Thursday, February 28, 2019

Imagine! Case Management Unsung Hero - Cindy Navarrete

Congratulations are in order for Cindy Navarrete, recently selected as an Imagine! Case Management Unsung Hero.

Cindy has been a crucial asset to Imagine!’s Case Management team as one of our only adult bilingual case managers. She recently has covered many SLS bilingual cases as well as supporting her own caseload. She is quick to support clients in need and treats every case with great attention to detail. Cindy is also a part of the investigation team and often offers to take investigations even when she is busy maintaining her own workload. She takes on additional work without complaint and looks for opportunities to support the department where she can. We are lucky to have her as part of our team!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Congratulations, Hailey

Today, we’d like to recognize Imagine! employee Hailey Schauer, who was recently nominated for the Alliance Direct Support Professional of the Year Award.

Here’s what the nomination had to say about Hailey:

Hailey is relatively new as a DSP with Imagine! but from the start she has been eager to learn. She is a natural leader. After a few months of training and learning about how Imagine! functions, Hailey stepped up as a shift leader. She helps other staff organize their shifts so that they can be as effective as possible in assisting individuals with their daily activities as well as in the pursuit of their personal goals. As Imagine! works to help implement new technology to increase their independence and quality of life, Hailey has not only been on board with trainings but has leaned in to do more. She has learned how to assist not only those whose tech plans have been assigned to her but everyone in the home where she works. She has also spent time working with every individual to determine what they need and what they want to get out of technology, and has proposed changes or new plans for how technology can be used. In addition to the work she does with the individuals she serves, Hailey also makes it a priority to help train other staff so that they can assist individuals in the use of their technology. Currently, there is an individual at her site who is learning to use a Dynavox to communicate. Sometimes it feels simpler to ask the individual a series of yes or no questions rather than set up the Dynavox. Hailey understands that the yes or no questions can lead to confusion and frustration for this individual. She makes a point to set up the Dynavox, and encourages other staff to do the same, so that the individual can have a voice. Hailey has also spent a lot of time getting to know the individuals she serves. She understands their insecurities and helps them find the confidence to be their own self-advocates. Hailey also does her best to help individuals get into the community, engaging in fun activities. Sometimes she finds activities for the entire site to attend, like a community dance, and other times she focuses on specific individual desires like going to the grocery store to buy ingredients to bake cookies. The individuals who work with Hailey are well served and supported by her. 

The winner of the Alliance Award will be announced February 27 at Alliance's Annual I/DD Awareness Day at the Colorado State Capitol.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Congratulations, Brett

Today, we’d like to recognize Imagine! employee Brett Osborn, who was recently nominated for the Alliance Direct Support Professional of the Year Award.

Here’s what the nomination had to say about Brett:

Brett has a heart full of care and compassion for all of the individuals with whom she works. She has made it a personal goal to get to know them well so she can be the best support and advocate possible. The results of this goal are plain to see. One of the residents suffers from depression, and she finds new and fulfilling ways to help this person get out of the house and into the community. She helped the individual join a church and build relationships with the people there, as well as taking her on fun outings like to the nail salon. The community outings and involvement help with the depressive symptoms and the individual has enjoyed trying new things as well as having fun planning and researching other possibilities. In another example, Brett is the primary support for one individual and she has supported her in ways that have truly been transformative. Brett supported this individual to express herself and her emotions in a healthy way. The individual is not able to communicate verbally very easily but now she is painting and playing music. Those activities are entertaining and enjoyable but also help the individual express her feelings to those around her in a tangible way. Brett is a tireless advocate and support for this individual. She helps this person navigate complicated health discussions with her family, guardian, nurse, and site supervisor. Brett is always tuned into what the individual is feeling and makes sure that her voice is heard. Brett spends a lot of her time, on and off the clock, helping people when they’re in the hospital. She makes sure the hospital staff understands how to communicate with the individuals she serves and also makes a point to visit them and bring them personal items that will make them feel more at ease. If ever there is a medical emergency at the home and Brett is on shift, you can expect to see her taking the lead. She keeps a cool head in crisis and makes sure that everyone is safe and informed. Brett’s focus on each individual and their unique needs and desires makes her stand out among the rest of her colleagues.

