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Journeys It all begins with you.

STAY CONNECTED Help spread the word about being a Mentor Page 17

THE POWER OF A MENTOR HOW BEING A MENTOR HAS CHANGED THE LIVES OF MORE THAN THOSE THEY SERVE

JOURNEYS | MENTORSWANTED.COM www.MentorsWanted.com


Family Home Agency

California MENTOR is seeking loving individuals with an available bedroom who want to make a difference in the life of an adult with special needs.

Call Us Today! 855-MENTOR2

Receive ongoing support and generous monthy stipend.

Ask a our R bout eferra l Progr am! MENTORSWANTED.COM | JOURNEYS

Tell someone how they can make a difference and receive a generous monthly payment as a Mentor. If the person you refer becomes a certified Mentor, you receive $250!


Serving throughout the

Golden State

Family Home Agency

In This Issue ... Letter from Our Vice President 4 We Are With You Every Step 5 What Being A Mentor is All About 6 The Woman She Is Today 8

t California MENTOR we build lasting relationships through our Family Home Agency (FHA) program. As the largest and most experienced Family Home Agency provider, serving the entire Golden State. We partner with nurturing caregivers, who we call Mentors, to give Californians with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) the services and supports they need in a place they can truly call home. In our FHA program individuals live in private homes where they receive services, form relationships and participate in everyday family activities. Our FHA’s provide a comfortable and caring alternative to traditional care facilities and help adults of all abilities be active members of their community. The individuals we serve receive the support they need and benefit from the meaningful relationships they form with their Mentors and other members of their Circle of Support.

Eureka

Ukiah Santa Rosa

I Am MOM 12

With the right services and supports, individuals have the best opportunity to realize their full potential and participate in community life. They learn to grow. They create independent, healthy lives, while helping make our communities rich and rewarding places to live.

Golden Gate

Chico Napa

Sacramento

Hayward

Stockton

Fresno

Community Outreach 15 Bakersfield

Los Angeles Long Beach

Inland Yucaipa Empire Covina Orange County San Diego


Dear Readers, It is with great pleasure I welcome you to our 4th edition of Journeys magazine. We are proud to highlight the positive impact being a Mentor has had on the individuals you will read about. These individuals, many with the same backgrounds and experiences as you, took the opportunity to open their homes to an individual with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities through California MENTOR’s Family Home Agency (FHA) program and their lives were never the same. A common thread we read in these stories is about the relationships developed through the process of being a Mentor. At California MENTOR we believe relationships are the key to lasting change and empowerment. You will read how the relationships these Mentors developed with the individuals they supported helped them heal after a loss, reenergize after a struggle, or find a renewed sense of purpose when they needed it most. The fulfillment in being a Mentor comes alive through these stories. When we open our hearts to help another in need we are often overcome with the impact that action has on our own lives; a reality these Mentors articulate well. Sharing of themselves, their life experience, their faith, their culture and even their struggles gave more back to them than they had ever expected. With California MENTOR there to offer continued encouragement, support and advocacy, these Mentors are never alone in the process. Perhaps you recognize something in you or someone you know as you read about how these relationships changed both lives involved. At California MENTOR we seek to empower individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, one relationship at a time. Join us for an opportunity to develop a relationship and change a life; the rewards are limitless.

Sincerely, Stacey Risotti Vice President, Operations

“When we open our hearts to help another in need we are often overcome with the impact that action has on ourselves”

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We Are With You Every Step of the Way Opening your heart and home to an adult with disabilities is no small thing; we understand. That’s why our experienced team provides comprehensive 24/7 support to our Mentor families. Our support for Mentors includes case management, 24-hour emergency on-call services, medication management and much more. We’re here for you. Our highly trained team of coordinators, clinicians, supervisors and more will be with you every step of the way. We also connect you with other Mentors and host support groups so that you can share experiences and learn from your peers.

