Categories
Disability

LIVE CHAT Monday, April 13th Transportation!

Thanks to everyone who joined in our IMAGE Center LIVE CHAT – Transportation on Monday, April 13, 2020! We had some great discussion. Below is the transcript of the chat during the discussion.

Please note that we have done our best to get the most up to date information but as this situation is extremely fluid, please double check with agencies for the most up to date information.

Maryland Transit Administration website provides updated information: mta.maryland.gov/coronavirus 

Transit Information Contact Center from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday at 410-539-5000.

Mobility information can be accessed by calling 410-764-8181

From Amanda Taylor to Everyone:  Hi everyone! This is Amanda Taylor: ataylor@imagemd.org

From Steven Gravelle to Everyone: Hello Amanda.  This is Steve Gravelle from The Arc Baltimore

From Jade Gingerich to Everyone:

Jade Gingerich from MD Dept of Disabilities is here

hey Mike!

From mdlclaptop to Everyone:  Lauren Young from Disability Rights Maryland is here….hello to all.

From Image Center to Everyone:  Hi Everyone! We’ll be trying to capture notes and information as the discussion happens.

Hi Martin! Glad you could join us!

From Cheryl Gottlieb to Everyone: hi Lauren!

From Kariza Goncalves to Everyone:  Kariza Goncalves from Stevenson University…hello all!  I’ve been seeking employment at the IMAGE Center and Mike has been kind enough to add me to the weekly Zoom meetings!

From Image Center to Everyone:

Hi Kariza! We’re glad you’re here!

Terri Seitz – Ztrip is an app that is similar to Uber but they have a van for people in wheelchairs.

From Cheryl Gottlieb to Everyone:  imperfectfoods.com

From Amanda Taylor to Everyone:

Safeway pharmacy delivered my medicine and it was wonderful – same day availability. They typically have you fill out a form in person but they made an exception and just went through with the delivery.

Thrive Market is a delivery service for healthy food options, supplements, etc. but I have heard they are backed up like other services.

From Linda Pearl to Everyone: Huge storm. I’m checking out and turning off my computer.

From Amanda Taylor to Everyone:  Purple Carrot and Daily Harvest are other healthy food delivery options. Purple Carrot has a lot of vegetarian/vegan options.

From Image Center to Everyone:

The Maryland Farmer’s Market Association has developed a map to help people to find local farmers and markets. Some have curbside pickup and delivery. You can use the map here: https://marylandfma.org/food/where-to-buy-local-while-social-distancing-on-farm-pickups-and-more/

From Amanda Taylor to Everyone:

Great resource, Heather!

From Jaime McKay to Everyone: The website being discussed is available at https://www.transit.dot.gov/coronavirus

From Cheryl Gottlieb to Everyone:

can I please get a copy of the fact sheet

MTA MobilityLINK & Covid-19 Fact Sheet from Disability Rights Maryland

From Jade Gingerich to Everyone:  Has anyone tried/had to access covid testing using public transit?

From Image Center to Everyone:

check mta.maryland.gov/coronavirus for the most recent and accurate information

Call the Transit Information Contact Center or Mobility if you need to speak with someone with a specific question

Jaime, can you give us the phone number? (see below)

From Kariza Goncalves to Everyone:

Question, how is mobility taking social distancing precautions with their passengers? less passengers, drivers wearing masks, using the buses only…etc?

From Jaime McKay to Everyone:

Hi, IMAGE Center.  Riders needing assistance with trip planning can contact the Transit Information Contact Center from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday at 410-539-5000.

From Image Center to Everyone:  Thanks, Jaime!

From Jaime McKay to Everyone:  Mobility information can be accessed by calling 410-764-8181. I am pleased to assist.

From stephanieschwartz to Everyone:

Meals on Wheels in Baltimore County does have Grocery Assist Program that can accept their SNAP benefits

https://www.mealsonwheelsmd.org/programs-partnerships/  Go to the bottom for more information and the application link for Grocery Assist

From Brockington Crystal to Everyone: Thanks, Stephanie!

 

Other Updated information:

Maryland Transit Resources under Covid19.

