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WCI Newsletter: March 18th, 2016

Message From The Vice President of Operations

Joe DonatiWCI has truly been blessed with having staff that have chosen to stay with us for many years. Another blessing I have had is the great joy to experience the staff’s dedication to the people that we support from the wonderful team I get to be a part of every day. Last October, we were looking at WCI going through its DDS Licensing & Certification process with the state of Massachusetts with the Metro Regional Office of Quality Enhancement. Their Survey Team was due to be coming out two months later in December to do the agency’s review. Survey is typically a stressful time; however, I felt very confident that we would do just fine. WCI has an amazing team of Division Heads and Directors in Operations. We knew that we could manage the process & do well.

However, at the same time, we learned that the Deaf Supports Division Head, Denise Kellett, gave her notice that she was going to take a position with the state working in their Training Department. We were happy for Denise as this was her passion, yet this made us very concerned about how we were going to get through our survey. This was when I got reminded how lucky WCI was to have the team that it does. Both Sally Roach and Paula Dunn-Meadows, Division Heads, came to me to ask what they can do to help to get WCI through this challenging period. We also got offers from a Director in Deaf Supports, Jessica Rich, and the Benefits Coordinator in the Business Office, Asti Weir. Asti offered to take over Deaf Individual Supports and Jessica offered to mentor and train a new Support Coordinator that did not have a Director. Sally took over the oversight of Jessica Rich and her team and Paula took on the oversight of the homes that would be under the vacant Director position. All of this was intended to be a “band-aid” at best. What happened following this “temporary” change was remarkable. All of the homes started to show marked improvement. Coordinators were showing their abilities more than ever before. Communication and team work across the Divisions greatly improved, and in the end, Deaf Supports was highly recognized in the survey for the many wonderful things that they do. It was actually noted that one home in this Division had no citations, Bruce Road. Overall, WCI received a Two Year Certification.

It has been a true pleasure to be able to consider myself part of this dedicated team, as they were able to take a situation that should have been near impossible to overcome and yield a tremendous success. What was intended to be only a temporary fix, became a permanent decision. Sally has added Jessica to her team and Paula now has Greg Rosene, our newest Director, as part of her team. I look forward to seeing all of the wonderful successes that come from this latest change and am very grateful to Asti, Jessica, Sally, Paula and everyone that made this change possible.


 

March Is Brain Injury Awareness Month!

Brain Injury Awareness Month is a time to recognize and support the millions of Americans who live with brain injuries every day. They are people who want the same things that you or I want from life, a good job, someone to love, friends, a nice home and fun in their lives. They want to be defined by who they are as Individuals, not by their challenges presented by their injuries. WCI has supported people with Acquired Brain Injuries for many years to develop rich, meaningful lives at home, at work & in their communities. We support people to gain independence, achieve their dreams, reestablish existing relationships and make new ones.

Help raise awareness about brain injury and receive more information & materials by visiting the BIAA website: www.biausa.org.


 

WCI Office Space Expansion & RenovationsIndustrial-Construction-Signs-43488BBHPLYALU-ba

We want you to know that Phase 1 of our Office Expansion is finished. Joe Donati & his Team including IT are moved into their newly renovated office space at 135 Beaver Street. Duffy Properties did a fantastic job and everyone is pleased with the outcome. However, Phase 2 which we thought would begin this week, has not started. Duffy Properties is still waiting for the permit from the City of Waltham to begin the front office reception are
a renovation. We will notify everyone once we have an official start date on the renovations. Remember that our front door will be closed off with no access & we all will be using the entrance on the right side of 135 Beaver Street (facing the front of the building) once Phase 2 begins. We will keep you posted. If you have any questions, please contact jcooper@wearewci.org.


Focus on Vision Impairment And Blindness Conference Recap – by Cutie King

12294989_10153685694624160_997195741_oI had the privilege of attending the 11th Annual “Focus on Vision Impairment and Blindness” Conference on March 8th, 2016. The conference was about meeting the needs of Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Vision Loss. It was a pleasure to sit and listen to the Keynote speaker who had the floor for 1 hour. His name is Randy Pierce and he was born with his sight but lost it while growing up. It is amazing to listen to all of his accomplishments. He loves to hike, run marathons, loves life and is very happy with all of his accomplishments.

The 3 topics that he elaborated on were:
1. Team work
2. Goal settings
3. Positive adversity
He spoke of his life story highlighting team work, goal setting and positive adversity and how that assists him to be successful at what he does. Randy was a great speaker with very powerful words. It was a teaching moment just listening to him.

