From the Editor's Desk
Looking out the window all I see is snow, ice and gray skies. By the time you receive this issue of the Consumer's Voice I hope we will, at the very least, be seeing the crocuses and daffodils starting to appear.
As many of you may already know, change is again underway at the Consumer's Voice. At the 11/27/07 State Rehabilitation Council meeting many people shared their ideas about the style, content and purpose of the Consumer's Voice. For all of us that believe the Consumer's Voice is an adaptable publication we look forward to working with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and the State Rehabilitation Council in a collaborative manner.
In this issue of the Consumer's Voice we are including some articles on outdoor activities and are welcoming some new contributing writers. If you are an Individual Consumer Consultant (ICC) you can be paid for your articles. Are you interested in writing for the Voice? Send us a writing sample via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, 27 Wormwood St., Suite 600, attention Consumer's Voice, Boston, Ma 02210.
The Consumer Involvement Program is looking to expand the ICC program here at the MRC. Are you interested in becoming an ICC? For more specific information please see the following article. You can apply by contacting Leslie Wish, Program Coordinator in the Consumer Involvement Program at 617-204-3771.
Becoming an Individual Consumer Consultant (ICC)
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 who have skills and experiences of value to the MRC. The program is open to both MRC consumers and their immediate family members.
This program is for MRC consumers 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.
Traveling-Know Your Rights and Ask Questions Before You Book Your Airfare
My son Peter and his wife Lou gave me a round trip ticket to visit them and my new granddaughter in Florida. When Lou made the ticket purchase she specifically noted I needed a wheelchair.
The night before my departure I called the airline to make sure I would be able to have the use of a wheelchair and curbside check in. The service representative for the airline told me they do not have wheelchairs or provide curbside check in. I informed the airline representative that wheelchairs are a reasonable accommodation and part of the Federal decree of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) laws. The airline representative disagreed with me and repeated that the airline did not provide wheelchairs or curbside check in.
Realizing I would be unable to take this flight without a wheelchair, I phoned Peter and related my concerns and said "I am not sure that I can make the trip." Peter phoned the airline and spoke to a service representative who reiterated the facts as I had told him and also added "we even have a sign that says we do not comply with the ADA
or make reasonable accommodations." Peter insisted on speaking to a supervisor who arranged for me to bring my own wheelchair and upgraded my ticket to first class (at no cost) so I could have a seat at the front of the plane.
Arriving at the airport I noticed there were wheelchairs available. The airline staff at the departure gate were more than helpful. They made sure I got on the aircraft safely and couldn't do enough for me. The nagging question in the back of my mind was if the ground staff seemed so knowledgeable then why was the customer service staff so uninformed about the ADA and reasonable accommodations? Would I have the same problems on the flight home?
Problems began on my flight home during check-in. I gave them my ticket and explained I would need a seat in the front of the plane as I am a person with a disability. The attendant replied they would be happy to upgrade my ticket to first class for an additional $60.00. I stated upgrading the ticket would be considered a reasonable accommodation according to the ADA and that the airline did not charge me for the upgrade on my flight to Florida. After much discussion with the attendant I realized I was not going to win this battle. If I wanted a seat in the front of the plane I had to pay the $60.00 upgrade cost. The flight was fine and again the crew on the plane were wonderful to me and accommodating.
Upon my returne home I did some research regarding non-discrimination in air travel. The single most important thing I learned was each airline is required by the U.S. Department of Transportation to implement a complaint resolution mechanism, which includes designating a complaints resolution officer (CRO). The airline must make this person available via telephone at no cost to the passenger. The CRO is to be made available to any person who complains of alleged violations. If I had been able to speak to a CRO I am sure my situation would have been rectified quickly.
Before you book your flight, call the airline and ask how they will handle your needs as a person with a disability. If you are not satisfied with the response ask to speak to a CRO immediately and work with the CRO until you believe your concerns have been heard and your needs will be met.
