Friday, September 28, 2012

Good News Friday!

Last week, I shared some good news about Imagine!, our programs, and our employees.

So this week, I thought I’d share a couple of nice stories about the people we serve – stories told by Imagine! employees themselves.

The first story was shared by LeAnne Woodward, Imagine! Case Manager.

I have a great success story. I work with a consumer, Jessie, who has been an Imagine! consumer for years.

She is in her twenties and was born with a physical disability in her legs. Jessie has no femurs and uses a wheelchair to get around. Recently, she started going to physical therapy for pain in her back. While at physical therapy it was determined that part of her pain was due to lack of movement. She worked with her therapist and practiced walking. Jessie had not walked in over six years!!!

She was so excited and proud of herself that she stopped by Imagine! just to show me. Jessie took four steps on her own! She reported to me that she had taken 40 steps while at physical therapy, which is a huge success for her. Jessie has set a new goal for herself to walk at least five hundred steps so that she can finally start roller blading again. I am so very happy for Jessie and can’t wait for her continued progress.


Update – I just heard that Jessie took 125 steps yesterday! Way to go!

The second story was shared by Gary Stebick, Imagine!’s Communications Coordinator, about Robert, a resident of Imagine!’s Foothills Group Home in Boulder.

Recently, Robert expressed an interest in being in Imagine!’s newsletter, but he wasn’t sure what he had to do to be featured in the newsletter. He mentioned that he liked art, and said he had a picture that he drew in high school that might be of interest to people who read the newsletter. Robert proceeded to discuss the process of how he decided what to draw in his art piece.

Robert‘s art teacher in high school suggested that Robert find some pictures that he liked in magazines and use them for models for different parts of his art piece. Robert started by choosing to draw the picture with charcoal and pencil. He saw a picture of mountains that he liked, so mountains were the first thing he drew. Then he drew the large ship, fashioned after a large ship he saw in a photo. Then he found a photo of a man in a rowboat which he liked so he drew a man in a rowboat next. As he continued looking through magazines, he saw a picture of a helicopter and decided to put a helicopter into his drawing. Finally, since there were two ships in the picture, he added the ocean, and that’s how he came to draw this piece of art.

Robert’s interest in art began when he was a child drawing in coloring books. Navy blue is his favorite color, and he enjoys drawing animals. When asked what he likes to do, Robert replied, “I like to help people.”

The piece of art shown below has great sentimental value to Robert. He wrapped the picture and gave it to his grandfather as a present, but his grandfather died unexpectedly soon afterwards. Robert’s grandmother knew the artwork was special to Robert and she returned it to him to serve as a reminder of his grandfather, a former Marine whose picture hangs on Robert’s wall near his artwork.

Robert's art


Friday, September 21, 2012

Good News Friday!

Today, I am going to share several short pieces of good news about Imagine!, our programs, and our employees.

First, I’d like to share the exciting news that Imagine!’s very own Abhaya Gurung is a finalist for the Irwin Siegel Agency Direct Support Professional (DSP) of the year! This is a very prestigious national award, and Abhaya was selected out of many nominations because of his unwavering commitment to the individuals he serves.

Learn more about the great work Abhaya does by clicking here.

Next, I’d like to share a short video of a mother of a young woman served by Imagine! as she talks about the powerful impact Imagine! has had on her daughter's life.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Here’s some nice comments from families who have participated in Imagine!’s Dayspring Community Calendar Activity Program, which introduces families with children with developmental disabilities and delays to places in our community that offer great activities and opportunities for their children to meet their goals through fun and play.

“My family really appreciates all these ‘extras’ that Dayspring provides, especially the groups run by an OT – fun for our 2 year old while actually sneakily helping do the work of therapy. We try to never miss any of them.”

“Our family has been so fortunate to have gained a positive experience through Dayspring’s CCA program. We cannot thank this organization enough for making a difference in our lives.”

And finally, here’s some nice thanks from a couple of families who have completed three-year enrollments in Imagine!’s Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Program, which is designed to meet the needs of school aged children with ASD who don’t qualify for funding from the state of Colorado despite having significant needs.

 “As always, thank you for all you do. You always go above and beyond. All these families are very lucky that you are at the helm, managing all this for them.”

“Thank you so much for putting up with me for three years. I appreciate all the help Imagine! has provided. As soon as we are back on our feet and not in the hole, you can count on us to make small donations. I'm going to miss you guys!”

Friday, September 14, 2012

Good News Friday!

Today I’d like to highlight a collaboration between Imagine! and the University of Colorado that has resulted in a simple (and fun) learning tool that opens the door for developing skills among the population we serve so they can be more independent.

Below are a couple of photos of folks living in the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome playing a game that serves as a fun way to develop money management skills.

Here's how the game is played: Players push a button and a light starts going around a “Wheel of Fortune” (seen in the picture below with John), then push the button again, making the wheel stop on a spot that corresponds with a coin. The players mark that coin on a score card. Everyone gets five turns. At the end of the game, players add up the coins marked and answer questions about what they can buy with that much money, how many quarters are in a dollar, what they would do if they had a million dollars, and other questions designed to get players to learn while having fun.