The following information is provided courtesy of the National Federation of the Blind

Public Transportation Information for Specific Systems

MTA: MTA continues to operate but Marc, Light rail, and most fixed transit bus lines are on a reduced schedule. Some fixed route bus lines have been suspended.  Mobility is operating to provide essential trips only, which includes medical appointments, grocery shopping, pharmacy visits, dialysis, and jobs deemed essential.  Individuals using the fixed route bus service must board and disembark at the rear door unless they need access to the wheelchair ramp.  Fares have been suspended.  For the most up-to-date information about MTA, visit https://www.mta.maryland.gov/.

MTA Commuter Bus: MTA Maryland Commuter Bus is operating on an “S” schedule only.

Baltimore Metro Subway and Light Rail: Metro Subway and Light Rail will operate on a Saturday schedule on weekdays.  See all MTA transit changes here .

MTA Express BusLink Service: MTA is temporarily discontinuing 11 routes that recently experienced an average of 82% decline in ridership.  These routes include all nine peak-hour Express BusLink routes and LocalLinks 38 and 92, which primarily serve schools that are now closed.

RTA: RTA fixed route is operating on an enhanced “Saturday/Sunday schedule” and all FARES will be temporarily suspended. RIDERS should use the Transit App for real-time data and schedules. The  Modified Schedule is available but may change.  RTA paratransit service has changed its hours of operations to 9:30AM to 4:45PM Monday through Friday.

Metro Rail: Metro has reduced rail service such that trains will now run every 15 minutes on the Red Line and every 20 minutes on all other lines. Weekday hours are still 5:00AM to 11:00PM.  Metro rail will bypass more than a dozen stations. Click to Find out which stations are closed .

Metro Bus: Metrobuses are running on a Sunday schedule with no supplemental routes. Bus drivers will have the authority to bypass bus stops to “maintain safe social distancing aboard buses,” Metro said.  Riders should use the rear doors to enter and exit unless the accessible ramp is needed.  Fares will be waived.

DC Circulator: The DC Circulator is for the most-part operating with reduced service.  The National Mall Route has been suspended, as has all late night service.  Riders should use the rear doors to enter and exit unless the accessible ramp is needed.  Fares will be waived.

Ride On and Ride On extra: Ride On bus service has been reduced to an Essential Service Plan. Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation expects buses will be delayed and encourages users to check the status of their usual buses before leaving for their bus stop. Ride On follows a new reduced service plan that maintains coverage of Ride On routes so that residents can access food, essential services, and essential jobs. Passengers are now required to board at the rear door of the bus. Passengers can board through the front doors if a lift is needed to accommodate a disability or stroller. During the emergency, all Ride On services will be temporarily free to all passengers. Flex service is suspended.

The Bus: The Prince George’s County system will suspend routes 11, 12, 14, 15x, 21x, 22, 23, 25, 27, 34, 35s, 51 and 53 while running reduced service on 16, 17, 18, 20, 21 and 32. The routes still running will be free. Riders will only be allowed to enter using the rear doors, to limit contact with the driver. However, exceptions will be made for people with disabilities or those with strollers.

ART: Art is operating on a reduced schedule. ART 41, 42, 45, 51, 55, 77 and 87 are running on a Saturday schedule. ART 42 and 87 will end at the Pentagon instead of Pentagon City, ART 45 will start an hour early at 6:30 a.m. and ART 43 will run every 20 minutes from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. along its weekday route. All other routes are suspended.

PRTC OmniRide: Local and Metro Express services will be free to limit interactions between the driver, fare box and riders. OmniRide Express services will still have fares, but there will not be a cash option or the option to reload a SmarTrip with cash on a bus. The main lobby of the OmniRide Transit Center is also closed.

FRED: FRED Transit‘s VRE Feeder Bus Service is operating on an “S” schedule. VQ1 and D6 will not operate.

