Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Technology Tuesday

It is the spring semester at the University of Colorado, and for us at Imagine!, that means another opportunity to collaborate with University of Colorado Engineering students in a class taught by Associate Professor Melinda Piket-May.

For the past eight years, students in these classes have worked on projects to design adaptive technologies to aid increased independence for some of the individuals Imagine! serves. To start the project out right, Imagine! representative Fred Hobbs presented to the class last Wednesday, providing the background and historical context that makes these projects so meaningful to our fellow citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Check out the video below to see some examples of previous assistive tech projects created by CU students. We look forward to sharing more at the end of the semester!

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Good News Friday!

Today I’d like to recognize Imagine! employees Quincy Hegeman and Jason Kingsbury, both of whom have been nominated for the Alliance Direct Support Professional of the Year Award. Alliance is a nonprofit, statewide association of Community Centered Boards (CCBs) and Program Approved Service Agencies (PASAs) that is dedicated to strengthening services and supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). This award recognizes the incredible work DSPs do every day to improve the lives of Colorado citizens with I/DD.

Below is some information, taken directly from their nominations, demonstrating why these two stellar Imagine! employees are perfect candidates for this prestigious award.

Quincy Hegeman 

Quincy is a member of Imagine!'s Out & About team. On Quincy’s very first day as an intern, she discovered that a particular vehicle was needed to support the participant she was working with, and that vehicle was not on site. She offered to make an extra trip to pick up the vehicle. On her first day, she demonstrated going above and beyond by advocating for those in our services. 

Quincy is thorough and professional when she communicates with participants. She sets him/her up for success by creating a detailed schedule of the activity, and always gives them a safe platform to communicate his/her needs. Quincy combines a professional therapeutic style with her personal/friendly demeanor to build rapport and a safe environment for all participants. 

Quincy has developed numerous relationships with individual participants, to the point where she can encourage them to participate in a new activity that is outside their comfort zone. Due to the high quality of support and type of relationships she builds with participants and their families, she has been asked to do respite on the side many times. For example, she took a participant skiing for the first time and assisted him in getting comfortable on the slopes. Families really trust her. 

When Quincy comes back to the office after a shift, she always shares a success story her assigned participant. She offers tips and tricks to be added to the therapeutic plan or talks to the therapeutic coordinator on how to best support such person. 

She has become a strong leader among all instructors and offers a wealth of knowledge and experience for others to learn and better their skills in the field. Her knowledge is trusted due to her high quality of service. Quincy strives every day to make sure her participants are getting the most out of each activity, whether it is teaching them something new or assisting them in completing a project or activity with a sense of pride. 

Jason Kingsbury 

Jason is part of Imagine!'s CORE/Labor Source team. There is hardly a corner of the Imagine! community that Jason hasn’t touched. Over the ten plus years that Jason has been with the organization, Jason has worked in multiple group homes and at day program, supporting individuals to grow and achieve their potentials. For years, Jason regularly puts in overtime, working 6-7 days in a row to fill staffing hours across the organization. His time and efforts have made a real impact keeping group homes open during staffing shortages. Jason is always willing to sacrifice his time to help the team make it happen. 

In the course of my time with Jason, he has also demonstrated a dogged advocacy for clients with intense and challenging behaviors. Jason has always been willing to jump in and work the most intensive challenges, and has helped me, personally, to understand the significance of this service. No matter how difficult these challenges have been, Jason has consistently modeled a sense of determined and graceful patience in those moments, even going so far as to educate members of the community with regard to how Imagine! supports those with significant behavioral challenges, and how these individuals deserve a space in the community as much as anyone else. 

Direct support requires balance, and Jason demonstrates this trait across every aspect of his work at Imagine!. Over his career, Jason as developed real friendships with the people we serve and at the same time maintains professionalism in his rapport. Jason balances his heart and compassion with effectively implementing behavior therapy. And Jason time and again demonstrates that supporting clients is only a part of the picture. Jason shows up for his fellow team members, too, providing a space where his peers feel comfortable sharing the success and their frustrations. In this capacity, Jason mentors both his coworkers and the clients with whom he works. Moreover, Jason balances his eagerness to improve the lives of the people we serve with a sense of patience and understanding that gives those clients the time and space they need to grow into themselves and develop real, meaningful relationships within their community. And through it all, Jason has always brought a smile to his work.

The winner of the Alliance DSP of the Year Award will be announced next Wednesday, February 28, at Alliance’s Annual I/DD Awareness Day at the State Capitol in Denver. I don’t know if Quincy or Jason will be selected as the winner, but I do know that either way, Imagine! and the people we serve have already won by having these two as part of our staff! I am honored to call them my colleagues.

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!