Imagine! Blogs - Then Again What Do I Know

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Good News Friday!

Published: May 18, 2018

Our generous friends at McGuckin Hardware have set aside the dates of May 18 – May 27 to help support the Imagine! Foundation and our mission of creating a world of opportunities for all abilities.

During that time period, shoppers are encouraged to round up their bill at the cash registers, with the extra portion going to the Imagine! Foundation.

We thank McGuckin Hardware for their commitment to their community, and we invite you all to visit the most amazing hardware store you’ll ever see and help local citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the same time.

Good News Friday!

Published: May 11, 2018

Art plays a key role in so much of what Imagine! does to meet its mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities. Here are a couple of examples:

Ian Markiewicz creates original works of art using some very unique methods every Thursday through Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) program. Ian’s work is getting noticed: the Longmont Times-Call recently did a feature story on him!

Check out the story here

And if you’d like to see some of Ian’s work in person, along with a bunch of other CLS artists, they will have their artwork displayed on Saturday, May 19, during ArtWalk Longmont, a free arts festival in downtown Longmont. Join them if you can!

Technology Tuesday

Published: May 8, 2018

Readers of my blog interested in how technology can (and is) being used to enhance the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are encouraged to check out the:

Sat., June 23, 2018 – 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM 

A "meet and greet" picnic will be held Friday June 22 5PM-8PM at Sayre Park 1702 Grand Avenue, Glenwood Springs, CO 
  • Personal Assistants with Google Home and Amazon Alexa 
  • Behavioral supports with technology 
  • Updates and creative ways to utilize technology with communication 
  • Employment supports 
  • Independent Living 
  • Maintaining Privacy - as we enter more and more into the internet of things 
Conference Location: 
Glenwood Springs Colorado 
815 Cooper Avenue Glenwood Springs, CO 81601 

Families at the Forefront of Technology is honored to bring this event as a recipient of a DIGS grant from The Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities and additional support from The Arc of Colorado 

Home Is Where ...?

Published: May 7, 2018

One of the biggest challenges facing providers of services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) is the lack of housing available to them. Not everyone with an I/DD is able to live independently, or have family they can live with. The options for those individuals are extremely limited, and continue to dwindle, especially in Colorado. I’ve written about this before.

I recently came across a letter, which you can read below (click on the images to make them larger and more legible), from a large group of interested parties offering one potential solution to this crisis. The letter is addressed to key leaders at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

I’m not sharing this letter as an official endorsement by Imagine!, however, we can endorse the conversation. Imagine! has always been at its best when we have listened to parents and the people we serve offering new ideas and ways of delivering services. We owe it to ourselves as a community to think about our approach to housing individuals with I/DD and explore if there may be ways we can do it better.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Good News Friday!

Published: May 4, 2018

A couple of weeks ago, Girl Scout Troop 3302 honored the Imagine! SmartHome as their “Hometown Heroes” and brought boxes and boxes of scrumptious Girl Scout cookies. They also enjoyed a tour of the home. Thank you girls and your leaders!

Technology Tuesday

Published: May 1, 2018

The spring semester is coming to a close, and for us at Imagine!, that means another opportunity to share projects created by University of Colorado Engineering students in a class taught by Associate Professor Melinda Piket-May.

For the past eight years, students in these classes have worked on projects to design adaptive technologies to aid increased independence for some of the individuals Imagine! serves. This past Saturday, the students presented their projects at the Engineering Projects Expo. Student projects designed to assist individuals served by Imagine! (and others with disabilities) that were debuted at the event included:

Various Interfaces With Smart Home Devices 
Products like Google Home or Amazon Echo and Alexa can use verbal commands to operate any number of household devices or control entertainment options. However, there is still a gap for individuals who are non-verbal, as these devices may not be able to “understand” the commands. Several projects were designed to improve the ability of non-verbal individuals to access these devices.

