Home OF Guiding Hands: Bringing the Change with Exemplary Vision and Approach

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Home OF Guiding Hands Bringing the Change with Exemplary Vision and Approach
Home OF Guiding Hands Bringing the Change with Exemplary Vision and Approach

Below are the impeccable conversations held on the topic of embracing the underserved and underrepresented communities. Business Leaders Review considers Home of Guiding Hands a boon to such communities and wishes the best for their future endeavors.

How Home of Guiding Hands (HGH) is bringing change to the Healthcare Sector?

HGH specializes in home visitation services in underserved and underrepresented

communities. In Imperial Valley alone, HGH has over 650 families who need respite care

for a loved one that has been diagnosed with a disability.

What are the long-term goals of HGH??

Home of Guiding Hands is celebrating 55 years of servicing the community. Our long-term goal

is to provide another five decades of exceptional quality care.

Over the next years, Home of Guiding Hands will focus on innovation. We will embrace change, keep an open mind, take calculated risks, and learn from our mistakes, while maintaining a creative mindset to improve the care and service we provide. We will continue to grow in San Diego and Imperial Counties while we diversify our revenue stream, expand our services offered, and challenge the status quo.

Shed some light on the genesis of the inception of HGH?

HGH was founded in 1961 by a group of businessmen, and parents with children with

special needs. This group believed that there was a better way of providing services.

HGH began in East County, San Diego, with an innovative 14- acre campus. This new way of doing things shaped not only our services, but services throughout California. That campus

was sold in the late 1980s and HGH purchased 31 community-based group homes. What

started as a grassroots effort has grown into a 40-million-dollar agency, that serves over 4,000

individuals annually.

• Home of Guiding Hands started operations in 1967 with a residential program on a 208-bed campus. After the 1969 passage of California’s Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, Home of Guiding Hands expanded and became a vendor of the newly created San Diego Regional Center. The Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, codified in California’s Welfare and Institutions Code, secured the right of the state’s residents with developmental disabilities to get the services they need to live like people without disabilities.

• In 1972, Home of Guiding Hands began raising money for its first bus. In the years since its inception, Home of Guiding Hands has expanded steadily, complementing residential living with other programs.

• 55 years later, Home of Guiding Hands serves more than 4,000 men, women and children

with development and intellectual disabilities in San Diego and Imperial Counties.

  • Adult fostering, which connects adults with disabilities with host homes.
  • Early child development, which helps children, from birth to age 3, conquer challenges linked to developmental delays or disabilities
  • Independent living, which helps people with developmental disabilities live on their own.
  • Respite care gives parents some hours to rest and recharge so they can better care for someone with developmental disabilities. (In 2020, Home for Guiding Hands provided 156,605 hours of respite to clients, working with 1,400 infants and 400 early intervention clients.)
  • Tailored day services, which arranges community activities to let people with developmental disabilities make friends and build relationships.

What challenges and lessons has HGH learned so far while catering the

Healthcare sector?

Our Residential Services program continues to be significantly affected by COVID-19 health & safety mandates which require our group homes to adhere to strict COVID-19 guidelines. The homes must follow all public health and safety orders as enforced by their licensing agency, unlike most businesses who have been able to greatly reduce COVID restrictions. For HGH, COVID continues to dictate our daily operations and adds additional challenges for our workers and the individuals living in our programs. We are still required to abide by social distancing practices and quarantine protocols at times, and if there is one known positive COVID case in a home the entire home becomes quarantined, and no visitors are allowed. This prevents individuals from seeing their family members and friends and after 2.5 years, the COVID mandates continue to place a strain on social enrichment and restrict the types of activities occurring within the homes. While most of the public has gone back to their “normal routines” including work activities and day programming, the residents at HGH are not always able to do so which affects their quality of life.

What are the different verticals you cater to in the healthcare domain?

We service individuals ages birth to end of life who have a primary diagnosis of a developmental

delay such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, or autism.

