DSI marks 40th anniversary with free party

He was only a toddler when the nonprofit Developmental Services Inc. began nurturing his sense of discovery and independence.

Today, at age 32, Columbus’ Brandon Boas has triumphed over a developmental and intellectual disability to become an experienced photographer — and also a worker at a local restaurant.

Plus, Boas, who remains a DSI client, has blossomed into an advocate for the developmentally disabled during visits to the statehouse and also Capitol Hill.

“DSI taught me sign language (when I struggled to speak),” Boas said. “And they (eventually) taught me to talk.

“Without DSI, I would be nowhere.”

Boas is among more than 2,000 clients spread across 42 Indiana counties for the Columbus-based Developmental Services, marking its 40th anniversary from noon to 5 p.m. Friday at its headquarters at 2920 10th St.

His mother, Kay Boas, worked with United Developmental Services before a merger with Opportunity Inc. made it DSI. She still serves with DSI.

The organization was established in 1975 and provides early intervention for infants and toddlers, residential living options, job training, placement and follow-along, respite care, family support and other services.

“Part of DSI’s mission statement is to remove barriers (for clients),” said Tom Harpring, a DSI spokesman. “We as a community have come a long way. People seem to be much more aware of people’s capabilities.”

Harpring cited examples of people with intellectual and physical challenges being valued members of schools, houses of worship, companies, agencies, sports leagues and other segments of area cities.

Friday’s event actually will begin for some at 11 a.m. with what organizers have labeled a sensory friendly hour for a special-needs population.

At 1 p.m., Mayor Kristen Brown will visit and offer a proclamation and salute about DSI’s impact through the decades. Cake will follow, with a disc jockey, music and dancing from 3 to 5 p.m. Bounce houses also will be part of the gathering, plus games for those of all ages, according to organizers.

A celebration

What: Developmental Services Inc.’s 40th anniversary party. Featuring food, music, dancing, games, bounce houses and other activities. Flip Flop Ice Pops and BikeCaffe will sell refreshments.

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Friday for the general public, plus a “sensory friendly hour” from 11 a.m.. to noon for the special-needs population.

Where: DSI headquarters, 2920 10th St., Columbus.

Admission: Free.

Infiormation: 812-376-9404 or dsiservices.org.

DSI through the years

1975: United Developmental Services, Inc. and Opportunity Inc. merge to create Developmental Services, Inc. Five counties served.

1979: DSI opens its doors at 2920 10th St. in Columbus.

1986: Sandstone Industries joins DSI. Seven counties served.

1987: Bill Hadar is named DSI chief executive officer.

2009 to 2011: Rain Tree Services in New Castle and Spectrum in Terre Haute join DSI.

2015: Shane Burton replaces retiring Bill Hadar as CEO, and takes over an agency that serves more than 2,000 individuals in 42 counties in Indiana.

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.