1st Choice Weekly News Article: June 26th, 2020

1st Choice Weekly Article 15

Robin Holliman-Smith, Author




1st Choice Family Services’ staff supports individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. During daily interactions, our Direct Care Aides (DCAs) have come to know and understand what their clients are trying to communicate. The vast majority of the time, our DCAs are able to read their clients’ nonverbal communication cues. To explain, facial expressions for joy, grief, surprise, disgust, anger, and fear are the same across cultural lines.

According to Wood (2012), nonverbal cues consist of “all communication between persons that are void of verbal interpretation and includes body movements and orientation, nuances of the voice, facial expressions, aspects of dress, and selection and movement of objects that converse.” Our clients like anyone else can express countless emotions without saying a word in spite of a speech impairments, such as articulation, fluency, or voice disorders.


Mission Statement

Our mission is to help people with developmental disabilities overcome life challenges through advocation, self development, informed decision making, and total community integration.


Vision Statement


“Our vision is to improve the quality life for our existing and future clients”

Guiding Principles

  • Person-Centered Approach: To help clients make choices to direct their own lives and encourage them to pursue their ambitions and goals.
  • Community Participation: To recognize the importance of community involvement and support our clients in making community contributions.
  • Leadership: 1st Choice Family Services endeavors to fulfill its mission statement by demonstrating integrity via ethical standards, trust-based relationships, and related community partnerships.

Vision to Reality

To take over all 88 counties in Ohio by January 2025. 1st Choice Family Services is utilizing a “step-by-step” planning process to turn our vision into desired results.

Factors that impact our clients’ quality of life:

  • Enough sleep and/or rest
  • Regular exercise and/or movement
  • Healthy self-esteem
  • Optimistic outlook, and
  • Sense of belonging and/or purpose

1st Choice Family Services’ Direct Care Aides (DCAs) assists clients in reaching a more contented state of “HAPPY and HEALTHY.”

1st Choice Family Services’ DCAs “boost their clients’ sense of belonging” by integrating the following:

  • Encouraging clients to make an effort to engage with others
  • Leading clients by example in teaching and keeping an open mind. and
  • Instructing clients to focus on similarities rather than differences

Researchers from various disciplines have studied individuals and the importance of having a sense of belonging along with other factors relative to a person’s well-being (CDC, 2018).

1st Choice Family Services supports the Centers for Disease Prevention and Controls (CDC) description of “well-being.” CDC describes well-being as “the presence of positive emotions and moods (e.g., contentment and happiness).”  However, there is no consensus around one specific definition of this hyphenated term.



Responsible Restart Ohio – Ohio Department of Health


Responsible Restart Ohio is about safeguarding the health of employees, consumers, and their families; strengthening community efforts to control the spread of COVID-19; along with taking the lead in correctly getting Ohioans safely back to work.

Contact your healthcare provider for advice if you think you have been exposed to COVID‑19 or call 1-833-427-5634 (Ohio Department of Health).



Ohio Re-Opened Wedding Venues on June 1st.


When the coronavirus was confirmed in the U.S. and Ohio, it was not long before wedding venues across the Buckeye State were forced to close and postpone large events under the orders of Gov. Mike DeWine.

Banquet and catering halls were given the Governor’s green light to reopen June 1st for wedding receptions.

Retrieved from here.



U.S. News: Summer Vacations Has Increased Out-of-Sate Travel


Americans are beginning to travel again as the summer vacation season is underway after coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders were lifted across the country.

Although travel is still low compared to normal levels, hotel bookings have increased steadily over the last several weeks, air travel is on the rise and car trips are up. There are signs that the travel and hospitality industry, which came to a near-standstill amid coronavirus restrictions and anxieties over the spread of the virus, are heading towards a recovery.

Retrieved here.



Forecast for COVID-19: Summer 2020


To assists our readers with the loud media noise, the 1st Choice Weekly highlights COVID-19 reported cases in the state of Ohio and Trinidad in the Caribbean Island. Our articles focus on key health topics that align with our agency’s top priorities to improve clients’ well-being.

Dr. Nicholas Christakis, Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University, stated, “Summer weather may bring slight relief from the COVID-19 pandemic” Dr. Christakis explained “While early studies from China predicted that weather may not play much of a role in the progression of the pandemic, more recent studies suggest a drop of cases and deaths during the summer” (Strazewski, 2020).

Abby Acone (2020) reports “Vitamin D is good for our immune systems, so hopefully that will just give us all a boost to our overall health.”



