Agency considers Chimes merger Iowa nonprofit group agrees to undertake study of proposal

August 12, 1998|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

An Iowa nonprofit group offering residential and day services for mentally retarded people is considering whether to merge with The Chimes, the Baltimore-based organization assisting people with developmental disabilities.

North Central Human Services (NCHS) of Forest City, Iowa, which has been affiliated with Chimes for 18 months, will undertake a study to determine whether to become part of the Baltimore group as a way of expanding its professional and clinical services, both groups said.

The board of NCHS voted 8-5 on July 22 in favor of a merger with Chimes, to be effective Sept 17. Since then, however, some board members have raised questions about a merger's effect on its group, according to NCHS board member Mary Beth Greenan of Mason City, Iowa. The Iowa board met again Monday night and temporarily suspended the July action pending completion of the study.

Under the current arrangement, Chimes has provided consultation services on program planning and development and systems changes.


Since 1968, the North Central nonprofit agency has helped people with severe mental retardation who also have significant medical and behavioral needs. It serves 100 Iowans in the towns of Forest City, Nevada and Belond-Clarion.

If the merger is approved, the move would be part of Chimes' expanding "family of services," a dozen systems created by other mergers, affiliations and groups it founded. It began in 1947 and now, a spokesman said, it serves almost 2,500 men, women and children faced with "barriers to independent living" such as mental retardation.

Chimes/Maryland provides services and supports for people with neurological impairments. It includes the Chimes School for children ages 6 to 21; teaching socialization, hygiene, personal care and other skills for adults; residential options in housing; work opportunities and employment support; services for seniors; and clinical services. It operates in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, the District of Columbia and Israel, whose government requested its help for adults with mental retardation.

In the past two years, the nonprofit agency, with headquarters at 4815 Seton Drive, has merged with similar nonprofit organizations in California and Baltimore. They are WORK Inc. of Santa Barbara, Calif., OPTIONS of Morro Bay, Calif., and Intervals of Baltimore, which supports children who have complex health needs. The groups provide assistance to people with such disabilities as head injuries or mental retardation.

Chimes also has affiliations with Shadowfax, operating in the York, Pa., area, and Ability Unlimited Inc. in the District of Columbia.

Message of hope

The group derives its name from its first three years when Frances Bacon and four other families with retarded children began The School of the Chimes on the grounds of The Church of the Redeemer on Charles Street. The church's bells were considered a message of hope for the children.

Terry Allen Perl, Chimes president and chief executive officer, also announced two new Chimes projects:

More than 270 people, most of them disabled, will work for Chimes under a three-year state contract to provide janitorial and maintenance services at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Chimes has similar contracts elsewhere, such as at Dover (Del.) Air Force Base, U.S. Tax Court in Washington and the Social Security Metro West Complex in Baltimore.

With St. Mary of Sorrows Council 8600, the Knights of Columbus, Fairfax, Va., it has begun operating a home for women with severe disabilities in Fairfax, the fourth group home Chimes operates in Virginia.

Information: Chimes at 410-358-6400.

Pub Date: 8/12/98

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