Friday, August 26, 2011

Good News Friday!

Assisting persons with developmental disabilities is essentially a community building endeavor. That is why Imagine! is always looking for opportunities to collaborate with other organizations to find for ways to improve our ability to serve some of the most vulnerable among us.

Today I’d like to share one example of the sort of collaboration that Imagine! is involved in that has the potential to positively impact many lives.

Boulder-based Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) currently holds a three-year grant from the Office on Violence Against Women. Imagine! is serving as a collaborative community partner on the grant. The ultimate goals of the grant are to facilitate sustainable system change at both MESA and Imagine!, and to help MESA as well as Imagine! staff and volunteers improve both organizations’ ability to serve people with disabilities who have experienced sexual assault. Two MESA staff members, Audrey Reich and Marti Hopper, serve as core collaboration team members along with Julie Hartman from Imagine!.

Here’s an update on grant activity that was featured in MESA’s Summer Newsletter:

The project is now in the middle of conducting a major needs assessment of both organizations to help us assess how we can best serve sexual assault survivors with disabilities. The core team has been working vigorously during July, conducting individual interviews and focus groups with people throughout both organizations. The data gathering is scheduled to be completed in August. Once the data is collated, the findings will guide us and the leadership teams of both MESA and Imagine! in creating a strategic plan.
We would like to extend our most sincere thanks to everyone who has graciously given us their time and the richness of your thoughts and feedback during this needs assessment process.
Congratulations to all involved in this worthy project, and thank you for your hard work.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dancing With The (Hopefully Aligned) Stars

While Imagine! was hosting a Boulder Chamber of Commerce “Business After Hours” last week, I had the opportunity to visit with several other Chamber members. During one of the conversations a member asked about regulatory issues we have. I gave a standard response about the three State regulatory agents; Departments of Health Care Policy and Financing, Human Services, and Public Health and Environment. Each has a dog in the fight, as they say. I didn’t really come up with a good analogy as to how much of a challenge this can be at times. So I had to think about it for a few days.

Pretend you are at a wedding reception with a live band. Pretend you are asked to dance, and pretend you said yes and hit the dance floor. And as soon as you hit the floor a second band, and then a third band begin to play music at the same time. The three bands decided on their own music and insist you wiggle about following the Arthur Murray steps for their song.

You get the picture.

More recently, Governor Hickenlooper has the regulatory agencies talking with one another to streamline and hopefully share the same sheet music for our wedding reception. Hopefully the next time a person a developmental disability comes seeking support, or asks me to dance, we will be all listening to the same music.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Good News Friday

Today, I’d like to officially introduce the members of the 2011-2012 Imagine! Leadership Development Group (LDG).

This year’s LDG members are:

Erika Alvis, who works in Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source Department.

Jenna Corder, who works in Imagine!'s Case Management Department.

Kari Devine, who works in Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source Department.

Rachel Harmon, who works in Imagine!’s Family Support Department.

Jeff Near, who works in Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source Department.

Amanda Ripley, who works for Imagine!’s Behavioral Health Services Department.

The purpose of Imagine!’s Leadership Development program is to provide a coordinated platform that strategically develops talent within Imagine! to address the company’s leadership needs for the future. The program is designed to educate employee participants about the complexities of the organization and to assist management in learning about people with talent that may be good matches for leadership roles.

Each participant in the LDG will gain a broad understanding of leadership skills and be provided the opportunity to apply their learning in various settings. Each participant will assess their present strengths and areas for growth and realize their potential for leadership. Leadership skills and knowledge gained will be applicable in many aspects of the successful participant’s experiences.

The Leadership Development Group will utilize a variety of methods of learning during the course of the year. These methods will include opportunities for self-study, facilitated group meetings, attendance at other Imagine! meetings, mentoring, training opportunities, and presentations.

Congratulations to all of this year’s LDG members. I think you will find it to be a very rewarding experience.  I’m looking forward to getting to know you and, just as important, to learning from you throughout the year.

