Friday, June 29, 2012

Good News Friday!

A few Imagine! employees spent part this past week decking the halls at Imagine!’s administrative buildings. No, we aren’t preparing a “Christmas in July” celebration. Instead, they were decorating our walls with original artwork created by participants in Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source and Out & About programs.

The artwork has brought a welcome dash of color and excitement to our halls, as the photos below demonstrate. Plus, it is a great way to honor and support the many talented artists we serve at Imagine!.

Here’s some even more exciting news. If you are visiting either our Dixon Street building or our Coal Creek building, and you like what you see, you may be able to purchase the pieces. If you are interested in purchasing any of the artwork, pleased contact Alethea Chorey at, Chris Murphy at, or Katherine Smith at All three of those good folks also deserve thanks for getting the art displayed, and more importantly, for supporting the individuals we serve as they work to express their creativity through art.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Good News Friday!

For almost 50 years, Imagine! has provided thousands of people with cognitive and developmental disabilities the tools and support that have allowed them to become successful citizens and contributing members of our community.

Often, however, we become so wrapped up in our work that we fail to pause and reflect on our accomplishments. So today, I’d like to share some statistics on the services we provided in 2011 to give you a sense of the depth and breadth of what we do.

Last year, Imagine!:

• helped 835 babies and toddlers with developmental disabilities or delays progress toward their individual developmental goals (e.g., improved communication skills, improved fine or gross motor skills, and/or improved social skills) through occupational, speech, and physical therapies;

• supervised foster placements for 48 children whose special needs could not be met by their birth parents;

• helped 72 school-aged children with developmental disabilities to learn vital socialization skills to help them to participate more fully in society, while affording their parents the peace of mind that comes with safe and appropriate childcare during work hours, through after school, summer camp, and school closure day programs; 
• helped parents of 54 children with autism spectrum disorders to select and pay for services such as behavioral, speech, or occupational therapy;

• provided financial support to the families of 34 children with extraordinary needs who were waitlisted for services; 
• provided information and referrals to services to more than 1,300 families providing at-home care of a person with a developmental disability;

• helped caregivers of 360 individuals with developmental disabilities living at home to pay for the services and supports that were most important to their families, such as respite care, medical or dental care, therapies, or devices to help the individual with special needs function better at school or work;

• oversaw host home placements for 83 adults with developmental disabilities;

• promoted the growth, development, and safety of 316 local adults with developmental disabilities by enabling them to participate in enriching and therapeutic activities in the community, through day programs, classes, and special outings; 
• provided job training, placement, coaching, and supervision for 104 adults with developmental disabilities;

• provided comprehensive mental health services to 218 individuals with dual (mental illness/developmental disability) diagnoses;

• provided a broad range of behavioral health services to 102 individuals, and educated their parents and caregivers about ways to build cooperative behavior; and

• provided residential services to a total of 67 adults with developmental disabilities in staffed settings – from support and supervision for 16 individuals living semi-independently to 24-hour comprehensive care for 39 individuals with more complex needs, including seniors and medically fragile individuals.

An impressive list, to be sure! We are proud of what we have achieved and we have no intention of resting on our laurels. We will continue to move forward with our mission, creating and offering innovative programs and services that allow our consumers to live fulfilling lives of independence and quality.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Change of Habit

Lately I have been in the habit of thinking about the word “habit.”

It seems to me that usually this word is used in a negative context – as in “bad habit” or “drug habit” or “habit forming.”

But of course some habits can be good. And I happen to feel that we at Imagine! have many good habits. For example, I think we have a very good habit of always looking for new and better ways to serve individuals with developmental disabilities, and a good habit of implementing new programs designed to meet the needs of populations that otherwise don’t have many resources or alternatives.

Unfortunately, even within in these good habits displayed at Imagine!, I also see some of the downsides implied by the word “habit.” We’re good at creating new programs, yes, but we’re not always good when it comes to making comprehensive plans for these programs, plans that identify entry and exit strategies, set priorities, or incorporate meaningful evaluation metrics. We have accepted for a long time that being innovative is a business habit at Imagine!, but we haven’t always defined how to keep past and current innovations sustainable in the long-term.

Now, I don’t want to imply for one second that I have a problem with Imagine!’s habit of always pushing the envelope when it comes to providing better services and supports to some of our community’s most vulnerable citizens. On the contrary, that is one of the aspects of Imagine! that makes me so proud to be called an Imagine! employee.

