Friday, October 13, 2017

Good News Friday!


October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Since 1984, Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) department has assisted individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities across Boulder and Broomfield counties 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, while working toward their goals through group and independent employment opportunities.

The benefits extend far beyond helping the individuals we serve, however. Businesses using our services are able to reduce recruitment and training expenses as they benefit from a diversified employee pool. Partnering with CLS is a "win-win" situation that is beneficial all around.

CLS currently partners with businesses across Boulder and Broomfield counties to provide supported employment solutions for hundreds of individuals. Check out the video below, created last year, celebrating just some of those business partners. We are grateful for their support and commitment to community inclusion.
 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Out & About 20 Stories Update - 10/11/17


Imagine!’s Out & About department is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year! 

To honor this milestone, we are collecting and sharing stories and memories from our employees, from the families and individuals we serve, and from the many businesses that support our work. In fact, we’re collecting and sharing 20 stories from each of those three categories!


Here’s one example of a great story: Lee shares how Out & About activities are often the way she is able to have exciting experiences for the very first time.

I’ll be sharing other stories and memories on this blog throughout the year.  

You can also click here to see all the stories we have so far.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Technology Tuesday


Congratulations to Imagine!’s own Brodie Schulze, who has been selected to be a presenter at the 2017 Coleman Institute Conference on Cognitive Disability & Technology.

Brodie’s presentation is titled: “Collaborative Care: How a Partnership Between the University of Colorado and Imagine! has Created New Opportunities for Independence for People with Disabilities.”

Imagine! and CU have collaborated to design adaptive technologies to aid increased independence for individuals served by Imagine!. Students work with Imagine! to design assistive technologies that open doors to client’s increased self-reliance. The potential exists for projects to scale and be made available to more individuals in living more independent lives.

For the presentation, Brodie will team up with CU Professor Melinda Piket-May, and the two will share their experiences, what they’ve learned during the collaboration, highlight some specific projects, and discuss what the future might hold.

As a fun preview of the presentation, check out the video below, highlight some of the projects that have resulted from this collaboration.

  
Can’t see the video? Click here.

Good luck, Brodie! We know you’ll make Imagine! proud.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Good News Friday!

Imagine!’s Emergency Fund provides limited financial assistance to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) meet urgent or extraordinary needs not covered by Medicaid or other funding sources.

Today I’d like to thank two communities for their help in ensuring that those funds are available to their citizens when needed.


The City of Lafayette, Colorado provided a $2,000 grant to Imagine!’s Emergency Fund to support Lafayette citizens in need through the city's One Lafayette Community Fundraiser. The City finances this community fundraiser to help local nonprofit organizations provide essential services.


And the Broomfield Community Foundation provided a generous $1,500 grant to Imagine! to go toward Imagine!’s Case Management Emergency Fund for individuals living in Broomfield.

Imagine! is stronger when our community takes an active role in facilitating our work, and we are extremely grateful to both the City of Lafayette and the Broomfield Community Foundation for their support.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Out & About 20 Stories Update - 10/03/17


Imagine!’s Out & About department is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year! 

To honor this milestone, we are collecting and sharing stories and memories from our employees, from the families and individuals we serve, and from the many businesses that support our work. In fact, we’re collecting and sharing 20 stories from each of those three categories!

 

Here’s a story from longtime (and recently retired) Out & About employee Jerry Gooding where he talks about what it really means to connect with somebody.

I’ll be sharing other stories and memories on this blog throughout the year.  

You can also click here to see all the stories we have so far.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Good News Friday!


You are invited to the Imagine! 2017 Provider Fair

Please join us for this exciting opportunity to connect with providers and community agencies, learn about available services, and network with other clients and families.

When: Thursday, October 19, 2017
Where: Imagine!’s John Taylor Conference Center, 1665 Coal Creek Drive, Lafayette CO 80026  
Time: 4:00pm to 7:00pm

We anticipate having 50 service providers at the fair, including individuals who contract with Imagine!, Program Approved Service Agencies (PASAs), Home Health Agencies, and community organizations offering direct services and supports.

Imagine! Eligibility Specialists, our Intake Team, and Case Managers will be on hand to answer questions.

No RSVP required.

