Google+ Followers

Monday, August 24, 2015

Labor secretary to join fight for $15 an hour minimum wage

(credit: The Huffington Post)
WASHINGTON -- Fast-food workers who are hoping to raise the minimum wage will find an ally in the Obama White House this week, with Labor Secretary Tom Perez traveling to Detroit on Tuesday (8.25) to show his solidarity with the so-called Fight for $15.

"I'm proud to stand with the Fight for 15 movement," Perez told The Huffington Post Monday. "And it really is a movement. It's for shared prosperity."

The union-backed Fight for $15 and its allies have roiled the service sector with intermittent strikes over the past three years, demanding a $15 wage floor and union recognition. The sight of large-scale protests has helped spur vast increases in the minimum wage in cities and states around the country, most recently in New York, where the state's wage board moved to set a $15 minimum for fast-food workers.
Some Michigan workers have a vested interest in the outcome. For example, the hourly pay of caregivers of those with disabilities or mental illness in Michigan is only $9.06 an hour. And, as funding from Michigan's general fund and Oakland County Community Mental Health is diminished, the chances of higher wages becomes more improbable, Jerry Wolffe, an advocate at large for those with disabilities added.

Perez' support of the workers shouldn't be read as an endorsement of a federal $15 wage floor -- the White House and Labor Department instead back a $12 proposal recently put forth by Congressional Democrats -- but the labor secretary said he views the Fight for $15 as a model for how workers can boost wages by banding together.

"People are increasingly understanding that they're taking it on the chin at work," Perez said. "If you battle your boss alone, it's a heck of a lot harder to succeed. But when you work in concert with fellow workers not just in your workplace but across sectors, that's how you succeed."

Perez plans to meet with Detroit workers from various fast-food chains as well as officials from the local branch of the AFL-CIO labor federation on Tuesday. Labor unions, and in particular the Service Employees International Union, have been instrumental in the fast-food strikes and local wage campaigns, pumping money and organizational support into them.

President Barack Obama has occasionally made a point of acknowledging the recent successes of fast-food workers in his economic speeches, but Perez' trip to Detroit may be the White House's clearest endorsement yet of the Fight for $15 campaign. The labor secretary's trip dovetails with a summit the White House will host in October around the concept of "worker voice," where officials plan to highlight the value of collective action in the workplace, including including ways that don't formally include labor unions and contracts.

That would presumably include the Fight for $15. Although backed by unions, the campaign so far has not unionized any fast-food restaurants. Instead, its success has come most explicitly through legislatures and the ballot box. While a $15 minimum wage seemed practically inconceivable not long ago, it is fast becoming the law in liberal cities such as Seattle and Los Angeles. Many states have rushed to pass more modest but still significant raises, with a majority of states now having a higher minimum wage than the federal level of $7.25. Michigan's minimum wage is $8.15 an hour, except for those who receives tips on their jobs.

With a federal minimum wage hike blocked by Republicans, the White House has been trying to encourage cities and states to raise the wage floor on their own in lieu of congressional action. Perez said he believes the $15 measures in large cities have been "very appropriate," though he added that local jurisdictions should know what's proper for their own economies.

"I believe the folks in those areas are in the best position to know what's best for their communities," he said. "I think we need a federal floor that gets people above the poverty line, but we also need actions elsewhere."

He added that the doomsday predictions about higher minimum wages haven't come to pass, pointing to Seattle, which he visited as the city enacted its $15 measure. By most accounts, the service industry is learning to live with the city's rising wage floor.

"I didn't see restaurants closing down," Perez said. "If the critics are correct, I should have brought a bag lunch."

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Voices of Disabilities: Futures Foundation Gala set for Oct. 9 in Troy

@Voices of Disabilities: Futures Foundation Gala set for Oct. 9 in Troy: The Futures Foundation's 17 th Annual Giving Back to the Futures Gala will be held on on   Friday, Oct. 9 at the San Marino Club i...

Futures Foundation Gala set for Oct. 9 in Troy

The Futures Foundation's 17th Annual Giving Back to the Futures Gala will be held on on  Friday, Oct. 9, at the San Marino Club in Troy. 

The foundation is the fundraising arm of the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, the second largest nonprofit in Michigan which provides services so some 5,000 people with disabilities and mental illness can live in the community.

