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CHS News

Prader-Willi Syndrome Residential Program Available Soon in Andover, MA


Families affected by PWS, in partnership with Cooperative For Human Services, are planning to provide person-centered services in a newly renovated home.

About the Services  

The five-bedroom, three bath colonial home is located in the heart of beautiful Andover, Massachusetts within walking distance of town activities and civic resources.

Supports provided include highly-trained 24-hour direct care, transportation, an experienced Clinical Supports team, healthcare coordination and nursing care, and service coordination with the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Program offers a “food safe” environment.

Collaborate to customize and design person-centered services to meet the unique needs of your family member with Prader-Willi Syndrome.  Support services are flexible to anticipate change and choices, customized and designed to provide a full life.  Great opportunity for a parent adviser role in the program.

About Cooperative For Human Services

Families seeking services will partner with us to create unique supports for young adults with PWS. The Cooperative for Human Services Inc. is a multi-service, non-profit organization known for progressive thinking, transparency, creative care approaches and innovative use of technologies. To learn more about the agency, visit www.cooperativeforhs.org or call 781-538-4626 ext. 231.


CHS Expands Its Residential Services


Three young women with developmental disabilities moved into their new home located in Saugus, MA, bringing with them high energy and a keen interest to explore their new community. The residential program offering support on a 24-hour basis is one of only a very few that have opened in recent years in eastern Massachusetts.

Cooperative For Human Services continually uses a creative problem-solving approach to design  services for people with disabilities and housing is a critical component of these services. The four-bedroom  home is located in an upscale residential neighborhood near parks, shopping, entertainment and civic venues that serve as a springboard for individuals to connect to their new community. The women are supported by a veteran team of clinicians, healthcare professionals and direct support staff who are focused on their need for social inclusion. Staff assist the individuals to create personalized goals and programs that help each woman explore and participate in activities of their interest in the local area.

Staff and the individuals hosted a barbecue for family and friends in their spacious backyard the day after moving in to acknowledge their more independent lifestyle and to also celebrate their birthdays (which all happen to occur in the same month!).

Family members were especially pleased that the women live in a beautiful, newly renovated home with many places for gathering as well as private spaces for quiet conversation.

Carolyn Mueller, Board Certified Behavioral Analyst and Clinical Coordinator works directly with each person served. “It’s been exciting to open this new home for the individuals and I have enjoyed watching new friendships form among the women. Everyone is getting along well, they are kind to their housemates and enjoy going out together.”

Later this fall a fourth individual will join the household and receive supports as she transitions into her new home.

New PEX Card System Empowers Individuals



Cooperative for Human Services closely follows its twelfth Guiding Principle, “Work in partnership with others to maximize resources and alleviate duplication of effort” by continually seeking out new technologies to achieve its goals. Currently, the company serves as Representative Payee for over 150 individuals in its Residential, Individual Support Services and Guardianship programs. This requires CHS to manage, monitor, and document by hand, all spending of each individual’s monthly Social Security funds, other income and monetary gifts.

Historically, this financial process had been a de-centralized process monitored by field managers responsible for oversight of individual funds through direct access to the person’s bank account. On a regular basis, managers accessed and distributed spending funds to each individual, reconciled receipts and provided education to the individuals served about positive budgeting skills.

After researching new developments in the financial management field, Glen Charney*, Chief Financial Officer, identified the PEX card system as a way to consolidate and centralize funds management in the CHS main office, while reducing cash on-hand and alleviate processing of paper receipts in the field. With the PEX system, record keeping transitioned to the main office, managers no longer physically visited banks to act as signers for individual’s bank accounts, and the process saved significant time. The new system empowered individuals to manage their personal finances more independently, while also providing a higher level of security and accountability for funds.

The PEX card system looks and works like a credit card. It allows CHS to fund a card for each individual on a weekly basis based on their unique financial goals. The card is reset each week to the maximum allocation and if an individual wishes to make a larger, one-time purchase for items such as clothing or furniture, the amount can be increased above the individuals’ weekly spending maximum. This flexibility feature was especially important for ease of use. The card can be used anywhere credit cards are accepted and removes the need to retain large amounts of cash-on-hand in people’s homes where it can be subject to loss. Since credit cards are more prominently used in the community than cash, this also helps individuals prepare to live in a cashless society.

For those situations where credit cards are not accepted, managers request cash for the special purchase or event. Weekly receipts for each card are automatically generated by PEX and using those records, the CHS Finance Department pays the monthly PEX bill from each person’s fund. The company can more efficiently monitor spending for individuals and provide feedback on financial trends to the managers. There are additional controls included in the system such as the ability to restrict the amount spent at one particular store, if needed, to ensure that funds are spent appropriately and to support the individual’s success in learning money management skills.