The winner of the Alliance Award will be announced February 27 at Alliance's Annual I/DD Awareness Day at the Colorado State Capitol.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Imagine! Leadership Development Group Update

Imagine!'s 2018-19 Leadership Development Group. Left to right: Paula McCormick, Emily Walsh, Victoria Thorne, Gabbie Norton, and Jessie Michaud

Imagine!'s Leadership Development Group has selected "Fostering a Collaborative Culture" as our project for the year. Recent changes in the leadership of Imagine! service departments have identified a new vision that focuses on developing a more collaborative culture to improve service delivery and employee experience. With that goal in mind we are looking at what strategies Imagine! leadership could potentially implement to foster a stronger culture of information sharing and collaboration. 

Why did we chose this project? 
We eventually realized that we had begun collaborating with each other by sharing information learning about the departments that we each work in. we were excited at the prospect of getting to look more closely at how the idea of collaboration could best serve Imagine! as a whole. We also feel that it can be hard to communicate with other departments at times and not being to collaborate as well makes the job harder.

What does collaboration mean to us?

  • Being able to reach out to members of different departments to gather information and knowledge in order to tackle problems (why reinvent the wheel you don’t have to?). 
  • Being able to utilize the resources in other departments and the knowledge that another employee might have of best practices so that we can deliver the best customer service.
  • Gaining new information about other departments so that we can become better ambassadors of Imagine! 
  • Making new connections with people who you don’t work with every day in order to better understand what goes on day to day for your coworkers. 
We hope that in the end we will have better communication with each other and a greater understanding of Imagine! as a whole and what goes on in the different departments. When was the last time you chatted with someone who doesn’t work in your department? The LDG group challenges all of you to give a try. You never know what you might learn!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Love Actually

“When I was in high school, there seemed to be a stigma revolving around students with
developmental disabilities and being in romantic relationships,” said Out & About Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) Brittany Weissman. “I remember typical students would poke fun at students with disabilities who had crushes on others, and in turn, made them feel bad. So, in a way, they are informed by their influencers that they shouldn’t have feelings like that. But they should, and they do.”

Since 2017, Imagine!’s Out & About adult services have facilitated an activity called Love Actually, a practical, social experience for participants who want to learn more about relationships of all kinds. “This is a space for adults with developmental disabilities to learn about not only how to love themselves, but how to build lasting relationships with others,” commented Out & About CTRS Bridget Heddens.

“We saw there was a need for this type of activity,” said Out & About Program Manager Elena Ciaravino. “The theme of ‘navigating relationships’ came up a lot when talking with the individuals who use our services, and we pride ourselves on offering activities that our participants want.”

According to Board Certified Behavior Analyst Ryan Bable: “Being loved and having these
relationships is a hallmark of humanity, and one that should not be excluded from certain groups of people! It is all about teaching the best ways to approach this so that those relationships can actually occur.”

Out & About’s class tackles this subject head on, empowering participants with skills and experiences to independently build relationships. Here are a few examples of lessons taught during Love Actually:

Social Media Safety and Privacy – participants learned privacy settings and etiquette on Facebook and other social media sites in order to reduce vulnerability, and practiced how to respond to strangers who message them.

Gender – A representative from Out Boulder visited to speak about the LGBTQ community and how love looks different for each and every one of us.

Online Dating – Participants logged on to Special Bridge, an online social community for people with mental and physical disabilities. They made profiles and practiced navigating through the site.

Practice Dating – Participants went on practice dinner dates with their peers, practicing eye contact, conversation starters, and etiquette.

Role Playing – Participants acted out scenarios to help them learn about healthy and unhealthy relationships.

Every class allows a space for open sharing, asking questions, and expressing feelings about relationships and love. Self-love has been an emphasized theme as well, giving all participants a moment to express themselves without the influence of others. “In order to love someone else, you have to learn how to love yourself,” said Bridget. Participants are encouraged to look inward and discover what they love about themselves, and what they can contribute to a relationship.

“If we don’t have the necessary tools to build lasting relationships, life can feel very lonely and isolating,” said Bridget. “With a class like Love Actually, the participants are allowed to ask questions and practice these skills in a safe environment, free from judgment.”

Out & About staff members have noticed an increase in open sharing and inquiry, not just in the Love Actually class, but in other classes as well. More participants now feel comfortable with voicing their feelings about love and relationships, and have realized it’s okay to talk about it.