Accessible Outdoor Activities
Cape Cod is a favorite destination for summer vacation. The Cape Cod Disability Access Directory has a wonderful website dedicated to helping you enjoy the Cape. This website includes guides for beach access, transportation, gas stations, lodging and accommodations, restaurants, health care facilities, ATM's, theaters and cinemas.
In-depth information about the history of Cape Cod, and specific information for each area of the Cape and its towns is also included. I hope this will encourage you to plan at least a day trip if not a full week's vacation on the Cape. Visit www.capecoddisability.org and make plans to escape to the Cape.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is the state agency that oversees the Division of State Parks and Recreation. They have a wonderful website that can give you information about accessible beaches, hiking trails, pools and other accessible programs and activities, http://www.mass.gov/dcr/universal_access/index.htm
Have you thought about a trip to the beach only to be disappointed you are not able to get to the water? Well, good news! There are several public state beaches that provide beach wheelchairs. These beach wheelchairs are self propelled (not electric) and offer the possibility of independent use for people with strong upper body ability. They feature an umbrella and ratcheting handles and can also be used as a push chair. Beach Chair availability is listed on DCR's website.
Outdoor swimming pool lifts are available at all Division of State Parks and Recreation's 20 swimming pools. The pools are free. Pool locations are on DCR's website. Contact the pool of your choice directly for information about other site factors affecting accessibility. There is nothing better than a refreshing dip in the pool.
Accessible fishing piers are located at the following sites: Dunn State Park, D.A.R. State Forest, Hopkinton State Park, Mt. Tom State Reservation, Nickerson State Park, Quinsigamond State Park at Regatta Point and Scusset Beach State Reservation.
The DCR has an accessible boating program that includes canoeing, kayaking and paddleboat and rowing programs. All sites and cost information is on DCR's website.
Camping is a very affordable way to enjoy a vacation. Cabins are available for rent year round. Tent camping has been made more accessible to wheelchair users with designated hard-packed level sites featuring pedestal grills and accessible picnic tables. Fees range from $15.00 to $50.00 per night. Reservations are available by calling 877-422-6762 or visiting www.reserveamerica.com. Camping locations and more information can be found on DCR's website.
Cycling is certainly a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Hand cycles are multiple speed large tricycles with quad cuff hand grips propelled by hands, arms and upper body and are available as rentals at privately operated bike concessions. See DCR's website for trail locations and bike rental concessions.
Hiking is becoming more accessible in State parks. There are two categories of trails, Accessible and Assessed. Accessible Trails are either paved or made from stone dust and are generally one-quarter to three-quarter miles in length. Assessed Trails are actual dirt hiking trails and offer a more rugged experience. Maps have been designed to provide information on grades, cross slopes, trail surfaces and obstacles. Assessed trails are one-half to 2 miles in length. Inclusive hiking programs are offered at various state parks seasonally.
There are still more opportunities for outdoor recreation. If time is short why not enjoy a picnic. There are also scenic vistas accessible by car. There is a list of accessible picnic areas and scenic vistas accessible by car on DCR's website.
A wide range of accessible outdoor activities are listed on DCR's website. This site is easy to access and has much more information than could be included in this article.
Information included in this article came from the following web sites.
Employment NOW Coalition
Joseph Panciotti (12-07-07)
On April 24, 2007 MRC Commissioner Charles Carr (then Executive Director of Northeast Independent Living Program) convened a meeting in Natick, MA which resulted in the founding of an organization known as the Employment NOW Coalition. The primary issue that brought the group together was the importance of having individuals with disabilities become employed NOW.
I was invited by a coalition member to attend the meeting at the Cambridge Library in September. The chair explained this is a grass-roots organization that desires the full participation of consumers to bring about changes. The agenda for that meeting included the development of Employment NOW priorities to transform state agencies, address stigmas and attitudes and increase cross-disability representation of coalition members and the education system.
