Imagine! Blogs - Then Again What Do I Know

Visit Then Again, What Do I Know?

Good News Friday!

Published: December 14, 2018

Today, I’d like to thank Boulder Area Alumnae Panhellenic for hosting a special Sensory Friendly time to visit Santa's House for children served by Imagine!'s Dayspring program. Boulder Area Alumnae Panhellenic enhances the fraternity system through scholarship awards, annual educational informational functions for prospective college freshman, philanthropic projects, community participation and civic leadership. They have been longtime supporters of Imagine! and Dayspring, not only by hosting this special time for kids with sensory challenges to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, but also by donating a portion of the proceeds of Santa's House to Imagine!.

Good News Friday!

Published: December 7, 2018

Last Friday night I had the pleasure and honor of introducing the 2018 Imagine! Employees of Distinction to my fellow employees. Today, I’d like to share that good news further by recognizing them on my blog.

Steve Conley

Steve’s knowledge and experience are unmatched, and his positivity and willingness to help others are huge value to Imagine!’s Case Management department. He cares about his clients, families, and co-workers and goes out of his way to offer his assistance in any way. 

Congratulations, Steve!

Dan Fox

In his role as Transportation Coordinator, Dan has always said the safety and comfort of the participants in our program (and all services at Imagine!) are his number one objectives. Dan has demonstrated nothing but kindness, support, and advocacy for all those working alongside him and for participants being served by Imagine!. 

Congratulations, Dan!

Marrisca Juvan

Marrisca is usually the first one in the door in the morning and last to leave at Longmont CORE/Labor Source, and makes sure that all the schedules of the consumers and staff she supports are up to date and functional. On top of all of the duties she assumes with her position, she is also a tremendous role model for all staff on how to interact with consumers, teams, and community members. 

Congratulations, Marrisca!

Shanda Kinch

Shanda came in to her new role at the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome with a cheerful, kind, and collaborative attitude. She has created an environment in which people want to work. She is Imagine!’s own Mary Poppins. 

Congratulations, Shanda!

Mara Kuczun

Currently Mara runs Dayspring’s Monday Community Calendar Activity for Spanish speaking families, which we were able to add because of her willingness to help. Before she agreed to run this class our Spanish speaking families were not able to attend as many classes due to the language barrier. Now we are able to offer this unique class to many more families.

Congratulations, Mara!

Theresa Mertens

Since Theresa has joined the Boulder CORE/Labor Source team as an instructor about two years ago, she has shown nothing less than excellent work ethic, extreme humility, and a huge heart ready to serve. She strikes an exceptional balance of noticing what is working and thinking about what can be improved, all while maintaining an infectiously positive attitude. 

Congratulations, Theresa!

Danielle Smelcer

Danielle motivates the team on a daily basis, and is always ready to bond over laughs and accomplishments throughout the day. She is so dedicated to being an incredible Lead Counselor at CORE/Labor Source, and Imagine! would not be the same without her contributions. 

Congratulations, Danielle!

Jamie Zimenoff

Jamie is not only good at his job as a Nurse Case Manager at Imagine!, staying on top of his patients’ health needs, he also does not hesitate to help his co-workers, and does so with a great sense of humor and a smile. He even saved someone’s life this summer while playing softball for team Imagine!, which was an amazing thing to witness! 

Congratulations, Jamie!


Today Is Colorado Gives Day!

Published: December 4, 2018

Today is Colorado Gives Day! 

By giving your support online through Colorado Gives Day, Imagine! will be eligible for a portion of the 1stBank and Community First Foundation incentive fund. Your donation will go further toward helping people Imagine! serves of all ages!

Click here to donate.

Good News Friday!

Published: November 30, 2018

Imagine!’s Gift Giving Drive is underway. This annual event helps brighten the Holidays for individuals served by Imagine!, and the smiles we see when the gifts are delivered make everyone’s Holiday cheerier. If you’d like to add an extra dose of happy to your season, below you will see information on how to get involved.

And … if you like your giving with a side of hockey, our local hockey team for people with a variety of abilities, The Ice Wizards, have a game on December 15 which will include a “Teddy Bear Toss” which will also support our Gift Giving Drive. Details are below as well. Great hockey, great cause, great fun. I hope to see you there!

Click on the images to make them larger.

An Open Letter To Jared Polis

Published: November 29, 2018

Dear Governor Elect Polis:

Congratulations on your election as the next Governor of Colorado. Those of us at Imagine! and in the field of serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are looking forward to working with you to ensure that our fellow citizens with disabilities have the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives in their homes and communities.

