January/February 2008 Volume 2, Number 1
INK Recess! Delegates and staff throw their arms up in celebration during a break at Corporate Congress 2007 at Fairmont Hot Springs in early December. Congress adjourned on Friday, Dec. 7, after passing 23 bills. See page 15 for a summary of each bill and pages 10 and 11 for more photos. Photo by Jim Tracy
Corporate Congress approves 23 measures AWARE ‘legislature’ concludes three-day session at Fairmont By Jim Tracy A select group of employees and consumers returned to their home towns in early December after spending three days participating in a unique gathering that allowed them to sponsor and vote on “bills” to improve how AWARE delivers services.
Reflections on Montana Home Choice Coalition — Page 3
Corporate Congress 2007 convened Dec. 5 at Fairmont Hot Springs near Anaconda, with 22 delegates from every area of the state representing all AWARE services. The delegates were all non-supervisory and non-management staff, and consumers. The Congress, now in its eighth year, operates much like a legislature. Front-line staff in all services represent fellow employees and consumers — their constituents — in a democratic forum and participate directly in changing the way AWARE operates. See Congress on page 5
Malta Man’s Gift Helps Kids — Page 7
Shrink wRap with Dr. Ira Lourie — Page 8
H.E.L.P. Team Revises Manual — Page 16
Dear Staff and Friends, As I’m writing this, I’m keenly aware of the fact that almost every single newsletter being written during the course of this month will have the same tone, assuming that every one is summarizing their last year. It is, though, a necessary tone, and I will have to simply trust that everyone else who is in this position will have as much to talk about…and as much to be proud of as I do. This issue of our newsletter will primarily center on the 2007 Corporate Congress, which we held at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. It represented the culmination of a year marked by enough organization-wide accomplishments to fill an entire year for an organization that is not blessed with a staff as diverse and dedicated as ours. We witnessed the expansion of both our Targeted Case Management services for adults and our Intensive Family Education Services, which are now offered in every district of Montana. We built a new facility for our recycling program in Anaconda, allowing space and state of the art technology for Southwestern Montana’s fastest growing recycling operation. We became more deeply involved with Montana Shares, a grassroots collection of nonprofit organizations from around the state who work to enrich communities across the state. We dedicated the CR McDougall Transit Center in Butte, named for Larry Noonan the man who has worked for us, and continues to work with us, and represents the perseverance that could stand as a model for any organization’s staff. We welcomed 3 new members to our Board of Directors this year. Cheryl Zobenica, John Haffey, and Keith Colbo bring new ideas, new relationships, and new strength to the group of professionals that govern this organization. In the midst of this presidential campaigning season, I’m struck by the number of times I hear someone say “well, that’s not something that can ever be changed.” I’m not a politician, and they may very well be right in many instances. We, though, work in a service that deals with supposed impossibility within every tiny detail of people’s lives. All accomplishments, all goals, and all of their challenges are scrutinized because of an attitude of “well, that’s not something that can ever be changed.” But because of the staff we have, because of the years that we continue to have, and because of a dedication to details that we have, things can be changed, on both micro and macro levels. I’m proud of the year we had in 2007, and I would love to think that you, staff and friends, are too. Both the Board and I are excited to see what challenges lay in wait, what doors are standing to be kicked down, and what goals will be realized by AWARE and, more importantly, the individuals and families we serve. So, happy New Year to you all, and know that I am as excited as ever to charge through 2008 with vigor and care.
A note on donations to community offices One of the greatest parts of being a statewide organization is embracing the differences between communities. Each community has completely separate needs, goals, and aspirations. So, when a person or organization within your community makes the generous and welcome decision to donate time, goods, or money to AWARE, it often is related solely to the work being done in your area specifically. In all of these cases, it is extremely important that proper documentation be sent to the donor. This information must come from Media Relations Officer Tim Pray, who is located in the Anaconda office. If someone contacts you in regards to a donation they would like to make or have made, please contact Tim so that he can send administrative information and thanks to the donor. If you wish, your name will be added to the letter in order to express your official gratitude. Pray can be contacted via email at email@example.com, or by calling 406.563.8117 x15.
Lawrence P. Noonan, CEO Geri L. Wyant, CFO Jeffrey Folsom, COO Mike Schulte, CHO Board of Directors John O’Donnell, President Allan Smith, Vice President Teresa Marshall Cheryl Zobenica Keith Colbo John Haffey Written and Edited by Jim Tracy and Tim Pray AWARE Ink is published bimonthly by AWARE, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization at 205 E. Park Ave., Anaconda, MT 59711. Copyright ©2007, AWARE, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this newsletter may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the publisher.
‘It’s All About Relationships’
Reflections on the Montana Home Choice Coalition By Michael O’Neil
n the five years since its inception, Montana Home Choice Coalition direct efforts with the support of AWARE have developed $14 million in new housing resources and opportunities for persons and families with disabilities in Montana: creating over 50 new homeowners, opening 36 new community living opportunities for persons previously Michael O'Neil living in institutions, supporting the development of dozens of new community integrated rental units, facilitating new resources and approaches to addressing the housing needs of the homeless, introducing new flexible financing options for both homeownership and community rental housing, providing housing counseling to hundreds of individuals and families, and leading the way in promoting innovative accessible housing design in all housing types. The Coalition shares the common purpose of creating better community housing choices for all people with disabilities by working through a coalition of Montana citizens, advocates, providers of services and affordable housing; federal, state, tribal, and local housing and service agencies, home
builders, real estate brokers and the housing finance community. The Coalition is led by AWARE . The Coalition’s successes to date are the result of the collaboration and cooperation of numerous partners and Coalition members across the state of Montana. With such a big task, to be successful the Coalition has worked to engage the whole housing community into better meeting the housing needs and wishes of individuals and families with disabilities. Many working together As the old saying goes, many hands make for light work. No one entity could achieve what many working together in common purpose have achieved. In Montana, it’s all about relationships. Our Coalition is built around the sharing of relationships within each Coalition members’ unique network and constituency to complete the work involved in achieving our common goals and to share pertinent information.
