Monday, August 28, 2017

Erica Krowiorz: Recipient of the September 2017 Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award

Congratulations are in order for Erica Krowiorz, who was selected as the September 2017 recipient of the Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award.

Erica’s nomination included the following praise:

Erica has shown time and again her dedication to meet the health and safety needs of the individuals we serve. Erica has made meals for group home individuals, and she has taken individuals to doctor appointments when other staff members have duties they needed to attend to. She has gone to the hospital and stayed with individuals until staff members are available, even continuing to interact with hospital staff until discharge to ensure continuity of care. 

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

Jada Brings her Experience to Imagine!

Jada is two weeks from completing her internship through Imagine!’s Out & About department. She will graduate from Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation and then head back to NC to start a new job. I sat down with Jada to reflect on her time at Out & About, what led her to this field, and what’s next.

What is your final project for the internship?
My project is to create an American Sign Language (ASL) training for employees at Imagine!. It’ll be a PowerPoint that teaches how to communicate with participants who use ASL. Not many instructors know ASL to the level that our participants need. There are so many signs considering the many different activities we do. This way the instructors can help facilitate communication between ALL of the participants, that way the participants who primarily use ASL can connect with their peers. I minored in Deaf studies at College.

How did you get involved in the field of developmental disabilities?

My mom is an occupational therapist and through her, I started volunteering for an annual art festival that showcased work from students in the special needs classroom. That’s how I got introduced to this population. After that, I took a class in high school that allowed me to volunteer in a teacher’s class room to practice being a leader and I chose a special needs classroom. I really fell in love with those kiddos and that’s when I decided I wanted to be in this field. In addition to my studies and this internship, I worked at a summer camp in North Carolina for individuals on the spectrum.

What is big picture for you?
Well, after this internship and graduation, I start a job back home as a Supported Employment Employer. I will assist individuals on the spectrum with writing resumes, applying for jobs, and then interviewing for the job. Once they start working, I offer on-the-job training and skill development. At some point in the future, I always thought it would be fun to be a travel OT and see different parts of the country, or even world, while still getting paid for it.

What advice do you have for business owners or employees who work side by side with folks on the spectrum?
Definitely be open minded. I heard a quote once, “If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism.” There’s no main thing you can assume about a person with a disability because each person is different in their own way. Understand THAT person and then each person you meet, you can learn something different. They are doing their best to communicate with you and to get to know you, be open minded and patient.

Thanks for being here and supporting Imagine!.
I loved being here. I can’t get over seeing the mountains everywhere I go, I will miss Colorado!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Tavio's Hat Collection

Featured this week is Tavio, a resident at an Imagine! Group Home, and Chelsea, Residential Counselor at the Group Home. These two tell a fun story about Tavio’s lifelong collection of hats.

Tavio and I took some time to look through and reminisce about all his hats this morning while waiting for his ride to program. He started by telling me that his niece gave him the hat that he is wearing now, a brown, floppy, cowboy/sun hat. It is one of 60+ hats.

"I put different hats on every morning" he says as he pulls out all of his hats from the large box, one at a time. Sometimes Tavio wears multiple hats throughout the day. "Yeah, on Saturday and Sunday," is when he wears up to 5 or 6 hats (not all at the same time), changing them out at random times whenever he feels like he wants a new one on his head.

Tavio pulled out a hat with the character "Goofy" on it. "I got this one at Disney Land." He pulled out some peculiar hats, too. One of them was a police hat he wore for Halloween last year, and another one was a plastic green Irish bucket hat he got from Food Share. He wears these even when it's not a holiday. Sometimes he just feels like looking like a police officer. Sometimes he strolls around the house wearing a Santa Claus hat, and last week he wore it out in the community. Christmas in August!

I asked him which hats were his favorite. He responded with "all of them are my favorites. My sister got me this one, my Superman hat." Tavio remembers most of the people who gave him hats, even people who he has not seen in a very long time. "Oh yeah, that guy that worked with me a long time ago. I think his name was Keith, I don't know. He don't work there anymore. He gave me this one," a green fisherman hat. He has multiple Imagine! hats, too.

What Tavio loves about hats the most is that they keep his head warm. Tavio wants people to know that it "feels good to have all these hats."

Friday, August 11, 2017

Alonzo Impacts 5th Grade Class

Alonzo Clemons accepts services from Imagine! and lives in Boulder, CO. He has received a great deal of media exposure over the years, spot lighting his diagnosis of Savant Syndrome and achievements with clay sculpting. 60 minutes, Geraldo, Discovery Channel … just to name a few, are outlets that have recognized Alonzo’s talents and compassion for art and life.

Along with this worldwide attention and exposure, Alonzo remains active in his community and offers sculpting presentations to local schools. Last year, Alonzo visited a 5th grade class at Lyons Elementary. Prior to Alonzo’s visit, this class studied human rights and social injustices throughout history. They read novels with characters who had disabilities and also focused on African American history, gaining an understanding for discrimination all this while.

