From the Editor’s Desk
Elaine McHugh

 The “Moving Beyond the Barriers: Secrets to Successful Employment” Consumer Conference was a great success.  With close to 500 people in attendance, most workshops were well populated and given high approval.
 
Secretary John Polanowicz (EOHHS) delivered the keynote address on the first day of this two-day conference.  The second day speakers included: Joyce Bender, consultant and host of Disability Matters radio show and Felicia Nurmsen, national project ability leader of the ManPower Group.

More conference thoughts will be shared by Emeka Nwokeji in the Director’s Desk.

This year’s Moro Fleming Award was given to Rebekah Carter. Rebekah was chosen to receive the Moro Fleming Award for her outstanding commitment to impact policies and decisions which affect the self-worth, dignity and ability of people with disabilities to direct their lives and fully participate in the home, community and workplace.

Mary Ellen MacRae, Turning 22 Coordinator, has written an article about  the 2013 Youth Leadership Forum (YLF) that was held at Bridgewater State University.  YLF is a yearly event that  forms, trains and empowers young people with disabilities.

We also have poetry by Donna DeGuglielmo. 

We are looking for articles for the Consumer’s Voice and images for the featured artist section.  If you are interested in writing for the Consumer’s Voice or you are an artist with an image to share please contact me by email at consumer.involvement@mrc.state.ma.us or by phone 617-204-3665.

We are still encouraging our readers to go green and receive the Consumer’s Voice electronically.  If you are interested in going paperless please contact us at the above email address.

 

From the Director’s Desk
Emeka Nwokeji

Annual Consumer Conference

I am highly honored to have been asked to write this essay on the 2013 Annual Consumer Conference.

The Annual Consumer Conference planning team convened on January 25, 2013 and took the assignment of planning a new way of conducting the Annual Consumer Conference.

The theme of the Conference was immediately determined to be “Moving Beyond the Barriers: Secrets to Successful Employment.“  From my position as the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) Consumer Involvement Program Director, I was equally happy to embrace the co-hosting agency Commissioners, who came forward and established their support with funds and resources, seeding a sophisticated collaboration among sister agencies and the State Independent Living Council (SILC).

The decision to amplify the MRC Annual Consumer Conference to a Mega Collaborative Conference was readily accepted and enhanced with the addition of an external event planner.

In gathering steam for the planning committee, Ms. Lisa Weber, MRC Consumer Involvement Program Conference Coordinator, drove the planning team to shift its paradigm to be as accurate and diligent as possible. She led the planning committee and encouraged co-hosting agencies to each elect a lead person as conduit on the planning committee.  To that end, the planning committee established milestones and built a team of professionals around the conference goals and objectives.  In addition, the planning committee, mostly the lead teams, met as often as required.  Overall, the team consolidated their meeting outcomes and the Conference was held June 20 & 21, at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel in Norwood, MA.

I am proud to announce that the 2013 Conference besieged the town of Norwood with a convoy of different colors of wheelchair vans, cars of all shapes and limousines dropping off attendees, exhibitors, presenters, consumers and staff from the co-hosting agencies which are the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB), Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) and the Statewide Independent Living Center (SILC).

This was a two-day conference.  The first day we registered over 500 Conference attendees.  People came from every corner of the State.  We also had out-of-state attendees.  Most interesting was the range of attendees, all ages, abilities, cross- gender and disabilities.

MRC Commissioner Charles Carr gave the welcoming remarks and recognized that we might be the most unique conference with all three disability human resource agencies, all of whom are headed by people with disabilities. He emphasized the message and reminded all why we were here and advised all to participate in the Conference workshops to build knowledge and skills; to advocate for each other and continue to advise each of the co- hosting agencies on its service delivery systems.

This year there was a renewed emphasis on employment challenges, role-modeling and the ability to self advocate.  The first day workshops exemplified these themes:

  • SSA Benefits and employment
  •  Self-Empowerment
  •  Finding transportation resources in your community
  •  Three keys to successful employment
  •  Discrimination and reasonable accommodation in the workplace
  •  MassHeath plus Medicare One proposed overview and discussion
  •  Secrets to a successful phone interview
  •  Young adults with mental health conditions, barriers to and facilitators of successful employment

All attested that the workshops, training and support tools gave skills and knowledge that empowered individuals and prepared all with skills ready to be deployed.