MENTOR Embraces a The dictionary describes Culture as the “attitude, beliefs, perceptions and values that a group of people share.” We find many cultures in our everyday lives as we interact and are a part of different groups of people, such as in politics, sports, work, religion, family and many others. At California MENTOR we share a Culture of Safety. When people hear the term Culture of Safety most are immediately reminded of environmental safety. We think of fire drills, smoke detectors, no slippery floors, sanitation, easy access and other similar things pertaining to physical health and safety. While these things are vitally important in our Family Home Agency program, we believe a culture of safety represents every facet of family living. Safety does not just refer to the environment but includes emotional, mental, physical and sexual well-being as well.

Coordinators Peer Support Therapists

Network of Support Program Leadership

Nurses* Community Partners

*These services are available as needed.

Our Matching Process The matching process is designed to ensure that you and the person who comes to live with you are comfortable so that you can live together as family would and develop a meaningful relationship. Ultimately, you will have the final say over who you choose to welcome into your home.

Culture of Safety refers to an environment where it is safe to speak up; where people stop, listen, and validate concerns and are quick to respond. This culture values, supports and empowers others. It is encouraging, positive, helping and inspiring. It is the foundation of building relationships and enhancing lives. A Culture of Safety is to be aware and vigilant of hazards, danger, risk, vulnerability, peril and threat. It shines a light on discrimination, manipulation, prejudice, abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and is intolerant of such behavior. California MENTOR’s Family Home Agency embraces a Culture of Safety and we seek to recruit, certify and support Mentors who wish to play a part in sharing this culture. JOURNEYS | MENTORSWANTED.COM


What being a

Mentor is all about part in their lives it does not help them to be independent. We celebrate the achievement of even the smallest task and that brings me joy.” The family always has a great time going out together to the movies, shopping, restaurants, sports, dancing, bowling and camping.

Becoming a Mentor has brought wonderful changes to Mark and his wife. Mark had devoted 20 years to working in a group home when he found himself diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Shortly after his new diagnosis, it became difficult to manage the home as a Program Director.

deeply when individuals were exposed to environments where they had the potential to be mistreated or neglected. He saw this as an opportunity to touch the life of someone who wanted to find their individuality. Often this is not possible in a setting with six or more people living under the same roof.

One day, while reading the newspaper, Mark noticed an ad for California MENTOR’s Family Home Agency and was in awe. Mark has always had a heart for individuals with developmental disabilities and it hurt him

At times Mark has admitted that it is not easy to be a Mentor, but being able to lean on his past experience has been helpful. “Every day is different,” Mark stated “and I have realized that if I don’t play an active

MENTORSWANTED.COM | JOURNEYS

“if I don’t play an active part in their lives it does not help them to be independent.” One of their favorite activities is watching the San Diego Padres play. A few years back, the family decided to get season tickets so they could share the experience together. The household dynamic is wonderful; everyone participates


What is a Mentor?

and helps with chores and responsibilities. Mark has found that taking the time to sit down together for dinner or a board game helps foster good communication. This is evident in the way the consumers ask for help with big things like complicated electronics, and simple things like grooming and hygiene. Mark and his wife are always there to help, assist and teach. This is what being a Mentor is all about!

A Mentor is a person who makes a difference in the life of an adult with intellectual or developmental disabilities by opening their heart and their home; providing the individual they care for with the support they need to thrive. With the help of our specialized team of health and human services professionals, Mentors become trusted caregivers, friends and advocates for the individuals they care for. This special relationship between the Mentor and the individual they support is the foundation of our program’s success. Our Mentors are our greatest resource; they enable us to help individuals across the country live rich, meaningful lives in the communities they call home, regardless of the challenges they may face.

JOURNEYS | MENTORSWANTED.COM


k

aren witnessed firsthand the struggles and hardships individuals with developmental disabilities face. She decided to become a Mentor because in her heart she desired to give an individual the opportunity for a better life.

The Woman She Is Today Karen’s journey as a Mentor with our Family Home Agency program (FHA) began 11 years ago. Karen became interested in becoming a Mentor when she learned about the company and the possibility of helping improve the quality of life for an individual with special needs. As a special education teacher for 21 years, Karen witnessed firsthand the challenges individuals with developmental MENTORSWANTED.COM | JOURNEYS

disabilities encountered. She decided to become a Mentor because in her heart she desired to give an individual the opportunity for a better life. In 2007, Cindy began living in Karen’s home. Integrating Cindy into Karen’s family in the beginning was difficult. It appeared that Cindy’s family did everything for her because of her disability and she seemed incapable of doing anything on her own. Karen hoped that one day Cindy would see herself the way Karen saw her, an individual with so much potential to learn and grow. Karen made it her mission to teach and assist Cindy in learning several skills like personal hygiene and long needle knitting.


