Housing Resource Center
The Housing Resource Center is an umbrella for several program activities, including Advocacy, Home Accessibility, and Nursing Home Transition.
Ash Lemons – Director of Housing and Advocacy Services
Ash Lemons transitioned into the field of disability related services in 2002, a few years after a diagnosis of Psoriatic Arthritis ended a successful 8 year stint as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force.
He is currently the Director of the Housing Resource Center at the Ability Center of Greater Toledo where he oversees the Home Accessibility program, The Nursing Home Transition program and other programs related to Housing and Advocacy. He previously served as the Ability Center’s Accessibility Specialist and Disability Rights Advocate.
In 2005, Ash was presented the “Spirit of Democracy” award, by former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, for assisting 11 County Board of Elections in working towards compliance with the Help Americans Vote Act. In 2008, he was recognized by Chief Logan of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as a key advocate in the passage of SB209, which provided expanded opportunities for hunters with certain disabilities.
Ash has served as a board member of the: Ohio Secretary of State’s ADA advisory committee and the Ohio Governors Council on Persons with Disabilities.
Ash holds an Associates degree in Airframe Technology from the Community College of the United States Air Force and a BS in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College.
Katie Hunt Thomas – Disability Rights Attorney
Katie Hunt Thomas is the Ability Center’s Disability Rights Attorney. Katie received her bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Xavier University in 2005 and her law degree, cum laude, from the University of Toledo in 2009. Her work history includes Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc. and Murray & Murray Co. LPA before joining The Ability Center.
She has a sister living with Down Syndrome and has been interested in Disability Rights law since law school, where she earned highest ranking in her Disability Law class. Through her work history she has gained experience with the Fair Housing Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Valerie Novack – Disability Rights Advocate
Valerie grew up in Albuquerque, NM and moved to Toledo, OH in 2013. She received an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts from Owens Community College before attending the University of Toledo where she graduated with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Disability Studies and Geography & Planning and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree. She became aware of disability law and accommodations while working for the Student Disability Services office at the University of Toledo. After two months of employment, she changed her major to Disability Studies. She found that she shared a passion for accessibility with The Ability Center and jumped at the opportunity to be a part of their growing Advocacy Department at the Housing Resource Center.
When she is not studying or working, Valerie enjoys spending time with her husband Chase and dog Mac. Her other loves include reading, hiking, running, traveling, and bad TV.
Home Accessibility Staff
Mindy Metzger – Home Accessibility Manager
Mindy has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Bowling Green State University and an master’s degree in Sociology from the University of Toledo. Mindy has worked as a Pharmacy Technician, interned with Department of Youth Services and worked for Lucas County Children Services. Mindy loves working with and for others.
After having her daughter, she worked in the family business so she could spend as much time with her as possible. Now that she is older, Mindy have been fortunate enough to go back to work full-time in a rewarding position with this amazing organization.
When she is not working, she loves hanging out with her daughter and husband, playing tennis, shopping, reading, and exercising. Mindy also enjoys backpacking and even traveled around Europe after graduation.
Terry Lanning – Construction & Housing Supervisor
Terry is a lifelong resident of Lucas county. He grew up in the Shoreland-Point Place area, but has resided in west Toledo, Sylvania Township, and Springfield Township. After graduating from Whitmer High School, he attended Owens Community College. After working in various sales positions, Terry changed direction and started a career in carpentry. He worked in a family business with his brother for almost 20 years, before starting his own company.
Terry shares, “With nearly thirty years experience as a carpenter-remodeler my hope is to bring a good deal of expertise to the ramp building program.”
Terry likes to spend his spare time with his wife Kim, his daughter Kirsten, and two grandchildren. He is also a big sports fan and enjoys many types of music.
Matt Browning – General Laborer
Matt was born and raised in Jackson, OH, a small town in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in rural southeast Ohio. He began laboring for a construction company in high school during the summer and on weekends. He used his skills to design and build a deck with a wheelchair ramp for his grandparents when they acquired disabilities. Matt shares, “This is when I decided I wanted to be a carpenter. I began working as a carpenter immediately after high school and continued to do so from then on.” In his free time, he loves to spend time with his four daughters. Matt also enjoys hunting and fishing – basically anything that will get him outside and in the woods.
Nursing Home Transition Staff
Don Smith – Nursing Home Transition Manager
Don began working at The Ability Center of Greater Toledo in 2001, as the Community Living Coordinator. The department expanded its staff and, in 2008, he became the Nursing Home Transition Manager. As such, Don is responsible for coordinating communications between various social agencies and businesses to encourage smooth transitioning for consumers. As of April 2016, the department has assisted in the transition of more than 650 consumers from a nursing home setting into independent living, an accomplishment of which the Center is very proud of.
Before ACT, Don worked with the State of Ohio as a supervisor for the Department of Youth Services, a corrections facility for felony offenders. In this position, he supervised staff members responsible for the youth offenders. Before becoming a supervisor, Don worked as a Corrections Officer, specializing in transitioning offenders with substance problems back into the community.
Don shares, “In my spare time, I volunteer at my church and hold the position of Servant Leader of the Deacon’s Ministry and Servant Leader of the Church and Family Life Ministry. I’ve recently received training through “The Keeping it Together Marriage Initiative”, sponsored by the State of Ohio, as a Couples’ Training Facilitator. My hobbies include auto detailing, repairing and rebuilding small electronic devices, surfing the internet and spending time with my family and close friends.”
Cathy Quinones – Nursing Home Transition Support Specialist
Born and raised in New Jersey, Cathy received an associate’s degree in Legal Assisting and has over 10 years experience in customer service and administrative roles. She relocated to Sylvania, Ohio in 2004 with her husband, where she was fortunate enough to stay at home with their son, Marc. Marc was born with multiple disabilities, and he changed her life in ways she never expected. Cathy shares, “There are no words to describe the lessons he taught me in the four short, but precious years he was with us.”
Cathy says, “Marc is the reason why I am at The Ability Center today. I was seeking to join an organization that made a difference in the lives of others. I started as a volunteer with The Ability Center in 2009 and officially became an employee in 2010. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of people who are passionate about the individuals we help on a daily basis.”
In her spare time, she loves to travel and above all, she enjoys spending time with my family and friends.
Becky Strieff – Nursing Home Transition Coordinator
Becky has been employed at The Ability Center for 12 years. She is passionate about assisting people in nursing facilities to live independently in the community. Through the Home Choice Program as a Transition Coordinator, Becky is able to assist individuals in finding a community setting that they choose with the supports they need to assure an opportunity for them to live in their home and not in a nursing home.
Becky shares, “In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and finding tranquility in my flower garden.”