During lunch, Secretary John Polanowicz of EOHHS gave the keynote address.  MCDHH certified ASL interpreters and CART reporters were available during the Secretary’s speech.  The Secretary commented on the unique partnership between the co-hosting agencies and recognized the modality to be in-sync with Governor Deval Patrick’s Administration goals.

The Conference planning team and coordinators have displayed an unprecedented commitment to communication accessibility for all including the deaf/blind population.  The MCB consumers were given all necessary accommodations which involved sighted guides, Braille materials and alternative format.  The Hotel AT personnel handled and resolved technology issues during the Conference without any glitches. 

The night was filled with melodic rhythms from Toonfoolery.  People danced the night away. The Moro Fleming award went to Rebekah Carter.

The second day of the Conference was complimented with “Secrets to Employment” workshops such as:

  • Social Security benefits and self employment
  •  Assistive technology in the workplace
  •  Soft skills for success in the workplace
  •  Know your disability rights: Office of  Federal Contract Compliance Programs OFCCP- protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination
  •  Mentoring youth with disabilities
  •  The iCan Connect Program and access to modern communication tools and training
  •  Direct care worker training: supporting independent living and consumer employment
  •  Self Advocacy: Tips to be the best employee you can be

There was a total of 16 workshop sessions, with each session was a 90 minute lecture.   The Conference workshop sessions were well attended, no attendees were observed hanging around in the hallways or seating areas of the hotel.

During the second day lunch, participants heard highly motivated presentations urging the crowd to be strategic in their employment goals.

First, Joyce Bender, founder and CEO of Bender Consulting Services, Inc., a firm that recruits and hires people with disabilities in the public and private sectors, who are trained in information technology, engineering, finance/accounting, human resources, and general business areas.  Ms. Bender is the host of Disability Matters radio show.  She outlined a five-point plan to successful employment.

Following, Felicia Nurmsen, national project ability leader of the ManPower Group, provided an “A to Z Job Search Checklist.”  Ms. Nurmsen serves on the Corporate Advisory Board to the U.S. Business Leadership Network as well as the Greater Boston Employment Advisory Board of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board Youth Employment Committee and Work Without Limits.

This Conference was designed to be inclusive and highly interactive with all the support from MCDHH interpreters, the deaf-blind community interpreters, MCB Sighted Support Providers, Personal Care Attendants and Four Point Sheraton Hotel staff were all alert to the culture of those attending. This Conference is one to be remembered.

I want to thank all who attended this fabulous Conference and a lot of kudos to the planning committee and the Consumer Involvement Program staff, until next year.

Believe in Yourself: HHS Hosts the Third Annual Joint Consumer Conference
Daniela Trammell
MRC Marketing Director

The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB), Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH), and Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC), hosted the Third Annual Consumer Conference in Norwood, MA. This year’s Conference theme was “Moving Beyond the Barriers: Secrets to Successful Employment,” and attendees heard from speakers, attended panel discussions and participated in workshops to learn about the resources available to help them reach their employment goals.

Secretary John Polanowicz (EOHHS) delivered the keynote address to a room of nearly 500 consumers, advocates, employees and vendors on the first day of this two-day conference. Secretary Polanowicz praised the three state agencies for breaking down the silos and supporting the Secretariat’s strategic goals of Community First and Economic Self-Sufficiency by creating long-term supports for people with disabilities to live and work independently in the community. 

Participants attended educational workshops for their professional development, for example, Discrimination and Reasonable Accommodation in the Workplace, SSA Benefits and Employment, and Mentoring Youth with Disabilities. Attendees also had the opportunity to discuss with the 32 exhibitors tabling at the Conference to collect and discuss resources with them.

On the second day, participants heard highly motivated presentations urging the crowd to be strategic in their employment goals. First, Joyce Bender, consultant and host of Disability Matters radio show, outlined a five-point plan to successful employment. Following, Felicia Nurmsen, national project ability leader of the ManPower Group, provided an “A to Z Job Search Checklist.”