But I do realize that we still have work to do if we want to go from being an organization where innovation is a just a good habit to being an organization recognized as being experts on innovation. We still need to develop a framework to support and enhance our innovative culture so we can get the maximum benefit every time we take the road less traveled.

I don’t believe that we need to go all Elvis Presley and Mary Tyler Moore and try to force a change of habit at Imagine!.

Can't see the video? Click here.

Instead, we should to honor and respect our good habits, habits that have brought about so many positive changes in the lives of those we serve, by building upon them and creating a culture that does everything possible to take good habits to the next level of achievement. I think it is a worthy challenge for our organization, and I look forward to leading the charge.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Good News Friday!

Today I’d like to highlight a new Imagine! program designed to increase volunteer participation at Imagine! as well as provide more opportunities for those we serve to engage in their communities – the Imagine! Friends program.

Imagine! Friends is a one-on-one program that supports individuals served by Imagine! in pursuing their interests in the community while building a meaningful relationship with a volunteer at the same time.

By becoming an Imagine! Friend, volunteers will commit to spending a few days a month with their friend enjoying activities like hiking, going to baseball games, movies, museums, and most importantly, making someone’s day with the gift of friendship!

Activities will generally take place during evenings/weekends, and free tickets and passes to events will be offered to Imagine! Friends several times each month.

To find out more, please contact Imagine!’s volunteer coordinator Elizabeth Hill at, or at 303-926-6460.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pick Up the Pieces

Last week I attended the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services (NASDDDS) Conference held in Sacramento, CA. During the conference, I was struck by a few things: 1) it is almost universally acknowledged that the system of funding and delivering services to individuals with developmental disabilities is unsustainable when considering the declining workforce, the need for service and support, and growing waitlists; 2) it is also well acknowledged that the variety of emerging technologies offer some solution to the growing challenges; 3) “person centered planning,” although cautiously welcomed by the NASDDDS membership, has become a federal mandate; and 4) everybody seems to be wondering what to do next.

I was also struck by the fact that examples of “what to do next” so many in attendance were seeking are actually already there. We already have the pieces of the puzzle; we just need to put the pieces together.

Can't see the video? Click here.

What do I mean by this? Well, for those of you who don’t know, the responsibility for creating the systems that fund and deliver services for some of our most vulnerable citizens lies in the hands of individual states. Not surprisingly, this has resulted in a wide variety of unique systems throughout the country. And while no one state seems to have figured out how all the pieces should go together, many states do have single pieces in their systems that work remarkably well.

Here are a few examples:

Looking for a state that has been successful at accessing federal financial participation with county funded collaboration to increase the amount of dollars available for services? Check out Missouri’s Partnership for Hope.

Looking for a state that has produced remarkable outcomes when comparing relative wealth (ranked 4th) to their limited funding (ranked 47th)? Check out Colorado.

Looking for a state that has figured out how to provide successful employment services? Check out Oklahoma.

Which states have figured out how to incorporate remote monitoring into their services? Try Ohio or Minnesota.

Looking for a state with a policy requiring that employment in integrated work settings be the first and priority option explored in service planning? Try Oregon.

My point is that while there is indeed a crisis in the field of services for people with intellectual disabilities, there are workable solutions right in front of us. The overall mood of the NASDDDS conference was somber, but I actually came away feeling exhilarated at the opportunities I see. The answers are out there – I believe that firmly.

However, it is time to stop looking at the table full of puzzle pieces and asking “what am I supposed to do?” It is time to get our Average White Band on and begin to pick up the pieces.

Can't see the video? Click here.

Only by picking up the pieces and figuring out how to put them together will we be able to solve the puzzle.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Good News Friday!

This past Monday Imagine! received a donation from a very generous and enterprising group of youngsters: 5th graders taking part in Young Americans Center for Financial Education’s Young AmeriTowne program.

What is Young AmeriTowne? A program that teaches school kids about our country’s economic system in a fun and relevant way. The program begins with several weeks of interactive lessons and activities taught by teachers in the classroom. Students learn important economic and business concepts such as supply and demand, budgeting, banking, government workings, and more. They elect a Mayor and Judge, vote on town laws, and apply and interview for jobs in town.

During the culminating event, students put into practice what they have learned when they attend Young AmeriTowne for the day and earn money running a life-like town of 17 businesses.

Part of the program involves teaching the kids about philanthropy, and that’s where the Imagine! donation comes in. At the beginning of the school year, participants in the program selected six organizations, including Imagine!, to receive funds from the program. Through the generosity of the Community First Foundation, hard earned AmeriTowne dollars donated by the fifth graders are converted to real donations, matching the children’s gifts at ten cents per dollar.

