Leadership

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Dave Apple is the executive director of the finest day program for persons who are medically fragile and have profound developmental disabilities anywhere. The DEAR program; born out of the need for individuals who were so disabled that work was not an option, was incorporated in 2005. Dave became its executive director in 2008. The original concept was to form a program that would care for 4 or 5 individuals daily. Through Dave’s vision the program expanded beyond the board’s original dream and has truly become the most sought after program of its kind.
Dave completed an MBA while growing the program to its current size. During tight financial times when the state unilaterally reduced funding contracts for individuals with developmental disabilities, Dave conceived of a charitably financed sustainability fund that literally saved the program from closing its doors permanently. He then approached the agency responsible for authorizing customer contracts and was told he would need to reduce services to our profoundly disabled customers. His response was perfect “Our customers will not receive less service than they presently received. That is what they need, that is what they deserve. The only question is will you pay us enough to keep the doors open?” Contracts were renegotiated, DEAR is now on solid financial ground.
Dave’s leadership has built a truly unique facility. Highly accomplished musicians perform daily with our customers, and a multi-sensory room with bubble tubes and a huge fish aquarium delights them. Nurses are on site each minute of the day to provide needed care for our medically fragile customers. Through Dave’s vision and love for those we serve, sometimes scary or uncomfortable medical procedures are hardly noticed with all the fun and exciting actives going on around them. DEAR is the acronym for Daytime Enrichment Activities & Recreation. Dave says “We like to think of it as an enrichment program, not a day program”.
Customers are not the only ones to benefit from Dave’s leadership abilities. Employee loyalty and commitment to the program are stellar due to the caring involved way Dave has set-up the corporate culture at DEAR. Dave says “Their problems are my problems; if their minds are occupied with home front difficulties, how can they focus on the very important tasks we hire them to do?”. Aside from working on his many administrative duties, Dave takes the time to work side-by side with staff, helping with every staff assignment at one time or another. He says “How can I expect someone to do something I wouldn’t be willing to do?”.
As Dave nears retirement his 2 goals are building decades long sustainability into the program and expanding the number of disabled individuals DEAR serves. Both goals can be achieved through the purchase of a new facility. Dave explains that reducing expenses by purchasing a facility rather than leasing one will insulate us from rate restructuring that occurs all too frequently. Should Dave be selected for the Eagle Rare award the money will go directly to achieving these two goals.

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