By all accounts, the game was indeed fun – the players had a great time playing.

John presses the button to stop the “Wheel of Fortune.”

Lana (in blue shirt) and Rebecca watch the wheel closely.

So where did this game come from? For the past three years, a group of University of Colorado Engineering students in classes taught by Associate Professor Melinda Piket-May have worked on projects to design adaptive technologies to aid increased independence for some of the individuals Imagine! serves. These projects have resulted in several tools that have benefited individuals served by Imagine! greatly, including the "Wheel of Fortune" game.

You can see some examples of other projects from the Spring 2012 class here.

And in case you missed it, here’s a video of the CU students who developed this game explaining how the technology for the “Wheel of Fortune” works. Cool stuff!


Can’t see the video? Click here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Players Club

Back in the mid-1980s, you couldn’t turn on a television set during the daytime without seeing a commercial featuring Telly Savalas promoting the “Players Club Gold Card.”

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Those commercials kind of cracked me up. Even for the 1980s they seemed cheaply produced, and I was never convinced that you would actually get much value out the card if you purchased one.

But I understood what they were trying to sell. It wasn’t the card itself, it was the experience of feeling like you were someone special – someone who got treated like a VIP. If the commercial was to believed, the Players Club Gold Card got you access to better treatment (in the form of cost savings) at hotels and casinos than the average person on the street.

I had an experience lately that made me feel a bit like a Players Club member. This past weekend, after some hiking and rafting around the Green River and mountain biking the Wasatch Crest Trail, my wife, some friends, and I went to a decidedly less active activity: a Sunday brunch at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City.

I had been to this brunch only once before, last spring. I don’t live in Utah and don’t do brunch very often, so this was not part of normal routine. Imagine my surprise, then, when the Maitre d’ came up to me and said “Glad to see you back again.” He said it specifically to me. I don’t think this was something he was just guessing about, it was pretty clear he knew I’d been there before.

Now, I’m sure he sees hundreds of guests every Sunday brunch, and I don’t think it is likely he has a photographic memory of everyone he sees. Instead, I think he did some homework and preparation. Maybe when I made the reservation for the brunch he was able to cross check the name with a database of previous brunch patrons (I had made the reservation and paid with my credit card the last time I went to the brunch).

While I’m not entirely sure how he did it, but what I do know is that it made me feel like I was a VIP. His simple gesture of acknowledging my return really made my day, and I really appreciated the effort.

As usual, I related that experience to what we do at Imagine!. As much as we’d like to, we simply can’t do everything that everybody we serve wants. There are funding limitations and regulatory barriers that prevent that from happening, and it just isn’t realistic to think we have the capacity to provide everyone with exactly what they need and want.

But what we can, and should, do is prepare. We should do our homework, we should know as much as we can about the people we serve and the services that are available to them. We should study and plan. Things that may seem unimportant to others (like the fact that I had brunch at the Grand America once before this past weekend) can be very important to the end user (like me when that fact was acknowledged by the Maitre d’.)

At Imagine!, I believe our path to success is best paved with knowledge and preparation. We have made the commitment to ensure that we have the business intelligence to make this possible for every Imagine! employee. We want to make sure that the people we serve are part of an exclusive Players Club, a club that provides them access to the best services and supports possible.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Good News Friday!

For several years now, Imagine! has selected employees annually from across our organization to participate in a Leadership Development Program. 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 employees (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. The Leadership Development program also allows participants to learn important processes, skills, and offers opportunities to develop and promote leadership skills.

We’ve just transitioned from the 2011 – 2012 Leadership Development Group (LDG) to the 2012 – 2013 LDG, so I thought today would be a good time to highlight both groups.

The 2011 – 2012 LDG finished their participation in the program with a bang, presenting to the Imagine! Executive Team their Business Proposal: "Is There a Place for Imagine!? Assistive Technology for Seniors." This was a very thought provoking presentation and business plan discussing the opportunities that exist to use technology to expand Imagine!’s services to include seniors, building on our already solid knowledge base and experience using technology to serve individuals with one or more developmental disabilities.

Thanks and congratulations to (pictured from left to right) Kari Devine, from Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department; Jeff Near, also from CORE/Labor Source; Jenna Corder, from Imagine!’s Case Management department; Amanda Ripley, from Imagine! Behavioral Health Services; and Erika Alvis, also from CORE/Labor Source. Your hard work, dedication, and new ideas are much appreciated.

And now the torch is being passed. Please join me in welcoming the 2012 – 2013 LDG (pictured from left to right): Molly Beyer, from Imagine!'s Family Support department; Claire Findlay, also from Family Support;  Nicole Bernard, from Imagine!'s Case Management department; Kim Holman, from Imagine!'s IT department; John Ripley, from Imagine!'s Innovations department; and Lindsay Hourigan, from Imagine!'s CORE/Labor Source department.

This year we had more applications to join this group than ever before, and the quality of the applicants was outstanding. The LDG reviewing team had some very difficult choices to make, and I believe they have selected a group of very strong participants. I am looking forward to another productive year!