Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Imagine! Innovations Super Hero: Kent Vogel

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 Kent Vogel.

Kent is passionate about his work with the residents at Imagine! Foothills Group Home, and has an outstanding work ethic. He works so efficiently that he often picks up extra tasks to help out his coworkers. A shift with Kent always seems to run smoothly. While the assistant site supervisor and the site supervisor were both on vacation, Kent stepped up and helped complete additional responsibilities to help the house. He made the weekly menus and ordered the groceries, which really helped the house and other staff. Kent always has a friendly attitude while at work and enjoys helping the team strive. His presence is much appreciated by both the staff and residents.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Yan Embik - Imagine! Case Management Unsung Hero

Congratulations Yan Embik on being selected as an Imagine! Case Management Unsung Hero.

Yan is a very warm and nice person to have in the office.  He is so attentive to his clients and his fellow staff members.  He is very professional in his interactions, whether it’s in person, on the phone or over email.  Yan’s attention to detail does not go unnoticed. You can see/feel that he truly cares about his work and takes pride in completing tasks accurately and timely.   It is also noticed that Yan has a very witty sense of humor that is a pleasure to be around.  He is truly an asset to Imagine!’s Case Management team and hope he knows how much he is appreciated.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Imagine! Reps "Talk Back" At Movie Screening

On September 19, the Boedecker Theater at the Dairy Center hosted a screening of “Far From The Tree.” This movie follows families meeting extraordinary challenges through love, empathy, and understanding. This life-affirming documentary encourages us to cherish loved ones for all they are, not who they might have been. Following the screening, Kate Hines, an Imagine! Dayspring Occupational Therapist, and Patti Micklin, Executive Director of the Imagine! Foundation, hosted a “Talk Back” discussion about the family dynamics that can come from having a loved one with an intellectual disability. Kate and Patti shared intensely personal stories with humor and heart, and the evening was a spectacular success.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Heidi Lindeman - Imagine! Case Management Unsung Hero

Congratulations Heidi Lindeman on being selected as an Imagine! Case Management Unsung Hero.

Heidi has a unique skill set in crisis intervention and mental health therapy. Over the past year she has provided exceptional service to our individuals who need additional support in these areas. Her respect for our clients and attention to personal choice is evident in her interactions with them. She also recently advocated for an individual in crisis and secured a new residential placement for him that aligned with his desired qualifications, within a very short window of time, to prevent him being homeless. Thank you, Heidi, for your service to Imagine!.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Celebrating Imagine!'s Care Coordination Team

All last week, Imagine! celebrated our Care Coordination team with a slew of events designed to recognize their great work in fun ways. Events included a special breakfast, a hot chocolate cart, a dessert bar, and a field day. Perhaps the highlight of the week took place during the field day, when Care Coordination staff members were given the opportunity to throw a pie in the face of their supervisors (It was all done with great humor and joy, of course!). Thank you, Imagine! Care Coordination team, for your commitment to creating a world of opportunity for all abilities!

Friday, September 14, 2018

2018 DSP Week vol. 7 - Collin Whitten

To celebrate Direct Support Professional (DSP) Recognition Week, each day we are highlighting a standout DSP employee from one of Imagine!’s several service departments. Collin Whitten is a therapeutic instructor with the Out & About program for kids and adults, providing community based, recreational activities within a therapeutic framework. 

“Collin is completely reliable, confident, and attentive when working with the participants,” said Out & About Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist Nicole Hebert.

Collin started working for Imagine! just last spring and has already made a splash in the department. He is a therapist by trade, earning a degree in Music Therapy, proving his positive instructional skills all summer long. “He makes sure that his participant’s needs’ are met and they are reaching a goal by the end of the activity,” explained Nicole.

Collin’s roots are in the south. He grew up in Mississippi, attended Alabama University, and then moved to Atlanta for his post grad internship. Music has been a big part of his life since the beginning, having performed in his first blue grass festival at 10 years old. Naturally, he pursued music in college and started out as a musical theater major.

