Meet Our Clients

Meet some of our VIP Services Clients. Learn about their backgrounds and their experiences with VIP.

Wendy Harmon

Wendy says that she looks forward to going to work at VIP Services every day and she has been coming to VIP since 1997.  When asked why she likes VIP Services she will sign that she likes being with her friends and having an opportunity to earn a paycheck.

Wendy works in the production center learning job skills and also is in day services where she participates in community outings.  Wendy enjoys her time at VIP so much that she says she never misses work unless she is really sick.  Before coming to VIP Services, Wendy attended the Wisconsin School for the Deaf and then later lived at St. Coletta.  Now, she is happy to be living with her sister Kelly and her family and riding the bus to VIP Services every day.  Kelly writes a blog about Wendy on Facebook, “Life With Wendy” about their new adventure together.

Wendy is also part of VIP’s Rec Connect program and recently tried rock climbing!

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Tim Williams

Tim Williams

Tim Williams has a great sense of humor and laughs easily. Despite the multiple disabilities and significant challenges Tim faces daily, he has a capacity to make everyone around him chuckle and feel good.

Tim, who was not born with disabilities, had his life changed forever when as an elementary school student he suffered severe brain injury as the result of a freak traffic accident.

Since 2004, Tim has been involved with VIP’s Day Services program. Though he uses a specialized wheelchair and his physical disabilities significantly limit his body movements, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t pay attention to what is going on in the world.

Tim is a huge Packer fan and followed the 2010 championship season closely. No one in Wisconsin was more pleased than he when the Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers to win the Super Bowl that season.

Tim has a great sense of humor, laughs easily and loves silly jokes. He participates in Day Services activities with assistance and especially enjoys community outings. He works hard on range of motion activities and answers questions by blinking his eyes yes and no.

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Scott Bushey

Scott Bushey has earned a reputation as a hard worker at VIP and is well known for his willingness to lend a helping hand.  Scott started at VIP Services in 1988 after graduating from Lakeland School and has worked at a variety of jobs in the VIP production center and volunteer jobs in the community including at the Golden Years in Walworth.

Scott’s family says that even when he is on vacation he worries about how things are going at work.  He has been known to call in the middle of a trip just to make sure that everything is okay.  One of their biggest challenges is to convince him to stay home when he isn’t feeling well – he HATES to miss work!

In addition to his work in the production center, Scott works at Plasti-coil Inc. in Lake Geneva.  Scott and his family are delighted that the flexibility and diversity of VIP Services allows him to work productively 5 days a week.  He is very proud of his paychecks and loves the opportunity to work with so many good friends.

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Kelly Findlay

Kelly graduated from Lakeland School in 1989 and started working at VIP Services to learn valuable job skills.  It wasn’t long before she landed a job working in the community but realized it wasn’t the best fit for her physically.  She returned to VIP to continue to hone her job skills and work on her soft skills that were also needed for community employment.

However, Kelly lost her mother and father in a short period of time and was also in a car serious accident.  Despite these challenges, with the help of her large and close-knit family and the staff at VIP including her current supervisor Pam, Kelly has made great strides to keep moving forward.  Pam knows that Kelly is a hard worker and pays close attention to detail.  Kelly now does clerical work at VIP separating the daily time cards into eight different departments!

Kelly has taken another important step toward independence by moving into a group home in Elkhorn.  By taking on additional responsibilities for every day decision making she is able to lead a life of greater independence.

In April 2019, Kelly was the featured speaker at the Walworth County ARC’s annual luncheon.  She shared her life story about moving forward despite personal challenges and continuing to pursue her dreams.

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Nicole Opper

Nicole Opper

Nicole Opper started life as a happy smiling toddler who was walking and talking on her first birthday. Five days later, her life changed dramatically. With no warning Nicole went into a major seizure and was flown to Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee.

After two hours and fifteen minutes the seizure finally ended, but Nicole was left with irreversible brain damage and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Two months later, when she was finally released from the hospital, her family found themselves starting all over with a one year old infant who couldn’t even hold up her head.

Though Nicole’s brain damage greatly impacted her speech and physical mobility, it did nothing to affect her irrepressible personality. Nicole attended Lakeland School and came to VIP Services in 2008.

Even though she can’t communicate verbally, there is no question that she loves being around people. She enjoys participating in everything from riding the bus to being in music therapy classes. Her smile, which is frequent, has enough wattage to light up an entire room!

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Lynne McIntyre

 

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Lynne McIntyre has overcome more daunting challenges in her years than most of us face in an entire lifetime. When she was twelve, Lynne began experiencing frightening seizures that caused her to lose the use of her left side. After many consultations, she was diagnosed with a condition called Rasmussen’s encephalitis. This rare degenerative brain disease necessitated a complex 18 hour surgery that removed the half of her brain affected by the condition.