Montana feels like a small town spread out over its 145,552 square miles. In the Montana disability and affordable housing world, we work through issues on a one or two degrees of separation basis- if I do not know someone it’s a good likelihood someone involved in the Coalition can introduce me and open the door for what we are trying to achieve or resolve. When you’re friend of a friend, you certainly can get a lot more done than when you are a stranger. Of course it helps to have the right friends. The Montana Home Choice Coalition has been blessed with many. The Coalition benefits greatly from the experience and strength of its lead agency, AWARE. As Montana’s leader in providing community based disability services with over 30 years of experience opening up community life opportunities for persons with disabilities it provides the Coalition a statewide community presence See Home Choice next page
Patios and basketball courts are typical of the amenities at AWARE's many homes in Montana.
Home Choice... with more than 650 employees and two-dozen offices throughout the state and an organizational culture encouraging questioning the status quo. AWARE provides the Coalition the backing that makes the difference between simply a good idea and getting the job done. Fannie Mae has provided critical organizational and financial support, and most importantly credibility to our fledgling efforts. Montana NeighborWorks, a part of the national NeighborWorks network, took us under their wing to provide access to high-quality training, and sharing their expertise, capacity, and resources opening up affordable homeownership to persons with disabilities along with supporting other housing goals of the disability community. The Montana Department of Commerce Housing Division and our Housing Finance agency, the Montana Board of Housing, have embraced the housing needs and aspirations of persons with disabilities as among its highest priorities. Olmstead Housing Initiatives The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (MT DPHHS) provides linkages to service providers and the persons they serve, along with early access to federal Systems Change funding critical to our formation, and partnered with the Coalition on Olmstead Housing Initiatives. The Developmental Disabilities Program of MT DPHHS showed great leadership embracing the idea of homeownership for those its serves bolstering homeowners’ dreams of homeownership with additional home financing resources. HUD and USDA Rural Development have proven to be important partners in terms of their critical housing program resources, staff support, and willingness to partner on training initiatives. Advocacy organizations (such as MT Fair Housing, Montana Senior Citizens Association, Montana Advocacy Program, Developmental Disabilities Planning and Advisory Council-DDPAC, Montana Mental Health Association, AARP, Independent Living Councils), private sector lenders (American Federal Savings Bank) , builders (Montana Home Builders), and real estate brokers (Montana Realtors) are vital Coalition members. Our local non-profit housing providers including human resource development councils, local public housing authorities, and innovative community housing development organizations like HomeWORD are key on the ground partners in communities across the state. Frequently, on a single housing transaction we will have involved the resources of three to five Coalition partners to achieve the specific housing activity. Looking back over our five years of operations, we realize we have gotten by with more than a little bit of help from our friends. To learn more about the Montana Home Choice Coalition please visit our web site at: www.montanahomechoice.org. This article is a revision of one published in the World Institute on Disability August 2007 Newsletter.
CFO seeking input from employees on insurance plan By Jim Tracy Chief Financial Officer Geri Wyant wants to know what employees think about the two-tiered health insurance plan AWARE introduced last summer. They’ll get a chance to tell her personally in February when she visits offices around the state to answer questions and collect information to use in March when AWARE renegotiates its coverage with Colorado-based Great-West Healthcare (www.greatwesthealthcare. com). “We will hold a one-hour meeting in each community to discuss our current health insurance plan,” Wyant said. “This is a great opportunity for employees to say what they like or dislike about the plan and to ask questions.” Here’s the schedule: Tuesday, Feb. 12 9 a.m. – Anaconda/Galen (Corporate Office). Deer Lodge, Anaconda case managers and support service staff to either attend this meeting or call in on the conference line. 11 a.m. – Butte (case management offices, 227 E. Mercury). Whitehall and Dillon to either attend this meeting or call in on the conference line. Thursday, Feb. 14 9 a.m. – Bozeman (Office, 420 W. Mendenhall, Bozeman). Livingston to either attend this meeting or call in on the conference line) 1:30 p.m. – Billings (Office, 1050 S. 25th St. W., Ste. 2). Miles City, Sidney, Plentywood, Red Lodge, Glendive, Hardin and Glasgow are to either attend this meeting or call in on the conference line. See Health Insurance on page 19
Ready to answer questions or fetch coffee, Corporate Congress support staff included, left to right, Terry Galle (front row), Donna Kelly, Jodee Barkell, Jeff Regan, Gale Evans, Tom Richards, Mindy Davis, Teresa Rivenes, Terri Waldorf, Leighanne Fogerty, Meagan Gallagher, Pat Noonan and Pandi Highland.
Congress... Elected by their peers in November, delegates took their responsibilities to heart, arriving at Fairmont ready to promote and defend bills they had brought with them covering everything from training to technology and respite care to retaining staff. Typical of the measures the Congress considered — and eventually adopted — was one sponsored by Stevan Papich of Great Falls. Papich’s bill focused on helping people who live in Mental Health Services group homes throughout Montana achieve independence. He said it grew out of conversations with staff, case managers and family members, and “my own opinions.” “Each group listed has a stake in giving the residents the best services and care possible to enable them to some day live independently,” Papich said. He defended his proposal in public, winning over the delegates in a speech on the floor. Corporate Congress 2007 opened with introductions and orientation,
followed by a reading of bills and assignment of each, depending on the nature of the legislation, to one of three committees: service development; advocacy; or workforce. Committees then chose leaders and settled down to business. Elected committee chairpersons were Jamie Knott of Anaconda, representing support services; Akhilesh Boehmler of Missoula, representing youth group homes; and Renae Jones of Bozeman, representing intensive family education and support services. Projector and flip charts Seated around tables in a large conference room — and with the aidw of a projector, slides and flip charts
ach group listed has a stake in giving the residents the best services and care possible to enable them to some day live independently — Stevan Papich of Great Falls 5
— the committees plunged into their work Wednesday afternoon, spending three hours hearing the pros and cons of their assigned bills and ending the day with the chairperson debriefing the committee of the whole. They returned to their tables at 8 the next morning and spent several hours considering the merits of each bill and rewriting them where necessary before shuffling the revised documents to other committees to be discussed further, possibly amended, and ranked. The delegates devoted Thursday afternoon to combining similar measures and clarifying language. By Friday morning, after hours of floor debate, side sessions and more floor debate, delegates had adopted 23 measures, including one to develop a pool of emergency respite care providers, another to offer refresher courses during holiday and summer breaks for staff who work in schools, and yet another that would encourage experienced employees to introduce new employee to stakeholders in the community. See Congress on page 9