Click here for more information and FAQs.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Food Truck Fun

Often I will speak to parents and advocates in our system, and one of the most frequent concerns that they express is their belief that the way an individual’s needs are assessed creates an unequal and unfair system of distributing funds and delivering services.

I am very sympathetic to their concerns, but I think focusing on assessment tools can potentially blind us to the bigger picture – the fact that services are tracked, billed, and paid for using what are known as “units of service.” This is where the real unfairness comes from.

I’m going to use a food truck at a festival analogy to describe how I see the flaws in our pay-per-unit of service system in Colorado. (This is ridiculous, but I feel like Pat Paulsen explaining communism here).

Imagine a food truck at a festival. We’ll call it Francisco’s Famous Cuban Sandwiches. Francisco is only allowed to sell Cuban sandwiches, and only to five specific types of customers. The customers each pay for the sandwich with a chip they receive when they enter the festival. One chip equals one sandwich.

So far, seems simple enough. But let’s add a layer of complexity. The people receiving the sandwiches have very different needs and desires when it comes to sandwiches. One person is a vegan, one is a vegetarian, one is a lacto ovo pescatarian, one plays on the offensive line of a football team, and one is a sumo wrestler.

Despite the variable food intake needs of each person, each person gets one chip and that one chip gets them one Cuban sandwich. The festival thinks this is a pretty nice scenario. The first three people listed above have dietary restrictions that make eating a Cuban sandwich distasteful to them (at best), and the last two probably need a lot more to eat beyond a single sandwich.

So the people getting the sandwiches (services) are stuck with getting something they don’t want or doesn’t meet their needs. But guess what? Francisco isn’t happy either.

Why? Because Francisco has to turn in the chips he gets for making sandwiches to the festival operators in order to get paid. And the chips aren’t all valued the same. Instead, the chips are worth different amounts depending on the person who is cashing it in for a sandwich. The vegan’s chip is worth $3, the vegetarian’s chip is worth $5, the lacto ovo pescatarian’s chip is worth $8, the offensive lineman’s chip is worth $15, and the sumo wrestler’s chip is worth $20. It costs Francisco $10 to make the sandwich, and what he’s paid depends on who’s giving him the chip.

Naturally, this frustrates Francisco, but he’s a realist. He will do everything he can to sell sandwiches to the football player and the sumo wrestler, because he can make money feeding them, while at the same time doing everything he can to avoid selling sandwiches to the three varieties of vegetarians because he loses money when he cooks for them.

Are you hungry yet? How about confused? I know who is not confused in Colorado: people being turned away by providers because their chips aren’t buying them the sandwich they want or need. But that is basically how both the Support Living Services (SLS) and Comprehensive Services (COMP) are arranged in Colorado. People aren’t getting what they need because their units of service are like chips in the festival. Everyone is dissatisfied, and eventually it will come to a head. I don’t like to be this sort of prognosticator, but I fear that eventually we will see a crisis as the ridiculousness of the system across the board creates angry families. Crises are costly and unnecessary, particularly when they can be predicted and avoided.

Perhaps we can avoid this future, but discussion about change should really start with the way services are quantified and paid for in our festival. Maybe, just maybe, there will come a time when we can all have the sandwich we want, and Francisco can cook for everyone.

Then again, what do I know?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

TODAY! Support Imagine! Through Live & Give Longmont

Today is the day!!! 


Want to ensure the health and happiness of everyone in our community? Enrich our lively arts scene? Support the education of our young people? Live & Give Longmont is our chance to come together on one extraordinary day (TODAY, Sept. 26) to celebrate our collective spirit of giving and provide seed funding for nonprofits and projects that help our community.

Imagine! is a Live & Give Longmont participating organization. You can help kids and adults with developmental disabilities enjoy all that Longmont has to offer, while they build cooperative skills! Imagine!'s Out & About participants are in Longmont for day camp, after-school, and weekend activities! About 75 people enjoy the Longmont Rec Center, bowling at Centennial Lanes, the Dickens Opera House, Firehouse Art, and Yaya Farms. The entrance fees for these activities add up, and your gift will help Imagine! provide even more opportunities to these venues.