“Musical theater is a tough program. I wasn’t sold on doing the whole auditioning thing for the rest of my life,” said Collin.

He realized teaching music and working with people was more of his sweet spot and switched his major to music therapy.

During his post grad internship in Atlanta, Collin met and fell in love with former Coloradoan, Laura,
Collin, with his fiance, Laura. 
who had actually worked for Out & About a few years ago. They got engaged and moved back to Broomfield, CO last spring. Collin wanted a break from the music therapy business and sought out Imagine!.

“It’s one of those jobs that until you’re in it, you don’t see the full scope of it,” said Collin. “I thought it was great.”

Collin’s training in school combined with his passion to help people, cultivated instincts to support the participants at Out & About to achieve goals every single day. Near the end of the summer, Collin worked with a 12 year-old who has a sensory disorder and typically does not enjoy sitting in one place for long periods of time. They spent the day at the Boulder Reservoir and the young boy gestured to sit in a raft by the dock. Collin didn’t think he would like it, but helped him into the raft and the boy sat in it for 15 minutes.

Collin looks on while participant Lee taste tests fresh basil
straight from the garden during an Out & About activity.
“It was a cool moment,” reflected Collin. “I realized I should always be open to what people can do, never presume lack of ability.”

Thanks for all you do, Collin, in creating a world of opportunity for all abilities!

2018 DSP Week vol. 6 - Will Hebert

To celebrate Direct Support Professional (DSP) Recognition Week, each day we are highlighting a standout DSP employee from one of Imagine!’s several service departments. Will Hebert is a teacher and counselor for Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) department, providing day activities and classes to adults with developmental disabilities.

A year before Will graduated from college, he needed a job to stay busy during summer break and
Will with his girlfriend at Red Rocks.
found an organization that serves individuals with developmental disabilities in Cheyenne, WY. The following spring, he graduated from UW Laramie with a degree in Journalism. Entering the free world, he went back to the organization in Cheyenne to work with people with I/DD.

“I chose Journalism so I could help people and call attention to social issues,” said Will. “I realized the DSP job path was a more direct path to helping people.”

Will continued this job path for several years in Wyoming, and when he moved to Colorado with his girlfriend two years ago, he sought out similar work and found Imagine!. “I’m thankful to have found a program like Imagine!, I really like the attitude here,” said Will.

“Will carries himself in a positive and composed manner, even during extreme and chaotic situations,” said CLS Assistant Program Manager Jessie Gaylord. “He has a genuine desire to see everyone we work with be successful.”

While he diverted from the journalism track, Will hopes to cultivate journalist skills at CLS. “I always thought it would be cool to run a newsletter for clients to contribute to and circulate,” commented Will.
Slappin' da bass

Outside of Imagine!, Will stays busy by commuting to Wyoming for practice with his rock band.
Bass player and backup vocalist, Will recently performed at the Warped Tour in Denver this summer. Their band, Sunnydale High, entered a “punk-off” contest and was selected as a top finalist, earning them a time slot on the big stage!

Thank you, Will, for all you do and rock on!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

2018 DSP Week vol. 5 - Sean Van Lierop

To celebrate Direct Support Professional (DSP) Recognition Week, each day we are highlighting a standout DSP from one of Imagine!’s several service departments. Today’s spotlight is Sean Van Lierop, who works at Imagine!’s Foothills Group Home in Boulder.

When I sat down with Sean to talk about his job, I noticed that majority of the conversation gravitated toward him complimenting others. He told stories about being inspired on his first day of work, the way other counselors offered care to the residents. How grateful he was to work for Imagine!, the “best company I’ve ever worked for.” Or how one of the residents, Robert, inspires him to be a better person.

I find it fitting that Sean’s outlook is focused on the good of others, because according to his co-workers, he reflects that same good natured demeanor.

Sean commenced employment with the Foothills Group Home a little over a year ago. “My friend called me up and said ‘Imagine! is a great job where you can help people,’” remarks Sean. “I said ‘OK, I don’t need to know anymore’ and applied. It’s the first job where I’ve ever been excited to go to work.”

