Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Technology Tuesday

Here’s a video of Jay, one of our friends at Imagine!’s Santa Fe Group Home. He’s working on developing and maintaining his fine motor skills, and what better way than to play the virtual piano on a tablet. It sounds great. Keep up the good work, Jay!

Can’t see the video? Click here

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good News Friday!

Today, I’m very pleased to present Imagine!’s new mission statement:

Creating a world of opportunity for all abilities.
Check out the short video below, then feel free to read more below about how we arrived at the statement, and how we think it represents Imagine! now and moving forward.

Can’t see the video? Click here

More than two years ago, we determined it was time for a new mission. Our old mission had served us well, but it no longer represented the current reality of Imagine!. We needed a mission that reflected some basic facts about Imagine!:
  • We do not only serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD); 
  • Our activities go beyond delivering and arranging direct services to people; 
  • And most importantly, Imagine! is unique from other providers of service and other organizations who function as CCBs. Imagine! is recognized as a great provider, innovator, and a leader in the field at the local, state and national levels. What we do matters to people we will never even know. 
In addition, we wanted a mission that:
  • Was short (7 or 8 words tops); 
  • Used positive language; 
  • Was clear, memorable, and concise; 
  • And perhaps most importantly, the new mission would not merely be a statement of what we do. Instead we wanted something that would serve as a unifying focal point of effort for all Imagine! stakeholders. We wanted it to be an audacious goal we could measure ourselves against. It doesn’t mean the goal would necessarily be a sure bet ... but it is one that we as an organization believe we can do anyway. 
So we gathered a team, including staff members and members of our Board of Directors, to create a new mission using this challenge as a jumping off point: Describe a world unaffected by cognitive disabilities, followed by, Is what you do every day contributing to this described world? In the end, we wanted a mission that indicates that everything we are doing, directly or indirectly, is creating this world.

After much brainstorming, engaging employees at all levels, conducting surveys on various mission statement options, we feel like we have come up with one that satisfies all of the criteria above. It is memorable and it is aspirational. It is a mission we believe that everyone associated with Imagine! can point to and say, “Yes, I believe in that, I can get behind that, and I can use that as something to strive for and look to in guiding my actions and where we all see our organization going in the future.”

My thanks to the many people who were involved in the process.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Technology Tuesday

Last week, I shared some pictures of a youth group from Branson, MO, who volunteered at Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source site as part of their “alternative spring break.” Since they were volunteering at Imagine!, you know some technology was involved. Below is a picture of one of the volunteers with Karen, who lives in Imagine!’s Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome, as they practice their multiplication on a iPad.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Good News Friday!

Today, I’d like to highlight some young volunteers who have recently made a difference in the lives of people who accept services from Imagine!.

In February, 12 students from Boulder’s Watershed School volunteered at Imagine!’s Boulder CORE/Labor Source (CLS) site. Here’s what Jeff Rodarti, CLS Program Coordinator, had to say about the students:

The Watershed School kids were great! We split them into two teams: one team worked on cleaning up our vehicles for the first half of the morning, while the other group spent time working 1:1 with CLS participants in Science class, and then they switched halfway through. The kids were very respectful, polite, and eager to help out. At 11:30, the group came upstairs into our conference room and had a Q&A with John (pictured below, John accepts services from CLS and lives in Imagine!’s Bob and Judy SmartHome). We would be happy to have them back any time! 

And this week, Boulder Mission organized a youth group from Branson, MO, to volunteer at Imagine!’s Longmont CLS site as part of their “alternative spring break,” and wow, have they been busy! Check out some photos of the variety of activities the volunteers have helped out with so far:

Stacey, Shelly, Bell, Peter, and the volunteers had a blast bowling at Centennial Lanes in Longmont. 

 Lorraine and volunteers planted carrots and lettuce at the Second Start Community Garden in Longmont. 

Corrina and a volunteer sweeping up hay at the Heart and Soul Ranch during the CLS "Horsin’ Around" class.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Technology Tuesday

This week’s Tech Tuesday brings us up the slope to Eldora Mountain Resort, where our friend Scott has been carving up the mountainside. Through the Ignite Adaptive Sports Program, Scott has been going up to Eldora a couple times each ski season, using a sit ski. This last time he went up, however, we changed things up a bit. One of Scott’s major goals for this last year has been to increase his stability and stamina while standing or walking. He practices standing and walking exercises both at home and while attending classes at Imagine!’s CORE\Labor Source. So upon discussing this, Scott and the team decided to try out an A-Frame support stand for Scott to use on the slopes. It gives him plenty of assistance to bear his weight as needed, and as you can see in the video below, Scott had no troubles sailing off into the sunset. Stay tuned for more updates, and special thanks to the Ignite Adaptive Sports program at Eldora.

Can’t see the video? Click here.  

Friday, March 11, 2016

Good News Friday!

Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) department partners with local businesses to provide employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Employment can mean so much to a person with a disability. They can develop vital job skills and become active, contributing participants in their communities.

The benefits extend far beyond helping individuals served by Imagine!, however. Businesses using our services are able to reduce recruitment and training expenses as they benefit from a diversified employee pool. Partnering with Imagine! and CLS is a “win-win” situation that is beneficial all around. We are very grateful to our business partners who have demonstrated their commitment to Imagine!’s mission by employing CLS participants.

Over the past few weeks, CLS has been sharing some photos on their Facebook page of people they serve who are out working in the community, and I wanted to share some of them with my blog readers. Check them out below, and then be sure to “Like” the CLS Facebook page to see more!