I’d like to offer a few ideas and/or suggestions about your approach to the system of funding and delivering services in our State. I know these ideas are unsolicited, but you should be aware that Colorado’s approach to serving people with I/DD is incredibly chaotic when compared to other states. A new administration offers an opportunity to reexamine the system, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least share some ideas with you.

So here goes.

Continue the work toward eliminating waitlists for services.

Colorado has been incredibly active during the last eight years in working to end wait lists for services for children with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as for those who need part-time, in-home services. However, Colorado's wait list for adults with I/DD who have requested home- and community-based services (HCBS) “as soon as possible” rose 38% between January 2015 and January 2018. Far too many adults (and their parents) are waiting far too long for vital supports.

One important caveat to this plea: don’t try to start anything the State can’t pay for. “Don’t buy the car if you can’t afford the gas and maintenance.” This is a notion that has not captured any attention in Colorado.

Please don’t refer to people with I/DD “vulnerable” as a method of drawing attention

Using a word like “vulnerable” doesn’t emphasize possibilities. It doesn’t highlight strengths. It promotes what people are not. It doesn’t do anything to move us forward in the effort to create a world of opportunity. Our very system of funding and delivering services is built on the use of terms such as vulnerable, and it has led to a system where we ration services based on what people are not capable of doing. A better reference for people with I/DD from a position of having influence might be “powerless.”

Invest in technology

I’m sure you know this: the world of technology is exciting, constantly evolving, and vast in its capabilities. The impact this can have on people of all abilities has been and will continue to be life changing. It doesn’t require an employee with Apple or Microsoft to make an impact. Technology derives from investment, collaboration, innovation, and cultural influences that spark from a simple idea or dream. Unfortunately, State rules, regulations, and approaches aren’t very friendly to, or supportive of, the use of technology in I/DD services. Proper investment in the use of available technologies has shown terrific results in States like Ohio.

Invest in providers

Putting it mildly, the State hasn’t exactly been consistent when it comes to funding private service providers as compared to public State providers. And that’s a mistake, as Colorado has regularly ranked high in terms of outcomes for people in services while simultaneously ranking almost dead last in terms of per capita spending on services. Private providers have shown they can deliver positive outcomes even with limited resources. But in the past decade, they are being squeezed out of services by horribly inadequate rates which have seen almost a 10% reduction relative to the cost of doing business in the last eight years, to the detriment of the State, taxpayers, and people in services.

Focus on deliverables, not just costs

We all get it – the State doesn’t have an unlimited capacity to provide resources to people with I/DD. But when the only solution to limited resources is to cut costs, we’re missing the opportunity to do better, because providers start simply focusing on staying in business instead of innovating or leading. We have realized in the last eight years that cutting costs does not result in better health care. Invest resources in to research and development, and explore other ways for service to be delivered. There are a lot of smart, creative, and passionate people in this field. Let’s support them in being their best.

I could go on, but I don’t want to overwhelm you as you transition to your new role. So I will conclude by saying that creating a world of opportunity for all abilities isn’t a pipe dream. It can happen when governments, communities, providers, families, and people in services believe in the potential of all, and work together so everyone can achieve those potentials. I can’t wait to partner with you to make that happen in Colorado.

Then again, what do I know?

Thank You, Heidi

Published: November 28, 2018

Today I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to Heidi Storz for her time serving as President of Imagine!’s Board of Directors. Fortunately, she isn’t leaving the Board entirely, but she did finish her tenure as Board President and is placing those duties into the capable hands of Ken Curtis.

Heidi’s steady guidance as President of the Board during her term was vital, as we faced unprecedented challenges. Despite those challenges, Heidi never let us lose our focus on our mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities.

I greatly appreciate all of her hard work in ensuring that Imagine! remains a leader locally, statewide, nationally, and even internationally in the field of serving individuals with a variety of intellectual disabilities.

Last night, Ken presented Heidi with a small token of our appreciation at a Board meeting. Truthfully, however, we can never thank her enough for her support of Imagine! and the people we serve.

Good News Friday!

Published: November 16, 2018

Today, I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to Dave Query, who is once again treating individuals served by Imagine! and their families to a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day. This is the 15th year Dave has hosted this event, which will again be at Zolo Southwestern Grill, 2525 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder.

There are three seatings, and all three have filled up already! In all, more than 350 people will benefit from Dave's amazing generosity.

