Monday, August 30, 2010

So What's Next?

Building our two SmartHomes was only the beginning of our SmartHomes project. In fact, it was the easy part!

Now, we are working to make the homes laboratories of sorts – laboratories where new technologies can be researched and developed (or current technologies can be adapted) to serve the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities (and related conditions) so they can remain independent. Achieving this goal will also have the added benefit of making services far less costly.

As part of this second step, last week members of the SmartHome team met with leaders of CU’s College of Engineering and Applied Science to discuss research opportunities. We’ll keep you posted as we move forward.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Evidence For Why SmartHomes Are The Wave Of The Future

This past week, National Public Radio ran a series of shows that discussed a variety of ways, including using assistive technology, to help seniors stay at home longer. Although our SmartHomes serve a different population, the ideas are the same, and the series is more evidence that Imagine! is on the leading edge of this kind of thinking.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Donna's Diary - August 2010

Did you know that some of the residents of the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome in Boulder have started a little business selling roasted coffee beans? It’s true. Check out Donna’s latest online diary entry below to learn more. To see all of her diary entries, click here.

Well, our coffee roasting business has gotten off to a big start. It started when JT (Glover) was roasting beans, and Lana, Gerald, and I wanted to know what he was doing and wanted to participate.

I mentioned that we know a lot of people who drink coffee, and that maybe JT would help us learn how to roast the coffee beans so we could sell them. JT agreed, and we decided to give it a try. Our first sale was in late June to Vanessa and Sunil from 19th Street Group Home. At that point we wanted to give them the coffee in order to get feedback from them on how it tasted but they wanted to buy it. And now, here it is, SmartHome Coffee.

Over time, all of my housemates became involved, even if it was just hanging out with us and keeping us company while we roasted or stirred the beans. Then our next door neighbor, Donna, designed the SmartHome Coffee label for us.

A huge advantage that attracts people is the color and freshness of the coffee. So, I’ll bet you’re wondering how we roast the beans. We have two methods so far. We use a small amount in a popcorn popper, and we also have a Whirley Pop, a pan that sits on the stove and has a handle that you turn which stirs the beans. Then when the beans are roasted to either a light, medium, or dark color, we put them in another pan to stir them and cool them.

It’s really cool that Gerald has it programmed into his Dynavox communication device that we are selling coffee, including our phone numbers and the price, which is five dollars for a quarter pound.

This project has got us more involved with the community. People are coming here for the coffee, and we plan to host a coffee tasting soon. People on bicycles have seen us sitting out front and have stopped to order or buy coffee. At this point, we are not interested in how much coffee we can sell, it’s more for spending time together doing something fun, and learning how to be more independent.

My advice on coffee is that fresh ground that day is the best. It does need to rest in the CO2 can for at least 12 hours though, but if you get the beans that day, take them home and grind them that day, that’s the way to do it. Store it in a cool, dry place, like a kitchen cupboard, not in the freezer like some people say. And we aim to please. You want it medium, no prob. You want it light, no prob. We make it however you want it.

Next month Gerald and I will be celebrating our first wedding anniversary by going to Casa Bonita in Denver. I’ll tell you how that went, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Happy Birthday Anthony and Sarah!

This past Saturday, Charles Family SmartHome residents Anthony and Sarah celebrated their birthdays! Take a look at a few of the pictures.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Greg Speaks at Dedication of Boulder SmartHome

Last week we showed you a video of Greg Wellems speaking at the dedication of the Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont. Today, we’re kicking it old school – check out Greg speaking at the dedication of the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome in Boulder in 2009.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Time For Change - And You Can Help!

Imagine! wants to change the way services for individuals with one or more developmental disabilities are funded and delivered. We have an opportunity to do so, and we need your help!

First, a quick refresher. If you have followed our SmartHomes progress over the past few years, you know that Imagine! has been engaging in efforts big and small to explore different approaches and philosophies in terms of how we work. We’ve done so despite operating in a climate that is change resistant, a climate that has experienced large decreases in resources coupled with a circling of the wagons among providers, government entities, advocates, and other concerned parties, leading to little collaboration and a scarcity of new ideas.

We’ve done so because we believe it is the right thing to do, and because we feel we owe it to the individuals and families we serve. We have also done so because we believed that being prepared would put us in a strong position to act if an opportunity to make a significant change arose.

Well, that opportunity has come about.

Imagine! has just submitted an application for a 5-year $1.25 million federal grant that would help fund a whole new system for addressing the needs of all of the unserved individuals with developmental disabilities in Boulder and Broomfield counties. This is a part of a larger Imagine! commitment to create innovative models that will enable us to serve all individuals with developmental disabilities in our area both now and far into the future.

The title of our grant application is A New Vision. Here are some of the key elements of the application:

• Imagine!’s A New Vision maintains a person-centered and family-centered approach will promote self-determination and will facilitate the allocation of resources to ensure that the most important issues of all individuals and families in the grant are addressed.
A New Vision is the key to sustainability, because it offers a natural way to prioritize and address the most pressing issues facing the participating families as a whole.
• In economics, the term for allocating existing resources according to a hierarchy of needs is known as
demand management. A New Vision brings this model – long used in other domains such as public utilities management – to the human services field.
A New Vision uses new and emerging technologies (like our SmartHomes technologies) to maximize impact while limiting expenses.
• The current funding landscape is dominated by a deficit-model mindset in which services and supports are based upon what an individual cannot do, creating a cycle of dependency. In contrast, A New Vision service model focuses on the strengths of the individual and what the person can do in order to build capacity throughout the individual’s life.
• Imagine! will partner with a number of public and private entities in the implementation of A New Vision.