Today, Cindy is not the same woman she was when she first moved in with Karen. She has seen Karen’s family grow and over the years she has grown as well.


It gives me fulfillment to see Cindy achieve her goals and to see her blossom and become a happier person. MENTORSWANTED.COM | JOURNEYS


Today, Cindy is not the same woman she was when she first moved in with Karen. She has seen Karen’s family grow and over the years she has grown as well. Cindy now enjoys brushing her hair, washing herself, and applying lotion all on her own which has given her much selfconfidence. When Cindy first came to live with Karen, she did not like having photos taken of her, but now she enjoys the opportunity to take pictures. In the beginning, Cindy also struggled with long needle knitting so Karen took her to a class where she learned to use a

wheel to knit. When Cindy made her first hat, Karen felt so proud of her. Karen later became a leader at their church crochet/ knitting ministry which Cindy enjoys attending. She has not missed one class. Cindy donates the hats that she knits to breast cancer fighters, homeless individuals and other charities. Cindy also enjoys attending church with the family every week.

Karen and Cindy enjoy each other’s company, sight-seeing, shopping, eating out, and visiting family and friends. Karen feels that the best part of being a Mentor has been

Cindy donates the hats that she knits to breast cancer fighters, homeless individuals and other charities.

learning what Cindy’s real interests are and seeing her grow and develop into the person she is now. “It gives me fulfillment to see Cindy achieve her goals and to see her blossom and become a happier person,” Karen commented. Being a Mentor has not been an easy journey for Karen. Cindy was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of years ago and it was very difficult and scary for both Cindy and Karen. Before

Cindy was diagnosed, she had never been in the hospital and or had surgery. Cindy’s biopsy was a difficult and emotional experience for both of them. Cindy held Karen’s hand and they both cried. Following Cindy’s surgery, she received radiation treatments and had regular doctor visits for physical therapy. During that time, Karen advocated for Cindy so that she could receive the care that she deserved. Karen also learned how to do physical therapy on Cindy’s left arm so that it would not swell at home.

However, despite all of the challenges and difficulties Karen has faced as a Mentor, her desire to help Cindy grow and become a part of society and our world has motivated her to continue in her pursuit. With the help of the California MENTOR team, Karen feels she can call on them anytime and they will be there to help her. Karen continues to go above and beyond for Cindy as she is not simply an individual she serves, but she is a part of her family. JOURNEYS | MENTORSWANTED.COM


I Am Not Staff

I AM MOM Gloria first heard about California MENTOR’s Family Home Agency program when her son Michael was in Afghanistan. She learned about another Michael who was looking to live in a family home setting. After speaking with a member of the MENTOR team, Gloria and her husband became very interested in getting to know Michael better. “Michael came to our house for a tour and we both decided he was a good match with our family,” stated Gloria. Together with the family, Michael has been able to receive a tremendous amount of support with his health issues. Prior to moving in with Gloria, Michael’s doctors were planing to amputate both of his legs. Being in a home environment with a family has provided Michael with the care that he needed to heal. Now the family enjoys spending quality time together and being active in the community. Taking trips to Laguna and eating out, watching movies, eating ice cream and popcorn are just a few of the things they love to do.

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Gloria feels that being a Mentor has brought a great deal to her life. It has taught her how to take care of her consumers and also provided her with knowledge she is able to use with her family. Being a Mentor has even influenced other members of the family. Gloria’s daughter is now interested in becoming a special education teacher. One of the most amazing things Gloria has found about being a Mentor is that it has enabled her to work with Michael and watch his independence grow. Gloria does not see her consumers as adults with disabilities, but as people with abilities. She has seen their independence grow, their health and quality of life improve, and witnessed them learn that they can achieve anything. Michael thought he could not do things on his own, for example, to use the restroom independently ,but he has learned he can. He was also able to stop smoking after being a smoker for over 16 years. Gloria feels that being a Mentor is easy and comes naturally to her. She loves to go the extra mile because it is so rewarding to see the smiles and the

happiness in the consumer’s eyes. She knows they have learned from her and are grateful. “To see that I am not ‘staff’, but I am ‘mom’, and I am never alone.” Gloria loves to share her experience with others and assure them to not be afraid. “You can do it, you can be a Mentor and you can get to know your client.” Having been a Mentor since