The PEX card system has been in use in the Residential Services programs since January and will be implemented in the Individual Supports Services and Guardianship Programs later this year. To date, the program has greatly streamlined the process for funding individuals served and has also significantly improved record keeping. Shifting the financial responsibilities from field managers to the Finance Department has allowed the managers more time to meet the needs of the people served rather than divert attention to the administrative function. It is a win-win situation for everyone.

*Content contributed by Glen Charney, Chief Financial Officer, Cooperative for Human Services Inc.


Love Endures


On an unusually warm February evening, during the ride back to their apartment, Sonja mentioned that their wedding anniversary was coming up in June and that it would be big one.  “It’s 30 years”, she told me.

“Really?!”, I asked, “do you guys want to do anything?”

“Yes”, said Bob, “we want to renew our wedding vows”.

I tried hard not to hit the car in front of me.

And that’s how The Wedding of the Century came to be (actually, The Second Wedding of the Century).

Sonja and Bob are attached to the Cooperative for Human Services (CHS) whose mission reads, in part, to “…provide programs and services that support community inclusion, personal enrichment and quality of life for individuals with intellectual, developmental and related disabilities…”

On June 15, 2018, they celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in style. They arrived at Sacred Heart Parish – where they’d originally been married – in a limousine.  Bob tires easily now so he sat in a pew near the altar until he was met by Sonja, who was escorted by Kevin Leahy – the Executive Director of the Agency. When asked if was nervous, Bob said, “no, I already did this once”.

After they’d shared a kiss – amid loud cheers and clapping from all of their guests – there was the reception. Bob’s favorite part was the cake. He wanted to smear it on Sonja’s face but being the perfect gentleman that he is, he did not. Sonja’s favorite part was the dancing: she is particularly fond of The Electric Slide.

But things haven’t always been so easy for Bob and Sonja.  They dated for several years before they became engaged.  They went to a store to buy what Sonja thought was a promise ring.  The sales clerk told her that it was an engagement ring and right there, Bob got down on one knee.  He had practiced with CHS staff to learn just how to do it. Their wedding was talked about for months afterward not only by the couple, but by the many CHS staff who had arranged it.

Statistically, persons with disabilities are 4 to 10 times more likely than non-disabled persons to become victims of violence, abuse, or neglect.  Both Bob and Sonja are part of those statistics.  During their first year of marriage, Sonja’s past caught up with her.  She became so distraught that it caused depression, resulting in hospitalization.  CHS staff supported her throughout.

Bob’s issues, coupled with an inability to articulate what he was experiencing, caused him to lash out in inappropriate ways and again, CHS staff was there modeling correct behavior, providing counseling and adding extra staff in the home.

When Bob became ill, CHS again circled the wagons.  Bob has weekly doctor’s appointments.  CHS Staff arranges all of his appointments, provides transportation and meets with the hospital staff.  CHS staff is with the couple 7 days per week to ensure their well-being.  There are also clinicians who check in weekly regarding their emotional health.

Marriage is a difficult enterprise in the best of circumstances. It entails compromise and honesty, while still trying to maintain a sense of individuality.  Bob and Sonja make it look easy.  That is a testament not only to them, but to the countless CHS staff who have helped them navigate the institution of marriage.

Congratulations to Bob and Sonja; may you have many more years of wedded bliss.

Cooperative For Human Services Renews MA License and Certification and Continues Legacy of Exceptional Ratings


Cooperative For Human Services announced that it received renewal of its two-year License and Certification from the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Office of Quality Enhancement.  The company met 100% of the required licensing indicators and 98% of the certification indicators, which continues the organization’s legacy of achieving consecutive, outstanding ratings for over a decade.

In a published report released by the Department of Developmental Disabilities, numerous commendations were noted including, “All of the people surveyed were very well supported to maintain relationships with family and friends. Of particular note was staff knowledge and support for people’s friend and family relationships.  Staff were very knowledgeable about who was important in people’s lives and were instrumental in maintaining relationships.” 

 The commendations also focused on the organization’s use of technologies that encourage greater independence for the individuals served.  “There was significant evidence that people were supported through the use of a variety of assistive devices or tools to enable them to maintain independence.”

The report summarized its findings about the company, The agency continues to support responsive, robust and effective quality assurance and strategic planning processes, enabling CHS to look critically at itself, and its services.  …behavior plans, human rights, healthcare and related supports received a met rating reflecting the effectiveness of clinical/nursing oversight/systems, as well as the attention and training of direct care staff and program managers.”  