Additional information can be found at https://wtop.com/dc-transit/2020/03/local-and-regional-transit-services-adjust-to-coronavirus-presence/

Mike Bullis thanked everyone for calling and participating in the calls and answering questions. Please contact the IMAGE Center with questions or concerns! The office number is 410-982-6311 or via email at info@imagemd.org

Help us continue to serve our community during this crisis by supporting our Lifeline Impact Fund!  Donate to our IMPACT Fund today! 

Or support IMAGE while you shop Amazon! Shop Amazon Smile and support IMAGE!

 

 

Categories
Disability

Mental Health and Abuse Resources

Age Friendly Baltimore County shared the following mental health resource with us on April 8th – Shepperd Pratt’s Virtual Walk In Crisis Clinic

Here is a list of mental health and abuse resources we’ve compiled:

Maryland Health Connection opened an emergency enrollment period for uninsured Marylanders through June 15, 2020. More information is available here: https://www.marylandhealthconnection.gov/

For Coronavirus phone support:
Call 2-1-1, then press 2 to connect with a helpline representative immediately to get additional information and resources.

Crisis Connect Tri-fold 211MD Business Card

Mental Health Association of Maryland

800-422-0009
https://www.mhamd.org/immediate-help/

General Statewide Coronavirus information: https://www.mhamd.org/coronavirus/

The Senior Call Check participants receive an automated call every day. These calls will take place within a time frame chosen by the participant. If the participant does not answer their first call, they will be called two additional times in the same day. If those calls go unanswered, an alternate person, selected by the participant, will be notified. This alternate could be an adult child, a neighbor, or anyone designated as a reliable contact. The alternate will then be asked to check on the participant. For those who do not have an alternate or whose alternate is unresponsive, the state will call local law enforcement to conduct a wellness check.

For more information on this program and to register, call 1-866-50-CHECK (1-866-502-4325) or visit aging.maryland.gov. Please help spread the word to seniors living alone at home.

This next information courtesy of NAMI Maryland

In the coming days and weeks, NAMI Maryland will be rolling out additional support and education to help our community process the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s job loss, isolation, caring for a loved one, or fractures in critical behavioral health services, we want to know how the abrupt changes in society and our day-to-day lives are impacting you.

Please take our brief survey to help us target the best way to help you. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KMLWJDH

Ways to Avoid Headline Anxiety and to Cope:

  • Avoid triggering topics in the news.
  • Limit your news consumption.
  • Be cognizant of your social media use.
  • Practice good stress management
  • Understand that it is normal to be somewhat concerned by this, but try not to let fear drive your anxiety to an unhealthy level.

To put this new and concerning situation into perspective:

  • Understand that it will be life-disrupting for awhile.
  • Settle in.
  • We’re ALL working as hard and as quickly as we can.
  • Grace is helpful. Anger is not.
  • Stay calm.
  • Keep your germs to yourself.
  • Limit large gatherings.
  • It’s going to be ok, but it’s going to be bumpy for awhile-

Please stay safe and protect your mental health! We are here to help, so please do not hesitate to email us at info@namimd.org or call the NAMI Maryland office at (410) 884-8691 if you have any questions.

Mike Finkle of On Our Own of Maryland provided several useful pamphlet resources that can be printed.

A comprehensive list of Warm Line Numbers can be found via their website in Google Docs.

Maryland Association of Behavioral Health Authorities – a list of behavioral health authorities from around the state of Maryland. MABHA DirectoryMABHAMay2019 (1)

Maryland Dept. of Health -Recovery and Wellness Support Resources for the COVID-19 Outbreak Fact Sheet – Wellness and Recovery Resources 4.1.2020

211 Maryland Crisis Connect Crisis Connect Tri-fold 211MD Business Card

Baltimore Crisis Response and National Suicide Hotline BCRI and National Suicide Hotline

Baltimore City

Behavioral Health System Baltimore, Inc.