The RJ Spangler Jazz Quartet will perform during the cocktail hour and The Pulse Band will fill the evening hours with music.

This year’s Gala will feature a silent auction. In the past, many MORC staff and/or departments contributed to the auction by submitting baskets representing a diverse array of items.

If you plan to submit an item, please let the Futures Foundation's Interim Executive Director Lindsay Calcatera or Director of Development Janaea Smith know as soon as possible so they can better plan for the event.  Also, if you know of any friends, businesses, or contacts who may be willing to submit an item for the silent auction, please let us know those as well.

Tickets for the event are $100 apiece. Call Smith at (586) 464 2610 to order tickets or any other information about the gala.

Jerry Wolffe, the writer-in-residence and advocate-at-large at MORC can be reached at (586) 263-8950.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Former President Carter says U.S. no longer a democracy

Former President Jimmy Carter (1976-80) says the Supreme Court case, Citizens United "violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members.

"So now we've just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election's over," Carter continued, according to The Intercept. "The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody's who's already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody who's just a challenger."
(posted by Jerry Wolffe)

Friday, July 31, 2015

About 20 percent of Amerians have a disability, USA Today says CDC reports

(posted by JERRY WOLFFE)

CDC: 1 in 5 American adults live with a disability

Jennifer Calfas, USA TODAY9:54 a.m. EDT July 31, 2015



One in five American adults have at least one kind of disability, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Thursday.

The study, drawn from 2013 data, says 53 million Americans have a disability.

“We know disability types and related challenges can vary,” said Elizabeth Courtney-Long, a health scientist with CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “In order to understand and address their needs, we need to understand their diverse circumstances. This report provides a snapshot into that.”

The findings come days after the 25th anniversary of the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits the discrimination of someone because of his or her disability in the workplace, transportation, telecommunications, and places of public accommodation, said Jerry Wolffe, an ADA Phase II Implementer who was trained by DOJ and EEOC to help implement and teach the law after it was signed 25 years ago.

The researchers defined a disability as a self-reported impairment in one or more of five areas: vision, cognition, mobility, self-care or independent living. For people to have one or several of these disabilities, the study says they have to identify with the specific qualifications the researchers defined in questions.

The study defines a disability with vision as blindness or difficulty in seeing with glasses on. A disability for the cognition category means having a hard time with memory or making decisions due to a physical, mental or condition. For mobility, a disability entails having difficulty while climbing stairs. A self-care category means needing help dressing or bathing, and an independent living disability was defined as needing help to run errands.

The study is also the first state-by-state analysis of Americans with disabilities from CDC. The report found Southern states often had higher percentages of people with disabilities. For example, in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, 31.5%, 31.4% and 31.4%, respectively, of the state adult population has a disability.


Southern states are also more likely to have chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.

The percentage of Americans in Midwestern and Northern states were nearly half those from Southern states. In Minnesota and Alaska, 16.4% and 17.7% of state residents, respectively, reported a disability.

The report also found adults who have lower education levels, lower income or are unemployed were more likely to have a disability. Broken down by race, the study revealed African American and Hispanic Americans were more likely to have a disability than white Americans.

Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability, a non-profit dedicated to the disabled community in the U.S., told USA TODAY the findings should be viewed to see how disability affects income and unemployment levels.

The non-profit's research has found that 20% of people with disabilities have a job, while 69% of people without disabilities are employed. However, younger Americans with disabilities have nearly the same access to education as children without disabilities, Glazer said. Glazer is optimistic that more educated and disabled individuals will lead to more employment among the disabled community.

"Where education goes, employment will follow," she said.

The CDC partners with several national and state disabilities programs, including the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program and the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability, among others.

Courtney-Long, a co-author on the CDC report, said she believes the report will allow public health officials to understand the prevalence of Americans with disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, which President George H.W. Bush signed into law on July 26, 1990, opened doors to people with disabilities to enter the workforce without discrimination and creation of more accessible locations and working conditions.

“By prohibiting discrimination and ensuring opportunity, the ADA has opened doors and brought dreams within reach,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch at an anniversary event on July 23. “It has made our workforce stronger and our society more inclusive. And it has enhanced our nation’s understanding and recognition of all that Americans with disabilities can achieve when they are given more and nothing less than an opportunity to contribute on equal terms.”

