Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Imagine!'s Early Intervention Rockstar: Erika Skewes

Imagine!’s Early Intervention (EI) program has a terrific team working to create a world of opportunity for all abilities. To show their appreciation, this team chooses a “Rockstar” each month within their program. Team members submit nominations describing what the nominee has contributed, going above and beyond to support those we serve.

We would like to recognize Erika Skewes as this month’s Rockstar.

Erika is so passionate about her work. She shows so much compassion for her families and team members alike. In recent customer surveys, families rave about Erika’s work with them and ‘could not have asked for a more amazing service coordinator!’ She is a hard worker and is very knowledgeable. We are lucky to have her on our team!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Healthy Community

We are inspired by two individuals in the local area who have a strong sense of community and helping others. Last month, Annie Gray and Dany Tanguay reached out to help Imagine! raise funds during our annual Imagine! Celebration Gala. Annie and Dany frequent a local knitting group and learned about Imagine! through fellow knitters. These two ladies personally knitted warm gear for the gala’s silent auction. Between the large blanket, cowl, and several winter hats, Imagine! raised $435.

Dany and Annie share their stories on what a healthy community means to them, and why they chose to help Imagine!:

“Once I learned of the auction, I knew I wanted to do something for Imagine!. I've learned over the
last year or so how much of an impact Imagine! has had in the community and how much it has helped people, including a very dear friend of mine.
I see a community as a place where individuals can live comfortably and have the ability to surround themselves with people that care. It's knowing where you can get help if needed (or give help), and knowing that if you are lost someone out there can point you in the right direction.”

"I have a good friend who received a grant through Imagine! for her son. Learning that Imagine! helps local families in a meaningful way is what drove me to donate. I support other transparent charity organizations, but as a new mother, Imagine! resonated deeply with me.
I started the blanket on Jan 20 and finished knitting, washing, and drying on Jan 25. The last two days were a knitting marathon! My son helped me out by taking some good long naps toward the end.
My idea of a healthy community is empathy and caring. You can’t go wrong truly caring for a neighbor and being there for them. While we can’t all financially support everyone, love, understanding, and friendship are free.
As a second generation Korean-American, I had the unique opportunity to see a community of first generation Korean immigrants support one another in a new country. Spiritually, they had the church. Financially, every member donated to a pot. When one member in their community faced a huge hardship, such as a theft or damage to their business, or sudden medical emergency, the money pot was given to them. Then my parents and community members would build up the pot again to take care of the next person with future hardships. 

I see Imagine! as a more modernized improvement on this system and I'm happy to have helped in
any way. I plan to continue for many more years." 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Erica Stamm: March 2018 Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award Recipient

Congratulations are in order for Erica Stamm, who is part of our Family Support (FSSP) Team and was selected as the March 2018 recipient of the Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award.

Erica’s nomination included the following praise:

Erica is a critical member of the Family Support team and is held in the highest regard amongst her supervisor, coworkers, and the families we serve. Erica’s daily actions and strong work ethic defines what it means to be team player. Erica is always willing to step up and offer assistance to all areas of Family Support operations. Erica goes above and beyond for not only the families she serves in FSSP but also to support the FSSP team. Erica deserves this recognition for the all the extra job responsibilities she willingly takes on each day to better support the families in FSSP and the overall FSSP team. The FSSP team would not operate as smoothly without Erica! 

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

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Congratulations, Imagine! Alliance DSP of the Year Nominees

Today we’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. We don’t know if Quincy or Jason will be selected as the winner, but we do know that either way, Imagine! and the people we serve have already won by having these two as part of our staff!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Innovations Super Hero of the Month: Melissa Allen

Every month, Imagine!’s Innovations department presents the “Super Hero of the Month” award to the employee or provider who has best demonstrated excellence in one or more of our Innovations Quality Standards:

  • Health, Safety, and Wellbeing 
  • Effective and Efficient 
  • Respect and Dignity 
  • Opportunities 
  • Integrity 
  • Care 
This month, the award was presented to Melissa Allen, who is a Coordinator for the Innovations Host Homes program.

Melissa was nominated by her co-worker, who wrote:

I feel that Melissa deserves this award because she exemplifies the mission and values of Imagine! and Innovations. Melissa has taken the time during highly time-sensitive and stressful situations to make stakeholders and Innovations administrative staff her priority, and has offered assistance even if it is not specifically her job. This small gesture has had a lasting impact, and has supported an open line of communication and collaboration. On many occasions, Melissa has been the first to offer her assistance and support, and is always mindful of our dedication to our stakeholders and why we are truly here. Most recently Melissa offered to get signatures on documents that were needed for Medicaid eligibility that were extremely time-sensitive and crucial to continuing services. Melissa coordinated obtaining the signatures and offered to drive to the residences if needed. This allowed Administrative staff to focus on other essential documents required. Without her support, this process would have been more difficult and taken a great deal more time. Additionally, Melissa shows a great dedication to Imagine! and the stakeholders it serves, and acknowledging that it is a team effort.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Imagine! Leadership Development Group Update - February 2018

The latest update from Imagine!’s Leadership Development Group (LDG), submitted by LDG member Ally Joel. 