Dave Query is the owner of Big Red F Restaurant Group, including restaurants Centro Latin Kitchen, Jax Fish House – Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins, Glendale, and Kansas City, LoLa Coastal Mexican, Post Brewing Company, West End Tavern, and Zolo Grill.

Dave is donating the makings for a delicious dinner with all the trimmings, and the wait staff is volunteering its time. There is no charge for the meal, and no tips are necessary.

Thanks to Dave and the Zolo staff for making it a Thanksgiving to remember for individuals served by Imagine!.

British Blogger Asks - "And What Do You Do?"

Published: November 14, 2018

Occasionally I stumble across blogs that speak to me in one way or another. Recently I read a post from the blog “Tales From Serviceland” about how difficult it can be to explain what Direct Support Professionals do – or more to the point, the “why” of what they do.

Anyway, it got me thinking big thoughts and so I thought I’d share the post of a comrade in the I/DD world from across the pond.

Check it out here

Technology Tuesday

Published: November 13, 2018

Anyone involved in services knows how complicated it can be just to get started. Imagine! is always working on ways to make the lives of the people we serve, and their families, just a little bit easier.

A perfect example is the new “Get Started” intake page on our website.

A team of Imagine! employees has undertaken the task of making getting started in services a whole lot easier by creating this portal on our website. The portal has links to information and necessary forms to be filled out for people new to services, broken down by age and by program.

Navigating the system of I/DD services in Colorado is incredibly challenging for families and people in services. Imagine! is determined to ease that burden, and this site is a great first step (both literally and figuratively).

Special thanks to Imagine! Intake Navigator Brynn Conroy and Imagine! Webmaster Jared Brannan for their hard work and dedication to this project.

Good News Friday!

Published: November 9, 2018

Tomorrow, Mandy Kretsch (who accepts services from Imagine!) is hosting a Book Signing party in honor of her new book "Mandy's Collection of Short Stories." Come support Mandy and get your very own copy of the book signed! There will be a limited number of books available to purchase.

If you can’t make it but still want to purchase a book, click here:

Here are the basic details:

Mandy Kretsch Book Signing 
Saturday, November 10; 1-3pm 
Meadows Branch Library 4800 Baseline Rd, Boulder 80302 

This book makes for a great holiday gift!

Technology Tuesday

Published: November 6, 2018

Today I’d like to thank the Albertsons/Safeway Foundation, which recently awarded Imagine! with a $5,000 grant to support Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) program by increasing tech support for job placement and on the job supports. The grant will be used to purchase iPads which can help individualize the supports offered by CLS.

Thank you, Alberstons/Safeway Foundation, for your commitment to helping create a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Vote Imagine!

Published: November 5, 2018

Imagine! made it to the 2nd round in the Plante Moran Gives Charity Contest - thanks to YOU! 

Now we need your help again. Vote every day from today through November 7, to keep us in the TOP TEN, so we can qualify for the final round.

Click here to vote now.

Please share this and encourage your friends and followers to vote for us as well. Thanks for your help!

Good News Friday!

Published: November 2, 2018

Come to Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall on November 10 and 11 to kick off the holiday season with unique gifts and handmade treasures by local artisans. Imagine!'s CORE/Labor Source artists will be there selling their work. This free holiday shopping event will include great live music, a free holiday craft design area, and fun for the whole family. Deck the Mall is donating a portion of their vendor fees to the Imagine! Foundation.

Good News Friday!

Published: October 26, 2018

There's still time to vote for Imagine! in the Plante Moran Gives Charity Contest.

The rules of the contest are simple — the three Colorado charities with the most votes from their supporters at the end of three rounds will win a substantial donation. (First place will receive $15,000, second place will receive $10,000, and third place will receive $5,000.) Imagine! is an official entrant!

Show your support in round one by clicking here now and voting for Imagine! once a day through October 29.

And please forward the contest link and encourage your friends and followers to vote for us as well.

Thanks for your help!

Good News Friday!

Published: October 19, 2018

Today we’d like to thank the good folks from Rosetta Stone, who recently did a company volunteer project with Imagine!. The group joined our Out & About department for their Healthy Living activity on Wednesday, and they supported soccer skills camps and some gym/recreational activities.

Imagine! is a community-based organization, and we can’t do what we do without the support of our community. This is a great example of that community support in action, and we are deeply appreciative of our Rosetta Stone friends.