The findings also come during the Special Olympics World Games held in Los Angeles. About 6,500 athletes from 165 countries gathered this year for the event, which has occurred since 1968. Individuals with intellectual disabilities participate in the Games each year.

“My husband and I have seen Americans unite in so many ways across the country,” said first lady Michelle Obama at the Opening Ceremony on July 25. “These Games are a perfect reflection of that unity. They show us that we’re all in this together – that we can lift up our friends and neighbors, and that we can bring out the best in each other to reach even higher heights.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Program to employ those with disabilities found to be fraudulent

From Cable News Network
Jerry Wolffe's Voices Blog
The nation's premier federal program that provides work for people who are severely disabled is mired in widespread corruption, financial fraud and violations of the law, numerous sources tell CNN. And instead of helping the severely disabled find work, the taxpayer-funded agency is at times allowing jobs to be taken away from the disabled, the sources say.
AbilityOne, along with the nonprofit agency that manages its program for the severely disabled, SourceAmerica, are being investigated by authorities for illegal operations, financial fraud, mismanagement, operating in violation of the law, steering of contracts, and possibly obstruction of justice. Several inside sources tell CNN the program is among the worst cases of its type they've ever seen in a federal agency.
CNN has learned the U.S. Department of Justice has begun its own investigation into the various allegations. In addition, at least four separate inspectors general offices have active investigations into AbilityOne and SourceAmerica. The OIG from the General Services Administration, Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration are among those investigating, all led by the Office of Inspector General from the State Department.
What is AbilityOne?
The AbilityOne program was first created with ambitious, altruistic goals by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress in 1938 to help give jobs to the blind.
The AbilityOne program funnels about $3 billion per year of taxpayer money to fund contracts for goods and services across the country. For a company to get a contract with AbilityOne, 75 percent of that company's work must be performed by blind or severely disabled employees, who cannot work in a normal job.
But CNN has learned that as many as half the companies contracting with SourceAmerica under AbilityOne may be operating in violation of the law, without enough severely disabled employees, according to sources with knowledge of the program. There are no such allegations of wrongdoing with AbilityOne's contracts for blind people.
What this means is the program responsible for making sure severely disabled people are being hired with taxpayer money through federal contracts is not enforcing or following the law, according to numerous inside sources with knowledge of the organization.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Many automakers both domestic and foreign will help pay for hand controls to drive...


It's not supposed to be a secret but it seems that way: Many automakers will pay between $500 and $1,000 to help a person with a disability pay for hand controls or to offset the cost of a wheelchair lift if he or she buys a vehicle.
Here's a quick list of the companies and how to contact them, as posted on the Florida company Website of Harmar

Mobility Reimbursement Program

Many automobile manufacturers offer mobility programs established to provide cash reimbursements for the installation of adaptive equipment in any new vehicle purchase or lease. Please call the manufacturer's or visit their websites for more information.
  • Acura Mobility Program

    Acura Mobility Program

    The Acura Mobility Program is proud to support the mobility needs of drivers and passengers with physical disabilities. For more information, contact Acura Customer Service at 1-800-382-2238
  • Chrysler Automobility Program

    Chrysler Automobility Program

    The Chrysler Automobility Program provides up to $1,000 in financial assistance toward the installation of adaptive equipment on new Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles. Please contact Automobility Program Headquarters at (800) 255-9877 or any U.S. Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep dealership for more details.
  • Ford Mobility Program

    Ford Mobility Program

    Ford Mobility Motoring offers financial assistance of $1,200 toward the cost of the installation of adaptive equipment on a new Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle. The program also offers Ford Credit Mobility Financing and comprehensive Roadside Assistance. To begin the Ford Mobility Motoring process, contact the Ford Mobility Motoring Customer Care Center at 1-800-952-2248.
  • GM Mobility Program with OnStar

    GM Mobility Program with OnStar

    Get up to $1,000 reimbursement ($1,200 on Chevy Express/GMC Savana vans) PLUS 2 extra years of the OnStar safety and security service when you buy or lease an eligible new GM vehicle (except Cadillac) and install eligible adaptive equipment (e.g., hand controls, scooter hoist, wheelchair lift). Vehicle must be adapted and a claim submitted within 12 months of the vehicle purchase/lease date. To learn more, please visit our web site or call us toll-free at 1-800-323-9935 (TTY users 1-800-833-9935).
  • Honda Mobility Program

