For over 25 years, TERI, Inc. has brought profound changes to the lives of the developmentally disabled, offering support, education, and most importantly, hope to families. At the heart of this non-profit organization is founder Cheryl Kilmer.
While completing her degree at the University of Michigan, Cheryl began working with developmentally disabled individuals. Confined within state hospitals, unable to speak or act on their own behalf, Cheryl recognized their vulnerability, vowing to change their futures, beginning her lifelong journey making a difference in their lives.
A single parent, Cheryl worked long hours, mortgaging her home to start the agency, becoming a female pioneer in the Human Services industry. Helping found a statewide coalition of providers enabling thousands to exit state hospitals and flourish in community programs, Cheryl established fair rates and regulations, producing procedural program manuals that were adopted statewide.
Cheryl created an environment encouraging personal and professional growth for employees, including:
• Establishing one of the first onsite daycare programs for staff, benefiting hundreds of children through experiencing integration with children with disabilities
• Founding educational awards enabling staff to deepen their knowledge of the field • Establishing an emergency fund through regular monthly donations by senior
• Developing fitness programs for clients and staff, furnishing a gym with equipment, trainer, and chiropractor through donations and grants.
What began as a quest to empower individuals with developmental disabilities to lead lives of purpose grew from a small agency into a multi-faceted organization serving children, adults, and families through a variety of resources: two schools, adult day programs, ten community residences, family respite, vocational training, transportation, a therapeutic equestrian program, and fitness and recreational programs.
Today, TERI annually serves over 600 individuals with nearly 300 employees and a $12 million operating budget. Cheryl continues expanding services, creating the Center for Life Planning and Research, dedicated to providing education and guidance to families and individuals throughout their lifespan.
Cheryl Kilmer believes all people should experience the joy of reaching their maximum potential. By offering life enriching experiences, the adults, children, and families of TERI, Inc. now have those opportunities.