Following the theme of the Conference, presentations expressed the ideology that while there are many services and resources available to assist with employment needs, the secret to successful employment is that individuals need to believe in themselves and be their own champions in order to make employment truly successful.

Durable Medical Equipment Re-use Program in Massachusetts
Randi Sargent
DME Re-use Project Coordinator, MassMATCH

Help Us Develop a Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Re-use Program in Massachusetts!
We are seeking input from users of durable medical equipment (DME) to guide the plans for a new DME re-use pilot program in Greater Boston being developed by the Boston Home, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) and Spaulding Rehab.
We appreciate your taking the time to answer a few questions about your needs, challenges and interest in using gently refurbished medical equipment.
Your replies will be kept confidential and will be used solely to inform our pilot program.
For more information or to receive a hard copy survey, call Randi Sargent, MRC at 617-204-3626 or email reuse@massmail.state.ma.us.
Take our online survey!http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GH5RQ3Y

2013 Moro Fleming Award recipient Rebekah Carter

About  the Award: This award is given in recognition of Moro Fleming the first Director of Consumer Involvement 1978-1991.

The Moro Fleming I knew (as told by John Chappell)

Moro and I met in 1978 at an American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities meeting.  The four-state meeting was the first of its kind and we were each representing our respective states, Virginia for me and Massachusetts for Moro.  The meeting was organized to study how different states on the East Coast were involving consumers in the development of policies for agencies that provided vocational rehabilitation services.

I quickly discovered Moro’s commitment to consumer involvement and how his quiet but persistent style had been so successful in Massachusetts.  With then MRC Commissioner Bartels’ leadership and support, Moro had built a statewide and regional advisory council structure in Massachusetts.  I also discovered a new friend.  We worked together for nearly two years on the project and I always found his positive and quiet listening approach so very supportive and successful in our deliberations.

In 1984, I was asked by then Commissioner Bartels to come to Massachusetts to head up the newly formed Independent Living Division.  One of the components of the new division was Consumer Involvement.  To my surprise and delight, Moro Fleming was still the Director of Consumer Involvement.  It was just like we were at our meetings in D.C.  Moro picked up where we left off.  Only this time, I was able to experience first-hand his solicitous style with consumers.  I was able to see personally how his quiet but persistent support of their involvement was being accomplished in Massachusetts.

Through his great work, the number of consumers statewide had continued to grow.  Also, Moro coordinated an annual statewide Consumer Conference which brought together people with disabilities from all over the state to discuss ways in which MRC could provide better services.  As part of the outreach for the Conference, Moro suggested that I travel around the state meeting with all the leaders of the different advisory councils.

I traveled from the North Shore to Pittsfield; from the South Shore to Springfield; from Worcester to Milford.  In all of these places, I watched Moro as he encouraged input and worked with each person individually so the agency could benefit from the perspective of the consumer.  As we traveled across the state, I also got to know Moro personally.  He was very proud of his family and quickly related how he met his wife and how he was very proud of his involvement in the many different human rights issues of the 60’s and the 70’s.

I also learned that in spite of Moro’s commitment to the issues of people with disabilities he was also ultimately committed to his family.  Wherever we were, Moro always insisted that we get home early, in order for him to spend time with his family!  So we always started out early in the day but arrived home in time for him to see his children before bedtime.

Moro was truly an unusual person.  A man committed to empowerment for people with disabilities; a person who believed that only through soliciting input from those who received services could the agency truly do a better job.  He was a person who believed in his family and the need to be there when it counted.

Finally, Moro was a person who demonstrated even in dying that an individual could retain his or her dignity.  Moro passed away too young, given the work he still had ahead of him.  Moro, however, left us his legacy.  A legacy of commitment to do whatever it took to ensure the agency’s constituencies could and would have a legitimate say in the way we do our job; a say in ensuring that we are accountable to the people we serve.

Moro, a man for all seasons, left us much, but most importantly he left us an example to live by; an example that we honor each year through the Moro Fleming Award.