Essentially, the group is seeking to change the Massachusetts employment services programs process so it is more user friendly, and consumers have a true choice as opposed to consumers being forced to change themselves to meet the demands and requirements of various State systems
At the September meeting, the Coalition was informed that Commissioner Carr would no longer be the Chair of the coalition due
to the "emerging responsibilities" of his new office. Commissioner Carr nominated Bill Henning and Linda Long to take over as co-chairs.
This article is intended as an introduction to the Employment NOW Coalition. My hope is that once consumers become aware of this group they will accept the invitation of the Employment NOW Coalition to become involved in the work that needs to be done throughout the Commonwealth. Being well informed is not enough. Join with us NOW.
A Letter from the SRC Chair
Youcef "Joe" Bellil
Throughout my life I have always held working as a top priority. I have feared it, hated it, embraced it and loved it.
As a person growing up with a disability (I had polio at the age of 8 months) I remember worrying about what I was going to do for a living. I saw my friends playing baseball and football, making money doing landscaping and having paper routes. All things I was either not allowed to participate in or steered away from. I felt that someday I was going to need to find a job where I would be able to use my skills and minimize my limitations. My mom had similar concerns as well and strongly encouraged me to start working at a camp when I was 14 and I have worked ever since.
This is one of the reasons I enjoy serving as a Gubernatorial appointee on the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC). I believe work is an important part of life to which people with disabilities have been denied
access, mostly unintentionally. Work is one of the most powerful advocacy tools people with disabilities can utilize because it allows us to reach and obtain higher levels of opportunity in life. Doors that have been shut for years suddenly open after you enter the working world.
In my opinion, improving the current employment situation will require three things:
- First, improve society's attitude. In particular, the attitudes of the business community toward hiring and working with people with disabilities.
- Second, change the way Social Security, Medicaid and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) treat people that try to go to work. Government programs need to provide incentives for people with disabilities to work and stop punitive measures that prevent people with disabilities from working.
- Finally, as the disability community we need to embrace employment and better understand its place in independent Living and in the community.
In my role as the chairperson for the SRC, I look forward to the Council's partnership with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission and especially with our Commissioner, Charles Carr, who is one of the most powerful advocates in promoting employment.
I appreciate the support of all the MRC consumers, SRC members, Commissioner Carr and the staff of the MRC who help the SRC progress. I look forward to increasing employment opportunities through collaborative efforts.
About the State Rehabilitation Council
Dear Friends of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission,
My name is Joe Bellil. I am the Chair of the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC). I am writing to you to explain who we are.
The SRC is composed of 20 members appointed by the Governor to advise state rehabilitation agencies regarding the operation and delivery of state and federal vocational rehabilitation services.
The major purpose of the Council is set out in the Rehabilitation Act, Section 105, and includes, among other items, the following:
- To encourage the personal and vocational growth and development of individuals with disabilities.
- To promote barrier-free access for people with disabilities.
- To ensure the full participation of people with disabilities in their communities.
The Council seeks to work cooperatively with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission to ensure the activities of the Vocational Rehabilitation Services program are carried out in a manner that is respectful of individual dignity and recognizes an individual's right to informed choice.
Joe Bellil, Chair, Worcester
Francis Barresi, Halifax
John Beach, Yarmouth
Charles Carr, Boston
William Doherty, N. Andover
Owen Doonan, Duxbury
Mr. Toby Fisher, Woburn
Brooke Heraty, Belmont
Lusa Lo, Braintree
Barbara Lybarger, Boston
Warren Magee, Rockland
Mary M. Moore, Salem
Mark Murphy, Dartmouth
Serena Powell, Boston
Stephen Reynolds, Gloucester
Patricia Sheely, Pittsfield
Charles Vernon, Brookline
Karin Williams, Plymouth
Maryan Amaral, Newtonville
Andrea Bengtson, Cambridge
Lisa Chiango, Billerica
Lori Gonzalez, Malden
Kevin Goodwin, Wayland
Anne Guterman, W. Newton
Inta Hall, Hingham
Keith Jones, Somerville
Jenna Knight, Worcester
Hang Lee, Milton
Terry McLaughlin, Boston
Kathy Mooney, Salem
Ann Marie Paulson, Lakeville
Ventura Pereira, N. Dartmouth
Carol Perlino, Lynn
Katherine Piccard, Charlestown
Doris Richardson, Mattapan
Angelica Sawyer, Cambridge
John Stokes, Waltham
Barry Sumner, Onset
Susan Ventura, Boston
Francis Verville, Fall River
Would you like to be a member of the SRC?