Learn more and donate here

Monday, September 25, 2017

Space Invaders

A couple of weekends ago, I went for a run along the Boulder Creek path. It is a frequent and favorite route of mine, but this particular Saturday I forgot about one thing before I set out – it was the day of a home game for the University of Colorado Buffaloes football team.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Boulder Creek path, it runs right along the CU campus, and on game days, the path is often filled with alumni and fans walking to Folsom stadium to cheer on the home team. This isn’t a big problem, I just slow down and the fans are always polite about letting me pass.

But I noticed something in particular on this ride about space and how some people seem to be more willing to take up more space than others.

I’m not talking about someone’s actual size. Rather, I’m discussing in a figurative sense how some people seem to be more comfortable than others with taking up more space than they might need. On this particular day, I probably saw a dozen couples walking to the game, and inevitably, one person would be on one side of the path, holding a chair facing toward the center of the path, and the other would be on the other side of the path, holding a chair facing toward the center of the path.

That combination meant that together they took up the entire width of the path. They weren’t doing it to be malicious, or because they were inherently selfish, they just had either a sense of entitlement to the entire path, didn’t like each other that much, or shared a lack of awareness of the needs of others using the path.

I see this type of space invasion in our field frequently. The person who takes up all the time in a meeting to make their point (you know them as the ones who use up all the air in the room), or the person who argues vociferously their point without consideration or cognizance of other points of view. All too often, the people who take up the most space end up being the ones who slow things down in the end. You can’t get past them on the path.

But do you know what population of individuals doesn’t tend to take more space then they need? People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (and yes, I’m generalizing here, but I feel pretty secure in making that generalization). Perhaps because folks with I/DD have likely spent a good portion of their lives marginalized by society, they don’t carry the same expectations or sense of entitlement that far too many of us do carry (including at times, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit, me).

None of this is to point fingers or to identify a “bad guy.” I just want to point out that perhaps we could all use an occasional experience of trading spaces. Maybe we could be a little more aware of how we take up space, and how those actions can, and do, inadvertently make it more difficult for someone else to be part of the same space.

If we truly want to create a world of opportunity for all abilities, we need to understand that a huge part of making that happen is by making space for others.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, September 22, 2017

Good News Friday!

I’m very pleased to announce that Imagine! will be participating in Way To Go Tober next month.

Way To Go Tober is a great way for Imagine! employees to try new, smarter ways to commute while saving money, reducing stress, and improving the air. Employees can track and receive points for smart commutes, and the company with the highest score wins prizes, glory and the Go-Tober Champion title. I’m feeling good about Imagine!’s chances!

We put together the short video below to encourage Imagine! employee participation. Even if you aren’t an employee here (though you could be), you should consider taking part in this fun way to make our environment a little healthier.

  
Can’t see the video? Click here

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Technology Tuesday

Touring Imagine!’s SmartHome yesterday, to see first hand how technology is changing the way services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be delivered, was John Covert, Development/Marketing Director for Glory Community.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Good News Friday!

Today, I’d like to officially introduce the members of the 2017-2018 Imagine! Leadership Development Group (LDG). This year’s LDG members are (from left to right in the picture below):


Jeff Rodarti, who works for Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department.

Brodie Schulze, who also works for Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department.

Britt McWilliams, who works for Imagine!’s Innovations department.

Ally Joel, who works for Imagine!’s Out & About department.

Jen McIntyre, who works for Imagine!’s Case Management 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.

Check out the short video below to learn more about Imagine!’s Leadership Development Group. And get to know a little more about this year's participants (including their favorite super hero) here.


Can’t see the video? Click here

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Confidence Builders

I mentioned recently on this blog that Imagine! has been working on changing our approach to performance management and performance evaluation. This is a topic I will return to occasionally in this space because I think it is so important to the success of our ability to meet our mission.

Some interactions I have had with some newly hired Imagine! supervisors got me to thinking about confidence. Specifically, I wondered if we are doing enough to not only provide our supervisors with the skills and tools they need to do the job well, but also if we are instilling the confidence they need to do the job well.

You may ask where the distinction between skills/tools and confidence lies. I believe it is the same as the distinction between how and why.

The “how” part is fairly simple. You can easily show somebody what forms they need to fill out, what boxes they need to check, or what dates and times specific projects are due. Those are important.