This award is given in recognition of Moro Fleming and his dedication to involving people with disabilities in agency policy development.

The Moro Fleming Award is given annually during the Consumer Conference.  The recipient is determined to be someone who reflects the values of Moro Fleming.

This year’s recipient:

Rebekah Carter was chosen for her outstanding commitment to impact policies and decisions which affect the self-worth, dignity and ability of people with disabilities to direct their lives and fully participate in their home, community and workplace. 

Thank you, Rebekah for your service and commitment to people with disabilities in our community.

 

Secretary Polanowicz Announces Olga Roche as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families

I am pleased to announce Olga Roche as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Olga is an experienced health and human services administrator with more than 30 years of management experience in child welfare and juvenile justice.

Ms. Roche has served as DCF deputy commissioner for field operations since 2007, helping Gov. Deval Patrick’s Administration advance programs to assist thousands of families in becoming stronger and better prepared to protect and nurture their children.

This announcement follows the departure of Commissioner Angelo McClain, who recently left DCF to lead the National Association of Social Workers in Washington, D.C.

As deputy commissioner, Ms. Roche oversaw 29 area offices and 3,000 employees. During this time, DCF field offices increased the number of children placed with relatives by nearly 30 percent and completed over 700 adoptions annually. Ms. Roche has also worked for DCF in previous roles as regional director of the northern region and area director of the Lawrence, North Central and Worcester area offices.

She also brings extensive experience in juvenile justice, having served as a manager and direct care worker with the Department of Youth Services (DYS) over six years. She is fluent in Spanish and worked in Puerto Rico as a probation officer in the Juvenile Court of Guayama and as adjunct professor at Catholic University of Puerto Rico.

A licensed social worker, Ms. Roche holds a Masters of Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas; and a Bachelors of Social Work from Catholic University of Puerto Rico. She is a resident of Worcester.

Please join me in welcoming Ms. Roche to her new role as Acting Commissioner of DCF!

 

Manuel Carballo Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Workforce Mentoring Award
Eugene H. Rooney, Jr. Public Service Award
Governor Deval Patrick

Together, you care for the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents, train our workforce, maintain our roads and bridges, provide for our safety and so much more.  Thanks to your dedication, Massachusetts leads the nation in student achievement, energy efficiency, and health care coverage for our residents and services for our veterans.

Excellence in public service deserves recognition.  This year, we recognize 900 employees with the Commonwealth Citation for Outstanding Performance for their exemplary contributions to our state.  Congratulations to all of you on this tremendous achievement and thank you for your commitment to excellence.

Each year, we also present three performance-based recognition awards to groups and individuals who have made an extraordinary impact in the past year.  I am pleased to announce the winners of these highly selective awards.

The Manuel Carballo Governor’s Award for Excellence in Public Service is given annually to employees or groups of employees who exemplify the highest standards of excellence in public service. 

The 2013 recipients are:
·       Robert Brun, Office of Student Financial Aid and Department of Higher Education
·       David Goodwin, Department of Conservation and Recreation
·       Gary Howe, Department of Career Services
·       Donna Jean McCrorey, Department of Public Health
·       Kazim Ozyurt, Department of Revenue
·      Colleen Pritoni, Department of Children and Families
·    Central Region Reception Center,  Department of Youth Services
·     Rolland Management Team, Department of Developmental Services
·    Mobile Eye Clinic Team, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
·    MassHR Project Team, Human Resources Division
·     MassHR Project Team, Office of the State Comptroller
·     MassHR Project Team, Information Technology Division

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Workforce Mentoring Award is given
annually to an employee who is an outstanding leader in the area of mentoring in the workplace.  The 2013 recipient is:

·     Dr. Catherine Brown, Department   of Public Health

The Eugene H. Rooney, Jr. Public Service Award is given annually to an employee(s) who best exemplifies excellence in the field of human resource development and training.  This year’s recipients are:

·       Gina Hunt, Department of Developmental Services
·       Ronald G. Marlow, Executive Office of Administration and Finance

Congratulations and thanks again to all of the individuals and teams recognized this year and to each of you who serve the public!  I appreciate all the good you do for our Commonwealth.

