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CHS News

Holiday Choral Concert at ABI Home

On a very cold December Saturday, an employee of CHS got together with a group of friends and family and visited our Acquired Brain Injury home located in Tewksbury, to share holiday music and carols with the four individuals who reside there.  The resident’s family members and staff also joined in on the festivities.

The Acquired Brain Injury program serves people who previously lived in a nursing facility or a chronic or rehabilitation hospital and were assisted to transition into a home setting in their community with 24-hour care, professional supports and greater access to community resources.

Though the holidays can be especially busy for everyone, the choral group members were more than generous with their time and happy to come and perform an assortment of holiday songs. We continually seek ways to make connections with our local community and are very grateful to the singers who came out to share their music and spend time with the individuals and families on a cold winter evening. 

Wrapping Up

 

On Tuesday, December 12, students from Melrose and Malden Catholic High Schools met at the CHS office in Malden to help wrap over 100 gifts for the Individuals we serve at the Cooperative for Human Services Inc! Though this time of year can be especially busy for students, these student volunteers were more than happy to come out and lend us a hand.

We are always trying to find new ways to make connections in our local community. This project was particularly successful in that it allowed us to connect with a younger demographic, one we don’t normally get a chance to work with.  We are very grateful for the student volunteers who came out to help us prepare for a fun filled holiday season!

Celebrating with a Holiday Tradition

We are continually seeking opportunities to ensure that the individuals we serve are integrated into the communities where they live. This helps to prevent isolation and the resulting loneliness from feeling excluded.

On Friday, December 1st, ten men and women from our Individual Supports program based in Malden,  attended The Nutcracker performed by the Melrose Youth Ballet. This classic ballet has become an annual holiday tradition in Melrose and has been staged at the same venue, the Memorial Hall in Melrose, since its first performance in 1995. The cast consists of hundreds of student dancers from more than 19 different surrounding communities.  After the show, our individuals reflected and talked about the many different colorful costumes that were worn by all the cast members.

This holiday- inspired, community event will hopefully become a new and lasting tradition for the individuals we support in the greater Melrose area. Thank you to the Melrose Youth Ballet for creating this fantastic opportunity.

Annual Appeal

Dear Friends,
This is the time of year when we reflect upon our good
work and plan ahead for the future. It has been a
challenging year as we continue to navigate government
budget cuts in Human Services and uncertainty from the
Federal level. We anticipate he coming years will be rocky
at best. And yet… we are motivated by our
accomplishments and energized as we anticipate and
create new possibilities.

Over the past twelve months we expanded our capacity at the CHS organic farm with a greenhouse and hydroponic operation. We now grow fresh produce year-round, sending wholesome and healthy free food to the people we serve. During the summer we participated in the Malden City Community Garden and
encouraged individuals to plant and harvest their own vegetables.

We recognized that a greater number of our individuals were aging-in- place and not participating in day
habilitation due to medical complications. We responded to their needs and created the Aging Day Program,
serving people in their homes and at designated company locations six days per week. Individuals over the age of fifty connect with their each other and their communities through active volunteerism, group activities, events and outings. The group creates meals and desserts for a women’s shelter in Cambridge and offers support and connection to homeless veterans living in a shelter in Somerville.

We have utilized new revenues strictly for program functions and expansion of services. We choose to expand the programs that directly impact the lives of the people we serve. Our general and administrative costs are approximately 9.6%, much less than the industry average of 15%, and we diligently stretch our resources and capabilities to deliver needed services. We navigate the increasingly complex healthcare system to ensure our individuals receive the best care possible. We go above and beyond to create affordable housing opportunities. We ask the deeper questions, go the extra mile and accept even the most
challenging individuals into our services because we believe in the tradition of caring for others. Innovation fuels our imaginations and drives us to create lasting outcomes for the people we serve.

There is so much more we can achieve and we invite you to join with us to be a part of what is possible. By investing in the organization, you are assured that your financial contribution goes directly to expansion of our programs and services. We need your support so please give generously by visiting Our Donations Page. 

Happy Holidays!

 

Sincerely,
Kevin J. Leahy
Executive Director

Individual Supports Program Thanksgiving – a Bird, a Band and Bowling

The Thanksgiving holiday originated as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest from
planting the preceding year. Although the traditions and practices of the holiday have changed over
time, the meaning has stayed much the same. On Thursday, November 23 rd , our Individual Support
Program in Malden came together to share Thanksgiving dinner in celebration of their accomplishments
and experiences supported by friends and family over the past year.

