Friends Aware was founded in 1954 by a group of parents living in the Cumberland area who could not accept the lack of educational opportunities for their children with developmental disabilities. Therefore, in a borrowed space, they called their vision Friends Aware of Handicapped Children of Potomac Valley.
That community-based program operated on the simple belief that each individual had the right to reach his or her highest possible level of functioning. Today, more than half a century later, that simple belief still stands.
Friends Aware has become a multi-service organization with highly skilled staff that serves and supports hundreds of adults with developmental disabilities. Although our programs and management systems change to meet the needs of the people we serve, two constants remain – the refusal to accept conventional wisdom about a person’s limitations and the insistence of an individual’s right to a full life.
Friends Aware is a community-based organization and receives no direct state funding. Operation is based on the individuals who receive funding through the Developmental Disabilities Administration and have chosen Friends Aware as their service provider. Funding is limited and based on the individual’s needs and limitations.
Board of Directors
Laryn Puddy, President
Jennifer Hendershot, Vice President
Joan Jackson, Treasurer
Bradford Nixon, Secretary
Christina Ujcic, Past President
Mark Bittinger, Executive Director
Stephanie Parks, Meaningful Day Services Director
Haley Fitzpatrick, Residential Director
Ember Fadley, Nursing Director
Michelle Sawyers, HR Director
David Ujcic, Finance Director
Rebecca Rank, Operations Director
Board of Director and General Membership Meetings
The Board of Directors meets on the third Monday of the month in January, March, May, July, September, and November. The meetings begin at 6:00 pm and are held at our main campus in the Life Enrichment Center.
The General Membership meets on the third Monday of the month in May and November. The meetings begin at 5:00 pm and are held at our main campus in the Life Enrichment Center.