Friday, February 16, 2018

Good News Friday!

Mackie's big smile after losing her two
front teeth on both top and bottom.
Photo credit: Elizabeth Hill
Imagine! is very grateful to all of our generous donors throughout the years. But today I'd like to shine the spotlight on perhaps our youngest donor yet, seven-year old Mackie Ball.

Late last month, Mackie noticed her mom getting dressed up for a fancy event and asked why. She found out that her mom, Laura, was going to the Imagine! Celebration, our annual fundraising gala. Laura works in Imagine!’s Human Resources department and attended the event as a volunteer to help with behind the scenes work.

“What is that?” asked Mackie. Laura explained to her daughter what the event was for and that Imagine! helps people with developmental disabilities. Mackie remained curious. Laura then said, “every year, Imagine! makes a video about someone we have helped and it makes me cry happy tears every time.”

“Can I watch the video?” asked Mackie. Her mother told her that the video will be online after the event, and she could watch it after that.

After hearing this, Mackie went into her room, grabbed her purse, took out the $4.00 the Tooth Fairy had given her, brought it to her mother, and asked her to donate it to Imagine!. After asking Mackie what made her decide to donate, she responded, “Because there are kids with disabilities that don’t always get to do the things that I get to do.”

Mackie woke up the next morning and asked her mother about the money and the video. They found the video online and Mackie watched it. “What did you think of the video?” Laura asked. Mackie replied, “I like it because it shows someone’s life getting better and they became happier.” (See below to watch the video Mackie is talking about). 

Mackie’s four dollar donation was given to the Imagine! Foundation and logged in the books. A very special thanks to Mackie and Laura for fostering the spirit of giving, no matter your age.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Good News Friday!

Earlier this week, Imagine! hosted a group of international visitors from China who are interested in learning more about non-profit management in the United States. We enjoyed their company and appreciate their interest in Imagine!. These visitors were invited to the United States under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program, and the visit was arranged by Meridian International Center.

The visitors are spending time going to a variety of non-profits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across the county, following these specific objectives:
  • Explore the history and evolution of the non profit sector in the U.S. and the tax structure that supports public/private cooperation; 
  • Illustrate the diversity of the non profit sector in the U.S. and the dynamic relationships between business, government, and non governmental organizations; 
  • Examine innovative technology and management strategies used by non governmental organizations (NGOs) in the U.S.; and 
  • Review NGO methodologies for strengthening leadership; recruiting, training, and retaining volunteers; fundraising; and advocacy. 
This is the second time Imagine! has hosted international visitors as a result of this program, and we are delighted to share our knowledge, to learn from them in return, and to work together on discovering global solutions to challenges facing us all.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Good News Friday!

Last Saturday night’s Annual Imagine! Celebration was a triumph of community coming together to help create a world of opportunity for all abilities. We’ll share more details later, but here’s the key number to remember: the preliminary revenue results indicate that the event brought in $430,226.00 in support of Imagine!’s mission!

If you missed the event, below is a video we debuted that evening, telling the story of the Gehr family. The video demonstrates how far we have come as a society (thanks to organizations such as Imagine!) when it comes to offering opportunities for community living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Now, some “thank yous” are in order.

Imagine! Foundation Board of Directors President Don Brown emceed the program with humor and compassion. Katie Hawkins, Heather Sabo and the Celebration Committee created a memorable, warm ambiance in the ballroom and hallways, with an auction chock-full of great items and experiences. Auctioneer Gary Corbett and his team delivered great results. George Karakehian captivated the audience expressing what is in his heart for Imagine!. The Gehr Family shared a story that needed to be told – look how far we have come as a society, and how much we all benefit from knowing people with intellectual disabilities! Bob Von Eschen gave an impassioned pitch and set the bar high. The Imagine! staff volunteers were phenomenal ambassadors. Our many sponsors helped fill the tables with generous and giving souls.

And a special hats off to Imagine! Foundation Executive Director Patti Micklin for her leadership and passion!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Thank You, Greg

Today I’d like to offer a hearty “fare thee well” to my friend and colleague Greg Wellems, who after 27 years here at Imagine! is moving to a new position with Pennsylvania with Keystone Human Services.

During his tenure here, Greg has made Imagine! and the people we serve his passion, and his legacy will be the many, many lives he has improved through his creativity, innovation, and hard work. So many of the aspects of Imagine! that we are renowned for – our pioneering use of technology in services, as just one example – are a direct result of Greg’s efforts.

I will miss having him here, and my job will be more difficult without his wise insights and counsel. But I am heartened to know that he will continue to work toward a world of opportunity for all abilities, and I wish him nothing but the best.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Good News Friday!

Imagine!’s Dayspring team recently created a video highlighting their unique Community Calendar Activities program. Take a look!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Good News Friday!

Next week is the 17th Annual Imagine! Celebration – our major fundraising event featuring dinner, silent and live auctions, and stories that connect the audience to Imagine!’s mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities.

To tell those stories, we usually debut a video about an individual or family served by Imagine! during the event, which discusses how Imagine! has positively impacted their lives. Today I’d like to share a few of the videos created for previous celebrations. I think by watching them you will get a sense of how important our work is, and why we do what we do.


Miah’s Story (from 2017 Celebration)

Gerald’s Story (from 2016 Celebration)

Emily’s Story (from 2015 Celebration)

Meredith’s Story (from 2014 Celebration) 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Abused And Betrayed - Seeking Solutions

Many readers of this blog may be aware of National Public Radio’s “Abused and Betrayed,” a series of reports about the astonishing rate of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have been victims of sexual assault.

Sadly, this story was not news to those of us at Imagine!. We have long been aware that the population we serve is especially vulnerable to this type of crime.

We have explored ways to address this epidemic of sexual assault. A few years ago Imagine! participated in “Intersections,” a collaboration between Imagine! and Boulder-based Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA), funded by a grant from the Office on Violence Against Women. The ultimate goals of the grant were 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.

You can learn more about the collaboration here

The value of the collaboration and the increased knowledge we came away with as a result cannot be overstated. We are a wiser organization and better equipped to support those we serve who have been victims of sexual assault.

But of course it was just the beginning, and as the NPR series indicates, we still have a very long way to go in ensuring that our fellow citizens with I/DD are safe from these horrible violations of their person. I ask all of you reading this to commit to being part of the solution to this epidemic – we will never have a world of opportunity for all abilities without significantly reducing the risk of sexual assault among people with I/DD.

Then again, what do I know?