2020 ANNUAL REPORT
Creating a World of Opportunity for All Abilities
Message from the CEO of Imagine!
Imagine! At a Glance
A Tale of Two Imagine!s
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Ways To Get Involved
Your philanthropic gifts (cash, stock, even vehicles) enable Imagine! to support people with intellectual disabilities so they may live fully and participate in the community. Give today at imaginecolorado.org/donate, or call the Imagine! Foundation at 303-926-6443.
Join 40+ other local businesses that employ people served by Imagine!. Visit imaginecolorado.org/get-involved/employing-for-good to learn more, or email email@example.com to get started.
Give the gift of your time and talents, and everyone will benefit! Call 303-665-7789 and ask to speak to the Volunteer Coordinator to learn about the myriad volunteer opportunities and find a fit that is right for you.
This report is filled with images of original art created by talented artists who receive services from Imagine!. You can find more art available for purchase on the Imagine! Etsy page etsy.com/shop/ImagineColoradoArt. All proceeds from sales go directly to the artists (minus material costs).
Imagine!'s online virtual classes for individuals 18+ who have developmental or intellectual disabilities are thoughtfully designed with the help of our behavioral team. Lesson plans are created to encourage active engagement, communication skills, motor skills, social skills, a sense of community, and independence. With over 50 virtual classes per week, there is something for everyone! Get started at imaginedirectservices.org/covid-19/virtual-classes-and-instruction
Since 1984, Imagine! has assisted individuals with developmental disabilities across Boulder and Broomfield counties in finding meaningful employment.
This starts with job coaching and skill development, working toward employment goals. Imagine! partners with over 40 local businesses to provide job opportunities to individuals we serve. We match interests and skillsets with opportunities available, and work hard to ensure that their experience in the workplace is happy and productive. While the pandemic has briefly curtailed some employment opportunities for individuals served by Imagine!, it hasn't prevented us from actively exploring options to keep as many adults in the workforce as possible, providing them with the opportunity to experience the self-esteem that comes with gainful employment. Whether it is working with a local egg farm to develop appropriate safety protocols for continuing work during a pandemic, or sharing with the world how we use Virtual Reality to provide realistic job training in a safe and effective manner, Imagine!'s employment services provide tremendous benefit to businesses, our community, and people with disabilities.
Imagine! provides services to babies, toddlers, and school aged children so they can learn new school and be part of their communities regardless of ability or disability.
Whether we are taking field trips to a community garden to introduce toddlers to the natural world or hosting a "Bike Block Party" using adaptive bikes so school aged kids with disabilities can experience the joy and freedom of a ride around the park, all of Imagine!'s services for children are designed to help develop socialization skills and coordination skills, and especially a sense of acceptance and self among peers. The pandemic changed the method of delivery of those services in some ways, including an increased use of telehealth tools and smaller group activities for our after school and summer camp programs, but the goals remained the same. As one parent told us: "My daughter's autism tends to make her shy away from others and unfamiliar activities ... Imagine! exposes her to different activities and encourages peer interactions, and I see her skills improve on a daily basis."
A common thread runs through all of Imagine!'s services for all ages – art.
And why not? Art offers so many benefits. It opens the door to creative expression and self-esteem, and creates opportunities to focus on skill development as varied as fine motor skill improvement to becoming comfortable with performing in public. In the pre-pandemic world, it was common to see individuals served by Imagine! displaying their art in local galleries, performing live music at local venues, or even "Dancing With the Broomfield Stars." The pandemic caused Imagine! to quickly pivot toward providing many of our performance and art classes online, but fortunately they translated well to that new medium and have proven to be among the most popular of our virtual offerings. On any given day Imagine! instructors can be found across the web hosting numerous music, dance, movement, drawing, and painting classes filled with students eager to demonstrate that a disability is not a barrier to bringing beauty to the world through artistic expression.
Imagine! offers customized residential options for adults to increase independence, individual dignity, and community involvement.Imagine!'s residences are much more than places where the people we serve eat and sleep. Instead, they are hubs of learning and activity, and act as the launching point for a huge variety of services that open doors to real and meaningful community engagement. Imagine! homes also offer the more traditional aspects of home we all appreciate, like spaces to read or write, to socialize and play games, or just to spend a little precious alone time. When COVID-19 hit, the staff and residents at Imagine! hunkered down for a while, taking extra, even heroic, precautions to ensure that nobody living in our residences contacted the virus. After a couple of months, protocols were put in place for occasional visits outside, using all necessary social distancing and mask wearing precautions. We continue to work to ensure that individuals living in our residences can access the community the same as anyone else, even if that access looks different for all of us.
Imagine! is a community based organization, and we can't be successful in our work without the support of our community.