Technology Tuesday

Published: October 16, 2018

Imagine!'s CORE/Labor Source department uses the TAPit, an interactive computer station designed for individuals with disabilities. It recognizes the difference between an arm resting upon the screen and a finger or assistive device intentionally tapping an image, provides full access to those using wheelchairs, and tilts 0 to 90 degress and adjusts up and down. Imagine! is always striving to seek out cutting edge technologies that will help us create a world of opportunity for all abilities!


Good News Friday!

Published: October 12, 2018

Congratulations to Mandy Kretsch, who lives at one of Imagine!'s Group Homes and accepts services from our CORE/Labor Source department. She recently published her new book, "Mandy's Collection of Short Stories," and it's for sale on Amazon. Click here to purchase a copy.

What’s In Your Cabinet?

Published: October 10, 2018

Last week I had the opportunity to attend, and present, at the 2018 Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities Conference on Cognitive Disability and Technology.

While I enjoyed presenting, my key takeaway from the day came at the very beginning, as I listened to John L. Martin, Director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, give the Plenary Presentation, discussing how Ohio became the very first “Technology First” state in the nation.

I’ve already discussed how, while I’m delighted that Ohio has made this step, that I’m extremely disappointed it wasn’t Colorado leading this charge.

But Martin’s speech brought some more clarity to the issue of why Ohio was the first state to officially recognize that the time to wonder about the benefits of incorporating technology into the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is long past, and that the time to act is now.

Just look at Martin’s title: he is a cabinet level official in Ohio’s state government.

Quick quiz: do you know who the state director of the Colorado Department of Developmental Disabilities is? 

It’s a trick question. There is no state level department for developmental disabilities in Colorado. There’s not even an official office for developmental disabilities in our state. Nor is there even a division for developmental disabilities within an office of a department.

I applaud Ohio’s recognition of the importance of I/DD services. Their attention to working to create opportunities for our fellow citizens with disabilities is one to be admired.

And I share the unknown status, administratively speaking, of services for people with I/DD in our state a little less than a month before an upcoming election intentionally.

I encourage individuals in services, families, and others concerned about the future of services in Colorado to reach out to candidates and ask them about the future status of services for people with I/DD. Perhaps share that some states elevate the status services for people with I/DD to the Governor’s Cabinet to ensure people are given every opportunity to live a fulfilling life of possibilities.

Then again, what do I know?

Technology Tuesday

Published: October 9, 2018

Avenues to Independence, a similar organization to Imagine! based out of Park Ridge Illinois, toured Imagine!’s SmartHome last week. Guests included Robert Okazaki, Judy Okazaki, Joni Kraft, and Janice Valentine.

Good News Friday!

Published: October 5, 2018

Staff members at Imagine!’s Manhattan Group Home are spending the next few months focusing on creative and sustainable ways to build skill acquisition, as well as developing targeted solutions to promote independence.

Each opportunity for skill acquisition is determined with the full participation of the individuals in services, and with the goal of supporting individuals to live the lives they want to live. The goal of this project is to partner with the individuals living at the Manhattan Home to enhance their future quality of life by promoting skill acquisition which will enable them to live, function, and participate more fully in their homes and communities. This is done by promoting choice and control.

This team’s hard work is already starting to produce desirable outcomes and is building real excitement among the residents. Reducing verbal prompts and assistance needed for daily living is creating a vested interest with individuals in being an important part of developing plans and expectations for their own long term success. Additionally, acquiring and customizing supportive tools like their new Echo Show and other assistive technologies reduce demands on staffing.

The key to this momentum thus far has been promoting choice and control alongside the individuals in services from the beginning through identifying specific daily opportunities for independence, and reinforcing consistent approaches across all staff members, including those providing behavioral supports. The team has done a fantastic job of leading with positivity and celebrating achievements both big and small. Supervisor Towana Vance has done an outstanding job inspiring her team of skill acquisition ninjas to make learning from each other a daily habit and building upon momentum for both staff and individuals.

Imagine!’s Innovations department is dedicated to ensuring each goal and opportunity for skill acquisition is determined with the full participation of the individual in services while using person centered practices and allowing the individual in services to determine their personal level of desired engagement. Innovations is assisting individuals to develop a vested interest in their own independence while prioritizing goals that are important to them and important for their health and safety. Towana and her team are ensuring appropriate individualized service and support goals are put in place to reflect the individual’s current desired opportunities for independence and ensuring adequate data tracking is in place to monitor progress and adjust as needed. These are just a few of the collaborative ways Imagine is creating a world of opportunity for all abilities by helping people aspire to, and achieve, a fulfilling life of new possibilities!