    Honda Mobility Program

    In addition to the printable format of the form on the Honda web site, forms are also available at your local Honda dealer or upon request from Automobile Customer Service at 1-800-999-1009.
  • Jaguar Mobility Program

    Jaguar Mobility Program

    The Jaguar Mobility Headquarters can assist in locating assessment centers, equipment dealers and installers, and potential resources for financial assistance. For further information on the Jaguar Mobility Program call 1-800-207-5517 or TTY 1-800-833-0312 .
  • Lexus Mobility Program

    Lexus Mobility Program

    This offer applies to all purchased or leased new 2001 and later Lexus vehicles. Leased vehicles require advance written approval from the lessor of adaptive equipment installations. Questions? Please call Lexus Customer Satisfaction at 1-800-255-3987 or 1-800-443-4999 (TDD).
  • Toyota Mobility Program

    Toyota Mobility Program

    The Toyota Mobility Program supports the mobility needs of Toyota owners and/or family members with physical disabilities. Please contact the Toyota Customer Assistance Center at 1-800-331-4331.
  • Volvo Mobility Program

    Volvo Mobility Program

    Mobility by Volvo is a logical extension of the Care by Volvo philosophy that travels from the Volvo retailer to your driveway. The goal is to assist persons who are mobility challenged or hearing impaired so their transportation needs can be met within the extraordinary comfort and safety of a specially adapted Volvo. To begin the process and learn more, you can contact the Mobility by Volvo Center at 1-800-803-5222.
  • Volkswagon Mobility Program

    Volkswagon Mobility Program

    Volkswagen will refund up to $1000 on the purchase or lease of a new Volkswagen vehicle if vehicle access or ramp equipment is installed. For more information, contact Volkswagen of America at 1-800-DRIVE VW.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Go on a “Magic Journey” with MORC Players

Box: Contact Deidre Mercer at (586) 263-8702 to purchase tickets for $10 each. People with Disabilities are admitted free.
The MORC Players, who received a $2,600 grant, will present the innovative play, “Magic Journeys: Where Imagination is King and Dreams Come True!” at 7 p.m. June 23 at the Troy Community Center.

It is the second year the 20 or so MORC Players have performed a play to showcase the creative abilities of people with cognitive and physical disabilities.

“We are hoping to get people from Oakland and Macomb counties to come in and be surprised by the level of enthusiasm and talent this program, “Magic Journeys,” will demonstrate,” said Lou Fazzini, the executive director and Founder of “All the World’s a Stage.”

The MORC Players received the $2,600 grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Anton Center in Mount Clemens before the players started practicing in April, Fazzini said.

“You give them a costume and they are just so happy to be part of an acting ensemble,” Fazzini said. “They find the good in everything.”

The first play last fall was such a success, he said. “It gave them an opportunity to do something that they probably haven’t had the chance to do before in their lives.”

This is a good thing for these performers on a number of levels, said Fazzini. “It creates an environment of safety and acceptance. It’s therapeutic.”

Before practicing for the play on Tuesdays for the past few months, the individuals attended a regular class on how to manage anger. “Then they come and perform and the disruptive behavior disappears and each person learns to be part of the ensemble and it’s a give-and-take relationship,” said volunteer instructor Deirdre Mercer.

“The MORC Players are so giving and have such empathy,” said Fazzini. “They have troubles but I have never seen a group of people who are so genuinely honest and appreciative.”

The play is not scripted but is an actor’s showcase. The actors/actresses are going to present and demonstrate acting skills they’ve learned. “We worked a lot on nonverbal and pantomime skills and some of the performance will get the audience involved to try and guess what someone is trying to show or be through pantomime.

Our troupe members do something very creative, not the standard way; they think out of the box and based on last year’s pilot performance everyone has a good time and grows closer and the audience sees performers, not people with disabilities.

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at (586) 263-8950.




Monday, June 8, 2015

Document for state, local governments on ADA published by Justice Department


The Department of Justice has published a new technical assistance document, ADA Update: A Primer for State and Local Governments, to help State and local government officials understand how Title II of the ADA applies to their programs, activities, and services. This 16-page illustrated guide addresses general nondiscrimination requirements, such as provisions relating to program accessibility, service animals, communicating with people with disabilities, other power-driven mobility devices, and policies and procedures. The document also addresses how the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design apply to the built environment, including existing buildings and facilities, new construction, and alterations.

