From the Editor’s Desk

After the first of the year, the Consumer’s Voice will become a bi-monthly publication.  We look forward to the upcoming changes. If you would like to write an article for the Consumer’s Voice please contact me at 617-204-3665 or elaine.mchugh@mrc.state.ma.us.

Included in the mailing of this edition is the Artists Beyond Challenges 2015 calendar. This calendar is one of the many opportunities for artists to showcase their work.  Artists Beyond Challenges (ABC) is a committee that works within the partnership of Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) and the State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) to advocate for artists creating employment/career opportunities within the service delivery systems of the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) division.

The ABC meets quarterly and artists who have disabilities are invited to become members, others may join as friends or advocates.  If you are interested in attending a meeting or have questions please contact Joshua Boardman at 617-204-3701 or joshua.boardman@mrc.state.ma.us.

In certain parts of Massachusetts getting transportation is a challenge.  MassMobility is a state initiative to help eliminate barriers for people who experience transportation inequality.  MassMobility staff have written an article in this edition, which provides information to assist you in looking for transportation resources in your community.

We received a thank you letter from on of our prominent Individual Consumer Consultants (ICC), Elizabeth Nitecki.  Elizabeth has been working as an ICC in the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) Somerville Office.  Her experience has been so positive in developing her skills she has decided to begin a job search for a permanent position. 

 

Artists Beyond Challenges

Staff Writer

Artists Beyond Challenges (ABC) is a State Rehabilitation Council (SRC) sub committee, which includes a diverse group of artists working with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) to achieve professional development, self-support, and independence through peer support, exhibitions, networking, and marketing.  Further, the ABC works with the SRC to provide feedback on access to vocational rehabilitation services for artists.

The group was created by MRC-Consumer Involvement Program with consumers from diverse disciplines who wished to create linkages between artists in the Vocational Rehabilitation system and the MRC staff.  The group continues to build partnerships with the MRC and has expanded to coordinate additional initiatives within the state of Massachusetts.

Current projects include:

  • An annual Calendar featuring the work of our MRC/SRC artists.
  • The Artists Beyond Challenges website
  • Resource sharing and networking   between group members and our many collaborative partners.

Artists Beyond Challenges meets quarterly and membership includes past, present, and potential MRC consumers who reside in Massachusetts.  We welcome individuals of any ability to join as friends or advocates.

For more information on becoming a committee member and/or to join our mailing list, please contact:  Joshua Boardman, Program Coordinator by: Email: Joshua.Boardman@state.ma.us or Phone: (617) 204–3701

 

MassMobility: Initiative on Community Transportation in Massachusetts

Mass Mobility staff

Transportation connects us to our communities. Many people use their cars to get to and from work, shopping, medical appointments, social and leisure activities.  For those without access to a car, the unavailability of transportation options can be a barrier to employment and community life.

MassMobility is a state initiative to help eliminate this barrier for people who are transportation-disadvantaged. We work to increase mobility for people all around Massachusetts. MassMobility is housed in the Human Service Transportation Office of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and receives federal funding through a partnership with Massachusetts Department Of Transportation (MassDOT).

The MassMobility website contains information about many transportation options throughout Massachusetts. To find information about services near you, visit www.mass.gov/hst and click “I’m looking for transportation” at the side of the page.  You will get information about transportation services for medical appointments, veterans transportation, volunteer driver programs, and more. There is also an interactive map www.tinyurl.com/MA-trip-help where you click on your city or town and get phone numbers and websites for organizations that can help you plan a trip including information about local transportation options.

When you are looking for a ride, start with public transportation. In Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) provides public transportation in Greater Boston, and fifteen Regional Transit Authorities serve the other areas of the state. Bus and subway services are open to everyone. Transit authorities also provide paratransit service to anyone who cannot access the fixed route bus or subway system due to a disability. However, public transportation is not available in every town, and services may be limited, specifically during weekends and evening hours.