Automated Wago Opener
Wago products are designed for electronic interfaces. Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department provides staffing for GE Lighting, which uses these Wago products. The device created by the students allows one of the employees who has limited range of motion in his arms to effectively and efficiently open the Wagos at GE, making him a more productive employee.

Panic Button
A low cost alert system to be used in Imagine! group homes or other residences.

Musical Shopping Cart 
Designed for an individual with limited motor skills who is encouraged to push a shopping cart around in order to improve his physical fitness. Since the individual tended to get bored just pushing the cart around, this project added a musical component to the cart to make the exercise more interesting and rewarding.

Our good friends at Oskar Blues Brewery provide employment for individuals served by Imagine! who make Oskar Blues “Can Bling” – necklaces with a beer can with the top removed for use at events such as beer festivals. However, connecting the necklaces to the beer can can be difficult for those with a limited range of motion. The Twister-O-Matic makes that process much easier, therefore making for more productive employees.

iPad Wheelchair Arm
Designed for a woman served by Imagine! who uses a wheelchair for mobility, and doesn’t have the range of motion required to use an iPad while in her chair. This arm make it possible for her to do so.

Adaptive Locker Opener
Designed for an elementary school student with limited mobility, the button makes it much easier to open his locker independently.

Data Tracking Device
This was designed to track noises made by a non-verbal individual to gather data to help caregivers better understand the individual’s needs. The hope is the data will allow caregivers to correlate certain sounds with specific needs, it will decrease outbursts and allow the individual to better communicate with those around her.

Automatic Door Opener
Designed for an individual who uses a wheelchair and whose limited range of motion means she can't access standard accessible door opener buttons. This device "speaks" to the door, allowing the individual to open it using a button attached to her wheelchair.

Good News Friday!

Published: April 27, 2018

Transportation is so vital to Imagine!. If we want to provide the individuals we serve opportunities to participate in and contribute to our community, we need to be sure they can travel throughout the community.

Today, I’d like to share three stories of support that have increased our ability to keep local citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities on the move in Boulder and Broomfield counties. 

The van pictured above was made possible by a grant from the Don and Lorraine Freeberg Foundation for Imagine!’s Out & About department. Thanks to this generous grant, Imagine!’s Out & About program will increase of transportation options and safety by adding a vehicle to support community based activities. Thanks to this addition to our fleet, we will increase the opportunities for children with disabilities to more fully engage in their communities from a very early age into adulthood.

The RAV4 pictured above, for Out & About children’s program, was made possible by the tremendous generosity of guests attending the 2018 Imagine! Celebration. Guests raised their paddles to support Imagine!’s Out & About children’s therapeutic recreation program, bringing in $175,000 in support. This vehicle is just one of the many ways donors gifts are impacting the lives of those we serve.

And finally, I’d like to thank the volunteers from the Empowerment Center of East County who braved freezing temps and snow showers last Saturday with smiles as they cleaned Imagine!’s Out & About department vehicle fleet.

The event was planned in conjunction with Global Youth Service Day.

Technology Tuesday

Published: April 24, 2018

Touring Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome last week: the Leadership team from Foothills Gateway of Larimer County, Ed Watson, new Imagine! Foundation Board member, Michael Dougherty, Boulder County District Attorney, and Elliot Moore, Music Director of the Longmont Symphony Orchestra.

Good News Friday!

Published: April 20, 2018

Today I’d like to share three stories of support from the Longmont community.

First, I'd like to offer a huge “thank you” to the students, teachers and administrators at Longmont’s Timberline PK-8 school for donating $420.25 to support Imagine!’s mission.

The fundraiser was called “Feed the Pigs.” The kids had to bring coins to feed piggy container (pictured below). Each container was for a different grade level. There was a contest of which grade would earn the most coins. The prize for elementary was extra recess, and the 5th grade won. The prize for middle school was a hat day, and the 6th grade won.

We love it when some of our community’s youngest citizens reach out to help create a world of opportunity for all abilities, and thank the good folks at Timberline for their amazing generosity.