What is motivation? And why is it important? Identifying what motivates us and how to foster more of it depends on the task at hand, who we are, and what changes we are willing to make, at least according to Daniel H. Pink, author of “Drive.”

Imagine!’s Leadership Development Group chose “Drive” as one of the three books we will read over the course of the year. I found it to be useful to better understand how to harness my own motivation, and how to foster an environment that enables employees I supervise to harness their own motivation.

Pink classifies motivation into two categories: carrots and sticks and intrinsic motivation. Carrots and sticks may very well be the type of motivation we are all most familiar with—if we perform a task well, we are rewarded (carrots); if we perform a task poorly/fail to perform a task, we are punished (sticks). This approach can serve as temporary motivation, however, Pink reveals that intrinsic motivation can be a more sustainable form of motivation, in that it is driven by performing the task itself, because perhaps there is a higher need for humans beyond being praised and reprimanded.

In 1949, Harry F. Harlow, a psychology professor from Wisconsin University, and his students conducted a test with rhesus macaques, a species of monkey, to solve a puzzle. Contrary to the field’s prior understanding of motivation, Harlow found that the monkeys who were not given tangible rewards completed the puzzle quicker and with fewer errors compared to the group of monkeys who were given tangible rewards.

Based on this study, and his interest in human behavior/motivation, a student of Harlow’s, Abraham Maslow, later developed the field of “Humanistic Psychology,” which combatted the commonly accepted carrots and sticks approach to motivation. Bridging the gap between Maslow’s new motivational theory and the workplace, Douglas McGregor, and MIT management professor who studied Maslow’s behavioral theories, proposed that “people have other, higher drives…And these drives could benefit businesses if managers and business leaders respected them.”

So, businesses gave it a go. Businesses began embracing new approaches to foster motivation among their workforce. Google, for example, used autonomy as a motivational strategy by suggesting that employees spend twenty percent of their time on a personal project (related to the company). Because Google created an environment that fostered autonomy and thus, intrinsic motivation (creating one’s own project), projects such as Gmail, Google Talk, and Google Translate came to fruition. This tells us that with the right structure, people can innovate, continue to challenge processes, and enjoy day-to-day work just because they want to.

Now I ask, what motivates you? How can you contribute to a motivated workforce to better the services of people living with I/DD?

Food for thought.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Imagine! Early Intervention Rockstar - Amy Miller

Imagine!’s Early Intervention (EI) program has a terrific team working to create a world of opportunity for all abilities. To show their appreciation, this team chooses a “Rockstar” each month within their program. Team members submit nominations describing what the nominee has contributed, going above and beyond to support those we serve.

We would like to recognize Amy Miller as this month’s Rockstar.

Amy joined the EI team in late October. Although it’s only been a few months, she has made a great impact on our team. She has managed to conquer our daunting task of electronically scanning all of our files into Questys in the short amount of time she has been with us! She brings a smile to every task she is faced with. We are lucky to have Amy on our team!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Mackie's Giving Heart

Mackie's big smile after losing her two
front teeth on both top and bottom.
Photo credit to Elizabeth Hill
Imagine! is very grateful to all of our generous donors throughout the years. Today’s spotlight focuses 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, but she can 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.

Imagine!'s Family Support Bulletin - February/March 2018

Imagine!'s latest Family Support Bulletin is available online.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Medicare Issuing New Cards Starting In April

Important information for individuals and families served by Imagine!: 

Medicare will be issuing new Medicare cards starting April 2018. Every Medicare recipient will receive a new card. The new Medicare Number will be randomized, unique to the recipient, and will no longer reveal anything about the client’s benefits. Cards will be mailed between April 2018 – April 2019. The new card will not change any coverage or any benefits. Medicare will provide additional information with the new card.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Imagine! Case Management Unsung Hero - Mariah Kolhruss-Ecker

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 go above and beyond to support those we serve.

We would like to recognize Mariah Kolhruss-Ecker as this month’s Unsung Hero!

Mariah recently coordinated a very difficult and time-consuming emergency request. She was able to re-prioritize her job tasks to focus on the request, from the time the need was identified to the time the individual was re-located to a safe place. Mariah did all of this with a professional and calm demeanor, even during stressful situations. Mariah worked closely with the client’s team and stayed in constant communication with the team, her supervisor, and the Program Manager until the crisis was resolved, which spanned several days. Thank you, Mariah, for being such a dedicated case manager!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Imagine! Hosts Visitors From China

Earlier today, 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.