Crisis: BCRI – https://bcresponse.org/
410-433-5175 (24 hour line for help and crisis)

General: Behavioral Health Systems Baltimore – https://www.bhsbaltimore.org/
410-433-5175 (staffed by BCRI)

Baltimore County

Baltimore County Department of Health, Bureau of Behavioral Health

Crisis: Baltimore County Crisis (run by Affiliated Sante) – https://www.thesantegroup.org/baltimore-county-crisis-services
410-931-2214

General: Baltimore County Bureau of Behavioral Health – https://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/health/healthservices/mental/
410-887-3828

 

Harford County

Office on Mental Health of Harford County

410-803-8726

Local Addictions Authority

Harford County Health Department

410.803.8726

410-273-5681 Fax: 410-273-5556

Harford Crisis Center

800-NEXT-STEP
410-889-7884

Domestic Violence and Elder Abuse resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline
(800) 799-SAFE (7233)

National Sexual Assault Hotline
(800) 656-HOPE (4673)

Maryland Health Care Coalition Against Domestic Violence

https://healthanddv.org/resources/links-to-other-resources/

Baltimore County Family Violence resources

https://baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/police/community/family.html

PSA from the Police Chief with some resources for getting help

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qoo2u5DVmKQ

Turn Around, Inc.

House of Ruth

Domestic Violence
informational video by Baltimore County Police Department https://foxbaltimore.com/news/coronavirus/balt-co-police-shares-resources-for-survivors-of-domestic-violence-during-the-pandemic

iwatch@baltimorecounty.gov
410-887-2223 (special victims unit)
Greater Baltimore Medical Center – ask for safe nurse

Elder & Medical Abuse Resources

https://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/police/community/elderabuse.html

https://chanabaltimore.org/find-help/elder-abuse/

Baltimore City Domestic Violence Resources:  https://mocj.baltimorecity.gov/domestic-violence-resources/links

Harford County resource list: http://harfordcountymd.gov/2255/For-Victims-of-Domestic-Violence-and-Sta

Sexual Assault/Spouse Abuse Resource Center

https://www.sarc-maryland.org/about/

Harford County Department of Aging

https://www.harfordcountymd.gov/651/Office-on-Aging

Special thanks to Mike Finkle of On Our Own Maryland, Kari Gorkos of MHAMD, and NAMIMD for the resources and information!

Support the IMAGE Center’s LIFELINE IMPACT Fund! Your donation will help us continue to serve our community!

Categories
Disability

IMAGE Center LIVE CHAT Monday, March 30, 2020 – Food Resources

Update, May 21

Maryland Department of Human Services Secures USDA Approval to Expedite Expansion of SNAP Program to Online Grocery Purchases, Curbside Pickup, and Delivery, Starting May 27, 2020

http://news.dhr.maryland.gov/reports/that/maryland-department-human-services-secures-usda-approval-expedite-expansion-snap-program-online-grocery-purchases-curbside-pickup-delivery-starting-may-27-2020/

List of Food Resources by County: Food Resources by County

Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Frequently Asked Questions: P-EBT Flyer

Update, May 7

Food Resources for Seniors in Baltimore County

resources update

FOOD DISTRIBUTION FOR OLDER ADULTS

 

 

Update from April 27th

Also the Rotary Club is offering free grocery delivery services. It doesn’t look like they have a specific geographical area, however I would imagine that they are working with folks that live in Baltimore County. Read below for more information:

Rotary International Volunteer Shoppers

Rotary members are available to shop for and delivery groceries, medications and other essential items to those at risk for COVID 19 or unable to leave their homes on a volunteer basis.  Volunteers do not have background checks.  They are Rotary members.

Call 240-781-6586 any day from 9:00am – 6:00pm to request assistance.  It takes between 24 and 72 hours to fill a request.

No charge for the shopping services. Payment for goods purchased at the store is through credit cards only.  Volunteers pay for the food with their own credit card. Once an amount is known, the recipient gives their credit card number to Rotary International to be charged the amount spent. Volunteers will shop with SNAP EBT cards too.

Towson University offered delivered meals: ToGoMeals_4-20-20

Update from April 8th

Maryland Hunger Solutions at 866-821-5552.  https://www.mdhungersolutions.org/

Can assist with completing the online application for SNAP Benefits.