Practical Tips for COVID-19: Summer 2020


  • Have several face coverings
  • Keep extra face coverings/towels in a cooler or soak in water
  • Use a spray bottle of cool water to cool exposed skin
  • Drink water to stay hydrated
  • Avoid direct sunlight
  • Wear a cooling vest
  • Take a fan to your work location
  • Take frequent breaks & designate a shaded rest area


NOTE: COVID-19 TIPS from the Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

Retrieved here.



1st Choice Family Services’ Charitable Campaigns


In response to the COVID-19 crisis, 1st Choice Family Services is involved in voluntary selfless initiatives. We partner with non-profit organizations that are committed to connecting people to available food, personal protection equipment (PPE), and household supplies. Our agency honors its commitments to charitable standards and to its mission statement, which in part 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.

Client Advocacy

  • Protection of Rights
  • Improve Direct Care Services
  • Eliminate Discriminatory Bias
  • Ensure Quality and Tailored Services
  • Remove Barriers that Prevent Community Life



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.



Welcome to 1st Choice Family Services!

It is our pleasure to welcome the following new employees to our growing team of professionals:

Florence Achaleke

Erica Bradford

Damarye Ford


We hope that your work experience at 1st Choice Family Services will be challenging, enjoyable, and rewarding!



June 2020 National Observances: “JUNETEENTH DAY – JUNE 19”


What is Juneteenth? | by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.


THE HISTORY: Originating in Texas, Juneteenth is now celebrated annually on the 19th of June throughout the United States, with varying official recognition. More specifically, it commemorates Union Army General Gordon Granger for announcing federal orders in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, which proclaimed that all slaves in Texas were free.

The federal orders read “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”

The freed men were advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They were informed that they would not be allowed to collect at military posts, and they would not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

— General Orders, Number 3; Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865

Retrieved here.


Juneteenth Celebrations


Juneteenth celebrations consist of parades, rodeos, races, Miss Juneteenth contests, and cook-outs and barbecues are typical for an outdoor celebration.

School essays and poster contests are excellent ways to get the youth involved. Local businesses and city government come onboard as sponsors which keeps costs low (or free) for attendees to the events.


Juneteenth | TEXAS: Official State Paid Holiday


While Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, it was not until 1980 that it was made an official state paid holiday in Texas, through the efforts of Texas House of Representatives.



June 2020 National Observances: “FATHER’S DAY”


Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June. Father’s Day honors the role fathers play in the family structure and society. The day recognizes not just fathers, but the father figures in our lives. These are the men we look up to who set solid examples for us and guide us throughout our lives.

Many families dedicate the day to their fathers and grandfathers. Whether they are first-time fathers just learning to change a diaper, or experienced fathers offering sage advice, the day celebrates everything a father is. Fathers from family to family play a variety of roles. They may be an advisor, caregiver, or provider. Some fathers are the strong, silent types. Yet others tell us stories for days. Fathers teach, and guide small hands as they hammer a nail or sail a kite.

THE HISTORY: After the success of Mother’s Day, Father’s Day observances began to appear around the United States and world. However, the road to this national observance was not an easy one.

First Recorded Father’s Day. The first recorded celebration of Father’s Day happened after the Monograph Mining Disaster in West Virginia. The disaster killed 361 men and left around 1,000 children fatherless in December of 1907. Grace Golden Clayton suggested a day honoring all those fathers to her pastor, Robert Webb. On July 5th, 1908, the community gathered in honor of the men lost in the mining accident. The assembled at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church, in Fairmont, West Virginia.

Other Claims to Father’s Day. In 1910, the YMCA in Spokane, Washington recruited several clergymen with the help of Sonora Smart Dodd to honor fathers throughout the city. The date was set for June 5th but was later changed to June 19th (the 3rd Sunday in June), as many clergymen needed more time to prepare.

Harry C. Meek, a member of Lions Clubs International, claimed that he first had the idea for Father’s Day in 1915. Meek argued that the third Sunday of June was chosen because it was his birthday. The Lions Club has named him “Originator of Father’s Day.” Meek made many efforts to promote Father’s Day and make it an official holiday.

HOW TO OBSERVE #FathersDay. Prepare fathers favorite meal or take them to dinner. Buy gifts and/or explore their favorite hobbies or encourage him to share a story or two. Play a game or take him to a game. Enjoy your time with your father and celebrate him. Share pictures of you with your father on social media and be sure to use #FathersDay too!

Retrieved here.



