janis worked for 30+ years.
Learn more: Janis & Greg Swepston Family Fund
Vera O. McDanel Senior Citizens Transportation Fund | $552 to Marion Senior Center
The McDanel Fund provides support and fund for programs that provide for the transportation needs of senior citizens residing in Marion County, Ohio, including medical and dental appointments, business appointments, shopping, and social visits, as well as wheelchair assistance. This award supports the Marion Senior Center.
Kathleen E. O’Shea Fund | $7,137 to the Palace Cultural Arts Association
The O’Shea Fund supports live theatre and dance – which Kathleen dearly loved – in Marion County, Ohio. In 2023, the award will support the Palace’s productions of “Next to Normal,” “Lend me a Tenor,” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
Kathleen E. O’Shea Fund | $5,000 to area high schools and middle schools
The O’Shea Fund supports live theatre and dance – which Kathleen dearly loved – in Marion County, Ohio. In 2023, awards will support musical productions at the five local schools that produce musical productions, including Elgin, Harding, Pleasant, Ridgedale, and River Valley.
Learn more: Kathleen E. O’Shea Fund
Marion Noon Lions Club Fund | $2,424 to Prevent Blindness Ohio Affiliate
The Lions Club service organization has a long history of supporting sight conservation, including helping the sight-impaired in Marion County; and funding local, regional, and national treatment, training, and research of sight conservation. This grant will support the work of Prevent Blindness Ohio Affiliate.
Learn more: Marion Noon Lions Club Fund
Virgil Jerome Nature Education Fund | $557 to River Valley Local Schools
This memorial fund honors Virgil Jerome and his love of the outdoors. Its awards are intended to engage people, primarily youth, with nature and the outdoors and focuses on education, training, learning, outdoor activities and events which build awareness and appreciation for the environment. This award will support River Valley Local Schools’ “Power of Place-Marion City/County Parks Project.” The Power of Place project connects students to their local environment via a STEM project for 11th and 12th grade science students to learn about and promote local parks.
Learn more: Virgil Jerome Nature Education Fund
Jerry Grubaugh Memorial Fund | $5,000 to CAF America
The Grubaugh Fund supports charities in the Dominican Republic, where Jerry lived and worked for many years. CAF America will provide the grant to Habitat for Humanity International Republica Dominicana. Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope. They build impact in the community by improving the living conditions of families and advocating for partnerships to increase housing access for low-income families. Habitat seeks to impact society as a whole and to inspire people to advocate for housing as a human right.
Learn more: Jerry Grubaugh Memorial Fund
Helen Cunningham Handicapped Fund | $4,704 to Center Street Community Health Center
The Cunningham Fund, created by Society for the Handicapped of Marion County to honor longtime advocate Helen Cunningham, supports Helen’s life-long mission of helping others who need it most by awarding grants to programs and organizations which assist persons with disabilities. This award will provide financial support for individual requests for health services at the Center Street Community Health Center.
Learn more: Helen Cunningham Handicapped Fund
In addition to field of interest funds, Marion Community Foundation offers donor advised, designated, unrestricted, scholarship, and agency endowments and opportunities to meet the needs and goals of donors in the Marion area. The Foundation’s offices are located at 504 S. State St. in Marion and office hours are weekdays 9a-5p. Staff may be reached by calling 740-387-9704.