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CHS News

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



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.

Improving life for those we serve while protecting wildlife


In March of 2017 National Wildlife Federation (NWF) recognized and celebrated the efforts of Cooperative for Human Services Inc. at the Farm in creating a garden space that improves habitat for birds, butterflies, frogs and other wildlife by providing essential elements needed by all wildlife – natural food sources, clean water, cover and places to raise young. This certification also makes the Farm a Certified Wildlife Habitat® and part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a national effort to restore critical habitat for pollinators.

CHS’s Wildlife Habitat at the Farm is an effort to increase the wildlife diversity in our backyard and create an environment where people can explore the outdoors and be in touch with nature. Through conscientious design we have created gardens and outdoor seating areas that are visually appealing and at the same time provide habitat for wildlife. These things have been accomplished by working with the existing landscape features.

The Farm pond provides food, water and shelter for local wildlife, which we take into consideration as we maintain the area. We have chosen to leave a grassy border untouched along the edge of the pond, allowing that piece to remain natural giving animals shelter as they make their way to the pond. We are also attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to our vegetable and flower gardens by adding a variety of native plants.

The NWF is America’s largest conservation and education organization, inspiring Americans to protect wildlife. The Garden for Wildlife program encourages planting with native species, discourages the use of chemical pesticide and recognizes efforts to provide habitat for wildlife, including pollinators. David Mizejewski, NWF Naturalist says, “Whether you garden in a suburban yard, an apartment balcony, a ten-acre farm, a schoolyard, a business park, or anything in         between, everyone can create a home for local wildlife. Turning your space into a Certified Wildlife Habitat is fun, easy and makes a big difference for neighborhood wildlife,” he added.

For more information on gardening for wildlife and details on how you or your an entire community can become certified, visit www.nwf.org/habitiat or call 1-800-822-9919

Expanding Opportunity for Participation and Belonging


Cooperative for Human Services Inc. operates under the deeply held belief that all people have dignity and value. We work to ensure each person we support, in any of our programs, is given the fullest opportunity for social inclusion and is encouraged to make independent choices.

Learning each individual’s story, their likes and their dislikes, is crucial in designing services unique to the needs of that particular person. Understanding that person’s story enables us to develop an individualized plan that allows for the continuation of activities while expanding interests.

The opening of our ABI program and acquisition of our Dartmouth Street Hall and the Farm, have each provided unique and unexpected benefits. Each location is providing greater opportunities for the people we serve than we first envisioned. We find that we are able to do much more for the individuals we support than we had hoped.

An incredible amount of effort has gone into making Dartmouth Street Hall a place where everyone feels welcome. The Hall is large enough to include each individual, regardless of the intensity of supports needed.

The fully accessible design of our ABI program makes socializing and group activities more open, enabling us to offer a greater variety of programming.

Our work to revitalize the Farm is endless but, helping to care for the animals, or in the gardens, taking a hike on the trails or just sitting in the open space of the Farm offers those we serve a sense of calm and of belonging.

The design and development of person specific services, our caring, supportive staff and the CHS belief in inclusion for all individuals, encourages them to become more inspired and explore new opportunities while remaining connected to the things they enjoy.

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Cooperative for Human Services

Cooperative for Human Services