Who Can Become a Mentor? Our Mentors represent a wide range of backgrounds and skill levels. They may be stay-at-home moms, empty nesters looking for companionship and a way to give back, retirees, or healthcare and social services professionals. Mentors may be married or single, men or women and represent a wide range of ethnicities and religions. One constant among our Mentors, however, is their commitment to care for and make a positive difference in someone’s life.

How Can I Become a Mentor? If being a Mentor soumds like it might be right for you or someone you know, contact us at 855-MENTOR2 or visit our website at MentorsWanted.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

to see their gratitude and to know that they have learned from me; I am not “staff” I am “mom”

Refer an Earn! d ! $250

Refer And Earn Program

Tell someone how they can make a difference and receive a generous monthly payment as a Mentor. If the person you refer becomes a certified Mentor, you receive $250! To learn more about this amazing opportunity, visit us at MentorsWanted.com.


1999, 18 years, Gloria has seen the program develop and grow each year. She has enjoyed providing relief support and caring for her consumers, and growing her family with the addition of her consumers. Gloria continues to be a MENTOR because she believes in the program. “I would continue to be there for my clients because they are my sons,” Gloria stated. “If there was not a MENTOR program I would still be there for them because we love each other.” She feels that the California MENTOR team is not only there for the consumers, but the family as well. California MENTOR’s Circle of Support has been of great value to Gloria, her consumers and the family. She works closely with the Behavioral Consultants who provide her with continuous support, and are always looking out for everyone’s best interest. A team of nurses also work closely with Michael and the family to ensure that his health issues are monitored and ensures he stays healthy. Gloria also finds the skill development and educational classes offered through MENTOR very beneficial. In addition to the Circle of Support, California MENTOR also hosts annual events for families and consumers to enjoy throughout the year. Gloria and Michael recently attended a 66ers Baseball game where Michael was selected to throw the first pitch. Having social events where Gloria has the

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It’s so rewarding to see their love and to learn to love someone and to watch your family grow. It helps them, it helps us too. opportunity to connect with other Mentors has allowed her to share stories, create ideas for outings and feel part of the MENTOR family. Another support that Gloria and Michael love is the opportunity for Michael to attend a day program. The program comes to Gloria’s home to pick up Michael, and then drops him off once it is over. This allows Michael to see his friends, develop and learn new skills, and have fun, while Gloria is able to take care of things she needs to. Gloria says she has felt comfortable from day one being a Mentor and never had a negative experience. She feels it

is exactly what she does for her family - nothing strange - simply automatic. An important part of the process to Gloria was the matching process. She felt that this allowed everyone to find the best match for each other. “It’s so rewarding to see their love and to learn to love someone and to watch your family grow. It helps them, it helps us too. It is also helpful to have the extra income and to have someone to spend our time with.” Gloria felt that she took the time to decide if this was what she thought it would be ... and it was, and more.


Community Outreach

Staying Connected

Each year our Family Home Agency programs participate in the California MENTOR Autism Awareness Festival, held in the Inland Empire. This free family event provides the opportunity for the community to come together and enjoy a variety of entertainment, as well as obtain information about supportive services.

Our San Diego team, Mentor and client had a rewarding day volunteering at Friends of Cats in El Cajon. The team was able to interact with the cats and help socialize them for adoption. Friends of Cats is a no kill shelter that has the goal of placing all healthy cats into loving homes, and providing a sanctuary for cats who are terminally ill, or considered unadaptable.

Each year our Sacramento Family Home Agency Office is a proud participant in the Getty Owl Run/Walk to help create awareness for Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Want to get connected with your community? Host a Coffee Talk or social event to spread the word about becoming a Mentor, and you could receive $250. Ask your local Program Recruiter for more information on getting connected!

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