To find out more about the ADA, visit or call the Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD).

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A vast majority of nation's people with disabilities receive NO public financial help

MORC Writer-in-Residence, Advocate-at-large

The Madison House Autism Foundation Website via The DD News Blog reported on June 1, 2015 that “of the 3.775 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, 77 percent of them do not receive publicly funded residential supports."

"Of the 23 percent, or 1.127 million with I/DD who do not receive publicly funded supports, 56 percent live with family and 44 percent do not live with family. Of the 44 percent who do not live with family, 27 percent of those live in their own home. The other 73 percent live in group homes, foster homes, nursing facilities and less than 1,000 live in psychiatric facilities.”

Saturday, May 16, 2015

MORC housing specialist wins award

Layne wins Corrie Bair award from state disability rights coalition
David Layne won the Corrie Bair Building Inclusive Communities Award from the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition for 20 years of advocacy for affordable accessible homes for people with disabilities.
"I was so honored," said Layne, the Nursing Facility Transitions specialist at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. Layne, of Rochester who has twin 19-year-old sons, Jacob and Joshua, has worked for MORC as a contract housing specialist since 2009.
"To hold such people in esteem and have them give you an award is an honor of a lifetime," said Layne referring to retiring MDRC Director Norm DeLisle and assistant director RoAnn Chaney, formerly of the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living.
He was nominated for the award by the Michigan Disability Housing Workgroup which meets every other month in Lansing.
"The goal of all of this is to build inclusive communities," said Layne, who helps transition people from nursing homes to their own places through Mi-Choice or with the assistance of the Disability Network, formerly Centers for Independent Living.
"I've worked on finding affordable, accessible housing for people with disabilities since the 1990s," he said. "I used to line up group homes for MORC, the State of Michigan and Oakland and Macomb counties."
He is a licensed broker and has been a real estate agent since 1977.
"There's a huge housing shortage for those with disabilities and the elderly at a time when rents are going up," said Layne, noting an average one-bedroom apartment costs $600 to $700 a month and a person on Supplemental Security Income receives $733 a month, making it financially impossible for a person with a disability to afford to rent a home.
He said the Olmstead ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court found a person with a disability has a civil right to housing and it is not an entitlement, Layne said. "It is a civil right to live in the community and receive services when possible," he said.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said "we have an obligation to provide affordable housing," said Layne. "Inherent in the Olmsted ruling is the obligation that housing choices are made available to the elderly and those with disabilities."
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586 263 8950.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Caregiver Appreciation Day to feature son of Motown legend

(from left: Claudreen Jackson, her son, Pervice Jackson, Jr, and Pervice's sister, Stephanie. Pervice will perform at MORC's Caregiver Appreciation Day on Thursday.


The 33rd annual Macomb-Oakland Regional Center’s Caregiver Appreciation Day and Fashion Show will honor 800 caregivers in attendance at the Palazzo Grande Banquet in Shelby Township Thursday.
P.J. Jackson, son of the late Motown legend Pervice Jackson, Sr., of the Spinners will model and sing at the event from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The event will feature 100 caregivers and people with disabilities modeling together in what is known as Detroit’s biggest fashion show, the MORC Caregiver Fashion Show. Jackson Jr., of Oak Park, has autism. He will model and sing with his mother, Claudreen Jackson of Detroit, his sister, Stephanie Jackson of Detroit, who 0is a caregiver with a local nonprofit.
“He was always proud of P.J., said Claudreen. “ All of our people with disabilities have overcome a great deal, as have their caregivers.”
“We have thousands of proud parents,” said MORC Executive Director Gerald Provencal, who along with others was instrumental in closing 12 state institutions where 13,000 people with disabilities were housed and moved them into homes in the community with supports needed to thrive. MORC also has taught officials in 54 countries of the 196 in the world to close institutions and let those with disabilities live in the community.
In total, some 8,000 caregivers are employed by the MORC system of 100 nonprofits as well as family caregivers. They support 5,000 people with disabilities in Macomb and Oakland counties.
Models were Kohl’s clothes provided by the retailer for the runway. Kohl associate volunteers from the Rochester Hills Kohl’s store volunteer their time to support the event. Tickets are available at (248) 276-8109 and cost $35. MORC is raising funds to cover the costs for caregivers, who earn an average of $9.06 an hour, to attend.
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at MORC. He can be reached at (586) 263-8950.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Voices of Disabilities: Feds announce new rule to improve public transit f...