Corporate Congress a ‘big picture’ event By Tim Pray
few nights ago my father and I had a long talk. Everyone else in the house who had gathered for Christmas had either gone home or to bed for the evening. We sat in front of my coffee table cluttered with torn pieces of wrapping paper, playing cards, and a few mugs half and quarter filled with cold coffee from a few hours prior. My parents will soon be moving from Big Timber to Tim Pray Minneapolis, and, as I’ve been handling many of the move’s logistics, we went over a few of the most important timetables once again to ensure that we were both on the same page. It was late, and it became clear pretty quickly that we were both too tired to be talking administratively. I have made a real effort not to question their decision to move in recent weeks, even though it seemed to come out of nowhere. Sensing this, I think, my father began talking to me unsolicited about the deeper issues of the move. “I cannot continue to be surrounded by consequence,” he said. Both my father and mother have seen their lives completely and utterly transformed by strokes and a debilitating bone disease, respectively, for the past three years. “It is easy,” he continued, “to find yourself in a position where you can’t even recognize that you aren’t making choices in your life anymore, and you’re dominated by the consequences that life throws your way.” “That,” he said “is why we’re
making a move that—on paper— makes no sense.” I moved to Montana from L.A. a little over a year ago, and left a life in direct contradiction to the one that I have now. When I decided to make the move, even the people closest to me expressed real concern, and questioned my wisdom and stability. After years of freelancing and wearing myself thin for issues and people for whom I had little to no investment, though, the opportunity to drop everything and do the opposite was, in my mind, too great to ignore. I was sure that, as time went on, the opportunity to change everything would become harder and harder to realize. So, like my parents, I made a move that—on paper—made no sense. It has taken me quite some time— almost the entire year that I have been with AWARE—to wrap my arms around the scope of the work being done by this organization. In the midst of all the acronyms, the intricacies of relationships with the State, and the
real ways that a family or consumer can, with help, move from a dark place to a brighter one, I’m still very easily confused. There have been, though— and continue to be—moments in my work here in which the “big picture” becomes clear to me, even if just for a second. One such flash, albeit an extremely busy and extended one, was during the first week of December for the 2007 Corporate Congress, and the insight into the work we do, how we do it, and how it affects people was certainly not lost on me. Twenty-three delegates, assembled in one room and each arriving with their own original ideas, were able to remain focused on the work that they were there to do. That in itself is rare based on the various conferences and meetings I’ve attended in my life. But what made this particularly remarkable was the subject matter … work that has real effect on people and their lives. Continued next page
Inspired by the work of his fellow delegates, Akhilesh Boehmler of Missoula, representing youth group homes, sketched this interpretation of Corporate Congress 2007. Boehmler and 21 other delegates spent three days at Fairmont Hot Springs in early December debating the merits of legislation aimed at improving AWARE's delivery of services.
Continued from Page 6 When I was working in entertainment, the environment could quickly become stressful and mean. This had nothing to do with the work that was being done, and everything to do with the chain reaction that occurs when one person flies off the handle and, as a result, another will, and so on. When it came to the point at which almost everyone involved with a production was a complete and utter mess, I would tell those who worked close with me “relax, we’re not curing cancer ... absolutely nothing that we’re doing has any real effect on anyone at all.” And it was true. Never, though, would I have thought that I would be involved with a group of professionals whose work DOES matter. Not only that, it is not something they need to be told. The group of delegates at Corporate Congress were working despite consequence when they were gathered in that room. They were able to keep both their constituencies and the big picture in mind as they revisited each other’s ideas time and time again. In a larger sense, they were saying “Yes, we know that other people are doing it this way, but, based on my experiences with the people we work with every day, here’s a way to do things that might be worth a try.” In a line of work where the consequences ARE very real, it requires a great deal of professionalism to respect them, yet trust each other and this organization enough to not be dictated by them. “It is a fine line,” my father said, “between ignoring the consequences in your life and letting them run it.” Participating in this Congress gave me the opportunity to see people I work with respect both sides of that line, doing work that I can scarcely imagine doing.
Chris Crowe goes to great lengths to help disadvantaged children By Kathleen Handley
hris Crowe is a young Native American man who was born and raised on the Fort Peck Reservation. After completing high school in Poplar, Chris moved to Malta and has been receiving services from Malta Opportunities and AWARE Case Management. Chris lives in the Group Home and works at the Malta Opportunities Activity Center as well as at two part-time jobs in the community. He receives glowing reviews from both of these community employers. Chris has made many strides since coming to Malta and is currently working on living in an independent environment and getting his driver’s license. Chris is a very private person, so it took me by surprise when he showed me his new haircut and explained to me that he decided to donate his hair to “Locks of Love.” Those “Great Lengths” were approximately 18 inches of beautiful thick raven hair. “I’ve been growing my hair for many, many years, but this is for the children,” Chris said. Recently, he received a thankyou from Madonna Coffman, president of “Locks of Love,” which he had laminated and displays in his locker. The Lake Fort Worth, Fla.,based nonprofit, provides hairpieces to thousands of financially disadvantaged children each year.
Shorn of 18 inches of thick, black hair, Locks of Love donor Chris Crowe of Malta shows off the certificate he received for his thoughtful gesture. Photo courtesy of Kathleen Handley.
Most recipients suffer from an autoimmune disease called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. Other recipients are cancer survivors, victims of trauma such as burns, and rare skin conditions that result in permanent hair loss. I asked Chris if he thought he would ever repeat this thoughtful gesture, and he told me it would have to be a long time from now since that’s how long it would take to grow all that hair back. Thank you, Chris, for sharing your story of giving. You are truly a remarkable guy. To learn more about Locks of Love, visit locksoflove.org. Kathleen “Keenie” Handley is an AWARE program officer in Glasgow.
That person is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent people, and the love of children; who has filled a unique niche and accomplished his or her task; who leaves the world better than before, whether by a perfect poem or a rescued soul; who never lacked appreciation of the earth's beauty or failed to express it; who looked for the best in others and gave the best he or she had. — Robert Louis Stevenson
Shrink wRap Corporate Congress 2007: a preview of what’s to come
Congress, each delegate was directed to bring a bill for consideration and passage (after all this was a congress). Our COO, Jeff Folsom, led this process in which these bills were worked on, passed and became acts that were presented to Larry. The Montana state legislature takes 90 days to do this process; Corporate Congress did it in two and a half. (Sorry, I said I wasn’t going to talk about the process, but it was really exciting to watch.)