You can read more about this ambitious grant application by clicking here.

We will hear whether or not we have been awarded the grant by the end of September.

In the meantime, you can help make this New Vision a reality!

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Developmental Disabilities (ADD) is seeking input on how they can best meet the diverse needs of individuals with developmental disabilities, and their families, across the country via this survey. According to their website:

ADD seeks to utilize our resources to work on the priorities of the developmental disabilities community, and we hope to focus our energy on the most pressing and relevant concerns affecting people with developmental disabilities and their families. As such, we are looking for your thoughts regarding the focus of future Projects of National Significance (PNS). The purpose of PNS is to:

• Create opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to directly and fully contribute to, and participate in, all facets of community life; and
• Support the development of national and state policy development, with the support and assistance of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, to reinforce and promote the self-determination, independence, productivity, inclusion, and integration of these individuals into all facets of community life.

Additionally, the site tells us:

Ideal PNS efforts are sustainable, can be replicated, promote systems change, and encourage collaboration. They may include, but are not limited to, initiatives related to family support, data collection, technical assistance, information and referral, self-advocacy support, educating policymakers, federal interagency initiatives, support for the participation of racial and ethnic minorities, youth transition, quality assurance, aging adults and aging caregivers, access to generic community services, community economic development, increased community living options, positive behavioral supports… or, of course, other emerging needs.

Imagine!’s New Vision grant application fits the description above of a Project of National Significance to a “T.” Completed ADD surveys highlighting some of the key points of our New Vision might help influence decision makers as they look to new ways of prioritizing based upon the needs of the community.

Therefore, we strongly encourage you to fill out the ADD survey and let them know what you think!

You don’t have to use our bullets above to let them know what is important to you, of course. Even if you have different ideas, you don’t want to miss this great opportunity to help shape the future direction of the way services for some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens are funded and delivered. The time is now to act on a chance to construct a new paradigm; potentially creating the biggest meaningful change in the lives of those we serve since the early days of de-institutionalization.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bob Charles Speaks at Dedication of Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont

Take a couple of minutes to watch as Bob Charles speaks at the dedication of the Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont. Bob does a great job of explaining why a home like this is so important. Fun to watch, and you may even get a tear in your eye!

Monday, August 16, 2010

New SmartHome Grant

Thanks to the Kenneth King Foundation for their $5,000 grant in support of the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome. This brings the total raised for the Boulder SmartHome to $902,952, or 59% of the total cost of the home and technology. We appreciate the help of Imagine! Foundation board member Sandy Bracken in securing this grant.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Greg's Speech at Charles Family SmartHome Dedication

Interested in learning a little more about why Imagine! built its SmartHomes and what the next steps are? Then check out the speech Greg Wellems gave at the dedication of the Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sarah Explores Her Neighborhood

Some nice photos of Charles SmartHome resident Sarah riding her bike around her new Longmont neighborhood.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mandy On the Radio: Photos

On July 23, Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome resident Mandy took part in a live radio interview as well as a pre-recorded piece she put together with classmates in her CORE/Labor Source radio class (hear it here). Here’s some pictures from the interview.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Millennium Harvest House’s FAC Event

A couple of Fridays ago, residents of the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome attended the Millennium Harvest House’s FAC event and displayed some of their artistic talents to the attendees. Several children at the event joined in the fun.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mandy On the Radio!

Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome resident Mandy and other students in Imagine!’s C.O.R.E./Labor Source “On the Air” class had their first radio piece air last week on KGNU radio in Boulder. Mandy and her classmates did almost everything for the show themselves and spoke candidly about their disabilities and their efforts to be contributing members of our community.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Donna's Diary July 2010

Have you seen Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome resident Donna's latest online diary entry? If not, check it out below to find out which SmartHome resident is “the queen of coffee bean stirrers.” And see all of her diary entires here.

On the 4th of July, we partied over at the 19th Street Group Home. Some of the clients and staff from there are friends of mine, and it was a great time going over there. Some of the clients from the old Iris House (before it became the SmartHome)came too. We had a barbecue and watched fireworks from the back yard.

Some people sure do go wild over the 4th of July. I remember one year I was over by the St. Vrain River waiting for the fireworks and heard a loud noise from behind us. It happened to be eight teenagers packed into a Camero, and they drove right into the river and had to be towed out. Now I’m all for a good time, but that seems a bit much to me.

I had a wonderful time at the Millennium FAC last Friday night. It was cool. I liked being out with Gerald and all of my housemates. Having so many kids come by to paint and draw with us was a lot of fun. I love the teachers from my art class, Aliza and Chris. They are always cooking up something neat for us to do, and they always take time to sit and talk with you to see how you’re doing.

We have been roasting coffee beans over at the SmartHome too. It’s a fun project, and we roast the beans in a popcorn popper. As a matter of fact, we are roasting coffee beans right now but I took a few minutes off to do my monthly diary entry. My housemate Rebecca is the queen of coffee bean stirrers. She stirs the beans to cool them off, she is really good at it, and seems to love it.

Well, that’s all for now. Donna