Alonzo was their last speaker to wrap up the human rights curriculum. While giving the class a live demonstration of clay sculpting, his assistant shared stories from Alonzo’s experience and answered questions. During the presentation, Alonzo mentioned that one of his goals was to have a lot of customers in his sculpting business.

The 5th graders were left inspired and empowered. They had group discussions to debrief the human rights curriculum and after much thought, one group decided to dedicate their final project to raising enough money to be one of Alonzo’s customers. The students prepared and shared a presentation with the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) as first steps for fundraising and reached out to the community for support. After many months of planning and organizing with community, family, and PTO assistance, the 5th graders raised enough money and commissioned a 14-inch long sculpture of a mountain lion for the school.

 After this project and experience, one of the students wrote, “I learned to never judge someone on how they look or any apparent disability you think you see. We all have amazing strengths and talents to contribute to our world.”

We are fortunate to have Alonzo in our community and that he uses his experience and talents to be an education to the youth. I asked Alonzo if he has any advice for young artists, he responded, “Do not look at the picture you want to make, start with your own mind.”

To learn more about Alonzo and to purchase his art, go to

This sculpture was custom made by Alonzo for the Lyons Elementary School. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Imagine! Case Management Unsung Hero: Kristen Kernan

Imagine!’s Case Management department works with many great people. To show their appreciation, each month they choose an “Unsung Hero” within the department. Case Managers, support staff, and Case Management supervisors all put in nominations describing what the person has contributed to the department to go above and beyond while supporting those we serve.

For August, we would like to recognize Kristen Kernan as this month’s Case Management Unsung Hero.

Kristen is the definition of “going above and beyond.” She recently uncovered a situation in which an individual served by Imagine! and her daughter were residing in unlivable conditions. This particular case is one of the most extreme we have ever seen and Kristen jumped in without hesitation. She has worked tirelessly to address the situation, recruiting support from other organizations, and getting the family into a hotel. She organized junk movers, disposal of biohazards, mold remediation, and more, spending hours on site at the house to coordinate efforts and make sure things went smoothly. She even bought the family dinner out of her own pocket when they had no food, then arranged to get them grocery cards. Because of Kristen’s efforts, this family will eventually be able to move back into their home under the DD Waiver and start receiving the services they need to stay safe in their own home. Kristen’s work on this case exemplifies Imagine!’s values of respect, communication, creativity, and community.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Robert Reflects on Life

Robert accepts services from Imagine! and lives at one of the Imagine! group homes in Boulder. He and I hung out on the back patio one Sunday afternoon and reminisced about music and life. 

You can catch Robert hanging on the back porch, keeping an eye on his garden. “I water every day and basically at night because we’ve been getting a heat wave. I started the garden in early June.”

When I arrived we talked music, gardening, and life. We turned on some tunes and sang along to Pink Floyd and John Denver. “My favorite Floyd song is ‘Wish You Were Here.’ I wanted to play the drums as a kid. People asked me why and it’s because that’s the first thing you hear when the band starts playing.” When Robert plays music at program or at the house, “I just let other people play the instruments and I’m the singer.”

“If I had a million dollars, I would buy my own place in the mountains. It would have a gym with weights and a treadmill, and Jacuzzi on the back patio. I would throw parties.”

“I have a thing about cigarettes, put your butts in the ash tray or trash can. I don't mind if you smoke, just put them away. I remember when I had to go out to the street and pick up one cigarette butt after the other. I will be frank, if you're going to smoke, try to pick up your butts, or don't smoke at all."

“Enjoy the best you can out of life. You only have one life to live, so why not get the most out of it. And if there's something you can't do, then go onto something you can do, rather than making a big fuss about it. If you can't do anything, don't be afraid to ask, cause there's always gonna be someone there to help you out. All you have to do is speak up.” 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sarah Fenton and Kerry Robison: Recipients of the August 2017 Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award

Congratulations are in order for Sarah Fenton and Kerry Robison, who were selected as the August 2017 recipients of the Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award.

Sarah and Kerry were selected because:

At Imagine!’s Santa Fe Group Home, we have been working really hard on getting information about a resident’s mother's location and contact information for quite some time. One afternoon, Sarah Fenton visited here at Santa Fe Group Home, and together with Kerry Robinson went full P.I. and tracked the mom down. 

Kerry manned the computer and Sarah the phone, and together, over the course of a couple of hours, navigated the hoops and loops necessary to get the resident in contact with his mom. We'll be taking the resident to visit her very soon. 

This has been a very long, frustrating process, with roadblocks at every turn. Sarah and Kerry punched through the final layers and made the contact. The resident is extremely excited and thankful. 

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