Special thanks also to Belinda Chirinos (pictured below with her son and Imagine! Foundation Executive Director Patti Micklin), a former Imagine! employee who helped to facilitate this wonderful donation!

Next, I'd like to thank the Longmont Community Foundation for its generous grant of $1,900 for Imagine! CORE/Labor Source programs based in Longmont.

The Longmont Community Foundation has supported Imagine! in so many ways over the years, and we remain so grateful for all they do to promote the potential of Longmont citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Pictured below are Imagine! Foundation Executive Director Patti Micklin and Imagine! Ambassador Extraordinaire (and former Longmont mayor) Leona Stoecker at the Longmont Community Foundation event where the grant was announced.

Finally, Imagine! is honored to have been selected winner of The Longmont Community Foundation’s “Your Story” contest.

As winners, we received a $750 award, and will be featured on the Longmont Community Foundation’s website and social media sites. We are delighted to be selected, and once again thank the Longmont Community Foundation for its longtime support of Imagine! and the individuals we serve.

The award winning story and photo are below.

Longmont resident Gillian takes part in Imagine!’s “Horsin’ Around” class, where participants with intellectual disabilities learn how to build relationships with the horses, care for them, and ride them. Like all of Imagine!’s services, “Horsin’ Around” is community-based and designed to enhance the quality of life of people like Gillian. Community-based services enable people with disabilities to be included in society, as well as enriching communities by encouraging acceptance of all.

Technology Tuesday

Published: April 17, 2018

Imagine! recently purchased its first electric plug-in hybrid car, a Ford Fusion Erergi, to add to its fleet for transporting those we serve throughout the community. the car averages 97 miles to the gallon, and we will save Imagine! approximately $600 in gas costs per year while allowing us to leave a smaller carbon footprint on our community making it healthier and cleaner.

Every day, Imagine! evaluates its options to improve our cost efficiency in a world of ever changing technology, and we’re always looking for ways to be a better community partner. This vehicle helps us do both. Congratulations to our vehicle department for making this big step!

Good News Friday!

Published: April 13, 2018

Tonight, Imagine!’s Out & About Centre Stage for Children is debuting “Let The Wild Rumpus Begin.” Details are below.

I hope you’ll be able to join us!

Technology Tuesday

Published: April 10, 2018

Electric adjustable counter tops at Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome allow Stacey and Anthony to utilize their kitchen better.


Good News Friday!

Published: April 6, 2018

Imagine!’s Out & About department is currently hiring for summer positions. To help in their recruiting efforts, they created a short video that I thought would be fun to share. Check it out below.

And if you or anyone you know is interested in a great summer job opportunity, click here to get started.

Technology Tuesday

Published: April 3, 2018

Imagine!'s CORE/Labor Source (CLS) team uses technology to their advantage during their weekly science class. Eight students engage in an interactive quiz using iPads. Instructors read the question off of a projector screen, and students submit their answers on the tablet. Students can choose their answer by word, letter, color, or shape, ensuring that people with a wide variety of capabilities can participate in the instructional activities. The app CLS uses displays quiz results in real time, making for an interactive and fun way to learn!

Good News Friday!

Published: March 30, 2018

On February 28, Alliance held its annual I/DD Awareness Day Luncheon at the McNichols Civic Center in Denver. Service agencies from all over Colorado were in attendance to celebrate their successes in supporting individuals with I/DD. As a grand finale to the event, Alliance handed out a Direct Service Professional (DSP) of the Year award, and Imagine! employee Jason Kingsbury took home this prestigious award!

In the mix of 28 nominations, Jason rose to the top as the employee most deserving of this honor. He works at Imagine!'s CORE/Labor Source in Boulder and was initially nominated by his colleagues.

Program Coordinator Jeff Rodarti said this about Jason: “Jason has demonstrated a dogged advocacy for clients with intense and challenging behaviors. He has consistently modeled a sense of determined and graceful patience in those moments, even going so far as to educate members of the community with regard to how Imagine! supports those with significant behavioral challenges, and how these individuals deserve a space in the community as much as anyone else.”