Equally important, in my mind at least, is establishing the “why” of the job. Supervision is a very human endeavor. And human beings are complex, and they sometimes, may I say, become independently creative when asked to conform to an established set of tools and instructions.

So if your only knowledge is the “how,” you aren’t very well equipped to address those deviations that inevitably will occur in supervisory duties. In other words, if your comfort level as a supervisor is that you can readily fill in for someone you supervise, there is a great deal of room to grow. As more cases like that arise, supervisors can find themselves losing confidence rapidly.

Much better then, to help new (and established) supervisors to understand the “why” of the work to be completed, a reason to be; and to be able to convey that purpose to others. Having a solid understanding of the why of their job gives them a solid foundation which allows them, somewhat counterintuitively, to be more flexible with their decision making in the face of unexpected challenges. With a firm footing based on the why of the work, a supervisor can be more effective and feel more confident when leading others and giving them purpose beyond “how” to complete their tasks.

Imagine! hasn’t always been great at helping new supervisors grasp the larger picture before throwing them into the mix. But we need to be. Supervisors at Imagine! have important and difficult jobs. That is why we are working to ensure that our supervisors are given clear, realistic performance expectations while at the same time presented with milestones to strive for as they continuously work to improve their ability and confidence in their key efforts toward the creation of a world of opportunity for all abilities.

I thank them for their efforts, and stand ready to support them so that our mission moves ever closer to reality.

Then again, what do I know?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Technology Tuesday


Since this is National Direct Support Professional Week, we thought it would be a good idea to use this Tech Tuesday give a shout out to Imagine!’s very own Brodie Schulze, who will be participating in an American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) webinar this Thursday entitled “DSPs Unplugged.” A moderated panel of direct support professionals, including Brodie (the 2017 Colorado DSP of the Year), will share their reflections, lessons learned, and ideas for providing critical support for people who rely on our services. The webinar platform technology makes it possible for DSPs from different parts of the country to share their insights in a single online setting.

Learn more, or register for the webinar here.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Good News Friday!

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has declared September 11-15 as Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) Week. 

The often unheralded efforts of DSPs make it possible for millions of Americans with disabilities to lead meaningful lives as valued members of their communities. Imagine! DSPs are the ones who are working hard at the ground level to facilitate those possibilities. To our DSPs, Imagine!’s mission isn’t just a bunch of words on a piece of paper – it is something they live and embody every day.

All next week on our Facebook page we’ll be highlighting some of our amazing DSPs, so please check it out if you get a chance.

And be sure to thank an Imagine! DSP if you get a chance – they are the heart and soul of our organization.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Out & About 20 Stories Update - 9/06/17


Imagine!’s Out & About department is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year! 

To honor this milestone, we are collecting and sharing stories and memories from our employees, from the families and individuals we serve, and from the many businesses that support our work. In fact, we’re collecting and sharing 20 stories from each of those three categories!

Here’s a couple of recent stories from Out & About participants:


Jordy is happy to report that everyone at Out & About is “helpful and friendly.”

 

And Terra shares how Out & About has enabled her to make many friends.

I’ll be sharing other stories and memories on this blog throughout the year. You can also click here to see all the stories we have so far.

I encourage you to visit the page often – there’s a lot more coming!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Technology Tuesday

This week’s Tech Tuesday takes us to the Boulder hub of Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source, where we see Gerald showcasing some pretty exciting tech. He’s equipped with the latest generation of a product known as HotHand USB. It’s a simple device that sends MIDI signals wirelessly through Bluetooth to a desktop, and with simple motions, can help create some pretty powerful music. Gerald can be seen doing just that in this video, taken at the Dairy Center for the Arts, where he used the HotHand to add layers of guitar music into a musical performance.

Can’t see the video? Click here

If you’d like more information on the HotHand, or about ways that this device is being employed by musicians currently, check out this link.


Keep up the good work, Gerald!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Good News Friday!

On August 19, 2017, Imagine!’s Out & About department hosted its annual Bike Block Party, where attendees were able to test drive a variety of adaptive bikes designed to ensure that people of all abilities can enjoy the freedom and excitement that comes from biking. Below are some pictures from the amazing event.









And here’s a short video showing the amazing diversity of bikes available.

