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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mental Health First Aid Training has far reach



By JERRY WOLFFE

          OXFORD -- The Tri-County Mental Health First Aid group has provided Mental Health First Aid training to more than 2,000 people.
The group is offering the training for free through September 30 as it works toward the goal set by the National Council for Behavioral Health to make MHFA training as common as CPR and First Aid.
The free training was made possible by a grant that Training and Treatment Innovations, Inc. (TTI) received from the Michigan Department of Community Health. The grant money allowed TTI, Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority, the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center and other collaborating agencies to form the Tri-County Mental Health First Aid group, helping to ensure that the optimum number of people are trained in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.
The training teaches people about mental health issues and instructs them in what to do if they encounter someone having a mental health issue or crisis. There are two types of mental health first aid. The first is for anyone the community while the second is for adults who work with children and teenagers.
A calendar of training date and locations is available at www.ttiinc.org.
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence and advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586 263-8950.


A life changed by generosity



Nonprofit builds accessible bathroom for West Bloomfield teen with cerebral palsy

Posted: 07/24/14, 3:08 PM EDT |
Thanks to a group of volunteers, a 14-year-old girl can now use an accessible bathroom in her home built by volunteers with “Rebuilding Together,” a nonprofit.
Molly McCullough has cerebral palsy and is non-verbal. She lives in her family’s West Bloomfield two-story home with her parents and her four siblings.
There was no accessible bathroom on the first floor of their home and it was becoming increasingly difficult for Molly’s parents, Scott and Kristen, to give her a bath or use the toilet since it meant carrying her up a flight of stairs to the small bathroom.
Macomb-Oakland Regional Center support coordinator Karen Hollingsworth, who visits the home monthly, helped the family find a way to build an accessible bathroom for Molly in the garage. Rebuilding Together had a budget of $2,000 for the project. Hollingsworth, who has worked for MORC since July 1972, said materials cost $1,300 and “donated” materials and labor was worth about $13,000.
The room is nine-feet by 10-feet with beautiful tile on the floors and walls. It also has a roll-in shower and a roll-in-shower chair that was donated for Molly’s use.
Quotes from home remodelers for an accessible bathroom were in the range of “$20,000 and above,” she said. However, Hollingsworth’s son-in-law, Chuck Riley, and her daughter, Becky, volunteer through “Rebuilding Together.”
An application was made to Rebuilding Together and a gift of $2,000 was approved.
Each department in the Home Depot store in White Lake Township gave discounts on materials and there was an additional corporate discount, she said.
“The original supply list was under $2,000 but when the discounts were applied, it was under $1,000.”
Volunteers included electricians, plumbers and other trade workers who installed everything for the bathroom, including drywall, insulation and extending heating ducts to warm the bathroom.
The 90-square-foot bathroom contains a shower that is six-feet wide and three-feet deep as well as a vanity, toilet and sink. Parts of the walls were reinforced so grab bars can be installed, if needed. The donated roll-in-shower chair would have cost about $2,000 if the McCullough family had to purchase one.
Hollingsworth noted that Molly is ecstatic with the new addition to their home. “Now that her new bathroom is done, Molly has had her first shower in it and loved it,” McCullough’s mother said.
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence, advocate-at-large for the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586 263-8950.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Oakland County residents featured in Emmy-winning documentary

Oakland County residents featured in Emmy-winning documentary

Mairin OĆ­Brien of Milford (right) and Christopher Dyczewski of Rochester Hills were among four people with disabilities served by Macomb Oakland Regional Center who were in a film about their photograph that won an Emmy. Kay Young - Special to The Oakland Press
A film about four Oakland County residents with disabilities and their love for photography has won an Emmy.
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Michigan Emmy Chapter recognized Detroit Public Television with seven Emmy awards for documentaries, including one in the area of arts and entertainment.
The winning documentary about those served by the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, “Detroit Performs,” a program broadcast on PBS television, was filmed in October and aired Dec. 10, said MORC Project Director Patricia Sims Sunisloe. The winning entry was produced by Sarah Zientarski, an independent filmmaker.
The parents of Olivia Pas, one of the 4,500 people with disabilities served by MORC offered their forested land in Milford Township for a photo shoot by Pas, Frank Britt of Waterford, Mairin O’Brien, of Milford, and Christopher Dyczewski of Rochester Hills, Sims Sunisloe said.
The photographers walked through wooded areas on the Pas’ property and took pictures of the splendor of the forest, a variety of magnificent trees, mushrooms, and logs. Their efforts on film provided the winning combination for the 2014 Emmy.
“We’ve been holding photography classes since 2005,” Sims Sunisloe added. “We have shot pictures all over southeastern Michigan. We go out all seasons. We usually have eight on a photo shoot but this time we had four.”
Some of the pictures from shoots are framed and sold at art shows.
“We did a show at the Scarab Club behind the Detroit Institute of Arts last September where the art works were for sale,” said Sims Sunisloe. “There definitely were some sales made at the time.”
Being involved in photography changes the lives of these individuals, she added. “They feel passion, purpose and are satisfied by learning what they are capable of doing when the expectations are expanded.
“The photographers know their art is appreciated by other people because it is being bought,” Sims Sunisloe said. “People aren’t just buying art because it’s created by people with disabilities, but it is good art.
“To me, the award is symbolic of how far people with disabilities have come in crossing through into new areas and standing side-by-side with professionals and they too will share all of life’s glories.”
Jeff Forster, executive vice president of productions and operations, lauded the Emmy winners.
“Detroit Public Television’s production effort is unique in Michigan,” he said. “The professionals who were recognized for their excellence with Emmy Awards are the team members, collaborators and partners who work together to make our programs distinctive.”
Zientarski accepted the Emmy at the Sound Board Detroit in the MotorCity Casino.
When hearing that MORC photographers were part of winning an Emmy, Sims Sunisloe said: “I was shocked. I was excited on behalf of our people who were part of something wonderful and I was so grateful.”
Jerry Wolffe is the writer-in-residence and advocate-at-large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586-263-8950.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New federal bill impacts employment