Voices of Disabilities: Feds announce new rule to improve public transit f...: By JERRY WOLFFE WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation announced today the publication of a Final Rule clarifying that publ...

Feds announce new rule to improve public transit for those with disabilities


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation announced today the publication of a Final Rule clarifying that public transportation providers are required to make reasonable modifications to their polices, practices and procedures to avoid discrimination and ensure programs and services are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
“Ensuring equal access to public transportation enables individuals with disabilities to have access to jobs, school, medical care and a better quality of life,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Making reasonable modifications to transit services helps bring everyone on the path to access the ladders of opportunities that all Americans strive for.”
The Final Rule applies to public entities providing fixed route, dial-a-ride and complementary paratransit services. It establishes that an individual’s disability cannot preclude a public transportation entity from providing full access to its service except where doing so would fundamentally alter the service. It also provides 27 examples of what a reasonable modification is and is not, and clarifies the definition of origin-to-destination service.
“Today’s rule simply codifies and clarifies what many in the transit community are already doing to accommodate their riders who have disabilities,” said Acting Federal Transit Administrator Therese McMillan. “We are making sure that reasonable modifications are part of transit provider policies and more uniformly applied while keeping decision-making in their hands.”
Further, the Final Rule brings clarity to the issue of origin-to-destination policy which has had varied interpretations and was unevenly applied throughout the Nation. The new rule requires paratransit providers that primarily operate curb-to-curb service make reasonable modifications for those passengers who need assistance beyond the curb so that they can use the service. A significant number of paratransit operators already follow such an origin-to-destination policy.
Public transportation entities receiving Federal financial assistance have long had the obligation to provide reasonable modifications under various laws and regulations. This Final Rule revises and fills identified gaps in the DOT’s regulations. It becomes effective on July 13, 2015.
- See more at:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Law enforcement officers to receive crisis intervention training

The first of two, five-day Crisis Intervention Team trainings for Oakland County Sheriff Deputies, and other local law enforcement begins on Monday (May 4) at 1690 Brown Road in Auburn Hills.

A second training was scheduled for the week of May 18 under a $275,000 Jail Diversion grant from the Michigan Department of Community Health. CIT is strategically designed to promote positive outcomes during crisis situations that require police assistance.  

“We are especially thankful for the State’s vision in supporting this valuable initiative, as well as the opportunity to provide local law enforcement officers with the necessary resources to help ensure their success in assisting people in crisis,” said Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority Executive Director and CEO Willie Brooks.

Deputies who participate in CIT will receive 40 hours of comprehensive mental health training, which includes information about mental illness and developmental disabilities, opportunities to speak with advocates, individuals with mental illness and their families, and participation in role-playing scenarios.

“It is well worth mentioning that each of the deputies receiving CIT training at both sessions in May is doing so on a volunteer basis,” said Oakland County Sheriff, Michael Bouchard. “Their dedication to be better prepared when responding to individuals in crisis, especially those who have a mental health disorder, is an accurate reflection of the level of commitment to community safety adhered to by the entire Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.”  

Law enforcement agencies throughout the country that utilize CIT have experienced significant reductions in the number of officer and personal injuries, as well as a decrease in arrest rates.

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large of the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586-263-8950.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Walkers raise $25,000 for Autism Society of Oakland County


TROY -- Some 659 people walked around the Somerset Collection in Troy to raise $25,000 for the Autism Society of Oakland County, said the society's president, Barbara Brennan.
The walk took place on the first floor of the posh shopping center off of Big Beaver Road on Sunday.
The money will go for "resources and programs in Oakland County for those with autism," said Brennan, who has two sons, aged 22 and 10 with autism.
"We are focusing on helping adults 18 and over which is an under served population," she said.
The society began in 1985 and Brennan has worked there for some 16 years. It provides no direct care but it "collaborates and helps create programs to improve the lives of those with autism," she said.
One-in-68 children being born in the United States is diagnosed with autism, a complex developmental disability that affects the individual's ability to communicate and interact with others.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Voices of Disabilities: New law goes into effect soon to help disabled fin...

Voices of Disabilities: New law goes into effect soon to help disabled fin...: By JERRY WOLFFE The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act became law last July 22 and goes into effect in the nation's 50 states th...

