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Give Care Share: Hive, Inc.

Story by Emily Robertson

Laura Orsland first had the idea for what is now The HIVE, Inc. after she began to try and find information and resources for her own family. When she couldn’t find what she was looking for, she took jumped into action.

“In 2008, when my son with disabilities was 14 years old, I started researching what would be available for him after high school,” Orsland said. “I wasn’t able to find anything that seemed like a good fit for us and that was the real beginning of this journey.”

Laura began traveling around Kentucky, attending conferences and speaking to parents, professionals and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and came to the conclusion that there was a lack of resources for young adults upon graduation from high school. Now, The HIVE, Inc. seeks to help in four key areas, which is how the name for the organization came about. She found from her research that individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities need:

• ways to learn skills for daily living, or Habilitation
• Information about what services and resources are available in their area so they can make informed choices
• opportunities to learn Vocational skills and make connections with potential employers
• ways to continue their Education

Orsland first tried to find someone with an established organization to carry out her vision without any luck. So in 2016, she officially started The HIVE. The organization first started meeting at the Housing Authority of Bowling Green’s Learning Center on January 9, 2017 with four initial members. The organization changed locations eventually and now meets at the Fraternal Order of Police’s Lodge #13.

It has now served 64 people in eight counties in Kentucky and Tennessee since the program began, with 33 members currently in the program. The HIVE meets Monday, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offers a variety of classes designed to empower individuals to lead fulfilling, self-determined lives.

“The activities vary widely, but include yoga, lifestyles, painting, sculpting, crafts, improve, self-advocacy, vocational skills, karaoke and budgeting,” Orsland said. “We also do volunteer work and community service projects.”

Orsland also said that if someone visits at any time during the program, no matter what the members are doing, they see people hanging out with friends, laughing and talking while doing something productive.

“We all want to feel that sense of accomplishment and feeling of value by the people we care about and work with,” Orsland said. “It doesn’t get better than that!”

The HIVE employs Orsland, a program manager and a program support individual, but relies heavily on volunteer help and is currently looking for more volunteers.

“We need volunteers of all kinds who want to empower people with disabilities,” Orsland said. “We always need people who would like to do an activity with our members as we have several classes taught by volunteers from throughout our community.”

Orsland said the organization is also in need of volunteers that may have experience in fundraising, event planning and grant writing. Raising support is extremely important for The HIVE because the organization is ran completely on donations, with no funds coming from Medicaid or insurance. While it only costs $20 a month to be a member at The HIVE, that does not cover all the costs for each member.

The HIVE currently has a few different avenues they use to raise needed funds for the program including spirit nights with various local restaurants, a booth at the BG Night Market where members sell handmade items, members manage two local vending machines with proceeds going directly to The HIVE programming, as well as the #20for20 campaign where Precision Dental and Precision Eye Care will donate $20 to The HIVE for every 20 new patients. Along with donating directly to the organization, individuals wanting to help The HIVE can also attend the Clay and Chardonnay workshop event with artist Leslie Blackford on November 17. These types of events help ensure that The HIVE can adequately serve the individuals who want to be a part of the program.

“We are currently growing to the point that we are forced to start putting people on a waiting list, and that is the last thing these individuals and families need – another waiting list,” Orsland said. “Any supports that people can provide, from donations to volunteering, will help us provide services for these folks.

The HIVE also relies heavily on partnerships with other local organizations including the Family Resource and Kelly Autism programs, WKU Nursing and Social Work departments, the Advisory Committee for BG Special Needs Expo, KY-SPIN, Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Special Populations Program, Top Crops Garden, the Buddy House, the Center for Accessible Living, The Kidz Club, Hope House, BMoore Balanced Yoga and Meditation, Arts Alive, local support groups and a number of other agencies that provide community living supports to people with I/DD.

All of the partnerships and local support help The HIVE provide the much-needed services and programming that Orsland couldn’t find elsewhere in the community for her own family, and that is a mission that she works tirelessly to continue everyday.

“I am so passionate about the work of The Hive because people with I/DD have been dismissed or viewed as charity cases for entirely too long,” Orsland said. “Pitying people is disempowering. Each person is a whole, multidimensional, interesting, gifted human being who typically doesn’t get the opportunities to learn, grow, contribute and connect the way the rest of us do. These are human being who are worthy of investment. I will go down fighting for that.

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