Organization Has Given More Than $1 Million in Assistance To Auglaize County Residents

Staff Writer

When an Auglaize County resident in the early 1980s petitioned the Easter Seals in Columbus for a needed pair of special shoes and was denied, a local group of organizers decided to step in and form its own philanthropic organization.

“This irritated a bunch of people,” Richard Bergman of the Auglaize County Crippled Children and Adults organization told the Minster Service Club at a recent meeting. “So rather than send that money to them and never getting any back, we’ll just start our own organization and keep it here for the benefits of Auglaize County residents.”

Decades and $1 million of assistance later, the Auglaize County Crippled Children and Adults organization is still helping those with medical conditions throughout the county.

Among that group of original organizers was Minster’s Victor Baumer.“Victor was one of the original people that started with the Auglaize County Crippled Children and Adults,” Bergman said. Also on the board was Neil Armstrong’s father, Steve.

“They all got together, threw $35 on the table and said, ‘This is what we’re going to start with,’”Bergman said. They talked to everyone and everybody around the county to help the organization.

"Auglaize County Crippled Children and Adults is a non-profit organization,” Bergman said. “We provide assistance to any resident of Auglaize County that has a medical condition. That’s pretty much our mission and focus.

As of 2016, the organization has given out more than a million dollars to Auglaize County residents.

The program has summer camps for those with developmental disability or medical condition. There are diabetes, autism, cystic fibrosis and asthma camps, for instance. “If there’s a camp they want to go to, we’ll fund that,” Bergman said. “It gives a respite to the caretaker. They get a week off because they know their child or whatever it might is going to be well-taken care of.”

The organization sponsors between 15-20 campers per year.

There is also a summer speech program for students needing speech therapy, a six-week program that bridges the gap between school years over summer vacation. A locally-licensed therapist is hired and there are three locations, including the Minster and New Bremen area. About 65 children attend the program.

An individual assistance program helps residents with costs that fall between the cracks of insurance coverage, including wheelchair ramps, special shoes, eyeglasses and hearing aides. “Anything that might not be covered by insurance,” said Bergman. The group does between 250-350 instances of assistance throughout the year.

The group is part of the United Way and does receive funds from the organization and over the past few years the St. Marys Tailgate for Cancer organization has donated thousands of dollars each year. Individual owners, civic organizations and businesses also donate money.

“The gratification comes seeing people, helping people and from the thank you notes from the people we helped,” Bergman said. “People are almost in tears when they show up because we helped them and are so grateful. It’s so gratifying to be a part of that.”