40 years strong: Janus Developmental Services celebrating four decades of service in Hamilton County and beyond

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Earlier this month, Janus Developmental Services celebrated its 40th birthday.

Established April 4, 1979 as Janus Developmental Services, Inc., the organization has long been a resource for families looking to improve quality of life for family members with developmental disabilities.

“Essentially, Janus was started by parents that lived in Tipton County and Hamilton County,” said Chris Sorensen, president and CEO of Janus Developmental Services. “At that time, historically, most people with disabilities would be sent to institutions, but these parents didn’t want that for their kids. They wanted some place for their kids to go so that they could do something meaningful. Actually, if you go around the state, there are agencies like Janus providing similar types of services, and almost all of those were started by parents as an alternative. We’ve gone through the years providing various types of services and programs.”

Janus client Tim Ripberger prepares jars in Janus’ sheltered workshop in Noblesville for Carmel-based candle company Linnea’s Lights.

PROVIDING OPPORTUNITY

Sorensen said a major part of Janus’ mission is aimed at providing career opportunities to clients. The organization has long been known for its sheltered workshop program, where clients work on-site at Janus’ Ind. 32 facility for companies to earn a wage. For example, Carmel-based candle company Linnea’s Lights has all of its jars assembled with candlewicks at the Noblesville workshop.

“We find that the clients who participate in the workshop and their families are really happy because they have a chance to earn income,” Sorensen said. “There are some other options, too, for earning income within Janus. We have the (Capabilities Café) that’s over at the courthouse, and then we also have our monthly community luncheons. Our clients who participate in the food services programs get to practice those skills there. Then, we also have our hidden talents program, where they also make birdhouses out of gourds and some of the wood paintings. Those are all paid employment opportunities.”

Painting birdhouse gourds, part of Janus’ Hidden Talents program, has become a staple of some of the work done by the organization’s clients.

Janus also works to pursue employment for its clients in surrounding communities, working one-on-one with individuals to find jobs.

In addition, Janus’ Doorways Program lets clients pursue their personal interests, such as fitness, cooking, gardening, community services and community outings.

“The real benefit of being able to do outings is that so many of the people we serve don’t have many everyday opportunities, like going out to eat and ordering whatever they want, for example,” Sorensen said. “But with our outings, they get that chance.”

A NEW LITERACY PROGRAM

Last year, Janus started a literacy program at its facility, something Sorensen said has changed her perception on the depth of the Janus programming.

“I was told when I first started here that almost everybody has in their plan (that they want to) learn to read, but then I was told that it just seemed silly because if everybody’s gone through the school system and they haven’t learned to read by this point in time, they never will,” she said. “There was the feeling that (a reading program) wouldn’t be a good choice, and nobody understood why it was in their plans.”

That assumption changed in 2018 when Janus employees visited another organization with a literacy program.

“We just wanted to see what it was like and what it involved,” Sorensen said. “They were having great success with it, and they showed us that they had this reading software program that would allow them to customize books for each of the people that were participating.”

For example, if one client is at a third-grade reading level, but another client is at a fifth-grade reading level, the two can enjoy the same story but have books specifically tailored to their reading level.

“That way, they can all share, but then every time they’re looking at a different subject, you can print out different books and see whether they’re progressing because they’re not memorizing a book because we’re not using the same books,” Sorensen said.

GROWTH

“Over the past five years, we’ve been averaging a growth rate of people that we’re serving at our facility by 10 percent every year,” Sorensen said.

Janus provides services to 137 individuals on-site at its facility on Ind. 32. Janus also provides assistance in the community in one-on-one services, including community employment, respite and personal assistance and care to 70 individuals. Sorensen said there is a waitlist of 44 individuals who want on-site services.

In September 2016, Janus announced the purchase of the 19.2-acre Noblesville Golf & Batting Center, 17400 Willowview Rd., adjacent to the 11-acre Janus facility.

“Just knowing our growth rate, we want to build,” Sorensen said. “(Our current) building was not built for the services that we provide. While we’ve adapted it, it wouldn’t be someone’s fantasy building for what we do. We’ve been doing a lot of research and we’ve visited other facilities so we can get an idea of what we would like for ourselves. We’ve been talking to parents, too. We want to make sure that when we’re actually ready to start the building that we’re able to accommodate not only our current needs but future needs, too. We want to be sure that whatever we’re building will encompass present and future. We’re getting really close to finalizing everything we need, but also we’re exploring different opportunities for various partnerships with developing that property.”

The project’s scale, timeline and funding have not been finalized.

UPCOMING BREAKFAST

On May 3, Janus Developmental Services will play host to its annual Create, Connect and Commit fundraising breakfast at 502 East Event Centre in Carmel.

Now in its 11th year, the breakfast is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser and supports the everyday services of Janus. All proceeds go directly to the organization.

The breakfast is free to attend; guests will be asked to donate at the end of the program. Guests must RSVP by contacting Joanne McDonough at jmcdonough@janus-inc.org.

Learn more at youarecurrent.com and janus-inc.org.