For more information, contact Emeka Nwokeji, Director, MRC-Consumer Involvement Program, 27 Wormwood Street, Suite 600, Boston, MA 02210-1616, Tel: (617) 204-3624, Fax: (617) 727-1354 Emeka.Nwokeji@mrc.state.ma.us
State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) Meeting 11/27/07
The SRC meeting was held at the DCMA Barnes Building in the Cashman Auditorium in South Boston, MA. The following are highlights from the discussion:
The Annual Consumer Conference:
Many voiced concern about holding the conference at a college campus. In general the understanding is that the conference workshops are scattered apart and will require longer than usual time to go from one to the other. The conference is not being funded in the traditional way and is requiring the conference planning committee to think about alternative forms of funding such as fundraising, increasing vendor fees, charging non-MRC consumers fees and charging program fees.
The Consumer's Voice Newsletter:
There is acknowledgment that the Consumer's Voice is important to its readers and is a way to highlight SRC activities. Others disagreed stating the Consumer's Voice has not been seen as a reflection of the SRC. Some voiced concern that articles are held back too long and by the time they are published the article is no longer timely. Further conversation centered on the appropriate color for the paper the Consumer's Voice is printed on. There is also some concern about the oversight of publishing the Consumer's Voice and discussion on who has ownership, the MRC or the SRC.
SRC Legislative Task force:
This task force was formed to determine how the SRC can get on the radar of the state legislature to directly advocate and seek resources to support the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services Program. Initially, this task force is looking at having an event at the State House and chose the name Legislative Task Force. However, after some consideration they have concluded that the name SRC Networking Task Force would be more appropriate. A motion was made to accept the name change and was voted favorably. The task force has planned a "get to know you" event that will include guests from EOHHS and other advisory councils to be held at Community Work Services, 174 Portland St., Boston, Ma. It has been recommended that talking points for this event be developed from MRC studies and activities.
The announcement was made that the SRC has notified Statewide Independent Living Centers (SILC) that the SRC will be working with them as they plan to have a Legislative Education Day at the State House on April 22, 2008 starting at 10:45 am.
National Parks Access Pass
Did you know that an Access Pass is free for individuals with permanent disabilities? This pass may be obtained through the National Seashore Park in Cape Cod and may be used at any National Park Service facilities nationwide. The following information was obtained from the National Parks website at http://www.store.usgs.gov/pass/access.html.
The Access Pass is a replacement for the Golden Access Passport as of January 2007. The pass is for citizens or permanent residents of the United States, regardless of age, who have been medically determined to have a permanent disability. It provides access to, and use of, any Federal recreation site that charges an entrance or standard amenity fee and provides a discount on some expanded amenity fees. The pass must be obtained in person. The Access Pass is free, and it is valid for the lifetime of the pass holder. Photo identification may be requested to verify pass ownership. Golden Access Passports are valid for a lifetime and are equivalent to the new Access Pass.
An Access Pass can be obtained in person from a participating Federal recreation site or office. The pass may be issued to U.S. Citizens or permanent residents of the U.S., regardless of age, that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability that severely limits one or more major life activities. A permanent disability is a permanent physical, mental or sensory impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
What type of documentation do I need to present in order to get the Access Pass?
Some examples of acceptable documentation include: statement by a licensed physician; document issued by a Federal agency such as the Veteran's Administration, Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income; or document issued by a State agency such as a vocational rehabilitation agency.
- If I am partially disabled do I qualify for the Access Pass?