 

The Carroll Awards 
Blind Employee of the Year:  Jini Fairley

At MetroWest Center for Independent Living, we are extremely proud of our Director of Services, Jini Fairley.  The Carroll Center for the Blind and the MA Commission for the Blind awarded Jini with the "Blind Employee of the Year" award.
 
This award publicly acknowledges the achievements and contributions to the workforce by a person who is blind or visually impaired.  Jini was selected as a person who demonstrates the highest degree of excellence.   Jini was also recognized in 2009 when she became a member of the Carroll Society.
 
MetroWest Center for Independent Living was also recognized as "Employer of the Year for employing and supporting persons who are blind and visually impaired.”

In addition to the award, Jini was recognized for her accomplishments by Congressman Joseph Kennedy II, State Representative Ruth Balzar and State Senator Cynthia Creem.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Celebration Day, Boston, MA

Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Mayor's Commission for Persons with Disabilities welcomed all to the ADA Celebration Day, celebrating the anniversary of the 1990 passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act!

A celebration of the 23rdanniversary of the ADA, this event invited all to come out and join us as we celebrated the landmark civil rights law for people with disabilities.

The event featured remarks by Mayor Thomas Menino, fun, food, music and T-shirts.  Attendees learned about getting involved in civic activities like voting, visiting City Councilors, and tours of Boston City Hall.

A new feature this year was the “Civic Involvement Breakfast” held at City Hall on the fifth floor.  Breakfast attendees received early registration to the ADA Day and a free T-shirt.

Under cloudy skies participants wandered among the tables of information and service providers to people with disabilities.  Many old and new friends greeted one another and took the opportunity to catch up.  The rain held off until the Mayor had finished his remarks. 

The event was well attended; participants enjoyed the entertainment and food.

 

Ways2Go Launches Travel Training in MBTA Service Area

In June, Ways2Go launched its travel training service.

Ways2Go is a collaborative effort among Door2Door by SCM, the MBTA, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, and the City of Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities. These partnering organizations refer individuals to the Ways2Go travel training service, which is available within the MBTA service area.
Travel training can help individuals with disabilities, seniors, and others how to use public transportation independently to access their environment and community. Ways2Go offers travel training in both English and Spanish, and the program offers one-on-one training tailored to each participant's needs and goals.

Previously known as Cambridge in Motion, Ways2Go developed out of the 2009 Transportation Coordination Institute hosted by Work Without Limits and Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA). As the program develops over time, additional organizations may join Ways2Go.

MBTA & Door2Door Inaugurate Travel Independence Program

New station and new parking areas to better serve customers.

MBTA General Manager Dr. Beverly Scott, in cooperation with Somerville-based non-profit Door2Door Transportation, proudly announced a partnership destined to enhance the independence of Greater Boston transportation consumers, especially seniors and people with disabilities.

Invoking the adage “Knowledge is Power,” the agencies are fortifying and expanding travel training opportunities for those interested in exploring and mastering fixed route transit (buses, subways, commuter rail) and other transportation resources. Travel training will be the first in a series of mobility management services organized under a consortium dubbed Ways2Go and funded with federal grant funds.

“I strongly believe there are many T customers in waiting,” said GM Scott.  “All we need to do to is demonstrate how easy it is to use our system of subway trains and buses.   A lot of people do not know that the T is so accessible and quite easy to use once you get the hang of it.”

In January of 2013, the MBTA’s Department of System Wide Accessibility introduced a System Orientation Training, an introductory seminar for people with disabilities interested in making use of the T’s vast array of accessible fixed route buses and subway lines.  Participants in System Orientation required an overview of trip planning and hands on practice using maps, schedules and boarding buses, they also received a tour of subway and bus facilities and learn about the safety features available in stations and on vehicles. By all accounts, the program filled a much needed information gap. 

At the same time, Door2Door’s Ways2Go program has developed more detailed curricula to meet the needs of those who require more intensive assistance in order to master fixed route travel.  With the new partnership, Ways2Go travel training will be available to anyone who would like additional instruction after completing System Orientation Training.