In addition to public transportation, community transportation services are available in cities and towns across Massachusetts. “Community transportation” includes services run by state agencies like Department Developmental Services (DDS) for eligible consumers, Council on Aging to transport seniors and people with disabilities to medical appointments or grocery stores, and local services are operated by towns or nonprofits.

Massachusetts does not have a statewide comprehensive system of community transportation. Each organization that offers a community transportation service sets its own rules about who can ride, where the service goes, what the hours are, and the cost. As each service is different, it can be complicated to navigate the options and plan a trip. At MassMobility, we share information with staff at human service agencies and nonprofits to help them assist consumers in planning trips.

MassMobility also encourages programs to partner together and coordinate their services. Coordinating services helps organizations provide transportation to a larger pool of consumers. For example, people in the New Bedford/Fall River area were having trouble getting to medical appointments in Boston. Councils on Aging in the region began offering long-distance medical transportation, but it was so expensive that the Councils were only able to go a few times a month and had to charge riders $50 round trip. MassMobility staff and the local planning agency brought the Councils on Aging together with the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority and created a shuttle service that runs twice a week and costs riders only $25 round trip.

MassMobility also helps organizations implement new transportation services or improve existing options. We research best practices, share information about how to implement successful strategies, and work directly with organizations on their transportation challenges. For example, SCM Elderbus is a transportation provider in Central Massachusetts that operates a service for seniors and people with disabilities. Based on demand, they began a pilot program called READYBUS in four towns to transport workers who did not qualify based on age or disability. They were able to increase ridership for very little additional cost. MassMobility has been publicizing this model around the state, and other regions are researching whether they can implement similar services.

To learn more about becoming involved in transportation planning in Massachusetts, visit www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/commissions-and-initiatives/hst/get-involved-in-transportation-planning-processes-.html.

To learn more about community transportation around Massachusetts, visit www.mass.gov/hst and subscribe Mass Mobility’s newsletter at www.tinyurl.com/MassMobility.

We are also on Twitter @MassMobility. Finally, we welcome your comments or ideas by email at: hstmobility@state.ma.us.

Together, we can improve mobility around the Commonwealth.

 

Thank you from Elizabeth (Liz) Nitecki, Individual Consumer Consultant (ICC)

Elaine McHugh and Leslie Wish

Liz Nitecki has been an Individual Consumer Consultant (ICC) since March, 2014.  She has worked in the Somerville office as an office support worker for seven months.Recently, Liz determined it was time for her to look for full time employment. She realized that she was able to make the next step in her job search because of the experience she gained working as an ICC.

In a thank you letter to Leslie Wish of the Consumer Involvement Program Liz states: “I would like to thank you for the opportunity to work in the MRC Somerville Office.“  “The ICC experience has restored my confidence in my abilities and motivated me to look for work again." 

Leslie Wish replied: “Liz, as the Program Coordinator for the ICC’s I would like to thank you for your hard work and dedication to the Somerville office.  I am sure the staff in Somerville will miss you. Good luck with your job search, I know you will be successful.”

Go Green and 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

 

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, 1-617-204-3851 (V), 1-617-204-3851 (TDD) or visit our 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.

The ICC program is designed to allow MRC clients to gain work experience and gain employment skills working on projects as an ICC.  ICC projects are not considered full time work, just one step on the road to employment.

These projects are short term, one to three days up to one month 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 skills 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.

As a past, very active member of Artists Beyond Challenges, Lisa B. Corfman  is back in Massachusetts and working hard to serve you with her artistic skills.Her work can be found at www.RockyArtsUnfolded.com.
Origami, is the passion of Lisa Corfman's craft since 2001. Lisa learned about the origami crane's healing gift through the Intercultural Club at Endicott College. She was guided by her professors at Endicott College where she earned her bachelors degree in Fine Arts and gained a passion for simple art. Lisa exhibits her work at craft fairs, gallery shows, special events, and a permanent installation at Town Pizza in Needham, MA.