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Nonprofit View: Change Inc., Penn-Mar Human Services strive to become human service leaders

In 1985, Michael Shriver was hired as the CEO of Penn-Mar Human Services (Penn-Mar). In 1988, Shriver hired Gregory T. Miller, Penn-Mar’s current CEO. In 2015, Shriver became the CEO of Change Inc. Now, nearly 45 years after starting his career in the human services field, Shriver is leading the merger of the two organizations alongside Gregory, his longtime friend and recently reunited colleague.

“When we come full circle, there is often the feeling that we have arrived in a familiar place, but that we ourselves are somehow different.” This quote seems to accurately describe this exciting time for the two organizations turned one. Although we are similar in many ways, it is our differences that allow us to learn from each other, enhance the supports we provide, and ultimately be better together.

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Penn-Mar serves people with disabilities in the Baltimore, Carroll, and Harford county areas, as well as York County Pennsylvania, whereas Change has traditionally provided supports in the Carroll County area (with a handful of exceptions). Change and Penn-Mar share closely aligned impact statements; Penn-Mar’s statement of “Transforming Life into Living” and Change’s “Believe in Life Unlimited” have a combined synergy that creates a strategic strength including reputation, cultural alignment, and shared values.

One of Penn-Mar’s most notable initiatives is their Career Ladders program, which directly combats high staff turnover rates, one of the largest challenges faced by human service organizations throughout the country. This program provides DSPs (Direct Support Professionals) with the opportunity to receive nationally recognized certifications promoting career advancement. We are thrilled to bring this program to our staff in Westminster and further strengthen the supports we provide.

In addition to enhanced services and career opportunities, the unifying of the two organizations gives us the power to make an impact on an even larger scale. Today, we are seeing a shift away from traditional center-based approaches to integrated home and community-based supports. Both Change and Penn-Mar are committed to a non-traditional, least restrictive, and self-directed approach. Together, we strongly believe our service model has the potential to serve as a prototype to other organizations looking to advance their services and impact policy at a state and federal level.

“This merger isn’t about the financials. It’s not about wanting to be bigger. It’s about creating and offering what’s best for people, families, and team members,” said Shriver, now executive director of Change Inc., a Division of Penn-Mar Human Services.

“These conversations began from a position of strength as opposed to a position of weakness, which you would probably expect; the majority of nonprofit mergers occur because someone is in trouble or needs help,” added Miller, president and CEO of Penn-Mar Human Services, during an interview with the Carroll County Times.

Shriver wants the community to know that Change’s strong physical presence in the Carroll County community will not go away. If anything, it will only grow stronger with the added opportunities and resources that comes with the integration of two robust agencies.

Each Monday, the Carroll County Times publishes a column from a local nonprofit, allowing them to share information about their organization and the issues facing it. To be considered, email cctnews@carrollcountytimes.com with the subject line “Nonprofit View.”

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