1st Choice Weekly News Article: May 15th, 2020

Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID-19) cont.

Robin Holliman-Smith, Author





1st Choice Family Services’ primary concern is the safety and well-being of its clients, staff, and community. Accordingly, our weekly articles provide readers with the latest developments about the Coronavirus outbreak. In concurrence, Governor Mike DeWine stated that the “Stay Safe Ohio” order” replaced the “Stay at Home” order which expired April 29, 2020 at 11:59 pm.

However, the “Stay Safe Ohio” order doubled down on social distancing and the use of personal protective equipment. As such, Ohioans will continue to employ preventative measures. Also, residents are encouraged to seek medical attention immediately if warning signs of COVID-19 exist. Early warning signs of exposure to the coronavirus are like the flu. The list includes, but not limited to:


  • Body and headaches
  • Chills, or repeated shaking
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea or vomiting, and
  • Runny nose

During these unprecedented times, 1st Choice Family Services’ goal is to contribute to organizations who are committed to connecting people to available food, personal protection equipment, and household supplies. In response to this COVID-19 crisis, our agency stands in unity. As we are committed to charitable standards, and our mission statement which is “to help others overcome life challenges.”





1st Choice Family Services overall objective is to strengthen workforce agility, competency, and performance to provide our clients with exceptional supportive services.



Digital Campus


In our work environment employees continue to express their interests in learning new skills to

apply to pre-existing skills. 1st Choice Family Services’ has implemented a digital campus to ensure team efficiency and productivity amid COVID-19. Our credible hosts provide staff with the latest economic and technological developments to improve client interactions and learning experiences.

The digital campus is comprised of a variety of course offerings (e.g., Therapeutic Art Program, Educational Forums, Athletic Club, etc.). For additional information, refer to the end of the article. Courses are hosted by credible facilitators in the Virtual Office via Zoom software.



Staff and Locations


1st Choice Family Services employs dedicated individuals with expertise in the following categories:

  • Office Administration
  • Service Managers
  • Field Trainers
  • Quality Assurance Managers, and
  • Leadership Team

1st Choice Family Services is committed to the safety of Ohioans with Development Disabilities in multiple counties throughout the state and Trinidadians in the Caribbean islands. VISION BOARD: Take over all 88 counties in Ohio by January 2022.



5-Year Career Milestones:


Employee Steven Franklin Michael Slate Christopher Nelson
Credentials EDS, ECS EDS EDS, ECS

EDS = Elite Direct Support

ECS = Expert in Clinical Documentation and Client Services


1st Choice Family Services is proud to have dedicated high-performing professionals as team members. We offer our “congratulations” on this 5-year career milestone. Best wishes and success for many years to come!



May is Mental Health Month


In the U.S., the month of May places an emphasis on mental health. More specifically, May 4th is recognized as mental illness awareness day. Since 1949, Americans have led this observance and have reaching millions of persons through local events, the media, and screenings.

In Ohio, Cleveland Mental Health Hotline sees uptick in calls due to COVID-19. Director Rick Oliver said, “in the past two weeks, there has been a noticeable increase.” One in five people will experience a mental health condition.

We can all contribute our support and make a difference. Refer to the helpful tips below:

  • Practice mental wellness – Focus on your own self-care,
  • Educate yourself – Attend Mental Health Courses,Read Articles & Books,
  • Start a conversation with others in need – “how are you doing?” Be a good listener
  • Share the Disaster Distress Helpline  (800) 985-5990

May 2020 Health Observances – The power of “human connection” is one of the greatest tools our nation has in the fight against health conditions. That is why awareness months are so significant. Health observances rally people together to spread awareness and show support.



Focus of this Article: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)


Stress and Coping – Need Help? 

