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Lee Chase answers questions on work and retirement

Robert Houk • Updated Feb 11, 2019 at 7:02 PM

Lee Chase has retired as the executive director of Dawn of Hope. The Johnson City resident has spent more than three decades at the nonprofit agency for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, beginning as its vocational director in 1985.

He has seen the organization, which recently marked its 50th anniversary, grow from a day program to one that also has employment and residential services.

Fast Facts:

Reading now: “John Sevier — Tennessee’s First Hero,” by Gordon Belt.

Dog or cat person: “Dog, but I secretly like cats also.”

Favorite dessert: “Cookies of any kind.”

What's your fondest memory while serving as director of Dawn of Hope?

Moving to the Stratton Building in 2002, which is such a great facility for the services Dawn of Hope provides.

What was your greatest challenge in your role as director?

Accepting service changes as directed by federal funding sources that specified that facility based services are no longer acceptable. While Dawn of Hope has always provided community inclusive services — the dictate that future services must be completely community based has led to a number of former service recipients deciding they would rather stay home than be in the community full time.

The irony is that the state recently received recognition for their promotion of person-centered practices. Ironic because most of the families and service recipients “desire” facility-based services.

If you had pursued a different career, what do you think it would have been?

I grew up on a farm, and the love and cultivation of plants is one of my favorite hobbies — so a job that involves plants in some capacity.

How are you spending your days now?

A. Finally fixing all the things that broke the last 10 years.

B. Cleaning my garage

C. Really organizing my life

What advice would you give to someone who is just embarking on his or her career?

Have a passion for what you do, and pray for God’s wisdom and guidance for the decisions you have to make.

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