Jason gave a meaningful speech after accepting the award, which you can watch below. Jason noted “My mother was a school teacher for 45 years and she taught me that I have the choice to either be a part of the solution, or a part of the problem. Since then, I decided whatever the case, to be a part of the solution.” Jason received a standing ovation for his remarks and his work.

Congratulations Jason for this well deserved honor, and thank you for all you do!

Good News Friday!

Published: March 23, 2018

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. This year’s Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month theme is “See Me for Me!” – expressing a desire that we all look beyond a person’s disability and see that person for who they really are.

Each week has a sub-theme, and we’ve been sharing videos on our Facebook page throughout the month that highlight those themes. I encourage you to take a look and to consider what you can do to make sure we all are able to “See Me For Me!” in all our interactions.

 Week 1 – “See Me As Your Classmate” 

Week 2 – “See Me As Your Coworker”


Week 3 – “See Me As Your Neighbor” 


Week 4 – See Me As Your Friend”

Good News Friday!

Published: March 16, 2018

Did you miss last month's Imagine!'s Out & About Adult Centre Stage performance? Held on February 28 at the Broomfield Auditorium, participants and instructors performed "Disney Dog Disaster" for a packed house! Check out some photos from the performance as well as a video of the entire show below!

See even more photos here.

And here's the show in its entirety:

Good News Friday!

Published: March 9, 2018

Imagine!’s mission is to create a world of opportunity for all abilities. We’ve always know that there’s no way for us to do that alone. We need community partners who support and enhance our work. We’re at our best when our community is an equal partner in our work.

Today I’m going to demonstrate how beneficial our community partnerships can be by highlighting the two-plus year collaboration between the YMCA of Boulder Valley and Imagine!’s Out & About department.

As part of the collaboration, Out & About provides the YMCA of Boulder Valley with:

  • Training and support for their staff members who work in their business office and front desks, with an emphasis on how to create a more welcoming environment for people with developmental disabilities and their family members. 
  • Training to staff members working in their summer day camp and after school programs. 
  • Consultations for supporting individual children. 
  • Advice on how to handle registration, how to create more welcoming materials, and assisting in the creation of a consistent registration and assessment form. 
  • Trainings in a “lunch-and-learn” format, including a recent training on Person First Language and Inclusion. 

In return, the YMCA of Boulder Valley offers Out & About:

  • Use of their facilities and completely waived entrance fees and rental charges for their studio spaces for Out & About’s Summer Camp, After School Program, and School Closure Day programs for children.
  • Same for Out & About’s Catalog Program for Adults, which regularly uses the Y twice a week.  
All of those collaborative efforts result a healthier, more inclusive society where opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities to be active and participating members of their community aren’t an afterthought or an add on, but rather standard and expected aspects of everyday life.

Thanks to the YMCA of Boulder Valley and Out & About for demonstrating Imagine!’s mission in action.

Today Is Spread The Word To End The Word Day

Published: March 7, 2018

Today is Spread the Word to End the Word Day! Help us raise awareness about the hurtfulness of the R-word by pledging to eliminate the derogatory use of the word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.

Learn more and take the pledge here

Technology Tuesday

Published: March 6, 2018

Touring Imagine!’s SmartHome recently: Arielle Hudson, a Junior at Regis University majoring in Education with a specialty in special needs. Arielle also happens to be the granddaughter of Imagine! Ambassador Extraordinaire Leona Stoecker, and we were delighted to have her take the tour.

Good News Friday!

Published: March 2, 2018

Imagine! recently conducted a satisfaction survey among individuals and families who had recently interacted with the Imagine! Intake Team.

The results were, pardon the pun, extremely satisfying! It is clear that our Intake Team is remarkably skilled, and their work is so vital in getting people who may be entering into the world of services for individuals with intellectual delays and disabilities started the right way. Below you will see some of the overwhelmingly positive results of the survey.