In the picture above, you can see Imagine!’s Director of Public Relations Fred Hobbs receiving a check in the amount of $368 from the AmeriTowne Mayor at Monday’s inspiring check presentation ceremony.

Our thanks to the Young Americans Center for Financial Education, the Community First Foundation, and most importantly, to the many kind and giving children who donated!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Hope You Dance

Recently I have engaged in many conversations with folks who work for Imagine!, trying to get a descriptive handle on the culture at work here. These conversations came in handy after Imagine! rolled out an updated version of our employee performance reviews which provided an organization-wide methodology for measuring performance based on assigned job duties. While this new performance measurement system is a another vital step in our never ending quest to improve our services, after going through the process, many of our staff members and leadership team felt that measuring performance against job tasks only tells part of the story.

Why? Because the review process does not take into consideration the value one can bring to the table when going above and beyond assigned job tasks.

Let me share an example of what I’m talking about. Nate George, an Administrative Assistant for Imagine!’s Innovations department, was recently selected as the June 2012 winner of the Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award. One of the reasons that Nate was honored with this award was because he organized an event at Imagine! on May 25 called "On the Move - Celebrating Mobility Awareness." The event included vendors, demonstrations, and information on mobility services and products, as well as some “hands-on” activities.

Now, I can tell you that nowhere in Nate’s job description does it say that he needs to arrange an event like this. But the event brought a tremendous amount of value to Imagine!, and more importantly, to the individuals and families we serve, and Nate certainly deserves recognition for what he has done.

I believe Imagine! has a culture that honors and encourages going above and beyond assigned tasks, no matter what level of employee or pay grade. We are inspired to exceed the job tasks because we have a greater purpose. We have learned not to pass up opportunity. When we go to the park, we do not sit on the bench watching others play, we engage, like Captain Picard.

Nate’s example of going above and beyond is only one of many I have seen at Imagine! over the years, and I fully expect to see many more in the coming years. I present his example in hopes that when an Imagine! employee, or anyone in the field of serving individuals with intellectual disabilities, gets the choice to “sit it out or dance” … I hope you dance.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Good News Friday!

June is looking like a great month if you want to experience art made by talented and creative artists served by Imagine!.

Tonight, you can check out Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department ’s free Spring Art Show & Live Performance. Performers will be presenting original material developed in classes at the CORE day program, including dance, music, theatre, and live reading. A reception begins at 5:30 p.m., with art pieces on display and the opportunity to meet some of the Imagine! artists and performers. The performance starts at 7:00 p.m. The event is taking place at the Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., in Boulder. Even if you can’t make the performance, you can still check out fantastic works of art created by CORE/Labor Source artists – the art gallery show runs through Friday, June 15 at the Dairy Center.

On Friday, June 8, artists participating in Imagine! CORE/Labor Source department art classes will be creating original works of art at a VSA Colorado Accessible Arts Festival. VSA Colorado is part of an international organization founded by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith in 1974 and earlier known as Very Special Arts. It is an inclusive nonprofit organization that engages the community by opening doors to creative and educational opportunities for people with disabilities to access and experience the arts. The cool thing about this art project is that the canvas will be on the floor, and individuals who use wheelchairs for mobility will be able to use their chairs to paint! This is the first time this free program has been offered in Boulder County. The event will take place at Via Mobility Service’s Lower Terrace/Parking Lot. Via is located at 2855 N. 63rd Street in Boulder between Valmont Road and Arapahoe Avenue. Imagine! artists will be creating their work between 1-2 PM, and the entire show runs from 1-5 PM.

And on June 15, Imagine! will be the featured non-profit at the Millennium Harvest House Hotel Friday Afternoon Club (FAC). This Rockin’ The Gardens concert, featuring the band “Soul School,” will take place from 5:30 - 9:30 PM. This is the fourth year that the Millennium has invited Imagine! to participate in the FAC. Artists/consumers from Imagine! will be on hand, and attendees of the FAC will have opportunities to learn about Imagine! and are welcome to draw and paint with Imagine! artists. This is a very family-friendly event and a great opportunity to observe the work of the artists and to support the Millennium, a longtime donor to Imagine! and an employer of people with developmental disabilities. The Millennium is located at 1345 28th Street, behind the Safeway store on the southwest corner of Arapahoe and 28th Streets.