If you believe you qualify based on the definition of permanent disability and have supporting official documentation for the disability, you can be issued a pass.
- Can my child get an Access Pass?
Yes. This allows the caregivers to enter Federal recreation sites when accompanying the child.
- What if my Access Pass is lost, stolen or damaged?
If an Access Pass is lost or stolen, you may be issued a new one with proper documentation.
The Forest Service, the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation honor the Access Pass at sites where entrance or standard amenity fees are charged. In addition, the Corps of Engineers and Tennessee Valley Authority may honor the Access Pass. Check with the local site for more information at http://www.recreation.gov. The Access Pass admits pass holders and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas and pass holders + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, at per person fee areas. (Children under 16 always admitted free). The Access Pass provides a 50 percent discount on some expanded amenity fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, swimming, boat launching, and specialized interpretive services. In some cases where expanded amenity fees are charged, only the pass holder will be given the 50 percent price reduction. The pass is non-transferable and generally does NOT cover or reduce special recreation permit fees or fees charged by concessionaires. Inquire locally for pass acceptance policies.
My experience as an Individual Consumer Consultant
I first heard about the Individual Consumer Consultant (ICC) program at the Annual MRC Consumer Conference in 2006. During one of the afternoon sessions, I learned about the ICC program and thought that it might be a good way to "test drive" working again. I spoke about the idea of becoming an ICC to my counselor Margaret Duquette and to Bill Allen, Statewide Job Placement Coordinator. They thought it would be a great idea.
The multiple page ICC application can seem daunting to complete, but Leslie Wish, ICC Program Coordinator, was more than willing to answer all my questions when I called him.
Since becoming an ICC, I have become involved in two projects for the MRC. The first project is to help design and facilitate the Consumer Advisory Council for the Central Massachusetts area. I am working with Leonard Cooper, the Area Director of the Fitchburg office. We are actively recruiting consumers interested in sharing with the MRC staff their insights and experiences of going through the MRC process and willing to do this by their participation in an advisory group. The goal is to understand what processes work for the consumers and which ones do not and then to determine how the process can be made more accommodating for everyone involved. It is an important process which will enable consumers to become more involved and active in how the MRC provides services to them and other consumers.
In my other project I have been working with Ken Nicosia, MRC Training Director, in the World of Work Training Series. This involvement developed following my attendance at the International Biotechnology Conference in Boston in May 2007. The conference and our Governor's speech aroused my interest and enthusiasm for the employment opportunities biotechnology could offer. Because of my academic and professional training in the field of biotechnology, I felt I could be a link, a guide through the biotechnology labyrinth and share this information with the MRC employment and counseling staff; so they in turn could bring to the MRC consumers an awareness of the employment opportunities in biotechnology. Immediately I began to assemble a PowerPoint presentation formatting some of the data I gathered from the conference. I discussed my ideas with Bill Allen and Margaret Duquette in the MRC Fitchburg office. We agreed that bringing this biotechnology labor market information would be very informative and helpful to the staff in keeping up with the current labor initiative. Most people are unaware Massachusetts has the highest concentration of biotechnology companies in the world and that one in seven jobs in Massachusetts is biotechnology related. After seeing the prototype presentation I had put together, Ken Nicosia, MRC Training Director, asked me if I would assist him in developing a training on biotechnology as part of the World of Work series. He sought my help in introducing MRC counselors to the broad spectrum of jobs and skill sets required in this labor market and to provide them with information on how to get consumers jobs in this area. To date I have given four PowerPoint presentations on this subject across the state, and the feedback has been very positive and enthusiastic.
Yes, I am a recipient of the MRC's services, but as an ICC I have become a contributor to the MRC as well. I have been given opportunities to apply some of my skills and knowledge in computer technology and the biosciences to purposeful tasks. I am very proud of the work I have been able to do as an ICC. I have been able to demonstrate to myself and others that I am still capable of contributing, in a significant way, to an organization. I can now move forward to the next step, to enter the larger labor market with confidence and a sense of self that might have been otherwise lacking. I am indebted to all those who have supported me at the MRC. I look forward to paying it forward.