Fortunately, we provide services in a community that has made it abundantly clear that our efforts matter and that our friends and neighbors are here to lend a helping hand. Here's one fun example from last fall: TeamBonding, a corporate team building company, employees of Intercept Pharmaceuticals participated in a team building exercise where they had to build, and then race, a bunch of children's bicycles. After the event was over, they donated the bikes to Imagine!. We used the bikes in our children's programs as well as for our Holiday Gift Drive, bringing smiles to many faces of the youngsters we serve. When COVID cast a pall over our work, we wondered if we would lose some of that community support and connection that was so vital to our efforts. We needn't have worried. The support continued, and perhaps even increased, if only expressed in different ways. For example, many organizations, civic groups, and individuals provided us with cloth masks. We received so many that several Imagine! offices were filled with boxes of masks! The masks didn't stay in the offices for long, however. We shared masks with employees, families, and people in services to ensure that they had the proper equipment to stay safe and healthy in our new pandemic world. We are so grateful for our community, and know that we can't create a world of opportunity for all abilities without them.
Imagine!'s services have always had a primary goal of ensuring that people with intellectual abilities have full access to their communities, just like any one of us wants, expects, and deserves.
That means that so much of what we do is out in the community – in past years you'd likely see us at the stadium supporting our local sports team, hiking on the trails enjoying the beauty Colorado has to offer, or working at local businesses. Needless to say, the COVID pandemic made that approach to services far more difficult. Fortunately, Imagine! leadership and employees barely took a moment to breathe before completely overhauling and reimagining how our services could be delivered. From smaller class sizes, to using telehealth to meet with families and clients, to exponentially increasing our online service offerings, Imagine! transformed almost overnight in order to ensure that the people we served remained active members of their communities, even within the limited social opportunities affecting all of us. We also did everything we could to protect both our employees and the people who accept services from us. Every single Imagine! employee received a kit containing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) including masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant. For employees in our group homes, who were required to be even more diligent about safety protocols, full sets of PPE were provided, and stringent protocols were put in place to ensure maximum safety while still supporting our residents not only in being safe, but also in remaining active and engaged.
Emerging technologies provide opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to increase their independence and lead fulfilling, healthy lives. Imagine! has been at the forefront of testing and integrating technology into services for more than two decades.
Last year, participants in Imagine!'s Community and Employment Services program were introduced to a coding program called Scratch. Scratch is a free program that allows users to program their own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share their creations with others in the online community. Scratch helps people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century for people of all abilities.
Services have had to change drastically to keep people with I/DD and the community safe during this current pandemic. But how do you provide services while staying indoors? Technology! Virtual Reality provides an avenue for adventure that most anyone can take. Ride a rollercoaster, visit the Eiffel Tower, travel through time, or even learn essential job building skills all from the comfort of your own home. Modern technology allows providers to continue services in times of uncertainty, and virtual reality opens up endless possibilities for people with I/DD. Imagine! has embraced Virtual Reality and is actively incorporating it into our services, now and into the future.
Imagine! has always believed that there is an educational aspect to our work. When it comes to best practices, we want to learn from others, as well as to share what we know with the entire I/DD community. For example, last year Imagine! employees presented at several conferences, both locally and nationally, about how we are using Virtual Reality to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities learn complex work skills so they may find and maintain meaningful employment. We even presented at a TEDX Conference!
We've always known that Imagine! employees are the best people!
For instance, in November, Colorado was hit by a massive snow storm. This forced us at Imagine! to cancel many of our services.
But no matter what, we can't cancel are our residential services – individuals living in Imagine! homes need support irrespective of the weather. Imagine! residential employees saw what was needed and braved the storm to get to work, tackling treacherous roads and finding unique ways to navigate the weather to ensure the health and safety of the folks we serve in our homes.
So we already knew that Imagine! employees were ready, willing, and able to step up when most needed. That call to step up came when the pandemic first hit. Recognizing that we serve some individuals we serve were at a much higher risk of serious consequences if they contracted COVID-19, Imagine! staff members readily embraced new, stringent policies for wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) while on shift, and avoided public places and large crowds even in their time off. This strict compliance with rules, even those that came with some personal costs, paid off for Imagine!, and the people we serve have remained safe and well.
That's not the only adjustment Imagine! employees embraced. Before the pandemic, Imagine!'s services were primarily delivered in person. Our employees loved that aspect of the work and the close, personal relationships engendered by that approach. The pandemic forced many of those services to go online. Rather than bemoan the lack of one-on-one interaction, Imagine! employees stepped up to figure out create and unique ways to keep that personal touch even while using tools not normally known for their ability to create real human connections.
The future of service delivery in uncertain right now. We may never go all the way back to the way it was before. No matter what they look like, however, we know Imagine! employees will adapt, adjust, and find new ways to create a world of opportunity for all abilities, no matter how the rest of the world changes.
The 19th Annual Imagine! Celebration connected 465 generous guests to Imagine!'s mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities.
Katie Hawkins and Zoe Polk, Imagine! Celebration Committee Co-Chairs, led the effort to ensure that guests experienced a memorable evening and left believing in the potential of all.
In a special video, the Tyler family shared their personal journey helping their newborn son, Ben, navigate a brain injury. Imagine!'s Early Intervention services were a vital component of his recovery, and all of the guests celebrated becoming part of Team Ben, cheering him on all the way. View the video at imaginecolorado.org/get-involved/imagine-celebration.
Thanks to the generosity of sponsors and guests, we raised more than $360,000! Funds supported all of Imagine!'s programs, benefiting people with intellectual disabilities at every age and stage of their lives. The special appeal provided specific support for Imagine!'s summer day camp and after-school activities.