Travel training programs across the country are helping individuals with more complex physical and cognitive challenges become independent travelers who are able to plan their own trips on fixed route rather than depending solely on paratransit services.
 
Door2Door Executive Director Reed Cochran notes: “We’re looking forward to opening doors.” While Door2Door and the MBTA have provided paratransit for our neighbors for many years, many of our consumers desire more options and more autonomy in deciding where to go and when. For those willing and able to adopt fixed route options, the world will be more at their fingertips. Ways2Go training will make the process much less daunting.”
Anyone interested in System-Wide Orientation and travel training may call 617-222-5273 or e-mail HowToTravel@mbta.com.

 

ICC Spotlight: Michaela Arroyo
Independent Consumer Consultant (ICC)

Michaela is an ICC with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) since 2009. She is a recent graduate of Boston University.

Michaela began her ICC career working with the MassMatch program providing reasonable accommodation to the program coordinator upon request, assisting with events and MassMATCH Advisory Council meetings and provided administrative services under the MassMatch program.  Michaela also handled all activity for the GetATStuff.com website for the Assistive Technology Exchange in New England.

In the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission’s (MRC) Turning 22 Program, Michaela assisted regional coordinators with intake assessments, reported opinion and rating guidelines for each Independent Living Center for the  Turning 22 program director.

She also worked as a consultant for the Home Care Assistance Program doing initial intakes and verifying medical documentation.

Currently, Michaela is working for the Statewide Head Injury Program providing case management.

 

2013 Massachusetts Youth Leadership Forum (YLF)
MaryEllen MacRae, Turning 22 Services Coordinator

“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future”- FDR

It’s no surprise that this year’s selected peer leaders chose this quote to represent the theme of the 2013 Massachusetts Youth Leadership Forum (YLF).  Once again, Massachusetts executed another successful YLF thanks to Easter Seals, EPIC, Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Center for Human Development, Massachusetts Developmental Disability Council, Center for Living and Working, Stavros Center for Independent Living, Cape Organization for the Rights of the Disabled, and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.  I’d have to say the real success came from all of participants who applied, competitively interviewed, and blew our socks off!!

The Massachusetts YLF is a three day event at Bridgewater State University designed to teach and empower young adults to be leaders in their communities.  It all starts with the peer leaders; they spend an entire day and night together the day before the delegates arrive working hard and being trained about leadership, advocacy, and goal setting while completing personal leadership plans.  By completing their own plans, they gain the knowledge and experience it takes to help the delegates eventually complete their plans. 

Then, the magic happens…the delegates arrive in droves, the peer leaders assume their roles, and the 2013 Massachusetts YLF really begins!  All the months of planning begin to take shape, and all the peer leader trainings start to pay off.  The peer leaders and delegates spend their first day together in designated small groups to get to know one another, go over ground rules and expectations, and most importantly, talk about what leadership really means to them.  The rest of the day includes a warm welcome from Commissioner Charlie Carr and Easter Seals President Kirk Joslin with some wise words, funny jokes, and a whole lot of support and encouragement.  Following this, the peer leaders and delegates attended multiple workshops on assistive technology throughout the afternoon and an evening filled with resource tables from Easter Seals and MRC, caricature drawings, playing musical instruments, and spray painting new accessible icon parking spots in BSU’s parking lots.

The second day started with workshops on how to prepare for employment, learning about reasonable accommodations in the workplace and how to sell one’s self in an interview.  An attentive and confident audience had no problem when they were asked to describe themselves in 5 positive adjectives!  From these workshops, everyone made their way over to a very successful career mentor luncheon that was filled with professionals working in various fields of interest, not to mention hearing from some amazing guest speakers: Assistant Commissioner Joan Phillips of MRC, Harilyn Rousso (Author), and Peter Mahoney from Nuance (Dragon software technology).  After lunch, the small groups gathered once again, with employment and inspiration fresh in their minds, to finish their personal leadership plans.  When we regrouped, we had one last workshop of the day from MRC’s, David Barach.  David candidly and humbly shared his work and social experiences as an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome. Closing out our second day together was the ever popular dance. This year’s dance theme was inspired by a peer leader who wanted to honor the tragedy experienced in Boston this year by naming it “Boston Strong.”  Let’s just say both fun and honor were quite present at this shin-dig!