Contact the Disaster Distress Helpline: Call 1-800-985-5990

Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-799-7233

TTY (Teletypewriter) for National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-787-3224


Stress During an Outbreak Can Cause:

  • Apprehension and fear about your health and the health of family and friends
  • Changes in eating and/or sleep patterns
  • Deterioration of chronic health problems
  • Difficulty concentrating or sleeping at the night


Things you can do to support yourself

  • Take breaks from reading, listening, or watching news stories and social media. Hearing about COVID-19 can be distressing.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat nutritious meals, exercise regularlyget plenty of sleep, meditate, take deep breaths, and avoid alcoholdrugs, and tobacco.
  • Make time to unwind. Do other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with people to discuss your concerns.


Contact your health care practitioner if stress prohibits your daily activities for several consecutive days.



Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month


In the U.S., the month of May places an awareness on asthma and allergy. May 5th is recognized as asthma and allergy day. Since 1984, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) declared May to be “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.” May is a peak season for individuals with asthma and allergies, thus a perfect time to educate family, friends, co-workers, and others about the events and dates listed below:

May 1-31: Asthma and allergic diseases impact over 60 million people in the U.S. This year, AAFA and the Medic-Alert Foundation have teamed up to raise awareness about asthma and anaphylaxis. The goal of this partnership is to help people manage their conditions and prevent life-threatening medical emergencies.

May 4Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) Awareness Day. On this day, organizations from across the U.S. work together with a common focus. FTES is a food allergy of the gastrointestinal system for which there is little awareness and no cure.

May 4-8Air Quality Awareness Week – People are educated on how air pollution and indoor air quality can impact an individual’s asthma health. Indoor air quality is especially important during the “Stay-Safe-Ohio” order due to the novel coronavirus.

May 10-16Food Allergy Awareness Week (FAAW) is an initiative created by Food Allergy  Research and Education (FARE). More than 26 million adults and nearly 6 million children in the U.S. have food allergies. The aim of this week is to raise awareness of different food allergies and improve public understanding of what can sometimes be a life-threatening condition.



1st Choice Family Services “Photo of the Week”


Ms. Brandi Cotton, Service Manager with our client on an enjoyable and adventurous outing.

“Fresh air and sunlight can work wonders for individual’s mind and the body.”



Findlay Staff Visit Homeless Shelter


Due to the COVID-19, the demand for food has increased. As a result, 1st Choice Family Services have joined with community partners to share in the fight against hunger.



Strategic Agenda


1st Choice Family Services operates from a well-defined strategic agenda. The agenda assists in prioritizing short-term initiatives that support our long-term objective. It gives staff comprehensible direction and reduces errors and the uncertainty that comes with change.

Regardless of where people reside, it is a recognizable fact that our daily routines have been interrupted by COVID-19. From Governor DeWine’s “Stay at Home” order to “Stay Safe Ohio” order, staff are still working remotely in our Virtual Office.

The agency’s digital outreach efforts have been accelerated, and the Management Team plans to maximize our competitiveness. We are reaching out to the right individuals at the right time to share our brand’s story. As well, the expectation is to incorporate those individuals into our brand instead of viewing them as an extension of our brand.

In Figure 1 below, the four stages of digital maturity contribute to the overall strategy of reaching our vision, which is to have presence in 88 Ohio counties. 1st Choice Family Services employs competent staff that can successfully manage multiple projects through digital outreach.




The State of Ohio Comparison Charts


Ohio is a state in the East North Central region of the Midwestern United States. Of the fifty states, it is the 34th largest by area, the seventh most populous, and the tenth most densely

populated. The state’s capital and largest city is Columbus.

GovernorMike DeWine

Attorney GeneralDave Yost

Unemployment rate: 5.5% (March 2020)

Population: 11.69 million (2019)

Minimum wage: 8.55 USD per hour (Jan 1, 2019)


Figure 1. Retrieved here


1st Choice Family Services is committed to the safety of Ohioans with Development Disabilities and provide care services to clients in Ashland (Ashland County 15 reported cases), Columbus (Franklin County 4,113 reported cases), and Findlay (Hancock County 40 reported cases), and Trinidadian (Caribbean Island 342 reported cases, refer to Situation in Trinidad and Tobago).