Meals on Wheels in Baltimore County does have Grocery Assist Program that can accept their SNAP benefits

https://www.mealsonwheelsmd.org/programs-partnerships/  Go to the bottom for more information and the application link for Grocery Assist

A list of resources regarding legal rights during COVID-19 related to housing, rent, utilities is available from the Maryland Office of the People’s Counsel

http://www.opc.maryland.gov/Consumer-Corner/Publications#COVID-19%20Fact%20Sheets

Update from April 6, 2020:

FYI- The state of Maryland was recently approved by the US Department of Agriculture to temporarily increase everyone’s SNAP benefit to their household maximum monthly amount, regardless of income and earnings. This will go into effects for the months of April and May. Also people are getting automatically re-certified for their SNAP as well.

https://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us/dashboardClient/

Also customer service # is 1 800 332-6347 which will connect you to local office staff.

Here is a transcription of the the chat notes from the LIVE CHAT on Monday, March 30 where we discussed the various food resources available.

During the current COVID-19 crisis, join us every Monday for a LIVE CHAT via Zoom. If you’d like to register for our next one on Monday, April 6th at 2:00 p.m. where we’ll be discussing Mental Health Resources – please register here!

IMAGE Center LIVE CHAT
Monday, March 30, 2020
This is a transcript from the Chat session to try to capture phone numbers and addresses for resources that came up during the conversation.