Sisters Ann Marie and Angela, two individuals from the program, worked together to cook the turkey,
make gravy, and bake various pies including pineapple pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie, lemon pie, and
mincemeat. Other dishes including ham, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, rolls, and cranberry
sauce were provided by the organization. Individuals came together from various locations including
Lowell, Lynn, Haverhill, Beverly, even Concord, as well as from the Malden area. Fun was had by all who
attended the dinner!

After the meal, everyone participated in activities and enjoyed a live performance. Individuals got
together to play a bowling game on the Wii gaming system while another individual, Michael, brought
out his guitar and played some tunes for the audience. Everyone returned home full of good food and
fellowship.

   

 

Giving Back to Honor US Veterans

Here at CHS we recognize the importance of giving back and establishing long-lasting relationships with the community around us.

On Friday November 3rd, we connected with The Mass Bay Veteran’s Center (MBVC) located in Somerville, MA.  The MBVC provides 22 transitional and 7 permanent housing units to former homeless veterans.  Similar to our own, the MBVC is a supportive community where veterans can recuperate, connect and build relationships with one another, and receive the support they need to live meaningful and independent lives.  When we asked if we could come by to deliver baked goods for the Veterans Day holiday, not only did they say “Yes!”, they also invited us to stay for a big celebratory breakfast that they were hosting for the veterans!

The following week, four different CHS homes began to organize to make some homemade baked goods. We made healthy oatmeal energy bites, coconut dark chocolate cookie bars, chocolate flax cookies and classic chocolate chip cookies. All of these goodies were nut free and sugar free, as we are always encouraging healthy alternatives to teach our individuals the importance of a balanced diet. Individuals from other programs also participated in the fun, baking homemade sugar cookies, oatmeal cookies and brownies.

                                       

 

On Thursday, November 9th, we headed to the veteran’s center at 9 am.  The individuals who participated in the baking activities delivered their treats and then joined the table to share breakfast and stories with the veterans. Al formerly worked at the Soldier’s Field Home in Chelsea, MA and was especially excited to join in the celebration! Bill and Francis also joined us for breakfast. Sharing this time with the veterans meant a lot to Bill especially because in his earlier years he also worked as a volunteer at another local veteran’s home.

                                      

Individuals from six of our homes participated in this project and were all invited back to visit again soon!  Establishing these community connections and building relationships is so meaningful to our individuals, and we are grateful to have had this opportunity to celebrate Veteran’s Day with these special members of our community.

National Diabetes Awareness Month

National Diabetes Awareness Month

Over the past six months, the Individual Support team in Malden has been discussing ways to manage the diabetes disease process in collaboration with the clinical team, staff, doctors’ offices, support groups, and families. We have identified that when individuals are first diagnosed with diabetes they often feel isolated and overwhelmed. Knowing that stress is one of many factors that can contribute to changes in blood sugar, we encourage individuals at ISS to speak with a counselor, support group, staff member, or family. This first step of reaching out can help individuals with diabetes to find the care and support they need to cope with the disease effectively.

Here are a few ways in which individuals can get a better handle on their diabetes symptoms:

Eating Well: Meal planning is a very important skill for individuals with diabetes to learn, and one anyone can benefit from. Individuals benefit from choosing foods that have fewer calories and are lower in sugar and salt. It is also important to remember to drink water in place of soda or other sugary drinks.

Being Active: Increasing activity level is another important lifestyle change that individuals with diabetes can make. It can be especially helpful when individuals find activities they enjoy and can engage with others who are exercising. Even something as simple as a daily walk can be very beneficial.

Setting Goals: Each individual should set a personal goal to attain healthier A1C and cholesterol levels. Maintaining a healthy diet and increasing activity level will also help individuals to reach these goals.

Individuals at ISS have learned that they can play an active role in managing their diabetes symptoms. By keeping blood sugar within the normal range, monitoring their diet carefully, and watching out for physical signs of blood sugar changes, individuals can help prevent hospitalization and other complications related to diabetes.

 

by Simon Deya, LPN, Cooperative For Human Services Inc., Individual Supports Program

 

US House Special Needs Working Group Created

We were pleased to learn of the announcement that five members of the U.S. House of Representatives have initiated a bipartisan effort to explore policies and regulations in need of review and change to better support special needs employment. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Rep-Washington is Chairwoman of the Bipartisan House Working Group on Employing People with Disabilities. Joining her is Gregg Harper, R-Miss and Chairman of the House Administrative Committee, James Clyburn, D-SC, Joe Crowley, D-NY and Tony Cardenas, D-CA.

