Imagine! Blogs - Then Again What Do I Know

Visit Then Again, What Do I Know?

Good News Friday!

Published: February 15, 2019

Today I’d like to thank the awesome kids, teachers, and administrators at Ryan Elementary School in Lafayette. For the second year in a row, they are raising funds to support Imagine!’s Out & About program, specifically so O & A can purchase a hand controlled adaptive bike. The bike will allow more children with disabilities served by Imagine! to experience the joy, freedom, and independence that comes from riding a bike.

Go Rhinos!

Where Are Your Champions?

Published: February 13, 2019

Misheard lyrics from popular songs have been a source of entertainment for years. You can find many YouTube videos dedicated to this very topic.

Recently I had my own version of a misheard lyric. It wasn’t technically a misheard lyric, but rather, my brain filled in an incorrect lyric when I was listening to a song while thinking about the State of Colorado’s system of funding and delivering services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

The song? "We Are The Champions" by Queen. My misheard lyric? “Where are the champions?”

Now, of course I know the real lyrics. But as I was listening, I was thinking about a revelation I had come to recently: why doesn’t Colorado consider itself a champion of people with I/DD? Of course, Colorado supports those individuals, but is it possible the State champions a different master? Specifically, the Federal government and Medicaid?

That’s perfectly understandable. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) are essentially the customer, telling the State what to do and how to do it with their Medicaid dollars. So of course, the State looks to its customer in order to determine if it is doing a good job delivering customer service. 

And guess what? By CMS standards, Colorado probably is doing a good job. The State is focused on homogenizing and cutting costs at the behest of CMS and has made nice work of it. The State is the champion of Medicaid. That is not the same as being a champion of people living with I/DD in Colorado funded by Medicaid, or any other group of Medicaid beneficiaries.

Here’s a comparison. Think about a hypothetical athletic director at a major university; similar to an Executive Director of a State Department. That person should select and hire champions of each sport at the university; coaches who are experts in their event, who in turn select student athletes who are good performers in their event.

Why? That is what the fans and supporters want; the best coaching staff and players of each individual sport, be it swimming, track and field, or football.

What you wouldn’t do is hire a champion of uniforms to cost effectively outfit all of the teams with the same uniform because it would save money. It doesn’t matter that the swim team was wearing a football jersey when they dive in the pool. It matters that the champion homogenized the uniforms to cut costs. Or imagine a champion of balls; insuring there are adequate game balls, but not necessarily assigned to the appropriate game. Why? The champion isn’t and expert on the game – just that the balls are inflated properly.

While the AD needs to respond to and pay attention to his or her budget, and to NCAA rules and regulations, that shouldn’t be the primary drivers for champion roles. Winning more games draws more attention and revenue, the desired outcomes. Wearing the same uniform in all events will not accomplish the same, any more than a football on a golf tee. I think the results would be average athletics at best.

The AD wouldn’t be looking for the best coaches or players, they would be looking for the most affordable transactions in the athletic department. They wouldn’t be stretching the limits of the teams and what they could do, they’d be limiting their ability to stretch. They wouldn’t be trying to make teams stand out, they would want them to all look and play the same. The school’s athletic teams would regress to the middle at best, and the bottom at worst, because the desired outcome in sports – performance – wouldn’t be part of the policy making process. Have you seen the trends reported by the 2019 UCP Case For Inclusion?

In our State, I wonder if, by successfully being a champion of Medicaid, have we have lost the winning performance we once knew? Rather than being a champion of people and selecting performers in specific fields of expertise, we have homogenized transactions and outfitted providers with uniforms that say, “Go Medicaid!” and players with I/DD blended on teams of people with a variety of other health care needs.

I’d argue (and have argued before) that for providers, what I think should be our version of winning – positive outcomes for those we serve – isn’t a big part of our State’s policy making process. State providers are like the coaches and players for the hypothetical college mentioned above that makes all of its decisions based on budgetary and regulatory concerns.

(Cue the music) We are Champions of Medicaid; promoting cost cutting and homogenization. Again, have you seen the 2019 UCP Case for Inclusion? We don’t have an I/DD champion, and our team needs one.

(Cue the music again) Where are their champions?

Then again, what do I know?

Good News Friday!

Published: February 8, 2019

Today, I’d like to offer a big shout out to the South Boulder Lucky’s Market. Thanks to many of you voting online, Imagine! was selected as one of this quarter’s (February 3-May 25) Lucky’s Bags For Change partners!