Sean has his share of experiences in the workforce. Law firms, retail, and teaching math to kids just to name a few. Imagine!’s attraction was the aspect of helping others. “I’ve always liked helping people, I just never knew how.” He jumped into his role at the group home having little experience in direct care, but knew that he wanted to give it a shot.

“Sean enjoys a challenge and consistently wants to learn new things to increase his knowledge about the field he has grown to be so passionate about,” said Foothills Site Supervisor Sarah Gumson.

Having settled in and feeling comfortable with the job’s routine, Sean aspires to branch out and try something new with one of the residents. Robert, longtime client and friend of Imagine!, is a big fan of rock n’ roll and live music. Sean and Robert plan to venture to Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, CO to give Robert his first Red Rocks experience. “We’re going to look at the lineup, listen to the recordings, and figure out who he likes,” said Sean.

Right before Sean launched a career in the field of direct care, a friend of his told him ‘you can’t help yourself without learning how to help others, and you can’t help others without learning how to help yourself.’

“I was confused by this statement, horribly,” said Sean. “It wasn’t until I learned how to support the residents at the group home that I realized I was ignoring my own needs: time management, health, and self-interests.” Sean’s devotion to Imagine! and direct care inspired him to take it a step further and pursue a degree in nursing.

“Imagine! definitely restores my faith in humanity, seeing all the good people can do,” said Sean. “I work with people who not only give a damn, they give a lot of damns, they give all of the damns.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Today Is Longmont Live And Give Day!

The Longmont Community Foundation is looking to encourage the community to support great local nonprofits today, which they have designated Longmont Live and Give Day.

Imagine! is participating in this day of giving, and we encourage you to help us support our climbing program which allows individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to experience the joy and self-esteem that rock climbing can bring.

Watch the video below to learn more, and click here to donate! 


2018 DSP Week vol. 4 - Emilie Still

To celebrate Direct Support Professional (DSP) Week, each day we are highlighting a standout DSP employee from one of Imagine!’s several service departments.

Emilie Still works for Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) department, which provides educational classes, job training, and supported employment for individuals with developmental disabilities. This department operates curriculum based classes at a staffed site, as well as community based activities in the local and sometimes regional area.

Emilie has a detail oriented, problem solving, and personable approach to her job, making her a role model veteran in the building. She leads a variety of classes with the purpose of teaching new skills and providing a fun atmosphere.  

Of the several classes, Emilie co-teaches Assistive Technology Cooking twice a week, which finds adaptive solutions for clients to cook their own meals. Emilie explains, “For example, a client who may not have the motor skills to chop up an onion, they can put it in the food processor and use an adaptive switch to turn the processor on and off. It’s cool to give them this opportunity, because most of the time their food is prepared for them.”

Emilie demonstrates an adaptive blender at an
Imagine! Foundation event to community members.
Among the CLS staff, there is a five person Assistive Technology (AT) team that finds innovative ways to incorporate technology into the classes, activities, and daily living for the clients. Emilie is a member of this small team, which explains her involvement in AT Cooking. “I’m not the most ‘techy’ person,” Emilie laughs, “but it has been fun to learn.”

Emilie has been at CLS for a total of four and a half years, taking a couple of breaks in that time to travel. After this much time working with this population, Emilie decided to pursue a master’s degree in Special Education. “I love my job and wanted more,” she said.

Emilie supports Micah during AT Cooking class.
“Emilie is constantly ensuring that the individuals we support receive the best customer service possible by being extremely detail oriented and always having a smile on her face,” said Tim West-Heiss, Assistant Program Manager at CLS. “She embodies the highest levels of integrity that I’ve seen and sets an example among her peers alike.”

Emilie strives to support the clients in every way possible and provides a learning atmosphere that will
changes lives for the better. Thank you, Emilie, for all you do and your hard work at Imagine!.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

2018 DSP Week vol. 3 - Shen Hollcraft

To celebrate Direct Support Professional (DSP) Recognition Week, each day we are highlighting a standout DSP employee from one of Imagine!’s several service departments.

