Board Member Spotlight: Tim Vonderbrink

“It is amazing knowing people with disabilities.  Each person I have been privileged to meet is so gracious, warm, funny and happy.”

 

Tim, our fearless chairman of the Board! Why did you initially become interested in Open Options?

I was introduced to Open Options through one of the organization’s fundraising events around 10 years ago.  It was through this fundraiser that I became acquainted with Bruce Scott, the now retired CEO of Open Options.  I was immediately drawn to Bruce’s passion and commitment to the organization and the people Open Options served.  I started doing some research on the organization and came away impressed.  While no one in my immediate family has a developmental disability, I have several close friends with family members who do and I’ve always been struck by their complete happiness and love of life despite the challenges they face.  After several meetings and conversations with Bruce, he asked if I would be interested in joining the Board of Directors and I was honored and privileged to join.

Tell us about yourself.

I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved with my family to Kansas when I was 11 years old.  I’ve lived in the Kansas City area since 2000 and now live in Shawnee with Margaret, my wife, our 3 children (ages 16, 13, and 10,) 2 dogs, and a cat.  All of our kids play competitive sports so we spend a lot of time driving carpools and sitting on bleachers watching soccer and volleyball games.  My family is wonderful and we are very blessed.  I’ve worked in the healthcare finance industry my entire professional career and currently work at Olathe Medical Center in the Managed Care Department.  Our department handles the negotiating and monitoring of payments from all the insurance payors.  It is interesting and challenging work.  While I am not a direct caregiver (which is probably a good thing,) I find it inspiring to work with talented, dedicated people whose priority is healing and making life better for others.  That’s another reason why I was drawn to Open Options, the people here have a passion and dedication to the people they serve that is wonderful to see.

What excites you about the mission of Open Options?

The Mission is simple, yet so powerful.  “To support people to realize their full potential.”  In my mind it has to be one of the greatest callings in life.  To help, serve and support others so they can achieve their dreams and goals is an awesome responsibility.  Seeing someone achieve a goal that most people would take for granted (getting a job, living independently, buying their own groceries, etc.) is such a rewarding experience.  It helps provide perspective and balance to what are the truly important things in life.

What do you wish other people knew about developmental and intellectual disabilities?

That people with developmental and intellectual disabilities are just like the “rest of us.”  They have the same hopes, dreams and desires.  They want to have friends, be active, root for our sports teams and lead happy, healthy, productive lives.  We’ve seen way too often that people with ID/DD (particularly adults) are pushed aside and often forgotten.  Our society as a whole needs to do a better job of recognizing people with ID/DD as human beings who have many wonderful things to contribute to our world.

How rewarding is it to know someone with a disability?

It is amazing knowing people with disabilities.  Each person I have been privileged to meet is so gracious, warm, funny and happy.  I’m sure they have bad days, but when I am around these remarkable human beings, I am always struck by their happiness and ever positive attitudes.  It helps to ground me and put things into perspective regarding my own life and struggles.  They really are a source of inspiration and motivation on how to deal with and handle the daily ups and downs of life.  I am very fortunate and blessed to be associated with these people and Open Options.  They have given me so much and made me a better person.