By Dr. Ira Lourie
funny thing happened on my way to Anaconda. I stopped off at Fairmont Hot Springs for a toasty swim in the frosty air and came away with a breath of fresh air from a meeting I stumbled on... AWARE’s Corporate Congress. Now I assume there is a lot written about this Corporate Congress in this edition of AWARE Ink, so I’m not going to rehash the process or the actions. What I want to talk about is the spirit.
One might notice that I did not once mention the UCC principles in describing the work of the Congress and yet I found it exciting. How could this happen to a UCC freak like me? Well, let me Dr. Ira Lourie tell you. What I noticed as I observed This, I think, was the fourth the proceedings was that the ten UCC Corporate Congress I have had the privilege to attend in principles kept coming up all the time, not always by the 10 years I have worked for AWARE and maybe the their formal name, but in the spirit of the bills that were most uplifting for me. This might seem weird, given that presented and passed. I was merely an observer at this year’s Congress (my only active role was to give a speech at the banquet). Over and over again our agency commitment to One might think that I would have better liked the last unconditional, strength-based, culturally competent, Congress, which took place in the fall of 2005, at which I was a major player in a process focused entirely on the family/consumer-driven, highest-quality care to the most difficult to serve individuals and families came AWARE issue most dear to my heart, the Unconditional through in the discussions and the process. Of course, Care Commission (UCC). one of my favorite principles, Lighten Up and Laugh, was practiced throughout the Congress, especially at The 2005 Congress was a really exciting meeting at night where the delegates danced and then swam into which the delegates met along with parents of children the night. and youth who were or had been involved in AWARE services. The UCC principles were discussed, massaged At the banquet, I did participate by giving an afterand accepted for widespread use by the organization. dinner speech which focused on the content of my last One would think that from my point of view this should two AWARE Ink Shrink wRap articles: AWARE’s be seen as my best Congress. Yet, it only comes in a strength-based Child and Family Teams and our new close second. OOPS (Out Of state Placement Staffings), both products of our commitment to the UCC principles. The 2007 Corporate Congress was a much different sort of meeting; it went back to the original format The title of my talk was “Just Say No To Texas,” where delegates brought ideas from their constituencies which was not a commentary on the unpopularity of (either a service line or a community) for consideration our President, but rather a statement about our charge to of the Congress and ultimately presentation to the CEO, stick with our clients and their families and not to send Larry Noonan, for action. However, the process was Continued on on next next page page very different in that rather than bringing ideas to the Continued
“Everyone has good ideas and can express them openly. Everyone has a say,” said Lorna Stutz of Billings, representing adult developmental disabilities services, residential. “I’m a stakeholder in this process,” said Papich. “I want to see that our consumers are going to get those things that they need before moving on.” “Overall the organization is running very well, but there is always room for improvement,” said Jamie Knott, support services delegate from Anaconda. “Good things will hopefully come from it.” “I like that we can enact real change from different sectors,” said Akhilesh Boehmler of Missoula, representing youth group homes. “It’s not just a top-down feel.” “When we gather staff and consumers together and let them tell us what works and what doesn’t work — and what we should do differently — it helps the company and benefits the people who use our services,” said AWARE CEO Larry Noonan, noting that this year’s Congress was the eighth such gathering since 1999. “Other companies hire consultants to get the sort of feedback we get from Corporate Congress,” said Chief Operations Officer Jeff Folsom, who acted as part facilitator, part mediator and part ringmaster for the event. “You know the definition of a consultant ... someone who comes in, borrows your watch, tells you what time it is, keeps the watch, and charges you an exorbitant fee,” Folsom said. “At Corporate Congress our employees and consumers are the consultants. Over the years we have adopted nearly all of their suggestions.”
Acting as advisers and assistants and gofers, meanwhile, a dozen managers and supervisors and Congress coordinators Tim Pray and Kathleen Handley kept delegates stocked with supplies and refreshments and answered questions when called upon. ‘Making a difference’ Otherwise, the event belonged to the delegates, who expressed confidence that their suggestions would lead to action. “It’s amazing that what we do is making a difference throughout the company,” said payroll technician Lisa Huber of Anaconda, representing Administrative Services. Said Flannery Harpole, a youth case manager in Helena who represented the Helena-Great Falls District, “It’s valuable for employees to know decision-making includes feedback from staff.”
Shrink wRap... kids to residential facilities in Texas. And, this is what our Child and Family Teams and OOPS are doing. Then, after my speech, the yearly AWARE awards were given out. All of the Employee of the Year Awards were based on the UCC principles and one was given out for each of the 10 principles with an overall UCC Employee of the Year AWARD being given to Dr. Len Lantz, our only full-time psychiatrist. (In my next Shrink wRap article, I will explain how two of the individual UCC Principle Awards and the overall UCC Employee of the Year Award went to clinicians in our programs, which emphasize humanistic rather than clinical services.)
Thank You to All Who Donated
This Congress was the most uplifting for me because it demonstrated to me just how far we have come as an agency in incorporating the principles of unconditional care into our everyday work on behalf of individuals who require our services and their families. In the three and one half years since we started the UCC, we have come a long way in changing how we approach this difficult job, and this Corporate Congress was just a preview of how far we will move ahead in the coming years.
As AWARE’s Montana Shares campaign coordinator, I would like to thank everyone who so graciously donated to their 20th Annual Workplace Giving Campaign. AWARE improved their campaign by 146 percent from last year, and every cent of the money donated will go to the organization specified by the donors. Tim Pray
Dr. Ira Lourie serves as Medical Director to AWARE, Inc. He is the author of Everything is Normal Until Proven Otherwise. He lives in Hagerstown, Maryland.
Corporate Congress 2007
Missoula delegate Akhilesh Boehmler takes the floor (top photo) to argue for a bill he sponsored at Corporate Congress. Above, Pandi Highland, a lead clinician in AWARE's Butte office, takes notes for delegates on a flip chart. At right, Butte delegate Kelly McGrath keeps her own notes. Photos by Jim Tracy
With bill highlights taped to the wall in the background (bottom photo), Chief Operating Officer Jeff Folsom moderates debate on the floor of Corporate Congress 2007. At left, delegates and staff assistants search for Montana towns on a map during an â€œicebreakerâ€? contest on the opening morning of the Congress. Below, Billings delegate Lorna Stutz studies a bill submitted to her committee.