The Workforce Investment Opportunity Act has passed both the Senate and the House and is now on its way to President Obama for his signature.  It is expected that the President will sign the bill into law because of its overwhelming support in both Houses of Congress.
Some highlights of the bill include:
  • The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) stays in the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Both the independent living programs as well as the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) will be moved to the Administration for Community Living at HHS.  NIDRR will be renamed The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.
  • The bill defines "supported employment" as competitive integrated employment, including customized employment, or employment in an integrated work setting in which individuals are working on a short-term basis toward competitive integrated employment, that is individualized and customized consistent with the strengths, abilities, interests, and informed choice of the individuals involved, for individuals with the most significant disabilities-
    (A)(i) for whom competitive integrated employment has not historically occurred; or
    (ii) for whom competitive integrated employment has been interrupted or intermittent
    as a result of a significant disability; and
    (B) who, because of the nature and severity of their disability, need intensive supported
    employment services and extended services after the transition in order to perform the work involved.
  • The length of time for supported employment has also been expanded from 18 to 24 months.
  • Congress listened to parents and people with significant disabilities and strengthened the bill to include Section 511 which ensures that young people with disabilities try competitive integrated employment first before other employment options are on the table.  Congress was wise in not taking away any employment options available to people with disabilities and understood that people with disabilities, like any other individuals, are able to chose their own jobs in the settings they prefer.
  • The National Council on Disability will shrink from 15 to 9 members and changes to the process for appointment have been put into place.  Previously, the president appointed all 15 members of the Council.  Now, the Majority Leader of the Senate, Minority Leader of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives will each get one appointee of the 9.  A transition period for the reduction has been put into place through the bill.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Community Partners Come Together to Make Teen’s Life Easier



By JERRY WOLFFE
Thanks to a group of volunteers, a 14-year-old girl can now use an accessible bathroom in her home built through funds from the nonprofit, “Rebuilding Together.”
Molly McCullough, has cerebral palsy, and is non-verbal. She lives in her family’s West Bloomfield two-story home with her parents, and her four siblings.
There was no accessible bathroom on the first floor of their home and it was becoming increasingly difficult for Molly’s parents, Scott and Kristen, to give her a bath or use the toilet since it meant carrying her up a flight of stairs to the bathroom.
Support coordinator Karen Hollingsworth, who visits the home monthly, helped the family find a way to build an accessible bathroom for Molly in the garage. Rebuilding Together had a budget of $2,000 for the project. Hollingsworth, who has worked for MORC since July 1972, said materials cost $1,300 and “donated” materials and labor was worth about $13,000.
The room is nine-feet by 10-feet with beautiful tile on the floors and walls. It also has a roll-in shower and a roll-in-shower chair that was donated for Molly’s use.
Quotes from home remodelers for an accessible bathroom were in the range of “$20,000 and above,” she said. However, Hollingsworth’s son-in-law, Chuck Riley, and her daughter, Becky, volunteer through “Rebuilding Together.”
An application was made to Rebuilding Together and a gift of $2,000 was approved.
Each department in the Home Depot store in White Lake Township gave discounts on materials and there was an additional   corporate discount, she said.
“The original supply list was under $2,000 but when the discounts were applied, it was under $1,000.”
Volunteers included electricians, plumbers and other trade workers who installed everything for the bathroom, including drywall, insulation and extending heating ducts to warm the bathroom.
The 90-square-foot bathroom contains a shower that is six-feet wide and three-feet deep as well as a vanity, toilet and sink. Parts of the walls were reinforced so grab bars can be installed, if needed. The donated roll-in-shower chair would have cost about $2,000 if the McCullough    family had to purchase one.
Hollingsworth noted that Molly is ecstatic with the new addition to their home. “Now that her new bathroom is done, Molly has had her first shower in it and loved it,” McCullough’s mother said.