Connections Newsletter Winter 2020

Check out our latest newsletter below or download it here..

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10 Good Things To Tell You

While the pandemic has been a scary time, we have learned so many things this year. Blessings are all around, you just have to look for them. The management team had a call this week and reflected on the positive things that have come from this challenging experience.

We want to share 10 things we have learned in 2020 and plan to continue for years to come! 

  1. The Glenwood campus and its camp-like setting has been revitalized and the pandemic gave us plenty of time to enjoy it! Hiking trails, canoeing, and fishing are now favorite activities that will continue.
  2. Bringing the outside world to campus through parades and Zoom dance parties helped residents feel less isolated. They were a huge hit for residents, staff, families, and community groups, including local police and fire departments. Staff families even got to take part and see the impact their loved ones have on the people we serve.
  3. Several students have thrived using the distance learning model. It gave the opportunity for fewer transitions between activities. Transitions are often one of the most challenging things for students. The new model will be used as an option going forward as a tool for students to get used to new structures and routines.
  4. Technology helped start a Parent Support Group that takes place weekly. In the past, the service was needed, but scheduling a convenient time with multiple families was a challenge. Now, families are getting together weekly to learn ways to better support their children.
  5. Zoom is our friend, and we used it for so many things! The technology gave more people the opportunity to participate in residential care planning meetings. Care meetings have always taken place, but scheduling conflicts with off-campus participants often proposed a challenge. Now, caseworkers, attorneys, and extended family can easily join a Zoom call and join in for the important planning meeting.
  6. FaceTime and Zoom gave more opportunities for families to participate in daily activities with their loved ones. They could be a part of day-to-day tasks like never before.
  7. Glenwood continued to hire staff throughout the pandemic. With 24-hour care, hiring was crucial. Technology provided opportunities for enhanced training. The management team was able to “meet” new hires through Zoom. People could put faces with names and immediately feel like a part of the team.
  8. We already knew it took special people with a heart for others to work at Glenwood. Staff creativity has been at an all-time high as they created opportunities for residents and students to stay active while quarantined at home. Arts and crafts, gardening, dancing, exercising, and creating videos were just a few engaging activities.
  9. Teamwork between staff programs has increased, as well as cross-training. School staff and others were reassigned to the homes when distance learning was implemented or day programs were suspended. This has enhanced the collaboration between school and residential staff.
  10. The staff continued to care for the students and residents like their own family. When we had our first positive COVID case with a resident, several team members stepped up to take care of the individual in quarantine, putting their own health at risk to make sure the resident was well cared for.

None of this would be possible without the help of donors like YOU! Thank you for stepping up during a time when we needed it most. Our work is not done! Can you help us with a year-end gift?

While we hope that next year we will see an end to this pandemic, we still need your help. Please consider a gift to support a resilient team and most importantly, the people we serve who have adapted to challenging circumstances and continued to thrive.

Thank YOU for supporting those we serve through your gifts of time, money, prayers, and advice. We are blown away by the help we have seen throughout this challenging year. Happy New Year, and we hope your next year is happy and healthy!


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Thankful to Serve

Jacob Sims works at Glenwood as a registered behavior therapist (RBT). This position is more than a job to Jacob. It’s a chance to serve others with his talents, skills and training.

Jacob gets to serve others with a work family that is just that – family. When reflecting on his time here, Jacob says, “It has been an honor and a privilege to work with such amazing people. It’s not often that you get to work in a place where people feel more like friends and family as opposed to colleagues.

The work is not drudgery, because he’s doing something that makes a difference. He’s changing the lives of the children he works with. “Of course, we work hard to collect data and help these children move in a positive direction, but the common denominator here, unlike anything I have ever seen, is how much you all truly love these children. It is so encouraging,” says Jacob. “These kids will never be the same, not just because of the amazing treatment they get, but also because of the love that has been shown to them.”

As Thanksgiving rolls around, this is something to reflect on. How you spend your time matters. Where you give your money matters. There are many ways to serve and many ways to give. Whether it’s buying pecans for your Christmas gifts, making a donation, collecting Christmas presents for residents at Glenwood or something else, the things you do for Glenwood make a difference in the lives of the individuals we serve.

This Thanksgiving, we are going to take a few minutes to reflect on how thankful we are for those we serve, our caring staff and our generous donors and volunteers. It all matters, and it all makes the world a better place.

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Pecan Shop is Open

How do you pronounce pecan…peekan or pacon? No matter how you say it, we can all agree that Pecans for Autism are delicious! The Glenwood online pecan shop is now open! Whether you need a sweet or salty treat, we have something for you! Treats start as low as $4. Chocolate covered, roasted & salted, pecan brittle, and even coffee can be yours with the click of a button.

Buying pecans is easy! We have an online store or you can order by calling (866) 729-2189. Our pecan shop on Glenwood’s main campus, 150 Glenwood Lane, will be open Monday-Friday, 8 am – 4 pm and  on Saturdays 10 am – 3 pm through January 5. You can also purchase pecans at IBERIABank branches, select Piggly Wiggly and Winn Dixie stores, SouthPoint Bank branches and Nails Convenience Store. Click here for a full list of locations.

