(St. Charles, MO, July 31, 2019) St. Charles-based Willows Way, a non-profit organization providing support to area adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), recently added three new members to its volunteer Board of Directors. The new members include Abby Hare of St. Charles, MO; Jessica Maykopet of Waterloo, IL; and Julaine Murphy of Dardenne Prairie, MO.

Abby Hare, a Quality Systems Engineer for Synergetics (Bausch + Lomb), says she had been looking into volunteer opportunities and searching various websites when she came across the Willows Way Board of Directors position and liked what she read about the organization and its mission.

Hare has a younger sister who was born 10 weeks premature and is greatly impacted developmentally and somewhat physically.

“I was five years old when she was born, so I grew up with her restrictions and disabilities being my normal life,” said Hare. “She will never be independent, and I know how much of a burden this can be on caretakers. She currently lives with my parents, but I will be her provider should anything happen to my parents. Organizations such as Willows Way are great resources.”

Jessica Maykopet, MSW, is a Behavioral Health Clinician who previously worked at Willows Way and has returned as a board member to fulfill her desire to volunteer.

“Willows Way was very supportive of me and my career and path when I worked there and I wanted to give back,” she said.

Maykopet says she was inspired to volunteer on the Willows Way Board of Directors by a cousin who is blind and developmentally disabled who benefitted greatly from similar services in Illinois, so the work that Willows Way does is important to her.

“The existing board has done a wonderful job of helping the agency position itself for success and to be able to help the most people possible,” she said. “I want to be able to continue that work and help any way that I can.”   

Julaine Murphy, a Senior Consultant in Learning and Development, holds the position of Secretary on the Board of Directors. She said her family was searching for a day program for her brother and sister when the sibling’s case manager recommended Willows Way. Growing up, Murphy’s family included her biological sister with Down Syndrome and foster brothers and sisters with Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities.

“The more I researched and learned about Willows Way, the more I wanted to get involved. Willows Way became our provider of choice and an organization that I wanted to serve,” said Murphy.

Murphy has a brother Matt, 43, who came to her family as an infant, and a sister Lori, 52, who has been with her family since the age of five. Matt and Lori, who both have Down Syndrome, use services provided by Willows Way, including Individualized Supported Living which allows them to live with the right balance of independence and supportive care in homes within neighborhoods. They also attend the RISE day program three days a week which gives them social interaction and community involvement opportunities.

As a member of the Program & Quality committee, Murphy has set a goal to continually find ways to develop the skills and attitudes of team members when it comes to providing the best care possible to Willows Way’s clients.

“We must care for our team members so they will care for our clients. Willows Way provides excellent training and is absolutely on the right track. I am also interested in building board engagement, empathy and insight by creating opportunities for connection between board members and clients, and board members and staff,” she said. “The vision and mission of Willows Way are powerful, and their leadership is second to none. I feel honored to join the Board of Directors.”

For more information about Willows Way’s Board of Directors, visit www.willowsway.org/about-us/board-of-directors.

About Willows Way

Willows Way promotes independence and personal growth for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) through a variety of social-service programs. These include: Realities, which provides up to eight hours of individualized services per week; Individualized Supported Living, which provides up to 24-hour-a-day support to allow individuals to live independently based on their needs and goals; Reaching Independence Through Social Engagement (RISE), which offers participants daily structured activities designed to promote social networking, community involvement, volunteerism and physical activities; Individualized Skills Development/Community Integration, which offers services to build independent living skills while developing friendships and community connections; and Project HEART, which provides stimulating, person-centered health education classes, skills training and resource information. For more information about Willows Way, visit willowsway.org or call 636-947-6591.