Thursday, May 28, 2015

Out & About Volunteering at Community Food Share

Story submitted by Scott Wendenberger

Two different times in April, a handful of participants from Out & About spent their morning at the Louisville Community Food Share, volunteering time and efforts in the warehouse.

“The participants really get into it and get a lot done in two hours,” said Scott Wendelberger, Out & About Instructor. Efforts included wrapping and labeling over 800 frozen pizzas, sorting 120 crates of bread, and dumping/rinsing out a couple dozen crates of gallons of milk. The volunteer supervisor, Sue Ericson, was impressed with the amount of work Out & About participants completed, and asked if they were coming back! “It’s great for the participants to learn how to give back to the community,” said Laura Schirmer, Out & About Instructor.

The participants are a part of an Out & About program called “Community Access.” This program focuses on participants (adult with developmental disabilities) expanding their knowledge of community resources and contributing to the community they live in. Other activities have included a Longmont Public Library scavenger hunt, Growing Gardens in Boulder, RTD bus ride on the DASH route, volunteering at the BoulderHomeless Shelter, as well as exploring museums around town.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Imagine!'s Leadership Development Program Update for May

Photographed from left to right above at the 2015 the Imagine! Celebration are
Meagan Roundtree, Sarah Baglee, Elena Ciaravino, and Cassie Rogers

As we approach mid-April, the Leadership Development Group is focusing a lot of our time and energy into completing our case studies. We were split into two groups: Elena, Sarah, and Cassie in one group, and Emily and I are in a second group. We have selected two case studies to work on. Elena, Sarah, and Cassie are working on Mark Emery’s case study which is about the Employee Compensation Package. The case study is described as follows:

Imagine! has put decades of effort into providing a very good employee compensation package with respect to our status as a not-for-profit, size, revenue realities, and number of employees. We do comparisons with similar sized organizations, both for profit as well as not-for-profit; study each piece of the employee compensation package and report cost/benefit analysis of each; and delve deeply to understand the risk of the company when offering benefits that for cost purposes only a projected portion of the eligible employees can utilize. What would happen if all eligible employees accessed all benefits? Measure the cost of the benefits if applied instead to wages.

Emily and I are working on Jodi Walter’s case study, which analyzes state wide person centered planning training. Read the details of this case study here:

In January 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services promulgated a final federal rule to ensure that individuals receiving long term services and supports through home and community based services have full access to the greater community, to the same degree as those not receiving Medicaid. Colorado has developed a plan that meets the federal criteria. Part of Colorado’s proposed implementation of this rule requires all staff to receive training on Person Centered (PC) philosophy and practices. In Colorado, one dominant form of person centered training has come to the surface, hosted by The Learning Community. This training is very thorough, expensive, and time consuming. It is receiving state-wide praise and has thus far been accepted as the only option in PC training. This case study will examine the pros and cons of implementing the Learning Community’s PC training at Imagine!, as well as looking at what other PC training options occur across the nation that may or may not be a better fit for Imagine!. The desire is to form an opinion about this prior to the state mandating a“one-size-fits-all” methodology.

We will be presenting our findings in both of these case studies on May 4 to the executive team.

In addition to our focus on our case studies, we are wrapping up our Mountain States Employers Council Great Leadership Series courses over the next few months. We are also planning to attend the National Association of States Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS) conference, June 10 – 12. The theme of this conference relates to state I/DD systems and “New Pathways.” Their website presents that, “The state I/DD systems are continually forging New Pathways to support people with I/DD and their families. NASDDD’s conference presents New Pathways underway at the systems level as well as the service level.
  •  Technology and social network tools are giving people more direct control over their plans and team communications that support true person-centered practices
  • Commitment and creativity are advancing the ability of children with significant medical care needs to live with families
  • Training and learning approaches integrated into the daily routines and activities of children with autism spectrum disorder and their families continue to evolve
  • With a focus on children and through the transition years, state I/DD and behavior health agencies have created integrated systems inclusive of both mental health treatment and I/DD support services.”
This will be the last conference that we will attend as the Leadership Development Group of 2014-2015, and we are looking forward to spending the three days together, learning about I/DD in our state and beyond as our work together over the last year draws to a close.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Imagine! Volunteers in Action: QCares

Today we’d like to send a big “thank you” to the Qualcomm Foundation for supporting Qualcomm employee volunteers who donated their time to Imagine! as part of the QCares Experience.

According to the Qualcomm website:

“Qualcomm's corporate volunteerism program encourages employee involvement in the community, and is our way of connecting our diverse employee base to local volunteer opportunities. QCares creates many opportunities for its employees, friends and families to participate in charitable events. Serving a wide range of needs, our employees are helping people with disabilities, improving the environment, feeding and clothing the homeless, and caring for animals. QCares organizes volunteer team building projects as special opportunities for internal departments to foster teamwork and celebrate accomplishments, while simultaneously contributing to the improvement of our communities.”