Hi everyone! Just checking in! If you would also like to check in, please type your name and email address in the chat. Thank you!
I am: Amanda Taylor. Email: ataylor@imagemd.org
Heather Comstock: hcomstock@imagemd.org
Maryland Food Bank 410-737-8282
Baltimore City for Delivered meals 410-396-2273
It does include weekends
Thank you! Rebecca.Mark@baltimorecity.gov
Maryland Access Point for the City 410-396-2273
Thank you! Allie Post, Family Crisis Center.
From Rebecca Mark to Everyone: Are there updates on the issue of grocery delivery for people on food stamps? (There was no consensus on how this was working but some brief discussion on looking for answers).
You can also dial 211
Kathy Shulman noted that the familyleague.org website has a food access list and all can be found on the mayor’s website as well. https://www.bmorechildren.com/freemeals
Anyone have any updates on folks using food stamps for grocery delivery? Rebecca Mark wanted to get an update
From Jaanine Smith to Everyone: Hi this is Jaanine Smith from the One Voice Recovery Community Center in Baltimore County. I wanted to know what the options are for food pick-up and delivery for folks that DO NOT drive?
Michelle Mills Maryland Access Point triage for all food questions. There’s a webpage with locations for stores and food pantries. 410-887-2594 Maryland Access Point Baltimore County
https://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/News/foodresources.html
From Jill Hall to Everyone: Yes, they can pick up 3 meals plus 2 snacks at Baltimore County Schools 11-1 p.m.
From Jill Hall to Everyone: Police Athletic League (PAL) centers are doing 4-6 pm
From Heather Comstock to Everyone:
https://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/News/BaltimoreCountyNow/baltimore-county-expands-grocery-drive-and-go-distribution-during-covid-19-pandemic
From Heather Comstock to Everyone: Image Board Member Bong Delrosario noted that Taxi Access is still operating.
Mike noted that he’s seen offers on Next Door from neighbors offering to pick up groceries or other supplies
From Jaanine Smith to Everyone: what is taxi access?
From Heather Comstock to Everyone: http://mdod.maryland.gov/transport/Pages/Taxi-Services.aspx
Taxi Access
From Amanda Taylor to Everyone: Taxi Access is a service connected to MTA Mobility, which is similar to a taxi cab but connected to the ride share program for people with disabilities.
From Le to Everyone: To my understanding the Baltimore Co- Grab and Go sites are open to all. I went to the Stembridge PAL center on Saturday inquiring about their requirements to share with families.
From Heather Comstock to Everyone: Different sites have different requirements for identification. The schools are requiring information about the child and some are collecting vehicle information to verify eligibility, but it’s a constantly changing situation.
From Le to Everyone: Also the MFB (Maryland Food Bank) is currently working with school pantries to see if schools are willing to open their school pantries- under the discretion of the school principals.
From Heather Comstock to Everyone: 410-685-1212 for Yellow Cab if you have a Taxi Access Card. Bong noted that If you are in a wheelchair, you have to call 24 hours in advance. Call Center is not open on the weekends so if you need to schedule, call Monday through Friday
From kathyshulman to Everyone: The reason that meal programs for children changing quite frequently is that the regulations from USDA keep changing. related to how children can get meals. A regulation just got passed to have parents pick up meals for children.
From Antoine MedStar Health to Everyone: Thanks for the resource
From Heather Comstock to Everyone: IMAGE Board Member Janice Jackson noted that If you’re already on a meal delivery service, please contact them about the possibility of having more meals delivered
There are a variety of programs, so be sure to check in with them if you need more meal delivery service.
From Randi Ames to Everyone: I lost my connection and missed the discussion on resources in Harford County, can someone please post? Thank you.
From Image Staff Member, Crystal Brockington to Everyone: I have spoken with several home health providers and that will continue to provide services and have assured that they are considered Essential. They have implemented mandates that staff will wear more protective equipment during visits. As this continues they will also ensure that their workers are able to travel. If you have direct care workers that are direct hire and do not work for an agency, you should review their travel practices and personal protection habits with them. They are recommended to wash hands and wear mask and gloves to decrease the likelihood of infecting their clients.
If people in Harford Co. are looking for food resources they should contact the Harford Community Action Agency at 410-612-9899
MAP 410-887-2594
From Randi Ames to Everyone: Thank you!
From Michelle Mills to Everyone: Baltimore County MAP 410-887-2594
From Crystal to Everyone: Many Harford County Churches are also doing the drive thru Food Pick Up. There is a list at https://harfordcaa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-19-food-resources.pdf
Kathy Shulman noted that 20-30 Baltimore city neighborhoods have a quarantine support network as a resource to share information.
From Michelle Mills to Everyone: Thanks Kathy!
District 11 Delegate Lisa Belcastro provided updates on resources in her district.
From Jaanine Smith to Everyone: please advise what is district 11?
From Me to Everyone: District 11 includes Pikesville, Owings Mills, Lutherville, Parts of Cockeysville.
District 11 residents who are volunteering to go to the grocery stores for neighbors. They’re organizing via Facebook. Delegate Lisa Belcastro said that they might be willing to cross some of the district boundaries to help out too.
From Antoine MedStar Health to Everyone: Any link or information on Baltimore City’s Quarantine Support Network?
From Jaanine Smith to Everyone: is this city only
From Jay Doyle to Everyone: https://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/News/coronavirus.html
From Jay Doyle to Everyone: Above is the main county COVID-19 info page
From lbelcastro to Everyone
Need A Hand, Lend A Hand – District 11
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1060156311021617/
From Heather Comstock to Everyone: https://www.facebook.com/Del.LisaBelcastro/
Thank you, Delegate Belcastro!
From Heather Comstock to Everyone: Amigos of Baltimore County forming to work specifically with immigrant community
https://www.facebook.com/AmigosBaltimoreCounty/
From lbelcastro to Everyone: District 11 includes Pikesville, Owings Mills, Lutherville, Parts of Cockeysville.
From Heather Comstock to Everyone: If you need information, please contact Mike at mbullis@imagemd.org
From Heather Comstock to Everyone:
Cheryl Gottlieb
Cheryl.gottlieb@maryland.gov

We plan to continue to do these resource calls weekly. Join us next Monday at 2 p.m.!
Please visit the IMAGE Center website at:
www.imagemd.org or call our main line at 410-982-6311.

During these extraordinary times, the IMAGE Center continues to serve our consumers and our community! Partner with us as we do our best to find new ways to be present in the community by supporting our LIFELINE IMPACT Fund! 

Section 2204 of the $2 trillion Federal emergency relief CARES Act provides incentives for charitable donations during 2020 regardless of whether you itemize deductions. The primary benefit allows individuals to get an “above-the-line” deduction for up to $300

IMAGE is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. A copy of the current financial statement is available by writing 300 E. Joppa Rd. Ste 312 Towson, MD 21286 or calling 410-982-6311. Documents & Information submitted under the Maryland Solicitations Act are also available, for the cost of postage & copies from the MD Sec. of State, State House, Annapolis, MD 21401.