 
Can’t see the video? Click here.

And here’s Andrew enjoying the ride.

 
Can’t see the video? Click here.

And a fun bonus piece of information: Out & About set up some laptops so attendees could donate to their $20 for 20 years online crowdfunding campaign. The campaign was a huge success! The goal was $2,000, and they ended up raising $2,217! Thanks to all who donated.


Thanks to the Out & About staff members who worked so hard to ensure the success of this special day.

Finally, many thanks to First National Bank for sponsoring the event.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Convergence

Two experiences I recently had converged in my mind to make a bigger point.

Experience one: over the weekend I read an obituary of someone I had known in my days growing up in the northeast kingdom. I’ll call him “Sam.” When I was a kid, Sam was one of the town characters (but only one of many). Sam was everybody’s friend. He would always wave to everyone he saw on the street, and had a kind word for all. Sam was part of every civic group and club and marched in all of the parades.

It didn’t matter then, but I realize now that Sam had an intellectual disability. It didn’t matter then because nobody talked about Sam that way. He was part of our community, for better or worse (mostly better), and was accepted for who he was, the same as everyone else. If considerations had to be made to accommodate Sam, people just made them without ordeal.

Experience two: I mentioned last week that I recently returned from a European vacation/bike trip. During a tour of one of the mediaeval towns we rode our bikes through, our tour guide offered an unsolicited piece of information. He pointed out that we wouldn’t see any homeless people on the streets of his city. He stated emphatically that it was because his fellow citizens wouldn’t allow people to be homeless – that the community was committed to ensuring everyone had a roof over his or her head.

In both examples above, I saw a strong commitment to inclusion, a commitment that wasn’t artificially generated but instead came from a basic belief that all citizens are fully expected to be fully part of their community.

Which brings me to my bigger point.

The examples above are of genuine community inclusion existing without the support or input of vast bureaucratic systems. While I’m not naïve (I know Sam’s level of support needs was lower than some, and not every community is so willing to address its homeless problem so completely), I can’t help wonder sometimes if the system we have created to serve our fellow community members with I/DD makes what should be simple overly complex. I also can’t help wonder sometimes if we have barely evolved at all – if communities have already demonstrated repeatedly that folks with different needs can still be active and productive in their homes and their communities, then why do we continue the struggle of trying to recreate that wheel.

And most importantly, since we have demonstrated that we can make it work, then money should never be an excuse for not making it happen. “We can’t afford it” is unacceptable. This is about taking care of each other. I will not accept that we can’t do this, certainly not using finances as an excuse.

Then again, what do I know?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Thank You, Whitney

At yesterday evening’s Imagine! Board of Directors meeting, we bid a fond farewell to Whitney Blair, who is stepping down from the board after serving for eight years.

Whitney’s commitment to Imagine! is unquestionable. Three years into her tenure, she was elected as board president. A couple of months later, she received a job offer too good to turn down. The job was in Texas, however, which made us think that she probably wouldn’t be able to continue to serve.

Thankfully, Whitney loved Imagine! and wanted to continue her support. So we began having her join our meetings remotely, and were fortunate enough to have her wisdom and input for another five years. Imagine! benefitted greatly from that wisdom and input, and we are so grateful for her service.

Thank you, Whitney, for all you have done to help create a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Technology Tuesday

I am happy to report that the good folks at Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome have completed the initial install and setup of their first permanent SmartSupports tech station. The tech station will be used to support individuals with technology based Individualized Support Services Plans and communication device needs. The lab includes a permanent station for Dynovox storage and charging, iPad utilization and skill development, as well as syncing with the SmartHome TV to display and let individuals interact with their house calendars. The SmartHome team have also allocated space for simple switch usage using their PowerLink device and a number of cause and effect tools created by University of Colorado Engineering students over the years.





Friday, August 25, 2017

Good News Friday!

The Imagine! CORE/Labor Source (CLS) Annual Art Show and Performance, held last Friday, was an unqualified success. More than 50 works of art on display were purchased by patrons, and the performance featured music, dance, spoken word, and even an epic light saber show!

Check out some pictures from the event below, and be sure to scroll all the way down to see a video of the light sabers.














 
Can’t see the video? Click here.