Qualcomm sent 15 volunteers to help at Imagine!’s Garden Place residence on May 14 as part of the QCares Day of Service. The group has been supporting Imagine! for many years now and we are so thankful for their help each year! This year the group helped to completely change the exterior look at Garden Place, which was really in need of an update.

As you can see from the before (at the top of the page) and after (at the bottom of the page) pictures, the work significantly improved the home for the residents who live at Garden Place.

Thank you, Qualcomm, for your commitment to your community, and thanks especially to the volunteers who worked so hard to make such a difference!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Arts and Crafts

Rebecca who lives at Imagine!’s Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome wanted to share this picture of her holding an arts and craft project that she created with an Imagine! volunteer, whose name is Gary.

Thanks for sharing Rebecca, we really like the undersea theme and that you included the initials of your housemates into your picture.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

An Update from Karen

Last October we introduced you to Karen, who is a resident at Imagine!’s Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome in Boulder, via an Imagine! Voices blog post at…/introducing-karen.html.

Karen has been busy these last five months, honing her cooking skills by trying out new recipes, and working out as her physical therapist advised so she can move toward regaining the independence that she enjoyed before experiencing an unexpected health event.

Check out this video, which Karen asked Shannon Bundy, site supervisor at the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome, to share, which shows the progress that Karen has achieved since October 2014. Karen has lost more than 20 pounds, and is able to stand all on her own!
Can't see the video? Click here.

Congratulations Karen, and thank you for sharing this video!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award: May 2015

Congratulations are in order for Sarah Godwin, who works for Imagine!’s Case Management department, on being selected as the May 2015 recipient of the Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award.

Below is some information from Sarah’s nomination, sent to us by Kate Veeder, who works for Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department. Kate’s nomination ably demonstrates why Sarah was selected as this month’s recipient:

Sarah is an amazing addition to the case management team. As a service provider, we are constantly in communication with all case managers and can get a feel for their sometimes overwhelming workload. Working with Sarah has been such a joy. She responds to all inquiries very quickly and is always including all necessary people of the team. It is clear Sarah has picked up on the workings of the SLS waiver as well as Imagine! in the short time she has been with the company. We all love working with her!!

Great work, Sarah, and congratulations on this well-deserved honor!

Do you know someone deserving of Imagine!’s Excellence in Customer Service Award?

One recipient will be honored each month, and will receive a personalized/engraved award, a choice of gift, a feature in the Imagine! newsletter, and a place on the “Excellence in Customer Service Wall” for 12 months. All Imagine! employees are eligible to receive the award and to nominate co-workers for it. Nominations are web-based via a link on the Resources for Employees page. The nomination process is simple and asks for the nominee’s name and a description of the Imagine! Customer Service Core Value(s) observed to demonstrate excellent customer service.

Quality customer service is a key component to success for Imagine! across all departments and programs. Keep an eye out for your colleagues providing exceptional service to Imagine!’s stakeholders, and nominate him or her for the Excellence in Customer Service Award. Nominations are welcome and encouraged for the June 2015 award now. Visit the Resources for Employees page or select the link here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Imagine! Volunteers in Action

Last month, on April 18, a group of 30 students from the University of Colorado volunteered to clean up vehicles used by Imagine!’s Out & About department. The students were hard working and cheerful, and by the end of the day the vehicles sparkled inside and out.

Thanks to Out & About staff member Shannon Oleson for coordinating this effort, Imagine! Transportation Coordinator Dan Fox for sharing the photos below, and most of all the students who gave up their Saturday to keep Imagine! looking nice and clean!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Working it Out!

Here is a terrific picture of Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome resident Shelly looking fierce as she exercises at an Imagine! CORE/Labor Source class.

 You go, girl!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

ANCOR Names Imagine! Employee Alex Andrews 2015 Direct Support Professional of The Year

Today, we'd like to share an exciting announcement from American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), the National Trade Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disability (I/DD) Providers.

ANCOR Names Alex Andrews 2015 Direct Support Professional of The Year

Honored for work in support of community living for people with disabilities

Arlington, VA. - The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) announced today that Alex Andrews of Imagine! in Lafayette, CO, is the recipient of the 2015 National Direct Support Professional Recognition Award.

Greg Wellems, Imagine!'s Director of Operations with Alex,
and Kevin Harding, Imagine! Director of Information Technology

ANCOR presented the award to Andrews at a ceremony honoring Direct Support Professionals (DSP) at ANCOR's 2015 Conference: Ignite! in Arlington, VA in front of an audience of over 300 attendees.

Leah, Alex, and Diana

Since 2007, ANCOR has honored exceptional Direct Support Professionals with the Direct Support Professional Recognition Award for exemplary work in furthering community inclusion and full participation for the many Americans living with intellectual, developmental and other disabilities. Andrews was the standout of this year's field of more than 250 nominees. ANCOR also named state recipients of the DSP Recognition Award in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Canada.

Andrews, a DSP for over 17 years, is especially recognized for his work as a "Technology Architect" at his organization - modifying, implementing and maintaining assistive technology devices and systems used throughout Imagine!