Imagine! owns and operates six group homes in Boulder and Broomfield counties. We shine the spotlight on DSP Shen Hollcraft, who works at our Santa Fe Group Home in Broomfield. Shen has
worked there for a year and a half and is responsible for safety of residents, transportation duties, house chores, direct care, and more. Along with working 30 plus hours a week at Imagine!, Shen is in her third year at Naropa University earning her master’s degree in Contemplative Psychotherapy and Buddhist Psychology.

“Some advice I was given is that ‘working in direct care is essential if you want to be a psychotherapist,’” said Shen. She took this advice and sought out a job at Imagine!. “I’m exposed to all levels of human experience as opposed to just sitting across from someone an hour a week.”

Shen desired an intimate setting in the direct care field, which is what led her to the Santa Fe Group Home, which houses eight individuals. “It’s a mutual experience, I call it mutual healing,” she said. “I could be serving someone breakfast and at the same time get a little side hug or a sweet comment. It’s a natural sharing that nourishes both people.”

Shen appreciates how this job has taught her to slow down and take time to connect with the residents. A residential counselor can be stretched thin in a day’s work, and Shen likes to challenge the “always be busy” routine by finding ways to balance both the chores and human connections.

“Yes, the laundry needs to get done and the dishwasher needs emptying, but that can come second to slowing down and having a conversation,” said Shen. “Those pieces in letting people know that they are valued are important.”

Shen spends time with her sister, Rachel, at the
Shambhala Mountain Center this summer. 
“She always seems present in the moment while at work,” said Chantelle Tweten, Assistant Site Supervisor at Santa Fe Group Home. “I watch her while interacting with individuals we serve and she always listens mindfully and without judgement.”

Shen didn’t always know she wanted to dedicate her life to connecting with people. Her first go of undergrad was for English and Writing at University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, which lasted one semester. She left college and enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves. She completed boot camp, followed by an eight month period of combat and job specific training.

 “My time in the military made me curious about why we do what we do and the human experience, and got the ball rolling in my pursuit of a career to helping people.”

After boot camp, Shen chose to balance military training and school simultaneously. She moved to Colorado and pursued a bachelor’s degree in Contemplative Psychology at Naropa University, which meant flying to Minnesota once a month for military duties. “There was a lot of friction for me during this time, finding where I fit between two seemingly opposing value systems – and I am so grateful for it,” said Shen.

At the completion of this school year, Shen will have a masters in Mental Health Counseling and plans to focus on counseling in an intimate setting. Thank you Shen for bringing your experience and mindfulness to the Santa Fe Group Home. Your passion and dedication is an important asset to Imagine! and we are grateful!

Monday, September 10, 2018

2018 DSP Week vol. 2 - Patty Gutierrez

To celebrate Direct Support Professional (DSP) Week, each day we are highlighting a standout DSP employee from one of Imagine!’s several service departments.

Imagine!’s Family Recruited Employees (FRE) program puts families in control of hiring people to take care of and work with their loved ones. The Oade family found a great fit when they hired Patty Gutierrez to spend time with their seven-year old son, Cort, every Saturday morning.

Patty works full time as a real estate broker and has always enjoyed doing something on the side with people. She worked with seniors as an in home health care provider and also worked with a young girl with cerebral palsy for a few years, creating meaningful relationships.

Patty found a job posting last fall to work with Cort, who has autism. “When I saw the job posting, I thought to myself ‘I have no clue how to work with someone with autism,’ but I wanted to learn how,” said Patty. She checked out books on autism, including literature by Temple Grandin, prominent author and speaker on autism. While reading about autism and getting to know Cort week by week, Patty became more and more comfortable meeting Cort’s needs.

“Patty is amazing,” said Stephanie Oade, Cort’s mother. “She manages my son’s behaviors better and better as she gets to know him, and he is a happy guy when they’re together.”

One example of how Patty goes above and beyond is her efforts to give Cort more social opportunities by having him attend Sunday school. She is coordinating with the children’s ministry at her church to find accommodations and knowledgeable care for Cort so that he can socialize with typical peers in the class room. While Cort is in Sunday school, his parents will be able to attend church service in the chapel.