“The class can seem tricky and tough to teach,” said Bridget. “But once everyone in the room has an open mind, discussions and lessons become simple, because at the end of the day, we all just want to be loved.”

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Impact Of Imagine! Donors

Imagine! donors make such a difference in our efforts to create a world of opportunity for all abilities. The short video below shows just a few ways donors impacted our work last year.


Thursday, February 7, 2019

Jeff Johnson - Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award Recipient

Congratulations are in order for Jeff Johnson, recently honored as an Imagine! Excellence in Customer Service Award Recipient.

Imagine!’s Case Management department could not function in the capacity it does, nor could it maintain its high-level of customer service, without the expertise and dedication of Jeff Johnson. A prime example of Jeff’s contributions happened this past fall when a now-enrolled individual was transitioning from the foster care system into Imagine! managed services. Due to the complex system of county jurisdictions involved in this individual’s case, there was confusion as to which county was responsible for leading the process. Enter Jeff. Jeff made countless calls, sent numerous emails, and created new contacts in order to meet this client’s needs. After a massive amount of heavy lifting on Jeff’s part, including solving a catch-22 with Social Security, the counties involved reconciled the case and this individual was able to get his services started. He now has a loving host family and new opportunities as he transitions into adulthood. Great work, Jeff!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Shop At Lucky's And Support Imagine!

Today, we’d like to offer a big shout out to the South Boulder Lucky’s Market. Thanks to many of you voting online, Imagine! was selected as one of this quarter’s (February 3-May 25) Lucky’s Bags For Change partners!

For our readers who live in the area, we’d sure appreciate it if you were to make a shopping trip or two to Lucky’s (located at 695 S Broadway St. in Boulder) over the next couple of months so you can participate in this fun and environmentally friendly way to support our mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Here’s how it works: when shoppers bring in their reusable bags, they can choose to receive $.10 back per bag credit or donate that amount to one of the three Bags For Change partners, including Imagine!. Even better: when a shopper donates, Lucky’s Market will match the donation and double the giving to the nonprofits! Make sure you bring in your reusable bag so you can start dropping dimes to support the three partners.

Thanks Lucky’s for your demonstrated commitment to your community, and thanks in advance to all of you who help out by shopping at Lucky’s South Boulder!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Imagine! Partners with Growing Up Boulder

GUB (Growing Up Boulder) is an initiative that began in spring of 2009. Their mission is to empower Boulder's young people with opportunities for inclusion, influence, and deliberation on local issues that affect their lives. Their current project is giving local youth the opportunity to create their version of a child friendly city map of Boulder.

Imagine!'s Out & About After School Program, which serves children and teens with developmental disabilities, was contacted by GUB to help with creating the Boulder child-friendly city map. GUB hosted Out & About at the Boulder Public Library one afternoon and held a workshop to brainstorm ideas.

“They shared their favorite places around Boulder, including the Humane Society, special restaurants, and hiking trails,” said GUB Program Director Mara Mintzer. “Our engagement with Out & About was enriching to us as educators, and the youth had fabulous ideas!"

GUB aims to reach a wide range of 0-10 year olds in Boulder for the child-friendly city mapping project; they are collaborating with preschools, elementary schools, homes, and after school programs. The main values that guide this project are inclusion, diversity, community engagement, collaboration, and celebration!

"Our goal is to make sure all young people's voices are shared in our work,” said Mara. “Because young people with disabilities are less likely to have their voices heard than majority groups, we seek them out to participate in our programs."

“I’m excited for our participants to see the map and what they contributed,” said Out & About Therapeutic Specialist Maggie Clinton. “It’s awesome they had a voice in a project that will have an impact on the greater community.”

Since Out & About is a community-based program, they plan to incorporate the new maps into their
activities and planning. Instructors and participants can use them as resources to decide where to go next when there is down time, and instructors will also use the map as a tool to teach participants how to access their community.

The city map project is still in the works and will be available later this year. Click here to learn more about GUB. In November 2017, Mara presented a TEDx Talk in Denver, “We let kids design a city -- here’s what happened.” Click here to watch.

Thank you GUB for this awesome partnership and we look forward to working with you again!