1st Choice Family Services “Photo of the Week”

“Our Clients Are the Reason We Come to Work”


Direct Care Aides (DCAs) assists individuals who live with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Besides the opportunity to work closely with clients, the job is exceptionally fulfilling and rewarding. Our DCAs make a world of difference in the lives of each client. They strive to build solid relationships, earn their trust, and recognize their need for outdoor adventure.

Outdoor adventure provides our clients with opportunities to actively participate in open-air exploration which promotes skill development, stimulates environmental awareness, and reinforces personal empowerment through adventure.

“The Guys Just Hanging Out”


1st Choice Family Services DCA’s and their clients often spend time just hanging out. They do not have to be involved in a particular activity. Sometimes they sit comfortably in nature doing having fun telling clean jokes and sharing entertaining stories!

DCAs are vital to the clients’ overall well-being. Our DCAs spend quality time with clients and it increases their sense of belonging and purpose. Just hanging out helps to boost the clients’ health and happiness and reduces stress. DCAs observe their clients’ mood swings and advocate to ensure each client has positive outcomes. 1st Choice DCAs are the BEST!!

The DCA’s connection to the client is essential in building successful working relationships. These relationships are based on the simple rules of attentiveness and trust. The DCA is always there to offer a shoulder to lean on in case something goes wrong, as it occasionally does.

The caring DCA takes time out to listen to the clients’ concerns and/or problems. Some clients like many of us, are unable to adequately express our feelings in words. However, DCAs are always ready to provide emotional support to their clients when it deems necessary.


DCA’s Four Principles of Caregiving:


  • Take care of yourselves to effectively help clients
  • Do not get caught up in the client’s past, but work in the moment
  • Focus on providing direct care services to the client, not on finding a cure, and
  • Express your feelings appropriately to the client, at times a subtle “touch” will do



Growing A Successful Business


  • Be Hands-On and Meticulous
  • Express Your Passion to Staff
  • Focus on the Client
  • Become More Competitive
  • Manage Spending Wisely
  • Be the Absolute Best



90-Day Onboarding Training Program


1st Choice Family Services’ hathe best 90-Day Onboarding Training Program in the state of Ohio. Our course authors and facilitators are skilled mentors and personal development coaches. We believe that classroom and hands-on instructions are essential to helping our staff to create innovative ways to assists clients in reaching goals and their potential.

With clients in multiple counties throughout Ohio and in Trinidad, we know there may be times when individuals with developmental disabilities will be mis-misunderstood. That is why our “up-to-date” DCA Educational Program is fundamental for equipping staff to peak performance.

Each year, our DCA’s complete 78 hours of continued education. Which includes weekly assessments of the clients’ goals and having an awareness of new advances in treatment strategies specific to developmental disabilities. We are pleased to say, “Our staff brings extensive experience and training to every client every time!”

The commitment and services that our agency provides is unmatched. Because we continue to innovate new techniques to help clients overcome life challenges through advocation, informed decision making, and total community integration.

1st Choice Family Services is concerned about the client’s health and happiness. Our group outings include but are not limited to, events at amusement parks, get-togethers to encourage per interaction, and attending local parades and/or festivals.

Choosing an agency provider is one of the most important decisions that a family can make. As well, choosing a DCA is one of the most important decisions that 1st Choice Family Services can make. Therefore, families need the reliability of a caring team of direct care professionals to help lighten the load. The 90-Day Onboarding Training Program helps to develop new employees’ efficiencies in processes, capacity to adapt to new system applications, and increases motivation.



Digital Transformation


Four Clusters Used to Reach Digital Transformation

Environment: It is mission-critical to understand our agency’s operational environment. A clear view of clients’ needs and current market trends was necessary to embark on the digital journey.

Empowerment: Measures our ability to lead with a clear vision, to innovate decisively, and to adapt to changes from digital transformation.

Expertise: Dealt with the set-up of capabilities that are required to approach and implement new opportunities.

Execution: Measures how well the agency is positioned to manage and scale business functions and processes. We expect continuous improvement through performance management, and the ability to adapt operations to deliver improved client care services for sustaining our success.

Retrieved here.


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.



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)


Retrieved here.


The chart is comparing Ohio, US, and Globally reported cases of COVID-19. NOTE: March 17, 2020 marks the date when we began this comparison analysis.

Comparison charts or comparative diagrams that make comparisons between two or more objects, two phenomena, or groups of data. A comparison chart can offer qualitative and/or quantitative information.


Situation in Ohio and Trinidad and Tobago


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.