During the Conference, Mitch Sanborn, Director of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind’s Deafblind Division received the Paul McDade “Focus” Award for Distinguished Leadership.

Following the keynote, I attended the sessions. My first session was Glaucoma and boy did I learn a lot and some scary statistics! This information will allow me to be mindful of the danger that is around the corner for African Americans and Glaucoma. Statistically, African Americans are more likely to lose their vision from Glaucoma at a rate higher than their Caucasian counterparts. I learned that if your older siblings have Glaucoma then you can start worrying as it is more likely for you and the younger siblings to follow. Information on Glaucoma was presented by Dr. Bridget Hendricks from New England college of Optometry.

My second session was “See Things a Bit Differ12722483_10153685694154160_387792178_oently” with presenters: Joe Buizon from MCB, Lynne Bridges from Carroll Center for the Blind and Theresa Kane from
the Polus Center for Social and Economic Development, Inc. In this session, I learned of the collaborative efforts being used to create a 9-month intensive training for people with vision loss that helps to provide employment opportunities. Some of the locations included Cambridge Health and Mass Eye and Ear.

My final session was Creative Teaching Strategies presented by Carol Vienneau from New England Villages. My favorite part was learning that the team needs to work as a collaborative effort. It is important to listen to all of the pieces of the puzzle, the family, the day program, the doctor and anyone involved in their life. The team needs to be looking to help a person have a more meaningful life and that really touches me as that is always my goal.

I obtained a great deal of knowledge from all 3 sessions that I can apply to my everyday life and the life of the Individuals that I support. The conference was a partnership between MCB and DDS to provide services, information, training materials and events focused on the needs of Individuals with intellectual disability and vision loss. Overall, it was a great conference.

We received breakfast, lunch and dessert along with music from the MAI and there were raffles. Unfortunately, my team and I did not win anything, but I did enjoy seeing a picture floating around with both current and former employees of WCI. I am very grateful that this opportunity was presented to me through the efforts of Denise Kellett at DDS, Patrice Jean at WCI and my team for allowing me to participate. I am looking forward to next year, April 8, 2017, to gain even more knowledge.


aslWCI has a large community of staff and Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. To work together effectively, four of WCI’s employees are learning American Sign Language at Deaf, Inc. in Brighton, MA. Paul Arrighi, Emily Haugh, Sally Roach and Shannon McDonald are currently taking their first class, ASL 1A, every Wednesday until March 22nd.


Self-Advocacy Meetings Held At WCIselfadv

On March 10th, 2016, Sally Roach and Leah Andrews held their first Self Advocacy meeting at 135 Beaver Street. Rachel Hayward and Kamisha Heriveaux from MASS (Mass Advocates Standing Strong) gave a presentation about what it means to be a self-advocate, and the group did exercises on speaking up for yourself.

Many of the individuals in Individual Supports and 24 Hour supports attended the meeting. George M. said that it was a great meeting, and that he learned a lot!

Sally and Leah will be working with Rachel and Kamisha going forward to make this a group that meets on a routine basis, and has elected officials. In addition, Leah and some of the individuals will be participating in the monthly MASS Metro meeting in Watertown.


1024px-Boston_Bruins.svgThanks to Barry Goldberg of First Call Transportation for donating 3 tickets to the Bruins game for Thursday evening, March 10th! Two Individuals, Richard and Nancy, along with Employment Specialist Staff, Angel R. attended the game. This is the second time that Barry had donated tickets to our Individuals. This is greatly appreciated as it allows our folks to have a fun night out. Thank you!


 

Headlines:
Wheelchair users suspended from bridge in Bolivia

This teenage wrestler has a perfect record and a state title. He also has no legs.

Families Deeply Impacted By Autism Aggression, Study Finds

Temple Grandin Explains How Her Autistic Brain Works Like a Search Engine

Interview: Deafblind Attorney Fights for Online Accessibility

Voters with a disability will have access to new machines this year

Treating and preventing mental illness through your smartphone

Training the Red Cross for Disaster

How Gallaudet University’s Architects Are Redefining Deaf Space

Autism Wandering Bill Gets New Look

Easter Bunny Makes Accommodations for Kids With Autism

10 Brain Injury Comeback Stories

Talking Prescription Labels: Spring 2016 Update

16 People With Autism Describe Why Eye Contact Can Be Difficult

Olivia Wilde stars in powerful PSA for World Down Syndrome Day


Also remember to check out the all new wearewci.org and our Social Media feeds! Please like, share, and subscribe to our feeds to keep up to date on WCI and community events, interesting articles and videos, and updates on political happenings that affect the lives of our Individuals and their families!

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