Benjamin Tarasewicz has autism. He’s also an award-winning public speaker and a singer, and he just graduated from Fairview, mid-year. For the past four years, Benjamin has been teaching thousands of BVSD students and their teachers about living with autism—educating, uplifting, and inspiring great enthusiasm. See Denver Post story: www.denverpost.com/Lifestyle/ci_25624273/Boulder-teen-raises-autism-awareness-by.
In addition to appearing on TV and in the media, Benjamin has spoken at events around Colorado and beyond, including a keynote speech at the U.S. Autism & Aspergers Conference (2014). Then, last spring, Benjamin was invited to give a TED-talk, presenting his views on Breaking Barriers of Autism: The Power of Kindness & Friendship https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r05BUkOfOk8.
Thousands have gained insight from this important message, and now, you are all invited to a free acapella vocal concert, headlined by Benjamin!
This amazing event features greatest hits such as My Girl, Unchained Melody, songs by Billy Joel, and more. Wrapping up the program is the world-premiere of a special choral composition commissioned for Benjamin’s music project and dedicated to families living with autism.
The Bob and Judy Charles Smart Home has some fantastic volunteers that we would like to recognize. They make it possible for the residents to participate in a variety of activities during the week, and the residents look forward to these opportunities.
On Mondays, volunteers Dana Taylor and Courtney Russel alternate weeks doing arts and crafts and physical activities with the residents. Dana enjoys talking walks with Lana and John, and they both bring craft ideas to do with the residents. During the holidays, visitors enjoy seeing all the cute holiday decorations that Dana and Courtney made with the individuals we serve!
On Tuesdays, it’s board game time with the Rusk family. In addition to the games they play with the residents, they bring much laughter and fun to the individuals we serve. They also speak Spanish, Johnny has another opportunity to work on his communication. Not long ago, the Rusks facilitated a Karaoke Night, and everyone had a blast singing and dancing together.
The Rusk Family volunteering at Imagine!'s Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome
On Wednesdays, Soumya helps with technology in the home. She focuses her efforts on helping the residents stay up to date with their budgeting ledgers on their computers. The residents always ask when she is coming back so they can have her help them. She is helping Mandy with her specific tech goals of learning how to check her PayPal account and other internet sites. Soumya has also been helping Mandy use her iPad more and show her all the cool things she can do on it.
On Thursdays, Nicole and her therapy dog, Piper, are a favorite in the home. All the individuals love having Piper over and give her treats. Johnny especially gets a big smile on his face when Piper is around. He loves petting her for long periods of time and joking around with her pretending to give her treats. Rebecca loves teaching Piper new tricks and rewarding her with treats!
Nicole, Piper, and John
Johnny gives Piper a well deserved belly rub
On Fridays, Paul brings his music to the home. He is still new to volunteering, but John has taken a liking to him. They both “jam” together -- Paul plays his guitar while John plays his keyboard. SmartHome staff members were impressed to see that John already knows how to play a lot of the songs in Paul’s music book.
We are extremely grateful for the volunteers who are “regulars” at the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome. If you would like to explore volunteer opportunities with Imagine!, please contact our volunteer coordinator, Elizabeth Hill.
Congratulations are in order for Laura Aychman, who works for Imagine!’s Case Management team, on being selected as the May 2016 recipient of the Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award.
Here is some information from Laura’s nomination, which ably demonstrates why she was selected as this month’s recipient:
Laura is a vital team member within Case Management and on the Business Systems Team. As a behind the scenes team member, she keeps the nuts and bolts of Imagine! together and running smoothly. Often times, because she is so capable, issues are thrown at Laura, and she is quick and eager to solve them, making processes more efficient than they were before. Even though she does not get the opportunity to be face-to-face with the people we serve on a daily basis, she is an incredible co-worker to those who do, ensuring to help them in any way she can.
Great work, Laura, and congratulations on this well-deserved honor!