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission Protective Services Program
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission Protective Services Program was established in 1988 through M.G.L. Chapter 19c to conduct civil investigations of allegations of omission and of abusive acts such as physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse to persons with disabilities by a caregiver.
The Protective Services Program receives reports alleging abuse to individuals with physical disabilities between the ages of 18 and 59 from the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC). The reports can be made by professionals, also called mandated reporters, who in the capacity of their work, most likely, would be aware of the abusive situation. The list of mandated reporters includes but is not limited to, medical personnel, police officers, psychologists, family counselors, dentists, day care workers, employees of private agencies providing services to persons with disabilities and employees of state agencies in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
However, anyone from a friend to a family member can report the abuse to the DPPC. The Program staff is responsible to provide protective services to the abused individual to remedy any abusive situations under M.G.L. Chapter 19c. If the individual is found to be seriously injured as a result of abuse, protective services are offered to eliminate the abuse and/or reduce further risk by providing consumer advocacy, developing safety plans and by helping to secure community resources as needed. The protective services offered to the consumer are voluntary and are targeted to maintain the safety and independence of the consumer. The involvement of protective services ranges from a period of less than six months up to a year depending on the level of abuse.
The Program staff provides crisis intervention services in acute situations and ensures persons with disabilities are protected by working collaboratively with law enforcement officials to access the necessary services the criminal justice system offers. The Program staff identifies resources to address safety concerns for the individual at risk and is available to respond to emergency reports received through the DPPC 24-hour hotline. The Program staff may assist the abused individual in areas such as alternative placement, adaptive equipment, home care services, counseling, day program and removal of the abuser by means of a restraining order.
To report an abusive situation on behalf of a person with a disability who is being abused by a caregiver, the DPPC Hotline can be accessed at the following number: 1-800-426-9009.
The members of the Unserved/Underserved Population met at the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) on December 6, 2007. After the minutes of the previous meeting were voted on and approved the concentration of the meeting turned to preparations for a series of upcoming focus groups. In the past, focus groups were held for staff and counselors.
At previous meetings of the committee it was agreed that in addition to the consumer survey conducted last year, the committee should hold a series of focus groups to get qualitative input from those consumers who were unable to find employment. The focus groups would be an ideal place to find out in person why consumers discontinued receiving MRC services.
Betty King recommended that one focus group at a time per MRC region should be held in each of the five MRC regions. Each region would have consumer participants from each MRC office within that region.
Finding suitable locations was discussed. City Halls, libraries, places of worship, as well as Independent Living Centers were suggested. All would have to be accessible to everyone.
Emeka Nwokeji noted that funds in the Consumer Involvement Program budget are available to cover transportation, snacks and interpreters.
Larry Espling pointed out the need to have an organized meeting so the group does not simply become a complaining session. Everyone
agreed. The committee agreed there should be a moderator to keep things on track and focused. Emeka recommended Independent Consumer Consultants (ICC) be a possible solution to the selection of moderators.
A suggestion was made to invite the MRC Ombudsman to be present for the focus groups. The Ombudsman would be there to listen and then to offer follow-up after the focus group meeting.
Prior to the motion to adjourn, it was agreed that the next meeting of the committee be held on February 7th from 3-5PM in the Legal Library at MRC, 27 Wormwood Street in Boston.
The Ride Charlie Card Pilot Program
Commissioner Carr has received notice of a new pilot program allowing RIDE customers free access to fixed route services. The RIDE Charlie Card offers customers (and a Personal Care Assistant, when required) unlimited rides on MBTA bus, subway, trolley, commuter rail (Zones 1-5) and commuter boat service, all for a one-time $5.00 enrollment fee.