Our last day together consisted of learning to legislate, meeting some of Massachusetts’ legislators, and all around constituent empowerment in the morning.  This is usually the first time young adults have ever seen, let alone talk to, a Senator or Representative.  It’s quite a moment when they realize the power they have as an individual, and as a collective.  Then, finally, the afternoon is the last hours together and it was spent reflecting on our time together.  It’s what I would call the Kumbaya part of the YLF when everyone sits in a circle, shares what’s in their hearts and feels a sense of family, because that’s exactly what we are.  

The Museum of Science Needs Your Help! 
Nora Nagle

The Museum of Science in Boston is committed to the inclusion of people with disabilities and strives to create an environment that is inviting, engaging, and accessible for everyone. To work toward achieving this goal, there are times throughout the year when the museum seeks people with a variety of abilities and disabilities to help improve the accessibility of the museum. Hearing from people with disabilities expands our knowledge about the museum experience and informs how we design museum offerings, such as exhibits and programs, in the future.

We are now seeking visitors with a range of disabilities (including, but not limited to, sensory, physical, and cognitive disabilities) who would like to be contacted to test new exhibit prototypes and explore the museum. Interested participants will come to the Museum of Science to interact with exhibit prototypes or explore other existing museum experiences. Testing could last anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes and will always include free admission to the Museum of Science exhibit halls for the day and free parking in the Museum’s garage.

If you would like to help the Museum of Science become more accessible by providing feedback during an upcoming testing session, please fill out this online form: http://mos.fluidsurveys.com/s/accesstesting/

This form asks for your contact information as well as some details about the group you plan to visit the Museum with. If you prefer to fill out this form over the phone instead of online, please contact Stephanie Iacovelli, Research and Evaluation Assistant, at 617-589-4438. You may also email her with any questions at siacovelli@mos.org.

Feel free to pass this information on to anyone else who may be interested. We truly appreciate your willingness to help improve the visitor experience at the Museum of Science!

Nora Nagle
ADA and 504 Accessibility Coordinator
Museum of Science, One Science Park, Boston, MA  02114-1099

Gateway Arts in Brookline, MA
Mallory April Biggins and Shari Mendlowitz

Gateway Arts is a nationally recognized, arts-based vocational service in Brookline, MA, a service of Vinfen, one of the premier human service organizations in New England. 

Gateway offers individuals with disabilities the chance to grow in their creative and professional identities with the guidance of working artists and educators. Participants have access to a wide range of studio materials and facilities that inspire creative exploration and growth. Within Gateway Arts are two lively studios, the Main Studio, which services adult artists with developmental disabilities and Studio A, which services adult artists with psychiatric and other disabilities, including head injury and spectrum disorders.

The Artist Training Program (ATP) is a unique track offered within Studio A. Funded by MRC, ATP is designed to help creative people learn professional, applicable skills to become self-employed, successful, working artists.

The 17-week program is led by two artists with MFA degrees, and supplemented by staff and interns in human service and creative fields. Participating artists spend six hours per week utilizing studio space to create their work and receive sensitive critique.  Another three hours per week are spent in a focused, developmental seminar where they explore topics like resume building, marketing, pricing of work and ways to approach galleries.

The Gateway Gallery and store represents artists’ work for the length of their time in the program and six months after. Located in the historic Brookline Village neighborhood, this presents a unique opportunity for growing professional artists to gain visibility with interested buyers.

Participants in the program develop a portfolio of their work including all necessary supporting materials to continue their professional growth beyond Gateway’s walls.

The Artist Training Program (ATP) has helped many creative people become successful, professional artists.  ATP has transformed into a successful education based program teaching artists the skills necessary to become active members of their local art community and beyond.