How do you quantify and qualify your team? How is it benefiting the facility services?

HGH is one of the few 501(c) 3s that has a unionized workforce. HGH has over 800

employees who work in various capacities, ranging from bus drivers to licensed

professionals. Exceptional care is at the focal point of all of our services, regardless of

the ability of the team member working.

Tell us about the achievements and certifications HGH owns.

• This year Home of Guiding Hands celebrated its 55th anniversary of serving the San Diego


• On Dec 2nd Home of Guiding Hands President and CEO, Edward Hershey, was named the

Leading the Charge award recipient, an honor bestowed on an advocate who has

demonstrated extraordinary leadership and advocacy for the disability

community. California Senate President Pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins praised Hershey

for his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Congratulations to Edward Hershey on

receiving this year’s ‘Leading the Charge’ award. His work overseeing the distribution of

personal protective equipment (PPE) across multiple counties and establishing the Home of

Guiding Hands as a vaccination site ensured that more than 1,000 of our most vulnerable

residents were immunized during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senate President Pro Tempore

Toni G. Atkins. “Congratulations Edward on this accomplishment and on your new role as CEO.”

Tell us about Home of Guiding Hands President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hershey:

Edward Hershey serves as President and Chief Executive Officer for Home of Guiding

Hands. Hershey began his career at HGH in 2015 as the Vice President of Operations and in 2021 was promoted to Chief Operating Officer. He has 27- years of management experience

directing all facets of business operations, with expertise in operations and project management.

Hershey served in the US Navy during the Gulf War and was honorably discharged in 1993. He

serves on the Board of the California Disability Services Institute, and the California Disability

Services Association.

Hershey holds a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management with a Specialization in

Strategic Innovation and Change Management from Colorado State University and a Bachelor’s

Degree in Organizational Leadership with a Specialization in Public and Non-Profit Management.

He is a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities, a licensed California Contractor. He is a member of the John Maxwell team and certified as a leadership coach, speaker, and trainer.

Hershey lives in Southern California with his wife of 16 years and their three children, one of whom was diagnosed with Williams syndrome, an intellectual disability. Edward knows first-hand how important quality, accessible services are to the populations that HGH serves. 

How did you cope with the pandemic? In what way did the pandemic hit you?

Community generosity is what helped HGH cope with the pandemic, especially during the first two weeks of the initial shut down.  For example, with the abrupt closure of client day programs, HGH and its staff needed to provide in-home care during the daytime, resulting in a shortage of lunch meals for the initial two week shut down. Supply chains dried up. Even bread was impossible to get. With the help of a local casino and a private restaurant owner, food was donated. They delivered their fresh foods and dairy products so HGH could meet the meal shortage for our 150 residents. Hershey says “without the generosity of our small business community, I’m not sure how we would have provided for the basic needs of our 150 medically fragile residents. From the bottom of my heart -thank you- to all of you who stepped up’.

Tell us about ICARE and how Guiding Hands hold up to its values.

No organization can succeed without values to match its mission. Our mission is to improve the lives of those we serve. It communicates the organization’s reason for being, and how it aims to serve its key stakeholders. Our mission statement also helps to guide our direction as an organization.

Home of Guiding Hands ICARE values is a bold proclamation of how we provide the best experiences and services to the people we support. ICARE stands for:

Innovation: We embrace change, keep an open mind, take calculated risks, and learn from our mistakes while maintaining a creative mindset to improve the care and service we provide.

Collaboration: We initiate partnerships and establish trust within and across boundaries to extend the best services and drive excellent outcomes.

Accountability: We embody integrity, ethical behavior, and responsible stewardship in all we do for and with others.

Respect: We hold others in high regard, honor their values, viewpoints, and contributions and treat them as we wish to be treated.

Empathy: We listen with curiosity and without judgment and seek first to understand so we can best meet the needs of others’ lies

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