AWARD WINNERS — Stacy Clement, Danny Ocana, Tommy Walker, Leslie York, Eileen Dey, Renae Jones, Lloyd Shangreaux, Nate Cook, AWARE CEO Larry Noonan, Mary Caferro, Mindy Davis, Dr. Len Lantz, Colleen Bosch, Anton Viverka, Nic Speltz and Russell Carstens. Photo by Jim Tracy
Awards winners exemplify AWARE principles By Tim Pray In years past, AWARE honored staff members whose work exemplified the mission of the organization through “Employee of the Year” awards. This year, at the 2007 Corporate Congress annual banquet and awards dinner, the awards were named after each of the 10 Principles of Unconditional Care. The banquet began with remarks from Larry Noonan, CEO, who was followed by poignant messages of support from Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester. Dr. Ira Lourie, AWARE’s medical director, spoke to the work that we do as an organization, touching on the importance of keeping the concepts of unconditional care at the top of our minds in the midst of frustration, intimidation, and a tendency by many to take the easy route when confronted with the hardest challenges. So, one by one, we recognized the 10 staff members who, on a day-to-day basis, exemplified the true reasons that we do what we do. Also recognized were three men who earned the 2007 “Consumers of the Year” Awards. Their hard work in regards to their careers, giving spirits in their work with communities, and dedication to bettering the lives of those around them are all qualities that are both notable and worthy of honoring. Finally, AWARE offered the Leadership Award to Sally Leep of the Billings Head Start program, who has been instrumental in the formation of a solid, professional, and trustworthy relationship between our two organizations. The Advocacy Award was given to Mary Caferro,
executive director of WEEL, (Working for Equality & Economic Liberation) in Helena, whose tireless work for those in our communities who haven’t the voice to speak out for themselves has provided valuable lessons in the work that we do. Congratulations to all that were awarded on a memorable night, but most importantly, thank you.
Award winners Stacy Clement – Lighten Up and Laugh Danny Ocana – We Are Agents of Change Tommy Walker – Building on Our Strengths Is the Key to Our Success Leslie York – We Strive to the Highest Quality of Care Eileen Dey – I’m OK, You’re OK Renae Jones – Families Are Our Most Important Resource Lloyd Shangreaux – We Take On – and Stick with – the Toughest Challenges Nate Cook – Everything Is Normal until Proven Otherwise Mary Caferro (WEEL) – Advocacy Award Dr. Len Lantz – (two awards) It Takes a Team and Unconditional Care Employee of the Year Mindy Davis – Our Connection with Our Communities Is Vital Sally Leep, Billings Head Start – Leadership Award (accepted by Colleen Bosch) Anton Viverka – Consumer of the Year Nic Speltz – Consumer of the Year Russell Carstens – Consumer of the Year
Book Marks Book Marks
Each issue of AWARE Ink includes a collection of books, articles, documents, texts, and even movies recommended by staff, covering a range of topics related to the work we do. This issue features titles suggested by Michael O’Neil, AWARE program officer and state director of the Montana Home Choice Coalition. Michael is responsible for creating new housing opportunities for people with disabilities, and for new initiatives to create community integrated living opportunities in communities across Montana. He assists individuals and families across Montana to help them achieve their own housing goals. In his work, Michael strongly advocates the view that quality, safe, accessible and affordable housing is a basic human right creating the cornerstone of stable community living and a life of greater independence and dignity for all.
Texts Corporal Works of Mercy (Matthew 25:35) Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Clothe the Naked, Shelter the Homeless, Visit the Sick, Visit the Imprisoned, Bury the Dead. Clear and concise, no exclusions, no fine print-should keep you busy on slow days. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs — Abraham Maslow
Constitution of the United States of America and Bill of Rights — A real keeper. Applies to everyone. No exceptions. Universal Declaration of Human Rights — United Nations http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html. Human rights for all. Each of the 30 Articles of the Declaration is fundamental. Article 25 (1) is particularly pertinent to our work. Olmstead v. L. C. (98-536) 527 U.S. 581 (1999) U.S. Supreme Court Decision http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/98-536.ZS.html The Supreme Court affirmed the right of individuals with disabilities to live in their community. AWARE works every day to make this promise reality in communities across Montana. Too often in Montana and other states Olmstead is a dusty plan on a shelf within the bureaucracy. Thousands of Montanans in nursing homes and institutions are waiting. Let’s get busy. Fair Housing Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehab Act and other Disability Rights Law (http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/cguide.htm) Critical legal tools in supporting the housing and other life needs and aspirations of Montanans with disabilities.
Helps keeps you focused on the whole picture. The Declaration of Independence — Thomas Jefferson and collaborators “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” for allany questions?
The Careless Society: Community and Its Counterfeits — John McKnight This book is a thought-provoking analysis of America’s modern helping systems turned on their heads how those for whom systems are to benefit are given a backseat to the needs of providers and bureaucrats, whose personal and collective voices are co-opted by professional “experts,” and far too often services create disabling effects rather than personal benefit for those served. The chapter “The Medicalization of Politics” makes a compelling case for the possibility of politics and the actions of citizens rather than clients. The book serves as an important background text for AWARE’s fundamental values, approach to services, and our work on systems reform. Measuring the Years: State Aging Trends and Indicators — National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices. See Book Marks on page 18
Delegates Kelly McGrath
“Orientation of Community Services Act” In the second of Stacy’s two bills, she emphasizes a need for more awareness surrounding AWARE’s service offerings throughout all of the communities we work in. A family should know, she says, what exactly we offer in the community aside from the service they are utilizing.
Corporate Congress 2007 Bills AKHILESH BOEHMLER, Youth Group Homes Representative “Suggestion Box Act”
ED HENNELLY, Transportation Services Representative
Akhilesh feels that providing a more informal way to make suggestions within the group homes might encourage more discussion/communication in regards to the details of daily life. Larger issues are taken care of through more formal means, and something as nonchalant as a suggestion box should open the channels of discussion on day to day life for consumers living in the residences.