For my readers who live in the area, I’d sure appreciate it if you were to make a shopping trip or two to Lucky’s (located at 695 S Broadway St. in Boulder) over the next couple of months so you can participate in this fun and environmentally friendly way to support our mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Here’s how it works: when shoppers bring in their reusable bags, they can choose to receive $.10 back per bag credit or donate that amount to one of the three Bags For Change partners, including Imagine!. Even better: when a shopper donates, Lucky’s Market will match the donation and double the giving to the nonprofits! Make sure you bring in your reusable bag so you can start dropping dimes to support the three partners.

Thanks Lucky’s for your demonstrated commitment to your community, and thanks in advance to all of you who help out by shopping at Lucky’s South Boulder!

Not Preaching To The Choir

Published: February 5, 2019

As I mentioned last week, our most recent Imagine! Celebration was a success by almost any measure.

In the post linked above, I listed several measures of success. But today, I’d like to share another measure of success – how many people in attendance were not part of the I/DD world.

I have often found that at fundraisers for non-profit organizations (not just those that serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities), the audiences tend to be primarily insiders – that is, those whose lives are closely tied in with the needs of the organization itself. In the I/DD world, this may mean family members, services providers, regulators, etc.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Of course the people who have the biggest stake in a non-profit’s work are likely to be the ones who most vigorously support that work. However, if part of an organization’s goal is spread the word about their work and its importance in the community, the risk of a segregated and insider audience is that there is an element of preaching to the choir, and it is likely that the message is not getting beyond those who have already heard, received, and believe in the message the non-profit is sending.

I have always said that the work Imagine! does is essentially a community building endeavor. That community can’t be built if only one segment of the community is part of the construction crew. It takes a village. That is why I was so excited to look out across the ballroom during the Imagine! Celebration and see so many unfamiliar faces. It’s the people I didn’t recognize that I was happiest to know that they were joining us. Many of the new attendees were young professionals or business and community leaders from different sectors who weren’t very familiar with our work. They weren’t the choir – they were new to our message, and to our mission.

The message we shared at the event was one that I think resonated with an audience that wasn’t comprised mainly by those already aware of our work. We didn’t describe the individuals we serve as “vulnerable.” 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 for all abilities.

Instead, during the entire evening of the Imagine! Celebration we emphasized what people with I/DD can do.

That message was no more clear than in the video debuted that evening telling the story of Shelly, who accepts services from Imagine! (I’ve shared the video below). Despite the many challenges in Shelly’s life, in this video you won’t hear words or phrases describing how sad it is that Shelly uses a wheelchair or that her disabilities prevent her from leading a fulfilling life. Instead, you’ll hear phrases like “no stranger to danger” or see clips of her schussing down the slopes of a local ski area. 

To be clear, I deeply appreciate the support of the people who have been part of the Imagine! family and the Imagine! Celebration for years. And I hope it continues for many more. But they already know that people like Shelly can, and do, live fulfilling lives of meaning and purpose. Sometimes folks outside of our little bubble aren’t as aware of the capabilities of a person like Shelly. If we can share that lesson with them, we can get ever closer to truly creating a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Then again, what do I know?

Good News Friday!

Published: February 1, 2019

The preliminary results are in, and by almost every measure last Saturday’s Imagine! Celebration was a huge success! Between sponsorships before the event, and the money raised at the event, we raised a total of $462,087! This is $30,000 more than last year!

Below you will find videos from the amazing evening.

To introduce the crowd to Imagine!, a short overview of our work started the evening off right.

A little later in the program, a short video was shown to demonstrate the impact of Imagine! donors and how those funds are used to help create fulfilling lives of possibilities among the people we serve.
The last video was certainly not least. As is the case every year, the evening featured the debut of a video highlighting an individual in Imagine!’s services. This year the person highlighted was Shelly, who lives in Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont and accepts services from CORE/Labor Source. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after the video was shown, and Shelly received a lengthy standing ovation when she came up on stage.

Now, some “thank yous” are in order.

Imagine! Foundation Board of Directors President Don Brown served as the MC for the event, and he nailed it! His hard work and preparation showed in his smooth and passionate delivery of a very mission-centric program.

Imagine! Board of Directors member Bella Larsen joined Don on stage at the beginning of the program, and her speech, full of joy and humor, won the crowd over instantly.