Alex Andrews finds the right technology, pairs it with a person who needs it and has the skills to use it, and loving relationships develop as they learn to use it. Andrews walked down the aisle with a gentlemen who met his wife using the communication device that Andrews found and taught him to use. He stood by the side of a young man who spent many years in a state institution as he finally graduated from high school, supported by Andrews. He is currently assisting a young woman who lives with him and his family as she creates "webisodes" of her new independent life, facilitated by low and high-tech solutions shaped by Andrews.

Webisode #1

Can't see the video? Click here.

"For him it's not just technology per se, "says Kevin Harding, Director of Information Technology at Imagine! "It's about a person who has had an issue and no one has even tried to solve the person's problem. Alex will."

"I am infatuated with technology and how it levels the playing field, "Andrews explained. "People who could not communicate start communicating and that leads to them making choices - their choices, not someone else's..."

"It is such a pleasure to read so many stories of exceptional DSPs and the work they are doing to support people with disabilities," said Barbara Merrill, ANCOR CEO. "Our national and state award recipients truly are the cream of the crop, but we know that there are many like them across the country, working largely without recognition, who deserve our gratitude and appreciation for their hard work, dedication and compassion."

"It is the mission of ANCOR's National Advocacy Campaign to obtain the resources necessary to attract and retain professionals like Mr. Andrews and this year's state award recipients," continued Merrill. "As we prepare to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we must continue to remind our policy makers that quality services to support people with disabilities require a stable and qualified workforce who are valued for the work they do."

ANCOR's Direct Support Professional Recognition Award is given to those who personify the values of ANCOR's National Advocacy Campaign. Nominees are judged on their success in helping people with disabilities build social networks and engage in substantive community participation and for advocating for the people they serve.

Profiles of the recipients can be found on the National Advocacy Campaign website:

Monday, May 4, 2015

Waiting List Ended at Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)


April 30, 2015

Dear Customers, Colleagues, and Community Partners,

Two years ago the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) had fewer resources than necessary to serve every eligible person. Today we can serve customers without delay! That means Coloradans with disabilities seeking to secure, retain, or regain work have a powerful resource available to help them achieve their professional goals.

Federal law requires vocational rehabilitation programs to prioritize who will be served when resources are insufficient. This leads to the creation of a waiting list for services and results in unfortunate delays for Coloradans with disabilities seeking assistance to be successful at work. In February 2014, 6,361 people were waiting. All those who were waiting have been, or are being served. There is no waiting list for services.

“This development will greatly benefit both Coloradans with disabilities and businesses across the state,” said Reggie Bicha, executive director of the Colorado Department of Human Services of the wait list breakthrough, “as we can now better match proven, skilled workers to an already vibrant Colorado workforce.”

“We’re very pleased with this milestone achievement by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation,” added Bicha.

According to Steve Anton, interim director for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, his office eliminated the wait list through judicious management of waitlist client releases. Starting in February of last year, the division began regularly releasing groups of individuals from the wait list in intervals so that case managers could support the increased caseloads without sacrificing quality service.

DVR recognizes and appreciates the patience of each person who experienced a wait. We are honored to assist customers to secure, retain, or regain employment. Doing away with delay has been our top priority. We are extremely pleased to see the end of this waiting list.

We applaud all staff in the field working directly with those we serve. Their efforts ended the wait. Since October 1, 2014 DVR has assisted 1051 Coloradans with disabilities to become employed at an average hourly wage of $11.76 statewide. If you or someone you know wants to be served by DVR, find the location nearest you, at:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Imagine! Employee Shares Information on Nepalese Earthquake

“Honestly, when I saw the wall of my home cracking, I thought this was it. It was as if I was being pushed and pulled at the same time by a two thousand pound wrestler. My aquarium fell - my fishes dead - my god's idol smashed - everything just came crashing down like a landslide. I couldn't budge an inch, the earthquake worsened. My world revolved around me. I prayed, there was nothing else I could do” – this was what my 19 year old nephew wrote after the earthquake.

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on April 25th 2015, shaking the core of the capital, Kathmandu and many cities surrounding it. There have been more than a 100 aftershocks making the situation even worse. Historic temples and buildings throughout Nepal are now left in rubble.


My family, along with numerous other people, have been left to live in the streets or open fields due to the uncertainty of what is next and which house might give out and fall on them. It has been extremely difficult to sit here in the U.S. and watch the suffering back home. I am not giving up, and neither is my family.

My family has selflessly given to social service all their lives and even after such a heart wrenching calamity they want to give to the ones much more needy than them. As my brother-in-law said, “Yesterday we were scared, today we are strong”. My family in Nepal is on a mission to not be afraid anymore because there are people who are in desperate need of help!

Would you like to find out how you can help? You can email Priyanka to learn more about humanitarian efforts to assist the people of Nepal.

Thank you Priyanka for sharing this information, our thoughts are with you, and with the people of Nepal.