Congrats to the Imagine! Intake Team.

And here’s a few comments from survey respondents:

Staff was awesome. 

We had a great experience with Imagine! as well as the transition out of the program and into preschool for our now 3-year old son with hearing loss. 

Amazing resource. 

The Imagine! staff was fantastic at every step of the way! 

Thankful for this help for our family and little guy! 

Very happy with your team, thanks! 

Lovely team. Warm, personable ladies. Thank you! 

Everything has been wonderful.

Technology Tuesday

Published: February 27, 2018

It is the spring semester at the University of Colorado, and for us at Imagine!, that means another opportunity to collaborate with University of Colorado Engineering students in a class taught by Associate Professor Melinda Piket-May.

For the past eight years, students in these classes have worked on projects to design adaptive technologies to aid increased independence for some of the individuals Imagine! serves. To start the project out right, Imagine! representative Fred Hobbs presented to the class last Wednesday, providing the background and historical context that makes these projects so meaningful to our fellow citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Check out the video below to see some examples of previous assistive tech projects created by CU students. We look forward to sharing more at the end of the semester!

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Good News Friday!

Published: February 23, 2018

Today I’d like to recognize Imagine! employees Quincy Hegeman and Jason Kingsbury, both of whom have been nominated for the Alliance Direct Support Professional of the Year Award. Alliance is a nonprofit, statewide association of Community Centered Boards (CCBs) and Program Approved Service Agencies (PASAs) that is dedicated to strengthening services and supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). This award recognizes the incredible work DSPs do every day to improve the lives of Colorado citizens with I/DD.

Below is some information, taken directly from their nominations, demonstrating why these two stellar Imagine! employees are perfect candidates for this prestigious award.

Quincy Hegeman 

Quincy is a member of Imagine!'s Out & About team. On Quincy’s very first day as an intern, she discovered that a particular vehicle was needed to support the participant she was working with, and that vehicle was not on site. She offered to make an extra trip to pick up the vehicle. On her first day, she demonstrated going above and beyond by advocating for those in our services. 

Quincy is thorough and professional when she communicates with participants. She sets him/her up for success by creating a detailed schedule of the activity, and always gives them a safe platform to communicate his/her needs. Quincy combines a professional therapeutic style with her personal/friendly demeanor to build rapport and a safe environment for all participants. 

Quincy has developed numerous relationships with individual participants, to the point where she can encourage them to participate in a new activity that is outside their comfort zone. Due to the high quality of support and type of relationships she builds with participants and their families, she has been asked to do respite on the side many times. For example, she took a participant skiing for the first time and assisted him in getting comfortable on the slopes. Families really trust her. 

When Quincy comes back to the office after a shift, she always shares a success story her assigned participant. She offers tips and tricks to be added to the therapeutic plan or talks to the therapeutic coordinator on how to best support such person. 

She has become a strong leader among all instructors and offers a wealth of knowledge and experience for others to learn and better their skills in the field. Her knowledge is trusted due to her high quality of service. Quincy strives every day to make sure her participants are getting the most out of each activity, whether it is teaching them something new or assisting them in completing a project or activity with a sense of pride. 

Jason Kingsbury 

Jason is part of Imagine!'s CORE/Labor Source team. There is hardly a corner of the Imagine! community that Jason hasn’t touched. Over the ten plus years that Jason has been with the organization, Jason has worked in multiple group homes and at day program, supporting individuals to grow and achieve their potentials. For years, Jason regularly puts in overtime, working 6-7 days in a row to fill staffing hours across the organization. His time and efforts have made a real impact keeping group homes open during staffing shortages. Jason is always willing to sacrifice his time to help the team make it happen. 

In the course of my time with Jason, he has also demonstrated a dogged advocacy for clients with intense and challenging behaviors. Jason has always been willing to jump in and work the most intensive challenges, and has helped me, personally, to understand the significance of this service. No matter how difficult these challenges have been, Jason has consistently modeled a sense of determined and graceful patience in those moments, even going so far as to educate members of the community with regard to how Imagine! supports those with significant behavioral challenges, and how these individuals deserve a space in the community as much as anyone else. 

