memorandum

Whether you have a loved one working in our recycling center or not, I wanted you to understand that we are making changes to the recycling operation. We are not changing any of the jobs related to community services (e.g., Convenience Centers, RCC's, Recycle Express, Document Destruction), but the processing plant will no longer process recyclables effective July 25th. All recyclable materials will be going to an unaffiliated material recycling facility (MRF) located in the city.  Orange Grove will continue to provide recycling services in a community-based setting and will assist the City of Chattanooga in marketing materials to another local MRF. This memo and a video presentation on our website is designed to inform you of these changes and why they are taking place. To access the video, click here.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) is the federal agency that must approve each of the Medicaid waiver programs that provide home and community based services (HCBS) to people with intellectual disabilities in Tennessee. CMS pays for about 2/3 of the cost of HCBS provided in these waiver programs. In order to keep receiving these federal funds, we have to follow their rules. CMS issued a new rule that impacts how HCBS are provided across the country. These sweeping changes are based on the belief that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities have the best opportunity to thrive when they are true participants in the fabric of the community.

What this means in plain English is that individuals we serve through the recycling center will be assisted by Orange Grove in finding more opportunities for daily inclusion in the community. These opportunities include competitive employment, volunteer activities or recreational activities. According to the CMS final settings rule for Home and Community Based Services, individuals should not be served in a segregated environment (where only individuals with disabilities are served). That is, work, volunteer and/or recreational activities must take place in integrated environments (where both people with and without disabilities are included). Orange Grove Center must comply with the new settings rule to continue benefiting from both state and federal funding streams. Orange Grove will continue its long-standing tradition of finding integrated employment opportunities for individuals served. 

After long and hard deliberations, the decision has been made to close our recycling center. The decision was made only after considering the CMS waiver rules, economic variables and constraints, the need for individuals with disabilities to work in community settings, and the ongoing (and unsuccessful) attempts to integrate the recycling center. The interpretation of the new rule has evolved over a period of time, but to maintain Orange Grove's reputation for excellence in service delivery, the path ahead is clear. For more information, search "HCBS Settings Rule" at www.medicaid.gov, www.tn.gov/didd, or www.tn.gov/TennCare.

Please know that the people we serve at the recycling center will be offered new opportunities to obtain competitive employment positions working alongside individuals without disabilities. This will provide opportunities for meeting new people, forming natural relationships and supports and participating more fully in the community. These individuals will now work for a company (that is not affiliated with Orange Grove) using all the skills (and work ethic) they learned during their careers at the Orange Grove Recycling Center. For those individuals not employed in traditional jobs, there will be opportunities for volunteer work and other meaningful community activity. An example is the Orange Grove service recipient who received a national commendation for her volunteer work at a local nursing home.

Since its establishment in 1953, Orange Grove has always strived to identify programs, policies and practices that provide the highest level of dignified supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The new regulation really just reinforces our long-standing belief that the individuals we serve do best when there are plenty of community-based options. And, as ever, we need the support of this community and donors, as we all work together to effectuate the necessary changes.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Orange Grove.

Kyle Hauth
Executive Director
Orange Grove Center
615 Derby Street, Chattanooga, TN 37404
Office- 423-493-2910