Rafiq Ali attended Gateway’s Artist Training Program in the summer of 2012. With no prior art training, Rafiq spent one year teaching himself how to paint portraits before attending ATP. Rafiq’s paintings and works on fabric became quite popular in the Gateway Gallery and Store, with sales as high as $700.00 some months.
After successfully completing the program, Rafiq went on to partner with a friend and start his own t-shirt business online. With consistently high sales, Rafiq was given the opportunity to continue working at Gateway through MRC’s on-going supports. Rafiq continues to sell work through Gateway and on his own.
With a strong craft background, Lisa Lundin began the Artist Training Program looking to find ways to build confidence and help sell her artwork. Lisa’s artistic interests spanned both two-dimensional and three-dimensional work, incorporated her love of color while also balancing her written work and own self as well. Also a self-taught artist, Lisa used fun and easy techniques to create beautifully vibrant silk scarves, which sold incredibly well at Gateway. In her first month alone, Lisa sold five silk scarves through the Gateway Craft Store and continued to sell work throughout her time in the program.  Lisa also created beautiful shadow boxes and canvases. Since the completion of the program, Lisa has started an Etsy Store.  She is working on getting her products in small boutiques as well.
Over the past year, Gateway has seen seven clients successfully complete the Artist Training Program.  In FY12, Gateway had five more successful completions than in previous years. The Artist Training Program continues to grow with new talent every four months, each artist working in a variety of mediums and all with different skill levels and backgrounds.
Interested counselors or artists can contact the Studio A Manager by phone at:  617-734-1577 ext. 25.  

 

Tossed away be not
Donna Deguglielmo

Tossed away be not
Unique you are
Heart and spirit live entirely.
Unpredictable world joins gifts
Share with people in one we are.
Challenges all realm of labor

Love we know we can
Wise and humane be.
Yourself and others love
Ecstasy in triumph towards
Uncertainties of the world
Pure acceptance creates a space
Within it without
For you have all

Compassion moving forward
True human existence
Golden humility is
In a rusted world

Love accepts
Fascinated by civilizations'
Basic needs

 

 PCA Wage Increase

Wage Increases Provided for in the New PCA Labor Agreement:

Effective July 1, 2013, the PCA wage rate shall be $12.98 per hour.
Effective July 1, 2014, the PCA wage rate shall be $13.38 per hour.
For more information please go to: http://www.mass.gov/pca/

 

The AT Exchange in New England 
www.getATstuff.com

The AT (Assistive Technology) exchange is MassMatch’s free AT device exchange program.  The Equipment Exchange is similar to a “want ad” where pre-owned AT is listed in order to put people looking for AT in contact with sellers or donators.  The Equipment Exchange is an opportunity to re-sell or buy AT for a lower cost than new items; such as,
 
· wheelchairs
· computers
· daily living aids

To buy, donate or sell used AT, call the toll free MassMATCH INFO line at 1-866-682-9955, or 1-617-204-3851 (V), 1-617-204-3851(TDD) or visit the website at www.getATstuff.org

 

Becoming an Individual Consumer Consultant (ICC)
Leslie Wish

The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission’s Consumer Involvement Program makes a special effort to form cooperative relationships with those individuals who are known as consumers or recipients of services.

We are interested in applicants for the ICC program that have skills and experiences valuable to the needs of the MRC.  The program is open to both MRC consumers and their immediate family members.

This program is for MRC clients to gain work experience and, as such, they are encouraged to apply to gain meaningful employment skills working on projects as an ICC.  This is not considered full time work, it is a step on the road to employment.

These projects are usually very short term, one to three days in length, and there is no guarantee there will be consistent work.  Every effort is made to accommodate all ICC’s with regard to their limitations and abilities.

If you are interested in becoming an ICC please contact Leslie Wish, program coordinator for Consumer Involvement, at 617-204-3771 or by e-mail: Leslie.Wish@MRC.state.ma.us.

Go Green, Save a Tree
Have the Consumer’s Voice sent by e-mail. If you are interested please e-mail your request to:Consumer.involvement@mrc.state.ma.us

This newsletter is an independent publication sponsored by the MRC State Rehabilitation Council.  The opinions expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the policy and practices of the MRC.  They are solely the opinions of consumers of MRC programs and services.

http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/newsroom/mrc/consumer-voice/


This information is provided by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.