Betsy’s Story: Always Learning

When Betsy Klingensmith-Zarbaugh’s daughter, Sarah, was born with an undiagnosed genetic syndrome, Betsy embraced the new challenge and did everything she could to help her daughter flourish.

Sarah started receiving support from the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities when she was just a few weeks old through their Early Intervention Program and eventually went to the county run Leonard Kirtz School until age 22. Betsy credits the help from the board and Sarah’s school for providing her the tools she needs to give her daughter the best life possible.

“I learned so much from the county employees, from her physical, occupational, and speech therapists, and from her classroom teachers and aides,” says Betsy.

Now 29, Sarah has an I.O. Waiver to help her with day-to-day activities, such as transportation to and from her day program, respite for Betsy before and after work so she can maintain a full-time job, and a Medicaid card for access to the best medical care available through the Cleveland Clinic.

“Sarah’s waiver paid for all the adaptive equipment in our home including a porch lift, a chair lift, and a ceiling tracking system, as well as respite services so we can stay living together,” she says. “It’s allowed Sarah to get the support she needs.”

In regard to the Mahoning County Board, Sarah says she is their biggest fan. “They are a dedicated group of individuals that are making a difference,” she says. “The board does a great job of finding fun community activities for those with disabilities and overall, they are very accessible to the families.”

Through an adult day program she runs called “No Limits,” Betsy is working to help people with disabilities get meaningful work and learn to utilize the skills they currently have to contribute to the community.

“So much of what I put into my day program now, I learned from the Leonard Kirtz School,” says Betsy.

Betsy could never have guessed what it would be like raising a daughter with a disability, but she has shown that the desire to learn and help others can make a big impact.