“Patty truly cares about not just my son, but about us too,” said Stephanie.

We recognize and admire Patty for her efforts to step out of her comfort zone and build a meaningful relationship with Cort and his family. Thank you, Patty, for your hard work and all you do!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

2018 DSP Week vol. 1 - Bren Lindemann

To celebrate Direct Support Professional (DSP) Week, each day we are highlighting a standout DSP employee from one of Imagine!’s several service departments.

The Out & About department of Imagine! offers therapeutic recreational services in the community to children and adults with developmental disabilities. Bren Lindemann is a therapeutic instructor for Out & About’s children’s activities, including the After School Program and Summer Camp. Their passionate and thoughtful approach to working with the kiddos has earned them today’s DSP spotlight.

Bren is close with younger brother, Andrew, who has autism and has attended Out & About since he was seven years old. When Andrew was in middle school, his teachers would send home his communication device with sticky notes on it, asking if Bren could add certain words or phrases to the device for Andrew to use the next day. Bren was happy to do that and found it interesting. “Since then, I always thought ‘this is something I’d like to do, work with people with developmental disabilities,’” said Bren.

Bren (right) and their brother Andrew (left)

Bren just finished working their third Summer Camp and it is no surprise that they jumped into a leadership role this year. Bren was an in the field coordinator that supported new instructors and participants during the day to day activities.

“Their passion really shows while working with the kids and their attention to the kids’ needs is really amazing,” said Cassie Sowers, Out & About Children’s Program Coordinator.

Bren explains that patience is the primary lesson they have learned at Out & About. “Everyone operates at their own pace and we need to let them do so,” said Bren. “I’ve learned to adapt tasks or activities so that participants are happy and comfortable doing things they should be happy doing.”

Bren with Natalya, crawdad fishing during
Out & About Summer Camp. 
Bren is currently pursuing an associates degree in Sociology at Front Range Community College and plans to transfer to CSU Fort Collins and earn their bachelor's degree in Human Development and Family Studies.

“I don’t know exactly what I want to do, but I know that I want to work with kids with autism,” said Bren. “I love seeing them grow, learn new things, and build relationships with others.”

Thank you Bren for all do and your hard work at Out & About!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Jolie Bernstein - Imagine! Early Intervention Rockstar

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 Jolie Bernstein as this month’s Rockstar.

Jolie has been with Imagine! 21 years. She has seen many changes with the department and is a great asset to the Early Intervention team. She offers expertise primarily working with Boulder Valley School District. She advocates for her families to ensure that appropriate services are provided and that they are provided in a timely manner. Jolie’s resilience has shown in the last few months with the constant changes that have presented themselves. Her spirit and high energy have been great and much appreciated! Thank you for your hard work and dedication, Jolie!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Imagine! To “Talk Back” at Movie Screening

On September 19, the Boedecker Theater at the Dairy Center will be hosting a screening of “Far From The Tree.” This movie follows families meeting extraordinary challenges through love, empathy, and understanding. This life-affirming documentary encourages us to cherish loved ones for all they are, not who they might have been. Following the screening, representatives from Imagine! will be part of a “Talk Back” discussion about the family dynamics that can come from having a loved one with an intellectual disability. You are invited to join us - friends of Imagine! can enter IMAGINE in the promo code field online ( to purchase member priced tickets ($6.50) for any showing of “Far From the Tree.”

Monday, September 3, 2018

Jessica Connelly - Imagine! Case Management Unsung Hero

Congratulations Jessica Connelly, selected as an Imagine! Case Management Unsung Hero.

Jessica has only been here for a few months and has already proven herself to be an excellent Case Manager. One parent said, “Thank you for suggesting Jessica to be my son’s case manager. We liked her very much and appreciated her easy manner and prompt response to questions and requests.” Also, a provider said that she was impressed that Jessica reached out to her and said that she did “a fantastic job” on her job site visit with a client, and was very thorough and attentive. Way to go, Jessica, we’re glad to have you here!