Elena Ciaravino, Program Director for Imagine!’s Out & About department, spoke to the crowd on a very personal level about how the support of Imagine!’s many generous donors helped to create a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Auctioneer Gary Corbett kept the evening flowing and the bidding rising.

Katie Hawkins and the Imagine! Celebration Committee have clearly hit their stride – the time and effort put into the pre-planning of the event clearly showed throughout the evening.

Imagine!’s PR of Fred Hobbs and Scott Wendelberger were heavily invested in the creation of the program, and were instrumental in its success.

Imagine! IT Director Kevin Harding ran the show, switching frequently between videos and PowerPoint presentations without ever missing a beat.

Elizabeth Hill and Caroline Siegfried served as trouble shooters for the evening, and both handled the role with amazing calm and aplomb.

Heather Sabo was the hero of the behind-the-scenes night. She and the staff volunteers faced some unforeseen challenges and she, and they, handled it with grace and perseverance, always keeping the guest experience front and center.

Speaking of staff volunteers, close to 30 Imagine! employees gave up their Saturday evening to volunteer at the event, a powerful testament to their commitment to Imagine!’s mission.

And of course, Imagine! Foundation Executive Director Patti Micklin, who begins work on next year’s Imagine! Celebration almost immediately following the conclusion of the previous year’s event, was the mastermind behind a record setting year in terms of money raised, but also in terms of sharing Imagine!’s mission and awareness of the amazing contributions people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are bringing to our community every single day!

Finally, thank you to the more than 480 attendees at the Celebration. They gave and gave, and I am so appreciative of their support of our mission and of our fellow citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Technology Tuesday

Published: January 29, 2019

Today I’d like to share a couple of blog posts from the good people at SimplyHome. SimplyHome designs and installs customizable remote support systems that empower independent living for people who are aging or who have disabilities. As such, they have their finger on the pulse of how technology can be used to improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), as well as the challenges of implementing these technologies in a system of funding and delivering services that doesn’t always seem to conducive to such efforts.

In the posts, they discuss the term “Technology First” and what it means, and then tackle how to get started down the tech path. They are well worth reading. Check them out below.

Technology First: A Growing Movement in I/DD Services (Part 1) 

Technology First Movement, Part 2: How to Get Started 

Good News Friday!

Published: January 25, 2019

It’s no secret that organizations like Imagine! are having a tough time recruiting Direct Support Professionals to help create a world of opportunity for all abilities. I have written about this challenge before.

However, one of the things that inspires me about working for Imagine! is the many ways that we come together as a team when facing challenges, and how we look for unique and creative ways to solve our problems.

One way we’ve been working to alleviate our workforce shortage is through hosting job fairs and open houses, where potential employees are invited to visit our work sites, meet potential co-workers, and take advantage of on-the-spot job interviews.

In the past few months, we’ve hosted several of these events, and the early returns are promising. It won’t solve all of our workforce issues, but it sure helps.

We have several planned for the coming weeks, including job fairs for our Adult Day and Employment Programs, our Residential Program, and for our Summer Camp for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Details for these upcoming events are below. Feel free to join us or share the information with someone who might be interested in a career with meaning.

And if you can't make it to one of the fairs, check out our jobs page here.

Good News Friday!

Published: January 18, 2019

The Imagine! Celebration, set for Saturday, January 26, brings together 500 guests and Imagine!'s mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities. Guests enjoy dinner, a silent and live auction, as well as inspirational stories about people with intellectual disabilities in our community. Funds raised support Imagine!'s programs and services for people at every age and stage of their lives. The event starts at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails and silent auction, and the program and dinner begin at 7 p.m.

Here are some links if you want to learn more:

Please support our many generous sponsors.  

Get a preview of our live auction

See photos of previous Imagine! Celebrations

An event like this takes a tremendous amount of work. I want to thank in advance the Imagine! staff members and volunteers who work so hard to make the night memorable, and to help create a world of opportunity for all abilities.

PS – the event is pretty much sold out, but there may still be a few seats available. If you are still interested in attending and supporting Imagine!’s mission, email Imagine! Foundation Director Patti Micklin.

Case Closed? I Hope Not

Published: January 17, 2019

I have been waiting for a while, fearing what the results might be, and my fears have been justified.

The most recent “Case for Inclusion” has been released, and it shows definitively that Colorado is trending in the wrong direction when it comes to delivering services to our fellow citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

The "Case for Inclusion," presented in partnership between United Cerebral Palsy and the ANCOR Foundation's Included. Supported. Empowered. Campaign, is a comprehensive data tool that examines how well programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are serving residents with I/DD.