On January 14, 2008 the MBTA mailed out applications to 4,300 of their most active RIDE customers. Updates on the program will be provided during the course of the pilot. Should you, your staff or your clients have questions regarding the pilot, please refer them to our Office for Transportation Access/THE RIDE at 617-222-5123, 1-800-533-6282, 617-222-5415 (TTY) or by email at email@example.com.
Often people cannot easily access the information or service they need because they do not know whom to call. There is no simple way to remember the name or number of the local service access point.
The creation of 2-1-1 has changed that. Mass 2-1-1 was created by the Council of Massachusetts United Ways (COMUW) on behalf of 22 local United Ways serving every community of the Commonwealth. Seven years ago, COMUW embraced the national 2-1-1 program, as established by the Federal Communications Commission.
211 is the national abbreviated dialing code for free access to health and human services Information and Referral. 2-1-1 is an easy-to-remember and universally recognizable number that makes a critical connection between individuals and families seeking services or volunteer opportunities and the appropriate community-based organizations and government agencies. 2-1-1 makes it possible for people to navigate the complex and ever-growing maze of human service agencies and programs. By making services easier to access, 2-1-1 encourages prevention and fosters self-sufficiency. It also is hoped that it will reduce the number of non-emergency calls inappropriately made to 911.
This new partnership will offer citizens the opportunity for 'one-stop-shopping', with access to vital updated disaster information, numerous post-disaster programs, interpreter services and call tracking of caller locations. Mass 2-1-1 will also have the ability to act as the registration site for spontaneous volunteers and donations from the public during an emergency or crisis.
Save the Date
The Taunton Advisory Council quarterly meetings are held in the Taunton Office. Meetings begin a 4:00 PM to allow employed members to participate. Scheduled meetings are: 4/14/08, 7/14/08 and 10/20/08. For more information contact Marcel Dube at 508-823-8141.
3/11/2008: State Rehabilitation Council, 10:30 am-3:30 pm, Bridgewater State College, Dunn Conference Suite (located at Crimson Hall), West Campus, 131 Summer St., Bridgewater, MA 02325. For more information contact Emeka Nwokeji at 617-204-3665.
3/20/2008: LD/ADHD Task Force, 11am-1pm, 27 Wormwood St., Boston, MA, 6th fl conference rm. For more information contact
Jenna Knight 617-204-3723 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
4/3/08: All day event, U. Mass Campus Center, Boston, MA, Easter Seals Massachusetts 2008 Assistive Technology Exposition. For more information contact Christina Foley at 508-751-6418 or email@example.com.
4/22/08: SILC Annual Independent Living Education Day at the State House, Boston, MA. Registration from 10:30-10:45 AM followed by a rally at the Grand Staircase with members of the Legislature along with key leaders in the Independent Living community who are scheduled to speak. For more information contact Steven S. Higgins, Coordinator, Massachusetts Statewide Independent Living Council
firstname.lastname@example.org, 508-620-7452 (v/tty.)
Miriam Morales is an artist who has a psychiatric disability. She has worked at the Hillltop Steakhouse as a meat clerk for the past seven years. Miriam has a passion for photography and is taking photography classes at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and Brookline Adult and Community Education. In her own words regarding her work, Miriam states "A good photograph is knowing where to stand".
You can contact Miriam by email at Spectrumtoy@hotmail.com
Are you an artist? Become our next Featured Artist; whether it be painting, drawing or writing poetry, submit your works to us via e-mail to email@example.com or call Lisa Weber at 617-204-3638 for more information.
The Consumer's Voice
Elaine McHugh, Editor
Youcef "Joe" Bellil
John Chappell, Jr., Deputy Commissioner
Emeka Nwokeji, Director, Consumer Involvement
Sheila Wojdakowski, HR/Customer Relations
Leslie Wish, ICC Program Coordinator
Lisa Weber, CI Program Coordinator
This newsletter is a publication sponsored by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC). 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.
For further information contact Emeka Nwokeji, Director of the Consumer Involvement Program at 617-204-3665.
To receive the newsletter electronically, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
This information is provided by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.