Every purchase of our pecans and coffees raises funds essential for the operation of Glenwood’s services for individuals with autism and their families. For corporate and employee gifts, call Shanda Daniel at 205.795.3353. Get yours today!

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Have Art, Will Travel

We are excited to report back that we are one step closer to creating an Arts Center for Glenwood residents and students. Dr. Ann Phillips has joined the Glenwood team as the Arts Center Director. While the brick and mortar center is still in the works, Ann is bringing art on the road. She’s traveling among Glenwood’s main campus, the Avondale campus, and Glenwood community homes to help individuals we serve express themselves in an artistic way.

We have been lucky to have several groups collect art supplies and donations to help this project. Our thanks goes out to Bama Belle Pageants, Shades Mountain Baptist Church, Church of the Highlands, and our very own Junior Board!

For individuals with autism or behavioral health concerns, art can be an important means of expression. Emerging studies have shown that art can relieve stress and anxiety, develop motor skills, and encourage a sense of self. We are excited to give the individuals we serve a variety of artistic experiences including painting, drawing, music, and more.

Are interested in collecting or donating art supplies? 

Most items can be found at Amazon, Walmart, Michaels and more.
Here are a few items to look for:

Contact Dr. Phillips at to coordinate pickup or delivery of your donation. If shopping online, you can ship them directly to us at Glenwood Development, 150 Glenwood Lane, Birmingham, AL 35242. 

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Golfers Make It Happen

Monday was a beautiful day for the 28th Annual Ireland Legacy Golf Tournament. We are so grateful to the sponsors and teams for making it our best year yet! We are ecstatic to announce that with their help we raised $164,550! That will go a long way to help adults with autism develop independent living skills.
Thank you to our presenting sponsor, King Acura, who has been with us for over 15 years. If you are in the market for a car, go visit them in Hoover and they will take great care of you!

Our golf committee outdid themselves in this challenging year.

When we needed it the most, they came through with gusto.

Thank you to these amazing volunteers!


Ceremonial First Putt

One of our favorite new traditions at the tournament is the ceremonial first putt with individuals served by Glenwood’s Adult Services. This year’s first putt was in memory of Dowe Bynum, a steadfast volunteer and donor who died this summer. He started on the Glenwood Junior Board and moved up to the Board of Directors, volunteering on the golf committee. His positive attitude and generous spirit will be greatly missed!

Team Winners

Winner Gross Scores

1st Place
Capstone Collegiate Communities
2nd Place
Vulcan Materials
3rd Place
Taylor & Miree Construction

Winners Net Scores

1st Place
Southern Carpet Hardwood and Tile
2nd Place
McGriff, Siebels, and Williams, Inc.
3rd Place
Marathon Electrical Contractors

Individual Winners

Closest to the Pin – Hole #9
Andy McRae
Closest to the Pin – Hole #17
Vic Kellum
Longest Drive
Adam Rodgers
Mulligan Drawing
Henry Donald

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The Most Amazing Team

This month we took the time to show our appreciation of Glenwood’s hard working employees. Each year we celebrate work anniversaries and this year we had to get creative to do so in a socially distant way. We are honored by the longevity of many of our employees and couldn’t let COVID-19 stop us from celebrating them.

Our Glenwood family is strong, caring, and determined to make the world a better place and we are honored that each of them chose to do that here, with us.

Interested in joining our team? Visit our career page to find open positions!


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August COVID-19 Update

“Safe and well” sounds so positive. “Isolation and physical distancing” sounds so cold. These phrases have become such a common part of our speech now. Glenwood’s staff has been working hard from day one to ensure that those in our care are healthy and happy. These uncertain times are particularly challenging for people living with autism and other mental and emotional health concerns. Their well-being is our number one priority.

Please read below for an update on how the individuals served by Glenwood and staff are doing during unsettling times.

Covid-19 Update August 2020

Residential care: Glenwood serves 125 children and adults in 30 homes. They will remain in isolation at least through July. Managers and direct support professionals have been creative in minimizing potential exposure to the coronavirus and providing activities to make it easier to endure. Friends have provided extra supplies such as arts and crafts for use. Staff have provided ways for the outdoors and common areas to be used safely. Families have missed their home visits, yet understand and are thankful their loved ones have been kept safe.

Schools: Teachers and aides have worked with in-home staff to provide packets and use technology to continue learning in the homes. Allan Cott School for children with autism and Lakeview School for boys with severe emotional and behavioral disorders plan to open in August. It was fun to see the students call out to their teachers at our first COVID-19 Parade. Spectators from all 30 homes participated.

Outpatient Services: After a break, some services resumed via tele-health. They are now open for evaluations, diagnosis, therapy and counseling services. The Children’s Center has re-opened.

Adult Services: Our day programs for adults – most of whom live in homes we manage on campus or in the community – are not able to open yet, which means more staff and more creativity are needed in the homes. We have been able to allow some “fresh air” visits with precautions.

