Philosophy and Mission

How Person Directed Supports Got Its Start

In the words of Ken Gibat, CEO, and Founder…

I had worked in the field of supporting people with intellectual disabilities as well as people with mental health issues for twenty years and thought there had to be a different way of supporting people.

There had to be a way to support people in a manner in which they had a positive, self- directed way of building a life that they wanted, a way to support people to build on strengths not their disability, a life in which they have people involved with them that they choose, a life in which they have people who want to be in their life and only rely on paid supports when needed. So in February of 2000 my wife and l gathered up some money and started a Pennsylvania not-for-profit agency that would focus on the principles of:

  • Self Determination
  • Positive Approaches
  • Person Centered Thinking & Planning
  • Community

ln our first year, we provided consulting services based upon the principles noted above to people and their families from several counties throughout Pennsylvania.  As we continued to meet families and build relationships with them and the counties in which they lived, people and their families began to inquire of us if we would be interested in becoming a provider of services for them. This was one of the big decision points in the life of the agency. We wanted to make sure we did not turn into or evolve into an agency that was not pure to the mission and philosophy that we established ourselves to be.

After much deliberation, we decided to provide supports and services to the people who had asked us to. Prior to initiating this process, we trained all of the supporters that we would need to provide supports and services in “Person Centered Thinking” by Michael Smull. Once the training was completed (and we were able to acquire a line of credit through five mortgages on our home), we began a person centered planning process for five people in Chambersburg and three people in Lancaster and CMSU. We began in these locations to support people in the services of their choosing.

lnitial supports and services that we selected were, lifesharing, supported living community home living, job coaching; community inclusion, and person centered planning.  As we grew, we were able to provide the added requested supports and services to include day support services, enhanced day services, nursing and behavioral health services. Our growth over the years has been and continues to be through word of mouth, and people asking us to provide supports and services to them.

We have never advertised our services. Today we provide supports and services to seven counties.

The agency path has not been one smooth ride; we have had great highlights as well as failures. Several things have been learned during this period of time, one being when you start something new you really don’t know what you don’t know and a lot of times it is experience that teaches you the lessons, most often painfully, and that most of the failures that we have had have come when we had lost our way or not followed our mission or our philosophy, even though it was a well-meaning attempt.

Ken Gibat’s Philosophy

Each and every person’s life is important; there is an equal value to every other person’s life, regardless of any disability or other condition. Every person has his/her own hopes and dreams; each person has their own life journey, each person has the right (not permission, not approval) to direct his/her own life. Each person has the right to choose where to live, who is supporting them and to be part of the community.

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