At the conclusion of the DDS Service Enhancement Meeting  which serves as a recap of the quality enhancement process with CHS staff, Steve Goldberg, QE Team Leader, summarized his findings on a personal note by stating that he found a “very positive vibe in the company and more importantly, that the people served are happy.” His team members unanimously agreed. The complete report is available at mass.gov/dds.

Advocacy Bootcamp


Northeast Region of Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change is delighted to invite primary caregivers of young children (birth to age 10) who have developmental disabilities, chronic illnesses, and/or complex medical needs to apply! Advocacy Bootcamp builds foundational advocacy skills so that participants can empower their children to lead rich, meaningful, and exciting lives.

All application materials must be submitted by August 1st, 2018. Space is limited.

For more information visit http://mfofc.org/advocacy-bootcamp/

To apply visit https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSefvnqrOM3gTRLvSATMp2xagVgDqoweUpIzpQjS2LsXWWbOsQ/viewform

Kevin J. Leahy Recipient of Leadership Award from Arc of Massachusetts


On May 10, 2018 members of The Arc of Massachusetts conducted their annual meeting and recognized Kevin J. Leahy, Executive Director of The Cooperative for Human Services, Inc. for his industry leadership in the field of human services and his lifelong achievements in sustained advocacy. The Arc of Massachusetts, founded more than 60 years ago, is a charitable organization which represents the interests of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Kevin accepted the Leadership Award and addressed the audience by reminding them of the courage and passion of a small group of families, led by progressive mothers, who dared to envision a very different life for people with developmental disabilities. At a time when only institutionalization was offered, these families stubbornly held to their vision of a more integrated life for their children and refused to give in to social norms. Not only was the ARC born of this spirit, these families created the very building blocks that today support social inclusion for people with all types of disabilities.

Kevin has over thirty years of clinical and management experience in the areas of human services, education and has been a lifelong advocate for people with disabilities. Kevin has held the position of Executive Director at the Cooperative for Human Services since 2000 and had significantly grown the organization into a multi-disciplined, privately-held non-profit company. Kevin is active in the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers and is a past president of the Massachusetts Council of Human Services Providers and the Massachusetts Association of Rehabilitation Providers where he was the recipient of their Lifetime Achievement Award. Kevin served as a US delegate to the Vatican World Conference on Disabilities and continues his advocacy work through lectures, education and family supports.


High School Seniors Volunteer at Jackson Farm


Each year seniors from Malden Catholic High School complete 90 hours of community service before graduation. Seniors Rory O’Donnell and Aidan Walters-Doyle chose to help out at the CHS Jackson Farm for three weeks this Spring. Alongside Charlie Radoslovich, our new Farm Manager, these young men completed many tasks helping CHS prepare for the summer season, including building new organic beds for vegetable seedlings, planting flowers for the new butterfly garden, and helping to landscape a new CHS Rose Garden in memory of individuals that have passed. They also had a chance to get to know some of our farm animals including our Nubian goats, rabbits, and chickens.

We are delighted that we were able to provide this opportunity for these seniors and look forward to future partnerships with Malden Catholic and other local High Schools. Thank you for all your help Rory and Aidan!











Community Connections: Crafting Comfort with SquashCares



On Saturday, April 21, 2018 Sydney Soloway, now a graduating senior at Dana Hall School in Wellesley, MA, organized and hosted the 4th annual SquashCares event. As a 14-year-old, Sydney was an avid squash player who also wanted to contribute to her community. Sydney began to recycle used equipment for those less fortunate but realized that the small rubber balls could not be reused. After some research, she discovered that she could sew the balls into fabric to create a weighted blanket. She gave the first blanket to her Autistic cousin who found it to be comforting and calming and this was how SquashCares was born. Soon after, Syndey approached CHS to become a recipient of some blankets and the relationship continued.

Each Spring, Sydney organizes a large sewing event at Dana Hall and volunteers come to assemble and sew the blankets, which are then donated to many non-profit organizations in New England. Gale Alles, CHS Operations Manager, participated and spoke to the volunteers about individuals supported by CHS who use the blankets with positive outcomes and thanked them for their participation. Sydney will graduate in June and continue her studies at Hamilton College in the fall. The non-profit she founded will continue on with the help of college groups, squash leagues and other supporters.

To learn more about SquashCares visit https://squashcares.org/.

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Cooperative for Human Services

Cooperative for Human Services