If you have ever been to Whole Foods Markets on Pearl Street in Boulder, you have most likely met Marius. Although Marius is constantly working on several tasks during his shifts, he always makes sure to put his customers first, greeting them with a smile any chance he gets. How wonderful is it to experience such great customer service in our community?

Nate has been working independently at Left Hand Brewing Company for almost nine years, and absolutely loves it! He has the important job of working on the bottling line.

And here’s Michelle, Peter, and Chris working hard at Left Hand Brewing Company packing those mountain mixers!

Carrie and Katelyn love their jobs at the Arc Thrift Store of Broomfield.

How awesome is Meredith's personalized apron? She works in the kitchen at Brookdale North Boulder, and was given this apron as a reward for all of her hard work. Way to go, Meredith!

Jessica is completely focused on her task at American Converters.

Here is Jenny at her brand new job at Safeway. Jenny had interviews at two different Safeway stores in one day, and received a job offer from both . . . way to go Jenny! Jenny selected the position she most wanted and is so excited to be working in this independent job.

Thank you to all of the businesses who partner with CLS to create a more inclusive workforce and community!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Workforce Blues

The chart above may just seem like words, numbers, and lines to many, but to me it represents one of the greatest threats to Colorado’s system of delivering services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) if we aren’t able to quickly reshape (and rethink) how we fund and deliver services.

So why is the information on the above so scary? Well, as the Daily Camera article that accompanied the chart points out, unemployment rates here in Boulder County are at historically low levels. As our state system of I/DD services is currently configured, service delivery is very labor intensive – we need qualified workers. In fact, on the list of Imagine!’s Values and Principles, the very first item is “Our workforce is our number one asset.”

Well, that asset has become extremely difficult to attain, and I don’t anticipate that fact changing any time soon.

This trend isn’t surprising, and this isn’t the first time I have warned about this very challenge. But the issue is no longer a future scenario, it is a current reality. And while Imagine! has been a leader in filling service gaps caused by flat or lowering provider rates, narrowly designed waivers, and a need of foresight and creativity among those who have designed our current system of funding and delivering services, our ability to continue to fill those gaps is stretched to the breaking point. Imagine! isn’t alone in standing at that threshold –all service providers in our area are struggling to fill key positions.

A service system based on access to a large workforce isn’t sustainable. Offering services that are “one size fits all” is short sighted and results in uneven (at best) outcomes. We need to start talking about how we are investing our limited resources for serving individuals with I/DD. Imagine! continues to argue that technology should be at the forefront of that discussion, but we need more effort, and we need it now.

Then again, what do I know?

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Technology Tuesday

This week’s Tech Tuesday takes us to Imagine!’s CORE\Labor Source (CLS) department, where our Assistive Tech Lab is building new ways to create music and to communicate using MaKey MaKey. MaKey MaKey turns everyday objects into touchpads and combines them with the internet. Here’s their promotional video, which explains more:

Can’t see the video? Click here

Why does this matter to Imagine! and the people we serve? Well, some individuals we serve have sensory issues, and being able to use a wide variety of objects to act as touchpads allows them to develop a much higher level of comfort when interacting with technology. Other people we serve have physical disabilities that can make it challenging to access computers and other technologies through traditional access points, but being able to vary the size, shape, texture, location, and portability of touchpads promises to be a real game changer.

CLS is just getting started with the process, but check out this 3D guitar they’ve created, which can be played using buttons made of play-doh (or a banana, if you so desire). And stay tuned to see what else they have in mind for this exciting innovation!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Good News Friday!

A couple of weeks ago, I shared how our good friends at Twisted Pine Brewing Company were hosting a “Party with a Purpose!” to support Imagine!. The event was last week, and by all accounts it was a huge success.

There was artwork on display for sale, featuring Imagine! artists who work at Twisted Pine, along with artwork from other Imagine! artists. Many of the paintings were purchased by art-loving attendees, and proceeds from sales of the artwork went to the artist. The event also featured a small silent auction, and Shelly (pictured below), an Imagine! CORE/Labor Source artist, created an original piece during the event.

Additionally, 10% of all food and beer sales from the entire day is being donated to Imagine!. Below are a few pictures from the event.

Of course, many of you already know that Twisted Pine has been a supporter of Imagine! and the people we serve for quite some time, support that we are amazed by and appreciate greatly. To learn how deep that support goes, I encourage you to watch the video below.
 Can’t see the video? Click here

The next time you visit the awesome Twisted Pine Brewing Company, located at 3201 Walnut St. in Boulder, be sure to tell them “thanks” on behalf of all of us at Imagine!.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Technology Tuesday

Last Friday, February 26, Simply Home provided an overview and training of the remote supports technology that will be used in Imagine!’s upcoming Tuneberg Remote Supports Project. This project’s goal is to help individuals in the community live safe and productive lives with the assistance of technology. The training provided a brief background and overview of the process and a demonstration of the technology being used.

Two years ago Aaron Tuneberg died at the age of 30, the result of a violent and senseless act. Aaron was on a waiting list for services but that did not stop him from connecting with his community and making an impact on all those he touched. Aaron’s mother, Gale Boonstra, has continued this legacy by working diligently to turn tragedy into opportunity. To help reach that vision, Gale and her family have established Aaron’s Fund to support projects in Aaron’s community that will provide safety, independence, and camaraderie for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Imagine!’s Tuneberg Remote Supports Project is being funded through Aaron’s Fund.

Below is a PowerPoint presentation from the training.

Here are a few pictures from the event.

And please watch this touching video to learn more about Aaron Tuneberg, Gale Boonstra, and Aaron’s Fund.

Can’t see the video? Click here.