We think of our clients as family. Our staff members are passionate about making a difference and fulfilling our mission. Our staff embodies our core values while meeting the individual needs of each of our clients on a daily basis.
Avalene Neininger – Staff Development Director
When you look at Avalene Neininger’s resume, you see common themes – working with individuals with disabilities, teaching, and training. These skills make her the perfect fit as Echoing Hills’ new Staff Development Director.
Avalene, or Avy as she is known to many, had not been looking to make a career change, but after researching job opportunities for her son and his girlfriend, she came across the posting for this new position. She was immediately intrigued. Avy quickly went on-line to learn everything she could about the organization.
“I was on the website and became deeply moved by a video of a father talking about the impact of Echoing Hills for his son,” recalls Avy. “I then saw a student I had in preschool had recently won the OPRA Volunteer of The Year Award for her work with the organization. In my heart, I knew I was supposed to apply for the position, and I did that night.”
Avy spent her early years moving around as her father was in the military. Her family returned to Ohio upon his retirement the summer she was going into 9th grade. It was while babysitting her cousins one day that summer Avy would meet her future husband, Bob. They immediately hit it off and began dating, marrying one week after college graduation.
Unexpectedly, Avy lost her husband five years ago. She considers this loss one of the most defining moments in her life. She credits her son, Nick, for helping her through this time. After the loss of his father, Nick began to check in with his mother throughout the day. Sending text messages and making phone calls to see how she was doing or paying a compliment – messages like Bob would deliver.
Avy enjoys reading and is writing a book, Grief Lessons From the Toy Box. The book explores different toys discussing their history, reviews what the toy can teach about grief, and provides a Bible verse.
The idea for the book came to her after a conversation with her niece, Kaytee. After losing her husband, Avy asked Kaytee why one of her Barbie dolls was on the floor, naked. Kaytee shared she wasn’t naked, “she was in transformation.” It hit Avy that she was in transformation herself, and the inspiration for the book was born.
Since starting, Avy has enjoyed visiting Echoing Hills’ locations throughout the state. She is looking forward to continuing to meet team members and individuals and jumping into her new role.
“I see this position as a way to blend my passions,” says Avalene, “the role of education and training, working with individuals with disabilities, and making a positive impact.”
Love. Learn. Worship.
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