So how does Colorado rank? The report puts us at #27 – just a little below the middle. “That’s not so bad,” you might say. Well, in 2015, we ranked at #6. That’s a big movement, going the wrong way. 

There’s more to those numbers. According to the 2015 edition of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities’ “The State of the States in Developmental Disabilities,” which tracks nationwide financial and programmatic trends in I/DD services, Colorado ranked 48th in the nation in terms of fiscal effort for I/DD funding. And yet we ranked 6th in outcomes, so we were providing a great ROI through our work. That does not seem to be the case anymore.

We’re not getting any better when it comes to spending on I/DD services in our state, either. Colorado per capita spending on I/DD services has not kept pace and in fact declined in the last year of available data:

2012 - $71 
2013 - $71 
2014 - $75 
2015 - $80 
2016 - $77 

And Colorado's fiscal effort, already dismal when compared to other states, has seen spending per $1000 of personal income decline since 2012. 

2012 - $1.57 
2013 - $1.49 
2014 - $1.48 
2015 - $1.53 

But here’s a surprise: I’m not using this space to gripe about those results. In fact, I see an opportunity in the data above. Colorado has just elected a new Governor, and with that election I see a chance to work with him on changing the narrative above. Wasn’t it Albert Einstein that said, “Insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results?” I see a chance to NOT repeat some of the mistakes that have been made over the past few years and to explore ways to return Colorado to its former status as a state that consistently delivers great outcomes through its I/DD services, even with limited resources.

To be clear, I’m not saying we don’t need more funding. But there are many opportunities to review and revisit how we were funding and delivering services in ways that have demonstrably worked in the past, but whose efficacy has been undermined by several years of poor and disjointed policy making and oversight.

The Case for Inclusion has been made for Colorado in 2019. It isn’t a good case. But the case isn’t closed, and we can change it to improve the lives of our fellow citizens with I/DD. It will take hard work and a thoughtful process, but the path to get there is right in front of us.

Then again, what do I know?

PS – here’s a great way to view Case for Inclusion results and analysis on a single web page.

Technology Tuesday

Published: January 15, 2019

Touring Imagine!’s SmartHome in Longmont yesterday: local business leaders Joel Broszat, Debbi Stapp, and Susie Hajek.

They are pictured below along with Imagine! Ambassador extraordinaire Leona Stoecker and Imagine! “Tour Guide” Chris DiRosa.

Good News Friday!

Published: January 11, 2019

A shout out today to Zach and Dylan for being featured in this year's City of Boulder Parks and Recreation Winter Activity Guide. These gentlemen accept services from Imagine!'s adult day program and volunteered once a week for the City of Boulder this past fall.

Vote Imagine! For Lucky’s Market South Boulder Bags for Change!

Published: January 9, 2019

Imagine! has been nominated for Lucky’s Market South Boulder Quarter 1 Bags for Change partnership, and you can help by voting for us! 

Here’s how it works: voting runs from January 7th through January 14th. The three organizations with the most votes at the end of the voting period will receive Lucky’s Bags for Change donations for the upcoming quarter.

The vote will exist in the form of a SurveyMonkey survey. Be sure to choose "South Boulder" for the market you frequent when prompted.

Here is the link to vote!

During the voting period, please feel free to share the link above on your social media channels as much as you’d like. Increased visibility and awareness of the post is incredibly helpful in gathering votes, which in turn will help us create a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Good News Friday!

Published: January 4, 2019

Another Imagine! Holiday Gift Giving Drive is in the books, and yet again I am amazed at the generosity of our community. Check out the short video below to get a “wrap-up” of this very touching example of the season of giving.

Good News Friday!

Published: December 28, 2018

Today seems like a perfect day to recap the last year at Imagine!.

About The People We Served 

Click on the image to make it larger

How We Served Our Community

In the past year,

Imagine!’s Care Coordination team … 

Provided information and referral to 2,346 families providing at-home care for an individual with intellectual disabilities.

Distributed $1,144,502 to help 459 families with the extraordinary costs of raising a child with autism or other special needs.

Distributed $143,359 in emergency funds to 104 individuals and families facing crisis situations requiring immediate financial intervention.

Imagine!’s Early Intervention Team …

Coordinated services for 1,126 babies and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities. 

Helped 333 babies and toddlers with developmental delays improve their communication, motor, and/or social skills through early intervention therapies.