New law goes into effect soon to help disabled find jobs


The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act became law last July 22 and goes into effect in the nation's 50 states this July 1 with the goal of increasing the number of people with disabilities find meaningful jobs.
Mary Costillo of the Vocational Rehabilitation Department in Texas said only "one in five" people with a disability in this nation is employed, an astoundingly horrific economic and social situation for the estimated 58 million people in the United States who have a disability.
She criticized employers in her state saying Tuesday (4.28.2015) that employers are hiring "not based on a person's need." Thus, an environment of failure is being created. Apparently, employers have not been implementing reasonable accommodation in hiring people with disabilities as required by the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, she noted.
"We hope to change this," she said.
A Facebook page, Workforce Innovations and Opportunity Act, has been created to get the word out about the new law.
The LEAD Center, funded by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Policy, is hosting a four-part webinar series titled "WIOA From a Disability Perspective."
To participate in this webinar Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EST), go to
to participate in the webinar.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.
Congress passed the Act by a wide bipartisan majority; it is the first legislative reform in 15 years of the public workforce system.
Every year the key programs that form the pillars of WIOA help tens of millions of job seekers and workers to connect to good jobs and acquire the skills and credentials needed to obtain them. The enactment of WIOA provides opportunity for reforms to ensure the American Job Center system is job-driven—responding to the needs of employers and preparing workers for jobs that are available now and in the future, according to a press release.
WIOA supersedes the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and amends the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Wagner-Peyser Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In general, the Act takes effect on July 1, 2015, the first full program year after enactment, unless otherwise noted. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will issue further guidance on the timeframes for implementation of these changes and proposed regulations reflecting the changes in WIOA soon after enactment.
At a state and local level, Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) must engage in a unified strategic planning process that will enhance their focus on cross-system collaboration (Title I Adult and Youth programs and services with Wagner-Peyser Employment Services and Title I of the Rehabilitation Act programs).
WIOA represents new opportunities for support for job seekers with disabilities that increases responsibility of WIBs and American Job Centers to be fully accessible and offer necessary accommodations to provide job seekers with disabilities effective and meaningful participation in the use of skills training and career pathways for 21st century jobs.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Hundreds to run in ‘Miles for Smiles 5K’ to raise funds to help those with disabilities

Registration deadline for the 5k May 2nd event at Independence Oaks Park is April 29. The fee to run or walk is $30. Sign up at or contact Jennifer Lasceski at (586) 416-2075


A 5K run/walk at the Independence Oaks County Park in Clarkston on May 2 is expected to have about 300 participants with the goal of raising at least $10,000 to provide for dental care for people with disabilities that the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, Inc. serves.
It is the fourth year for the event and about 200 people ran or walked last year along the paved path in the park.
“It’s very hard to find dentists because a lot of our individuals need to be sedated to get dental work and that’s not covered by any insurance or Medicaid,” said Kerri Pfaffenberger, a speech pathologist at MORC, based in Clinton Township.
She said it can cost $1,000 alone just to sedate someone with a severe disability so a dentist can work on their teeth.
Too many times people with disabilities do not receive proper dental care and hygiene and end up in hospitals with systemic infections that result from an abscessed tooth, costing as much as $100,000, when early treatment could have prevented hospitalization.
The deadline to register for the event is April 29. Check-in for participants will be at Twin Chimneys Shelter beginning at 8:30 a.m. The 5k, or 3.1 mile race, begins at 10 a.m. There also is a one-quarter mile walk that begins shortly after the runners take off.
“We walk the course a couple of days ahead of time,” Pfaffenberger said, noting it is wheelchair accessible. “This year we are having the MORC Choir sing the National Anthem before the 10 a.m. start.”
“We were looking for alternative ways to raise money but the 5K seemed to be a very good fund-raising event,” said Pfaffenberger. “There are a lot of people in the community who participate because they enjoy the park, the cause and they know about MORC helping those with disabilities,” she said.
Awards will be presented to the top three male and female 5K run finishers overall and top three in each division: 14 & under, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70 and over. Separate awards will be given for top three 5k overall walkers, Pfaffenberger said.
Prizes also include medals and gift certificates to different running stores. A “tin can” raffle will be on-site too that day.
“Response from the public has been wonderful,” said Pfaffenberger.

Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at (586) 263-8950.