A Timeline of Janus Developmental Services

  • Late 1960s – Hamilton County Association for Special Citizens and Tipton County Association for Retarded Citizens are created, primarily by parents who sought to provide proper programming for their disabled children.
  • 1972 – Hamilton County Association for Special Citizens establish a professional staff and started a work activity center housed on the second floor of the Carmel High School building.
  • 1975 – Tipton County Association for Retarded Citizens establish the Tipton Work Enterprise to provide vocational training programs.
  • Mid 1970s – Hamilton County Commissioners and Council support transportation services for the Hamilton County Association for Special Citizens.
  • 1976 – Step-by-Step preschool for children with learning disabilities opens as part of the Hamilton County Association for Special Citizens.
  • 1977 – Hamilton County Association for Special Citizens develop homes on Eighth Street and Cherry Street in Noblesville, donated by Marie Craig, for use as group homes and administrative offices.
  • 1977 – The Shorewood Corp. donates a 5-acre parcel of land on Hague Road in Noblesville to the Hamilton County Association for Special Citizens.  A 5,000-square-foot workshop was constructed the same year.
  • April 4, 1979 – The Hamilton County Association for Special Citizens and the Tipton County Association for Retarded Citizens merge to become Janus Developmental Services, Inc.
  • 1983 – Janus receives a grant from the Indiana Rehabilitation Services Board to establish community worksite programs and expand services.
  • 1985 – Janus opens third sheltered workshop in Carmel.
  • 1990 – City of Noblesville purchases the Cherry Street buildings from Janus.
  • 1991 – Janus moves its Administrative offices to 501 S. Ninth St., Noblesville
  • 1991 – Janus implements the First Steps program with funding from the federal government.
  • 1992 – Tipton Work Enterprise facility merges with Hamilton Development Industries in Noblesville.
  • 1992 – Courthouse Canteen (currently the Capabilities Café) opens in the Hamilton County Government and Judicial Center.
  • 1993 – Janus purchases acreage, warehouse and offices from O’Malia’s Food Markets to centralize operations on Ind. 32.
  • 1993-2000 –Janus’ First Steps Early Intervention Program is housed at Tri-County Opportunity School in Noblesville and offers early intervention classes and home visits to eligible children birth to 36 months.
  • 1994 – Janus receives its first three-year accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, an accreditation the organization still holds.
  • 1994 – Janus centralizes the Carmel sheltered workshop, Hamilton Development Industries, training and administrative offices by moving into its current facility on Ind. 32.
  • 1995-1997 – Janus is the Hamilton County System Point of Entry for First Steps Early Intervention System.
  • 2000 – The Janus First Steps Early Intervention Program becomes a totally community-based program with all services provided in the home and community “natural environment” settings per State of Indiana regulations. As a result, program staff moves to the Janus facility on Ind. 32.
  • 2002 – Janus begins operation of Noblesville Public Transit, providing public transportation in Noblesville.
  • 2003 – Janus is chosen to participate in the First Steps Eligibility Determination Team Pilot Program and was the ED team for Hamilton County.  Due to the success of the program, ED teams were mandated throughout the state by 2005.
  • 2006 – Janus receives a large grant from the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services to provide transitional services for high school students with disabilities in Westfield and Noblesville high schools.
  • 2007 – Janus expands Noblesville Public Transit to include all of Hamilton County, becoming Hamilton County Express.
  • 2010 – Janus becomes a First Steps Provider Network as part of Central Indiana First Steps.
  • 2010 – The Janus Community Garden Project is initiated in partnership with the Hamilton County Master Gardeners.
  • 2012 – The Doorways program introduces new classes emphasizing personal choice, individual talents and diverse opportunities.
  • 2013 – The Hidden Talents art classroom is constructed with grants from the Hamilton County Community Block Grant and the Seabury Foundation.
  • 2014 – A disability-accessible pathway is added to the Community Gardens thanks to funding grants from Grace Church and the Sertoma Club of Broad Ripple.
  • 2015 – The Capabilities Café instructional kitchen is renovated as a result of grant funding from the Seabury Foundation, the Vectren Foundation and the TJX Foundation.
  • 2015 – Janus partners with Riverview Health to initiate Riverview Health Rides.
  • 2016 – Janus’ Community Services implements Community Based Individual Habilitation Services Respite and Participant Assistance and Care programs.
  • 2016 – The “For the Love of Janus” Volunteer Guild is created.
  • 2016 – Janus acquires adjacent property, known as the Noblesville Golf and Batting Center.   
  • 2016 – Janus’ Doorways program initiates a summer program for local high school students enrolled in special education programs.
  • 2017 – Janus celebrates the grand opening of Janus Golf and Batting.
  • 2017 – The “For the Love of Janus” Volunteer Guild hosts its first fundraiser for Janus at Donatello’s in Carmel.
  • 2017 – The new Janus Choir performs at the Janus Create, Connect and Commit breakfast, the First United Methodist Church Christmas program as well as various community businesses and locations.
  • 2018 – Janus receives grant funding from the City of Fishers to implement a mentoring program with the high school special education students attending Hamilton Southeastern High School.
  • 2018 – Janus receives a Carmel Art grant for its art programs
  • 2018 – Janus begins Shoppers Shuttle to assist senior citizens with needed transportation to grocery stores.
  • 2018 – Janus’ Doorways Literacy program is initiated.
  • April 4, 2019 – Janus celebrates its 40th year of incorporation.
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