“Split Second Decision Making Act” As the transportation program grows throughout Southwestern Montana, Ed Hennelly seeks to address his desire for more training. The training would cover emergency procedures, as well as policy that would address adverse road conditions, weather, illness, communicable diseases, and safety for all drivers while continually providing dependable service to consumers.
“Administration-Facility Cohesion Act” In his second bill, Akhilesh expresesses both his and his constituency’s desire to see the relationship between administration and those in the field become clearer. With AWARE being as spread out as it is, it becomes increasingly difficult for everyone to understand the complexities of each other’s work. It is his hope that “field trips” of sorts can occur and get everyone on the same page. EILEEN DEY, Eastern Montana District Representative “Adequate Modern Technology for Productivity” Eileen’s bill centers around the desire for an equalization of technology, across the board. She suggests getting together, assessing the technological needs of each community, and addressing them as much as possible. JENNA EBNER, Early Head Start Service Representative “Parent and Family Communication Act” Jenna is the representative for the Early Head Start program, and as it gains more support throughout the areas it serves, Jenna’s bill stresses the importance of giving communication with parents the highest priority. She feels that, as the number of families involved with the program rises, so does the diversity of problems that they all face. In continually stressing the importance of direct communication through trainings and increased awareness, we as an organization can still be confident that we are providing clear and individualized services. MONA FERGERSON, Galen District Representative “Transitional Services System Act” Mona’s bill reflects her recommendation for services that will address the level of stress that a client goes through when he or she is approaching the transition from youth services to adult services. Her bill makes suggestions such as establishing a transitional services system and increasing dialogue with youth in regards to discharge/transition plans when they turn 16. STACY FORTNER, Missoula/Kalispell District Representative “Increasing Services Throughout Each Community Act” In this, the first of Stacy’s two bills, she pushes for the organization to make more of an effort to provide a more balanced offering of services in each of the state’s communities.
LISA HUBER, Administrative Services Representative “Continuation of Training Act” In an effort to bring to light the work being done in the field and in the administration offices, Lisa is proposing a forum, offered quarterly, to update supervisors and administrative assistant on all administrative changes and/or updated policies and procedures. The forum would include representation from across services and the organization as a whole. RENAE JONES, IFES Representative “IFES Respite and Purchasing Act” In her bill, Renae suggests a training for families that explains AWARE policies in regards to purchasing items and paying respite providers. This policy could be addressed within the presence of a Family Support Specialist, given to families upon enrollment in our services. Further, she proposes that support groups be formed in communities for families to meet at least once a month to exchange information on area respite providers. ERIN KJERSTEN, Youth Case Management Representative “AWARE Crisis Response Act” Erin’s bill seeks to address the logistics involved with transportation during a time of crisis. Many of the families we serve, she says, have transportation suitable only for local transportation. Should a crisis require transportation over a greater distance, it should not be assumed that the family can make the trip, nor should it be assumed that local authorities will be able to. She is proposing community meetings to address the crisis transportation needs. JAMIE KNOTT, Support Services Representative “Cohesiveness between Support Services and Case Management Act” Jamie’s Bill speaks to the benefits that could be achieved through better, more consistent communication between services, namely, Support Services and Case Management. Between the two, there is much in the way of similar work, and she is recommending a focus on working collaboratively while keeping the obvious privacy factors in mind. She recommends that supervisors have a weekly conference call to discuss inconsistencies and clarify expectations.
See Bills on page 19
‘Be aware, be alert, but be cool’
AWARE trainers refine H.E.L.P. course Trademarked system teaches caregivers ‘therapeutic attitude’ By Jim Tracy As in judo and jitterbugging, its takes leverage and balance to master AWARE’s H.E.L.P. program. “It’s not strength. It’s how you move,” says Training Director Tim Hahn, who helped develop H.E.L.P. – AWARE’s trademarked system for relieving stressful situations. “We place the emphasis on deescalating stressful situations before they become a crisis,” Hahn says. “In situations where individuals lose control and pose an immediate risk of physical harm to themselves or others, H.E.L.P. (Healthy Employees Leading Persons in Need) insures their safety until they can gain control of themselves.” AWARE first began using a form of crisis prevention and intervention when it opened several children’s group homes in 1991. The industry standard at the time was a system developed by the Crisis Prevention Institute based in Brookfield, Wis. That worked well enough, Hahn said, but AWARE wanted a system that would better fit its own needs. “It was (CEO) Larry Noonan’s vision,” Hahn said. “We’re a credible company, and he felt confident we could put together our own training program.”