LtoR: Whitney Granger, Towana Vance, Christopher Sloan, Jamie Crawford, Heather Christensen

The Echo Show

Good News Friday!

Published: September 28, 2018

This is another great story that indicates how Imagine! and our community work together to create a world of opportunity for all abilities.

On September 19, the Boedecker Theater at the Dairy Center hosted a screening of “Far From The Tree.” This movie follows families meeting extraordinary challenges through love, empathy, and understanding. This life-affirming documentary encourages us to cherish loved ones for all they are, not who they might have been. Following the screening, Kate Hines, an Imagine! Dayspring Occupational Therapist, and Patti Micklin, Executive Director of the Imagine! Foundation, hosted a “Talk Back” discussion about the family dynamics that can come from having a loved one with an intellectual disability. Kate and Patti shared intensely personal stories with humor and heart, and the evening was a spectacular success.

Technology Tuesday

Published: September 25, 2018

Last week, we hosted a really special tour of Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome: students from Australia and their Boulder Valley School District hosts! The students were able to get hands-on, using some of the devices we are testing, and they learned so much about the difference technology can play in peoples’ lives. We may have a few little assistive technology specialists in the making!

Good News Friday!

Published: September 21, 2018

Today, I’d like to officially introduce the members of the 2018-2019 Imagine! Leadership Development Group (LDG). This year’s LDG members are (from left to right in the picture below):

Victoria Thorne, who works for Imagine!’s Family Recruited Employee department.

Paula McCormick, who works for Imagine!’s Innovations department.

Emily Walsh, who works for Imagine!’s Dayspring department.

Jessie Michaud, who works for Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department.

Gabbie Norton, who works for Imagine!'s Case Management department.

The purpose of Imagine!’s Leadership Development program is to provide a coordinated platform that strategically develops talent within Imagine! to address the company’s leadership needs for the future. The program is designed to educate employee participants about the complexities of the organization and to assist management in learning about people with talent that may be good matches for leadership roles.

Each participant in the LDG will gain a broad understanding of leadership skills and be provided the opportunity to apply their learning in various settings. Each participant will assess their present strengths and areas for growth and realize their potential for leadership. Leadership skills and knowledge gained will be applicable in many aspects of the successful participant’s experiences.

The Leadership Development Group will utilize a variety of methods of learning during the course of the year. These methods will include opportunities for self-study, facilitated group meetings, attendance at other Imagine! meetings, mentoring, training opportunities, and presentations.

Congratulations to all of this year’s LDG members. I think you will find it to be a very rewarding experience. I’m looking forward to getting to know you and, just as important, to learning from you throughout the year.

Check out the short video below to learn more about Imagine!’s Leadership Development Group.

Can’t see the video? Click here

Technology Tuesday

Published: September 18, 2018

Touring Imagine!’s SmartHome yesterday: Longmont Rotary Club member Michael Honc.

Good News Friday!

Published: September 14, 2018

The week of September 10-14 has been proclaimed Direct Support Professionals Week.

All week long, Imagine!’s Twitter feed, our Facebook page, and our Imagine! Voices blog have been honoring amazing Imagine! DSPs. I encourage you to check them out. To help get you started, below are some brief highlights of DSPs we’ve put in the well-deserved spotlight.

Bren Lindemann 

“I’ve learned to adapt tasks or activities so that participants are happy and comfortable doing things they should be happy doing.” 

Patty Gutierrez 

“Patty is amazing. She manages my son’s behaviors better and better as she gets to know him, and he is a happy guy when they’re together.” 

Shen Hollcraft 

"I could be serving someone breakfast and at the same time get a little side hug or a sweet comment. It’s a natural sharing that nourishes both people.” 

Emilie Still 

“Emilie is constantly ensuring that the individuals we support receive the best customer service possible by being extremely detail oriented and always having a smile on her face.” 

Sean Van Lierop 

“Imagine! definitely restores my faith in humanity, seeing all the good people can do. I work with people who not only give a damn, they give a lot of damns, they give all of the damns.” 

Will Hebert 

“I studied Journalism because I wanted to help people out and write about important issues. I found the DSP job path and it felt like a more direct way to help people.” 

Collin Whitten 

“Collin is completely reliable, confident, and attentive. He makes sure that his participants’ needs are met and are reaching a goal at each activity. He keeps a calm demeanor in high-stress situations and has great problem solving skills."