Imagine!’s 2011-2012 Imagine! Leadership Development Group (clockwise from left: Jenna Corder, Erika Alvis, Kari Devine, Amanda Ripley, and Rachel Harmon) pose with Mark Emery.  Not pictured: Jeff Near.

Monday, August 15, 2011

I Don't Wanna

Whether you are a parent or not, at some point in your life you have probably witnessed a child having a tantrum.  Almost invariably, this attention-seeking behavior is the result of the child being asked to do something that the child does not want to do.  The child can’t rationally explain why he or she doesn’t want to do something, so their argument generally begins and ends with “I don’t wanna!”

Most of us experience a world where “I don’t wanna” isn’t considered an appropriate response to most requests.  But I strongly suspect that for many of us, there still lurks (beneath our grown-up exteriors) the impulse control of a two-year who wants to reject any unexpected or inconvenient appeal by simply saying, “I don’t wanna.”

I have noticed this tendency recently simply by paying attention to my surroundings. Right now, the system of how we fund and provide services for individuals with one or more developmental disabilities in Colorado, and indeed the nation, is in a quandary.  There are very few people who would disagree with me about this. New ideas and new approaches to serving some of our most vulnerable citizens have received luke warm receptions at best.

I believe that everyone in this system wants to do better by those we serve.  The question remains if we can get over our urges to say “I don’t wanna” because alternative approaches may mean hard work and uncertainty. 

I recently enjoyed an evening viewing "Transdendent Man: Live with Ray Kurzweil" , and  Ray Kurzweil TED Talk: Singularity University. Whether you are on board with Kurzweil would be an interesting discussion, but not for today. What was important for me to hear was a question to Kurzweil about how to respond to people who find it difficult to change. He described that people do not find it difficult to change when the change will benefit their lives. Well … we have reached such a state of deprivation with our systems of supports for the lives of people who have disabilities that I am convinced significant systems change is on the horizon. This change will be welcomed with open arms by users of the supports, providers, family members, and tax payers alike.

As I have said before, I think that the new Governor Hickenlooper administration is making many moves in the right direction (Essential).  I really, really believe that we will see some differences that will translate to better lives for those we serve.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Good News Friday!

Since 1984, Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department has assisted people who have cognitive disabilities in finding gainful employment through supported employment services. Supported employment offers people who have a disability the opportunity to develop vital job skills and become active participants in their communities.

The benefits extend far beyond helping our clients, however. Businesses using our services are able to reduce recruitment and training expenses as they benefit from a diversified employee pool. Partnering with CORE/Labor Source is a “win-win” situation that is beneficial all around.

One business that embraced this mutually beneficial relationship early on was The Hungry Toad Pub and Restaurant in Boulder. This year marks the 20th anniversary of a CORE/Labor Source crew working there. Hungry Toad owner Terry Morton (pictured on the right with Imagine! consumer Tim Gray) has been a great advocate of our supported employment program and the people we serve.

When asked why he thinks the long term relationship has been so successful, Terry replied, “The crew is reliable and they do good work. That’s it in a nutshell.”

Thanks Terry and The Hungry Toad. We wish you continued success!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Good News Friday!

On Saturday, August 13, from 6:30-9:30 PM, at 29th Street Mall in Boulder, Imagine! will be the featured non-profit at the Twenty Ninth Street Live Concert Series.

Imagine! will receive 10% of the proceeds from alcohol sales (including Boulder Beer, Barefoot Wine, and margaritas) plus a match of that amount by Boulder Creek Events.

Imagine! will have an information booth at the event, and we will be speaking about our services and supports during the band break.

And the band sounds like it puts on a great show! Playing that night will be Chase N The Dream. Get a sneak preview of the band by checking out the video below.

It’s going to be an entertaining night to support a good cause. Hope to see you there!

Can’t see the video? Click here.