Advice from wrestling coach In the summer of 2003, Noonan, searching for an expert outside of AWARE, recruited retired Butte High School wrestling coach Jim Street to the project. The Montana Hall of Fame mat mentor was an expert in movement and balance, having led
Assuring moves are done properly, Training Coordinator Larris Allick (left) watches while employees Brian Greer and Dan Blando practice a H.E.L.P. maneuver. Photo by Jim Tracy
the Bulldogs to 13 straight state AA championships (1980-92). He came out of retirement in 2006 to coach the current crop of Butte High School wrestlers. “We didn’t want to invent a new restraint system or new holds,” Hahn said. “That’s where Jim came into the picture. His expertise with movement and balance fit in well with what we wanted.” Driving the need for a new system, meanwhile, was passage of
the Children’s Health Act of 2000, and with it, new restraint and seclusion rules for agencies receiving federal funds to care for children. The Act states that facilities such as group homes must guarantee children the right “to be free from physical or mental abuse, corporal punishment, and any restraints or involuntary seclusions imposed for purposes of discipline or convenience.” Continued on next page
Restraint can be used only to Once they felt confident in their ensure the physical safety of a group new system and had finished the home resident, a staff member, or manual, they looked to the Montana others. The Act also requires agencies Department of Public Health and like AWARE to provide “appropriate Human Services for approval. training.” “They were skeptical of what we “The Act listed a comprehensive were trying to do,” Hahn said. “It took set of skills and competencies that four or five meetings, and all of those all staff needed to have,” Hahn said. meetings involved demonstrations in “That was our guideline. That was the Helena. It was tough and stressful, but outline we used to go by.” eventually they gave us the thumbs Hahn and fellow trainer Larris up. As far as we know, this is the only Allick waded into the project in the state-approved training curriculum.” summer of 2003. Hahn credited Jeff Folsom, “We had to do a lot of research,” chief of operations, in part with Hahn said. “I winning over state e had to do a spent hours on regulators. the Internet Today all lot of research. plugging in AWARE direct I spent hours terms like ‘decare staff and case on the Internet plugging in escalation’ and managers must ‘restraint.’” pass the H.E.L.P. terms like ‘de-escalation’ It helped course, which is and ‘restraint.’ — Training that he and taught by Hahn, Allick were and training Director Tim Hahn certified as a coordinators Allick trainers in the and Scott Yebba. Mandt System of physical restraint, AWARE also requires staff to take which is used by many juvenile a yearly refresher course. corrections and behavioral health “We do local training at Galen, facilities. but we train in every community,” “That gave us the foundation to Hahn said. “Once a month we’re in get started,” Hahn said. “We began every community in Montana where mapping out both the physical skills AWARE has an office.” required for a new system and started While the course teaches physical writing a manual.” skills, it also emphasizes the need to They also moved furniture. develop a “therapeutic attitude,” which “We moved into new offices at meshes with AWARE’s philosophy of Galen and made sure we had a room unconditional care. without any furniture,” Hahn said. ‘Emotional distance’ “And we started practicing.” “A ‘therapeutic attitude’ means For a while they split time you take care of yourself so you can between Galen and the wrestling room at Butte High School and started be as calm, flexible, and effective as possible at work,” Hahn said. “It also taking photographs to be used as means that you uncritically accept the illustrations. One of the photos shows person you serve, which helps you be step by step how to slip out of the realistic about him (and yourself) and grasp of someone who has grabbed gives you some emotional distance your shirt, your wrist or your hair or from him or her. We want staff to placed you in a head lock. understand their role as caregivers. We “We wanted to see how the steps want them to be aware, be alert, but be would look formatted in our manual,” ‘cool.’” Hahn said. “Our motto was to keep The course takes six to eight it simple. We didn’t want to get too hours. In order to get certified, technical.”
trainees must show physical competency and pass a written test. Since AWARE started using H.E.L.P., “We’ve seen a significant reduction in the use of restraint,” Hahn said. “I attribute that to our staff and their managers buying into it.” Word about H.E.L.P. has also spread outside the corporation. AWARE trainers have taught the course to teachers and staff in the Butte School District, for example, and have conducted seminars on the H.E.L.P. philosophy to other groups. While AWARE trainers continue to refine the program and manual, they have also teamed up as of Oct. 1 with the American Heart Association to certify training in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and first aid. Hahn described the Heart Association Training as “more hands on” than what AWARE had been using. Hahn, Allick and Yebba also double as CPR and first-aid trainers.
The Riot! jobs issue hits the Internet
The Riot!, a national e-newsletter from the Self-Advocate Leadership Network, has published its jobs issue. Published quarterly by and for self-advocates, The Riot! is aimed at people with disabilities who speak up for themselves and others. “Self-advocates speak up with spoken words, sign language, language boards or in ways unique to each person,” according to The Riot! (www.hsri.org/leaders/theriot/). Every issue focuses on a timely theme, or a particular idea. The newsletter also covers life topics, such as dating, health “and everyday fun.” “Most of all, we want to help people live the life they want with the support they need, We celebrate the strength of self-advocates. We take on the barriers that stand in the way. And we really don’t like SILLY rules that service systems sometimes have that just keep people down.”
Book Marks... Provides a demographic snapshot of an aging America, its impact on all aspects of American life, and recommended actions. Montana is projected to have a population with the third highest percentage of persons over 65. The time to prepare is now. AWARE and the Home Choice Coalition is working to create welcoming Montana communities for all, especially for the aging and persons with disabilities. What Are Old People For?: How Elders Will Save the World — William H. Thomas, M.D. Bill Thomas reveals the anti-aging biases present in American society and argues for the embracing of elderhood, the natural aging process, and the opportunities present in an aging America. A plea for a paradigm shift in how we approach aging. The book is very much in keeping with AWARE’s corporate values and philosophy.
Movie Pick Rory O’Shea Was Here (2004) (available on DVD) An enjoyable movie of an inspiring story of independence that follows two unlikely friends determined to face the world on their own terms despite the challenges of their individual disabilities. It's probably the best movie treatment of living with a disability I have seen, avoiding the Hollywood cliché treatment. The movie captures the aspirations and need for independence and life in the community rather than the “safe’” world of institutions and nursing homes. The movie shows the full well rounded picture of these men sucking the full marrow from lifenot saints just people; the joys and challenges. Rent it today. Try Netflix if it’s not at your local video store.
Redesigned web site to launch in March By Jim Tracy With help from a web designer with local ties and international connections, AWARE’s on the Internet will have a fresh look. “AWARE’s web site will be torn apart and reassembled,” said Jane Devon of Devon Designs of Anaconda, whose clients include big companies like Mazda Corp. and Pottery Barn and smaller enterprises close to home like Fairmont Hot Springs Resort and now AWARE. “Redesigning the web site is just part of a larger effort to improve communications within AWARE and make it easier for consumers, potential employees, donors and others to learn about the corporation,” said CEO Larry Noonan. Before beginning the redesign, Devon asked AWARE managers in November to complete a questionnaire aimed at identifying key corporate “brand attributes.” “A brand is the personality of a efining your company, from the way it acts to the brand will drive way it looks,” Devon said. “Defining consistency in your brand will drive consistency in everything you do. Too often people everything you do. Too often think of a brand as just the company’s people think of a brand as logo, but it should be everything about just the company’s logo, but a company – even beyond marketing materials.” it should be everything about The questionnaire asked respondents a company – even beyond to identify the corporation’s competitive marketing materials.” — strengths and weaknesses and to Web designer Jane Devon choose words that define “the AWARE experience.” “The resulting ‘branding framework’ will ensure that our collective efforts are strategically on target, and create a foundation for all future messages, both visual and verbal,” Devon said. “The first manifestation of the results of this will be AWARE’s web site.” Using results from the questionnaires, she’ll make a short presentation to the management team in mid-January that will include several design options and web site features. She has identified these recurring themes about AWARE based on the questionnaire: innovative and cutting edge emphasis on people and services team approach commitment to the hardest cases
Those results should surprise no one who has worked at AWARE for any length of time. What Devon found surprising, though, was the near-unanimous agreement among those who responded to the questionnaire about the attributes that define the corporation. “It’s great to work with a team where everyone is so committed to what they do,” she said. “Together we’ll create a good looking, functional site that we’ll all be proud of.” The new web site is set to go online in early March.