Figure 2. Retrieved here



Situation in Ohio and Trinidad and Tobago


Figure 3. Retrieved here


1st Choice Family Services

Digital Campus

Course Offerings:


Art Classes

Host: Mr. Sidney Wilson – Master Artist and Director of Therapeutic Program

  • Staff and clients join in to utilize their imaginations and develop skills to create beautiful canvas paintings. For example, art classes help to promote an optimistic attitude, nurtures emotional growth, and strengthens memory.


Athletic Club

Host: Mr. Micaiah Wilson – Professional International Trainer from Trinidad –

Two memberships: International Sports Science Association (ISSA) and International Strength Training Association (ISTA)

  • Staff and clients are involved in a variety of activities, such as: Cardio, Jogging, Strength and Conditioning Exercises, Meditation Techniques, and Yoga Training. Established Health and Fitness Goals: Athletic purposes, Sports-driven, and Weight loss-based.


COVID-19 Forum

Host: Dr. Robin Holliman-Smith -Specialization: Organization Leadership

  • All-Staff are encouraged to participate in this open environment. The forum is all-inclusive, and it provides a platform for interactive dialogue. We invite Guest Speakers to share their knowledge and areas of expertise. As well, our team of professionals are energetic and current on breaking news and top stories. Team members share their experiences, opinions, on-line news articles, and information from other media outlets.
  • Currently, our forum discussions are focused on COVID-19 and its impact on “Global Healthand the Global Economic Crisis.” An on-going comparative analysis is shared, and is comprised of Ohio, U.S., and countries around the Globe. For our Trinidad Office, we review Media Releases relevant to COVID-19. Regarding protective measures, 1st Choice Family Services follows guidelines enforced by Ohio Department of Health, Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, and the World Health Organization.


Digital Lounge

Host: Staff Rotation Cycle

  • Staff and clients are given an opportunity to hangout and enjoy lunch in the digital lounge together as one community. The word “community” is derived from the Latin word “communis” and it means common. Within this relaxing community, common interests are shared, cultural dynamics are captured, personal concerns are tabled, goals become reality, and “staff to staff” and “staff to client” relationships are strengthened.


Game Room

Host: Staff Rotation Cycle

  • Staff and clients are given an opportunity to participate in many of the latest games (e.g., Charades, Bingo, and Hangman). The game room provides time and space for individuals to increase their mental agility, reduce fatigue, and release stress and anxiety.


Music Center

Co-Hosts: Ms. Brandi Cotton and Mr. Steve Franklin – Professional Disc Jockeys

  • Staff and clients can express an array of feelings based on their emotions which includes being happy, inspired, or contemplative. Whatever the feeling, music has a positive impact on an individual’s mood. Also, individuals are given an opportunity to take part in karaoke or sing-along to display their vocal talents. Dancing to the music helps to boosts staff and clients’ level of alertness, and releases endorphins that burn off tension.


TikTok Videos

Host: Service Managers

  • Staff and clients learn how to create personalize videos that capture life’s most precious moments. TikTok enables participants to share their passions and innovative expressions in designing their video productions. This activity includes a weekly entertaining TikTok dance challenge and prizes are awarded.




  • 1st Choice Family Services will continue to monitor the latest news on the COVID-19. Our staff will receive daily updates and participate in bi-weekly COVID-19 forums.
  • 1st Choice Family Services follows preventive measures and guidelines for combating COVID-19 in line with Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and Ohio Department of Health (ODH).
  • 1st Choice Family Services would like to extend their deep gratitude to everyone who is working to ensure our clients, staff, families, and neighborhoods stay healthy and safe for the duration of this pandemic.
  • 1st Choice Family Services is extremely appreciative to other Direct Care Agencies for their dedication to providing quality and timely services that are client and family centered, culturally responsive, and sensitive to the needs, feelings, and opinions of the clients we all enjoy serving.