Subsequently, Lynne has had to undergo hip surgery and has been diagnosed with Dwayne’s Syndrome, an eye condition that has created significant problems with her peripheral vision.

Throughout all of her challenges, Lynne has chosen to remain upbeat and determined to focus on what she can accomplish. In 2006, she became involved with the VIP Services Ambassador program. Despite the fact that public speaking fell outside Lynne’s comfort zone at that time, she applied herself with great dedication and has been very successful, continuing to grow and to challenge herself to improve with each presentation.

Lynne is respected by co-workers and staff alike for her strong work ethic, kindness and wonderful sense of humor.

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Frank Hoover

Frank Hoover has been charting a new course as he recovers from some health challenges.  From the time that Frank came to VIP Services, he began the process of learning about the skills he would need to work in the community.  In 2000, VIP Services helped to find him a job at Protect-All in Darien where he worked for more than 15 years, but after a serious accident, he has been rehabilitating hoping to return to his job in the community.

Frank’s path to community employment and his success in that role has involved learning to live with and manage his disabilities.  Frank was part of a mainstreamed program and attended public school through graduation.  He and his family had always known that he experienced learning disabilities, but when he was 18 years old he was also diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.

Once they understood the source of some of his behavioral issues, Frank and his family learned everything they could about bi-polar disorder.  They learned that it causes depression with feelings of sadness and helplessness and can make a person subject to severe mood changes.  In addition, they learned about what medications would help Frank to deal most effectively with the condition.

Despite these challenges, Frank continues to be a VIP Services Ambassador and recently bowled at the 2019 VIP Services’ Bowl-a-thon where his team was one of the top fundraisers!

 

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Brenda Kelly

 

In 1972, when Brenda Kelly was born, there were only a handful of people in the country who knew what Ring 22 Chromosome Disorder was. Brenda was just a little over two when doctors were finally able to put a name to her condition as she was one of only 59 cases known at that time.

Fortunately for everyone who knows her, Brenda has survived and thrived in a way that no one could have anticipated back then. A Lakeland School graduate, Brenda has been involved with the VIP Day Services program since 1993.

She particularly enjoys music and looks forward to music therapy sessions on Tuesdays with great anticipation. Brenda is also involved in the a fitness program for Day Services clients. She especially likes walking with fellow clients through the broad halls at VIP Services.

While not verbal, Brenda understands what is going on around her and one of her all-time favorite activities is having the chance to go out to eat. Regardless of where she is, her smile never fails to lighten the mood of everyone around her!

Brenda recently moved into a group home with four other women in Elkhorn.  It’s been a whole new chapter for Brenda but part of her journey to lead a more independent life.

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Amanda Giacomelli

Amanda Giacomelli

Amanda Giacomelli wasn’t born with a disability, but after a horrific automobile accident when she was 2½ years old, she was forced to start the learning process all over again. With the dedicated support of her family she made great strides and ultimately graduated from Elkhorn High School.  After graduation, Amanda sought assistance with job placement and job coaching with VIP Services.

She started out working in day care settings, but it became clear that she would not be able to support herself in this way.  After working with staff to consider various alternatives, in 2004 she got a full time job at Wal-Mart in Delavan. During her time there Amanda has applied herself diligently and developed many new life and work coping skills.

Today, Amanda is proud to tell you that she lives independently in her own condo, has been recognized as Employee of the Month at Wal-Mart and received excellent annual reviews from her supervisor.  In addition, Amanda has taken on the challenge of becoming a very effective VIP Services Ambassador.

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Adam Ehlen

Adam Ehlen

Adam Ehlen has been a client with VIP Services since 1998.  Born prematurely with a number of developmental abnormalities at birth, Adam has spent most of his life in a wheelchair due to his cerebral palsy.  Adam is slightly developmentally delayed but is very much aware of the world around him.  People sometimes mistake Adam’s slow speech responses for a lack of understanding. They would be surprised to know that Adam is avid about doing cross word puzzles.  He also watches daily news reports and can identify more public figures in a meaningful way than most of the general public!

Adam attends the Day Services program at VIP Services five days a week and participates in a variety of activities including daily physical and mental orientation exercises, weekly music therapy and a variety of different life skills enrichment units.  Adam understands that he is totally dependent and works very hard to maintain his strength by propelling his wheel chair down the agency’s broad hallways with a goal of traveling 50-60 feet per journey.  Similarly, he works hard on his mat exercises to keep his muscles loose and prevent the painful cramping that used to regularly plague him. It takes great commitment on his part, but he is determined to stay strong.

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