The work group plans to review and identify regulations, some of which date back to the 1930s, that can be barriers to individuals with disabilities who wish to enter the workforce. This includes income limitations on Social Security and Medicaid that prevent full time employment before benefits are negatively impacted.

Modifying these laws is a positive step in the right direction and will help shine a spotlight on the obstacles that Americans with disabilities continually navigate.  Legislation such as ABLE accounts (Achieving a Better Life Experience) which was enacted in 2014, now allows eligible participants to establish savings accounts with protection from impacts to Federal benefits including Medicaid. These changes are timely, but there is still more work to be done. This includes strengthened and continued support from private employers to create opportunities for our individuals so that they can connect with fulfilling work and careers of choice.

Recognition of Quality Care

Cooperative for Human Services Inc.’s Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Program has quickly been established as an example of our leadership and commitment to responsive care. Each of our programs is specifically   designed and developed to meet the unique needs of the individuals in the home.

Across our organization success can be credited to the strong relationships we have developed with our various stakeholders (individuals served, family members and guardians, our Board of Directors and       business partners, our Management Team and those who fund us). We encourage input and participation from every stakeholder segment in our planning, support, delivery and evaluation of services. We know that input from each one is critical to our continuing mission.

The varying and complex health needs of those in our care sometimes require visits from the local Visiting Nurse Association (VNA). Having the opportunity to spend time with people in their homes, allows the nurses’ unique perspective into what each person’s life is like. We recently receive this letter from a nurse visiting a patient who lives at our ABI program:

“I just wanted to take the time to acknowledge your wonderful staff! I have been there at all different times, and am always greeted promptly and politely at the door, and given a thorough report. My patient is always wheeled to her room for me, and I am offered supplies and assistance. I can tell your staff really knows and cares about the residents. Every inch of the home is spotless, and so well organized. The staff have been so helpful to me, and always give me accurate information and are receptive to any suggestions. Friday when I called, one of the staff was so helpful by offering to hold lunch until I did my visit. Because it is such a distance, the consideration and accommodating of my schedule means a lot. This is the best home I have been to. I look forward to my visits. You have to be doing something right to have such fabulous people working so well to make a difference in the lives of the residents. There is so much respect, dignity, and compassion. Keep up the good work!”

This letter reminds us of just how lucky we are to have such dedicated, hardworking staff, giving tremendous amounts of effort every day, to be supportive and to make the lives of the people we care for more comfortable and meaningful. We are grateful for the hard work of our staff and appreciate the input of our community business partners.

Carolyn’s Work with Skill Corps in Kenya

In our last edition of Connecting Concepts Carolyn Mueller shared with us her hopes for her trip to Kenya. In this edition Carolyn tells us about her work at the Kaizora Institute:

The main focus of our visit to the school in Nairobi was to implement Direct Instruction (DI) throughout the school. DI is a skill the students need to transition into mainstream/inclusion schools. The idea was to teach peer awareness and group work. We began by observing classroom interactions between peer groups. I was amazed to see how knowledgeable the teachers were in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and how dedicated they are to their students. It was truly inspiring. The school operated beautifully and just needed support utilizing group work. The Kaizora consultants had some knowledge of how DI works, but were unable to use it successfully in the classroom.

After a day of observing, our team developed atraining on DI. We reviewed the main concepts, why it is important, focusing on choral responses and the use of scripted lessons. Our training involved questions to     encourage staff to discuss how they currently run group work and compare it to the DI concepts.

The next day I gave a presentation on developing scripts. We based scripts on research but found the scripts very wordy. It became evident that the scripts would not work across the school. The scripts only seemed to be successful in the advanced classroom.

Upon further research we found that minimal research has been conducted on DI in special needs classrooms. We decided to share resources and develop a DI curriculum that would be successful for this school. We used role playing activities and socratic questioning to specify the scripts to the needs of the students and school.

Our script was sustainable across the entire school. Once the teachers became fluent in the scripts the students began choral responding, working together, and turn taking. The student’s peer awareness increased tremendously!

Working together, Kaizora and Skill Corps staff found a way for students and teachers to maintain the skills taught long after we fly away. It was extremely exciting to see how quickly the teachers learned how to implement DI successfully.

Through this opportunity, I learned the importance of sustainability. It was amazing to be a part of work that hasn’t been done before.

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Cooperative for Human Services

Cooperative for Human Services