Health insurance... Thursday, Feb. 21 9:30 a.m. – Helena (Office, 616 Helena Ave., Ste. 305, Helena). 1 p.m. – Great Falls (Office, 1601 2nd Ave. North, Ste. 430, Great Falls). Friday, Feb. 22 9 a.m. – Kalispell (Office, 20 3rd St. East, Kalispell). 2 p.m. – Missoula (Office, 690 S.W. Higgins, Ste. D, Missoula). “Anyone who is currently on the plan should attend, and certainly anyone who is trying to decide whether to enroll or not should attend,” Wyant said. People who want to use the conference line capability for the meetings should let Wyant know that they will be using the phone option so that she can ensure proper equipment is available. In survey after survey, Americans rate health insurance and health care as a top-five issue, and AWARE workers are no different. Many of the questions the payroll department receives concern insurance, Wyant said. Here’s a brief explanation of AWARE’s bi-level insurance plan, which allows employees to match their coverage to their needs. The “Price Plan” meets the needs of about 80 percent of AWARE employees who have few medical risks and want the lowest possible premiums, basic catastrophic and drug coverage and good first-dollar coverage for office visits, dental, vision or other routine expenses that “just crop up,” Wyant said. The Value Plan is tailored to the needs of about 20 percent of employees who are concerned with the best coverage for high medical risks and chronic medical conditions and want the lowest deductibles and coinsurance possible, the best drug coverage and the fewest restrictions on the selection of providers. Eligible employees may choose between the two based on their evaluation of their individual situation, Wyant said. “There is no underwriting—you are free to choose either the Price Plan, the ‘base’ plan or ‘buy up’ to the Value Plan,” she said. “And you can change your mind each new plan year. Employees are insurance consumers free to choose.” Wyant noted that low-risk individuals can select a lowprice option and high-risk individuals can select greater value and pay a higher premium. “Our employees can act as consumers, making value and price decisions in medical insurance just as they do with any other consumer product or service,” she said. In the face of rising health insurance costs (rates climbed by 26 percent last year) AWARE developed the current plan rather than simply cutting benefits. A partial
self-insurer, the corporation last year contributed $1.2 million to help cover premiums and plan expenses. Wyant said only a third of AWARE’s eligible employees are enrolled in the insurance plan. She’d like to see that number grow. “If we could get more healthy bodies on the plan, it would help contain costs and could even lower premiums,” she said. Enrolled employees receive another direct benefit since they pay their premiums with “pre-tax dollars.” “Wouldn’t you rather be paying yourself for health insurance than paying taxes to the federal government?” Wyant asked AWARE’s insurance plan also includes a “wellness benefit” that covers the cost of an annual medical exam. The links for the health insurance plans are on our Intranet. You must first log in and then select PDF Manuals, then Health Insurance. The two plans are listed: http://www3.aware-inc.org/awareinc. You can e-mail questions and concerns to Wyant at firstname.lastname@example.org. AWARE will also solicit comments and questions in a survey that will be mailed with payroll checks on Jan. 31.
Bills... MARIA MALLOY, CSCT Services Representative “CSCT Training Act” In an environment as ever-changing as the school environment, Maria is suggesting that all involved with the CSCT program keep abreast of those changes through trainings held prior to the beginning of the school year, during the winter break, and regarding the summer program in June. The trainings would serve as a refresher course for the returning staff, and as an introduction for the new staff to go over tried and true methods of effectively working with the designated population. It would also serve to update regulation requirements as they change. SHANNON MARONEY, Bozeman/Livingston District Representative “Community Outreach Specialist Position Act” In her bill, Shannon suggests the benefit that could be achieved through a community/regional representative. This person could also serve to increase awareness towards the populations we serve throughout different communities. The benefit gained through increased community involvement, Shannon feels, could quite exceed expectations. Further, she recommends that Public Relations staff go through trainings and workshops relating to the specifics of each service in order to become more well-versed on the subjects of the work we do. KELLY McGRATH, Butte/Dillon District Representative “Emergency Respite Care Act” In her bill, Kelly suggests forming a larger pool of emergency respite providers or families that can be accessed on short notice during a time of crisis. She feels as though this would add another layer of care for families, and would be greatly beneficial.
See Bills on page 20
Bills... ERMAN MILLER, Anaconda District Representative “New DD Direct Care Employee Introduction Act” In his bill, Erman recommends that AWARE implement a system for direct care staff in which an experienced employee introduces a new employee to the stakeholders throughout their community. This will facilitate a seamless transition and empower staff so that continuity of care (from all angles) is not compromised due to new or inexperienced staff. STEVAN PAPICH, Adult Mental Health Services Representative “Responsibility Brings Independence for Quality of Life Act” Stevan’s bill addresses the need to reinforce the plan for independent living, which is covered within our “Client’s Bill of Rights.” Stevan wants to invest all involved in the daily life of the ICBRs in remaining committed to giving the best services and care possible, enabling all consumers to someday live independently. DANNI WHITESITT, Billings District Representative “Expanding Work Services Act” Danni’s bill addresses her constituency’s desire to expand the offerings of AWARE Work Services in Billings. She suggests using a needs assessment throughout the community to seek and fill the jobs that could be supported by the community. She also suggests using interest surveys to match consumers to the jobs that are offered.
LORNA STUTZ, Adult DD Services Representative TAMMY BRAAE, Administrative Field Representative FLANNERY HARPOLE, Helena-Great Falls District Representative
“Staff Retention Act” Given that nature of the work that we as an organization do, there will always be a certain percentage of employees who feel as though they simply aren’t cut out for it. Lorna, Tammy, and Flannery have embraced the concept of “congress” and decided to brainstorm ways in which more permanent staff situations could be attained. One of their suggestions is to provide more in-depth crisis training, informing the new employee that the work we do can be overwhelming, while also rewarding. By Tim Pray
Anaconda Work And Residential Enterprises
AWARE, Incorporated 205 East Park Avenue Anaconda, Montana 59711 1-800-432-6145 www.aware-inc.org
Printed on recycled paper