How Are We Doing? We’re proud of the way the direct support professionals have taken care of the individuals during these trying times. Everyone’s wellness has been a top priority, and the entire organization has worked together to do a great job in keeping everyone well.

Financial Impact: Expenses are up, and income is down. Time spent in the homes has increased which means increased staff time and additional supplies for physical AND mental health. The suspended programs and decrease in some services means a loss in revenue for us. The exact amount changes weekly, and it’s hard to predict where this will land because we’ve never been in a pandemic like COVID-19 before.

Future Events: Planning for events continues to present a challenge. The Ireland Legacy Golf Tournament was rescheduled from May to September 28. Teams are sold out, but hole sponsorships are still available. We’ve set the date for Big Top for February 19, 2021. We continue to monitor COVID and non-profit best practices as we decide how to proceed with in-person events, which are an important part of our fundraising efforts. We will look for creative ways to raise additional funds to support our mission.

Save the Date: One thing that we are certain about is our Pecan Sale! Mark your calendars for the end of October when the online pecan shop will open. They also make great corporate and personal gifts. Contact Shanda Daniel at 205-795-3353 to learn more.

Moving Forward! Glenwood is better and stronger, and we look forward to continuing to give loving and professional care to those with autism and other mental and emotional health concerns in our new normal. Thanks to a caring community, Glenwood continues to pivot to make the best of trying times.

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June COVID-19 Update for Glenwood

Family visits begin with social distancing in place

We are taking small steps toward returning to normal operating procedures while providing as much safety and security for our staff and individuals served as possible.

  • In Residential we continue to monitor when we might safely discontinue isolation. At this time, we plan to remain in isolation through July. We have begun controlled visits with residents and their family members. Visits to homes may take place outdoors with strict protocols. Visitors are screened – including temperatures taken, hands washed, and gloves and masks are worn. They are also asked to maintain 6’ distancing. Several visits have already taken place and all are loving it. There are smiles all around! The team – including the care staff and behavior therapists – are working to make it easier by adding activities at the homes such as art projects, puzzles, walks and using the lakes on campus. The pool is now open, along with paddle boats and canoes, offers lots of opportunities to enjoy water and sunshine. We’re thankful to many who have donated treats for residents and staff including: Capstone Collegiate Communities, Dreamcakes, Full Moon, Golden Flake, Mayfield, Church of the Highlands, Refresh Family Church and Shades Mountain Baptist Church’s Special Needs Ministry. We have moved toward a return to home visitation with family and eventually to community outings.
  • Several residents have begun home visits off-campus with their families. Families are asked to follow CDC guidelines. Upon return to campus, we monitor temperatures of individuals. The visits have helped residents who were missing family.
  • Allan Cott School for children with autism and Lakeview School for boys with severe emotional and behavioral disorders are planning to reopen on August 6th.
    Sullivan Center and Journey Academy – day programs for adults with autism – are both getting visits from the adults for activities with great care on cleaning between visits.
  • Outpatient Services has resumed in full, with steady diagnosis, evaluation, therapy and counseling services on-site and in person.
  • Family and Community Services, which provides in-home treatment, is back in operation as well.
  • The Children’s Center’s services are currently suspended and we hope to open again soon.
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Glenwood Names Curtin Board Chair

Peter Curtin, who joined Glenwood’s Junior Board in 2005, has been named Chair of the Glenwood Board of Directors and Advisors. Curtin, vice president of CRC Group, has a long history with Glenwood, having served on the board since 2008.

Other officers appointed for fiscal year 2020-2021 are Edward Sledge of Bradley as Vice Chair; Jim Hill of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama as Secretary; and Andy Martin of Providence Benefits as Treasurer.  Members at Large are Carter Burwell, JLL; Leigh Anne Hodge, Bradley; Mallie Ireland Dansby, Community Volunteer; and Ryan Thomas, Parent and community representative. Newly appointed board members include Tommy Brown, the incoming chair of Glenwood’s Junior Board, Krystal Drummond of Drummond Company; Steven Mote, former Junior Board President, and division manager of Imperial Dade; Will Pearson, representing the Autism Society of Alabama and iHeartMedia; Donna Renfroe, Community Volunteer and Parent; Davis Stewart III with Bradley.

Philip Young, the immediate past Chair of the Board, said, “A strong board is important in fulfilling the mission. This is an impressive group of leaders who will help us thrive in unprecedented times. Not only is the economy in flux, but the number of people needing services is at an all-time high with 1 in 54 children being diagnosed with autism and even more being diagnosed with other mental health concerns. Glenwood touched the lives of more than 18,000 families last year. Our professional managers and staff can help these families.”

“I’m so pleased to be able to work with this excellent board and leadership team. And it’s especially gratifying that we have a former Junior Board member leading our group,” said Ken Oliver, Glenwood President and Chief Executive Officer. “Peter brings a great business acumen and a huge heart for our community and our mission. And he will be surrounded by a talented and inspired group of leaders on our Executive Committee and Board. We can move into the future with great confidence as we continue the Glenwood legacy of excellent service and compassionate care for those families we serve.”

Click here to see the full board listing for 2020-21.

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