Hosted 138 community-based activities designed for children to meet their goals in a fun and playful environment.

Imagine!’s School Age Services

Assisted 80 children with developmental disabilities in developing life-long skills through summer camp, after school, and community activities.

Imagine!’s Adult Services … 

Supported 496 adults with intellectual disabilities through enriching and therapeutic programs and classes.

Imagine!’s Employment Services

Provided job training and placement for 144 adults with intellectual disabilities.

Imagine!’s Residential Services

Provided a variety of residential options for 165 adults with intellectual disabilities.

Imagine! also … 

Provided mental health services and behavioral health services to 365 individuals with intellectual disability diagnoses.

Supported 232 family recruited employees.

How Our Community Served Imagine!

In the past year,

412 Imagine! volunteers served 12,311 hours of their time.

At last year’s Imagine! Celebration, 499 guests raised $430,000 to help Imagine! meet its mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Click here to see a list of all Imagine! donors from last year.

Wow! I’d say that was a pretty impressive year. But don't worry, we aren’t resting on our laurels – we’re already working to make next year even better!

Good News Friday!

Published: December 21, 2018

Imagine!’s Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2017-18 is available online. I think will find it impressive and full of fun facts demonstrating how Imagine! and our community work together to create a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Check it out here

The Boy In The Bubble

Published: December 20, 2018

Throughout my now 35-year (yikes) career at Imagine!, I have heard many words used to describe individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Some of those words, fortunately, are no longer considered appropriate, and entire movements are dedicated to eliminating their use, while others remain, still subtly influencing society’s expectations of what people with I/DD are capable of achieving. Words like “unfortunate” and “vulnerable.”

If this were just a case of diminished expectations, I probably wouldn’t be writing about those terms. However, those words that influence diminished expectations have resulted in a regulatory environment that doesn’t support reaching for goals and dreams for people with I/DD. At least in Colorado, services for people with I/DD are designed and regulated in ways that recall “The Boy in the Bubble.” If you aren’t familiar with that term, the Boy in Bubble was a prominent sufferer of severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), a hereditary disease which dramatically weakens the immune system. The name was a reference to the complex containment system, which resembled a plastic bubble, used as part of the management of his SCID. It also inspired a Paul Simon song.

Our State’s system and the rules and regulations surrounding them makes it very difficult to deliver services with an aim of exploring one’s potential. Instead, they tend to be focused on health and safety. Of course we want people with I/DD to be healthy and safe. But that’s not all they want. That’s not all that any of us wants. 

There needs to be a balance between safety and the dignity of risk taking, but has our State had the leadership and vision necessary to create services that find that balance? Have we instead put people with I/DD in a bubble and then called it a day? In some respects, services in Colorado are only a step away from from institutional settings. 

This is a complex issue, I know. I appreciate that families want to protect their loved ones. And more community access and more independent decision making among the population with I/DD is not entirely risk free. But those things aren’t risk free for any of us. Shouldn’t we allow people with I/DD live their lives to the fullest extent possible, free to make mistakes and learn from them? Or do we just put them in figurative bubbles and “protect” them while failing to provide them real opportunities to engage in their communities. 

Where is the line between those two choices? I don’t claim to know exactly. But those of us on the services side haven’t had much opportunity to weigh in on those choices recently. Neither have the people we serve. Someone is drawing that line, and I don’t really know who, but I’d argue the line drawing activity should be closer to the person, and certainly we should be asking service providers and especially the people in services where they’d like to see the line drawn. 

Maybe it is time to bring back a healthy dose of customization into services. Give the people in services a larger voice in determining how they want to engage in the world. Keep the bubbles for those who want them, and let the rest of our fellow citizens with I/DD have the opportunity to make choices and live their lives in the way they see fit. 

Then again, what do I know?

Thanks For The Visit, Congressman-elect Neguse!

Published: December 18, 2018

I’d like to offer my thanks to Colorado Second Congressional District Congressman-elect Joe Neguse, who visited Imagine! yesterday.

The Congressman-elect joined us to discuss ways to improve the lives of Colorado citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I appreciate his willingness to take part in an honest and wide-ranging conversation, and I look forward to working with him in the future.

Joining us at the meeting were Katie Wallace, Congressman-elect Neguse’s Field Director, Tanya Kelly-Bowry, President of Policy Matters, and Imagine!’s Jenna Corder and Fred Hobbs.

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!

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