Direct support requires balance, and Jason demonstrates this trait across every aspect of his work at Imagine!. Over his career, Jason as developed real friendships with the people we serve and at the same time maintains professionalism in his rapport. Jason balances his heart and compassion with effectively implementing behavior therapy. And Jason time and again demonstrates that supporting clients is only a part of the picture. Jason shows up for his fellow team members, too, providing a space where his peers feel comfortable sharing the success and their frustrations. In this capacity, Jason mentors both his coworkers and the clients with whom he works. Moreover, Jason balances his eagerness to improve the lives of the people we serve with a sense of patience and understanding that gives those clients the time and space they need to grow into themselves and develop real, meaningful relationships within their community. And through it all, Jason has always brought a smile to his work.

The winner of the Alliance DSP of the Year Award will be announced next Wednesday, February 28, at Alliance’s Annual I/DD Awareness Day at the State Capitol in Denver. I don’t know if Quincy or Jason will be selected as the winner, but I do know that either way, Imagine! and the people we serve have already won by having these two as part of our staff! I am honored to call them my colleagues.

Good News Friday!

Published: February 16, 2018

Mackie's big smile after losing her two
front teeth on both top and bottom.
Photo credit: Elizabeth Hill
Imagine! is very grateful to all of our generous donors throughout the years. But today I'd like to shine the spotlight on perhaps our youngest donor yet, seven-year old Mackie Ball.

Late last month, Mackie noticed her mom getting dressed up for a fancy event and asked why. She found out that her mom, Laura, was going to the Imagine! Celebration, our annual fundraising gala. Laura works in Imagine!’s Human Resources department and attended the event as a volunteer to help with behind the scenes work.

“What is that?” asked Mackie. Laura explained to her daughter what the event was for and that Imagine! helps people with developmental disabilities. Mackie remained curious. Laura then said, “every year, Imagine! makes a video about someone we have helped and it makes me cry happy tears every time.”

“Can I watch the video?” asked Mackie. Her mother told her that the video will be online after the event, and she could watch it after that.

After hearing this, Mackie went into her room, grabbed her purse, took out the $4.00 the Tooth Fairy had given her, brought it to her mother, and asked her to donate it to Imagine!. After asking Mackie what made her decide to donate, she responded, “Because there are kids with disabilities that don’t always get to do the things that I get to do.”

Mackie woke up the next morning and asked her mother about the money and the video. They found the video online and Mackie watched it. “What did you think of the video?” Laura asked. Mackie replied, “I like it because it shows someone’s life getting better and they became happier.” (See below to watch the video Mackie is talking about). 

Mackie’s four dollar donation was given to the Imagine! Foundation and logged in the books. A very special thanks to Mackie and Laura for fostering the spirit of giving, no matter your age.

Good News Friday!

Published: February 9, 2018

Earlier this week, Imagine! hosted a group of international visitors from China who are interested in learning more about non-profit management in the United States. We enjoyed their company and appreciate their interest in Imagine!. These visitors were invited to the United States under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program, and the visit was arranged by Meridian International Center.

The visitors are spending time going to a variety of non-profits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across the county, following these specific objectives:
  • Explore the history and evolution of the non profit sector in the U.S. and the tax structure that supports public/private cooperation; 
  • Illustrate the diversity of the non profit sector in the U.S. and the dynamic relationships between business, government, and non governmental organizations; 
  • Examine innovative technology and management strategies used by non governmental organizations (NGOs) in the U.S.; and 
  • Review NGO methodologies for strengthening leadership; recruiting, training, and retaining volunteers; fundraising; and advocacy. 
This is the second time Imagine! has hosted international visitors as a result of this program, and we are delighted to share our knowledge, to learn from them in return, and to work together on discovering global solutions to challenges facing us all.