Categories
Disability

NEW IDEAS ARE DIFFICULT

The following article was submitted for publication to the Baltimore Sun on December 29th, 2015.  It’s difficult to say, in under 750 words, anything that has nuance or depth, but, I did feel as though we should try to alert our Baltimore Community that this very unique project is seeking funding and the challenges we face.:

“I am from the minority called disability. It’s a complex group, some disabled from birth and most as adults, and if your disabilities are mental, nobody knows you have it just by looking. Unlike being a racial minority, everyone wishes the best for us. Our road to hell is paved by the good intentions of the nondisabled. You care. You pat us on the head and tell us to be strong, how brave we are, how amazing we are, and how impressed you are when we smile. Unfortunately, all this misplaced compassion, however kindly meant, really doesn’t empower us to live our lives or raise our families.

The IMAGE Center of Maryland, based in Towson, is working on a project that will literally change the lives of over 600 million people with disabilities throughout the world at a cost of under five million dollars, but, ideas that don’t fit neatly into our preconceptions, also don’t fit into existing funding mechanisms.   The IMAGE Center doesn’t see disability the way you probably do. We see much of disability as a tools and techniques problem rather than a limitation you must learn to accept. What the woman paralyzed wants to know is, “How do I get my life back?” How do I raise my kids, drive the car and get back to work?” And unfortunately, there isn’t any place on the web for her to see people just like her do these simple things. She can go on the web and search for “wheel chair cooking” but think about it for a moment. Being in a wheelchair doesn’t really tell you much about her. How much leg movement does she still have? Can she stand some? Can she move one leg but not the other? And, how much arm or hand use does she have? Some fingers on one hand but not the other? Left arm but not right? Each of these is important if she’s really going to see people who are solving the problem she needs to solve.

Recognizing this, the IMAGE Center is developing an online web sharing and search tool so she can see people, dozens or hundreds of them just like her, successfully living their lives and how they do it.   Think about everything you know how to do. You learned it by observing and imitating. That’s the way humans learn. Unfortunately, most people with disabilities, whether temporary or permanent, have never seen anyone like them and how they solve daily life problems. So, hundreds of millions of people throughout the world struggle to make a life without the essential of imitation.   With the modern web it is possible to create a video sharing site where people can specify their exact set of limitations and see dozens or hundreds of people just like them and how they create solutions for everything. We call it the Aging & Disability Skills Gateway. Check it out at: www.disabilityskills.org   For most of us, disability means care. Disability means less of a life except for those few who succeed that we regard as heroes and amazing, not realizing that these are just the creative few who can make up a life without that all essential roadmap of people to imitate.

Medical professionals want to cure us. Disability professionals want to care for us. The press wants feel good stories about the disabled hero overcoming all odds, or pictures of the ice bucket challenge, while ignoring the actual challenges of the disability itself.   Slowly we are making progress. A recent TED talk profiled our project as one of the three primary challenges of disability in the 21st century.   We here at the IMAGE Center leave 2015 frustrated. We know that out there somewhere are people who see disability as a problem to be solved. We know there are those of you out there who will join us as we create this new vision of disability. But for the moment, like other minorities, we still feel like the power structure and those who work in it are well intentioned yet misguided.”

Categories
Disability

Meet Marvin Dawkins: Peer Outreach Specialist, Peer Mentor

Marvin Dawkins, Peer Outreach Specialist and Peer Mentor
Marvin Dawkins, Peer Outreach Specialist and Peer Mentor at The IMAGE Center for People with Disabilities

Marvin made three attempts to leave the nursing facility before he was able to move to his own home in the community. There were many difficulties and complications along the way.

At first, the court told Marvin his income was too high to qualify for services in the community through the waiver program. The second time he tried to leave the nursing facility, he was on a waiting list for three years, but never received services. The third time was a charm, Marvin said, and he finally received a voucher that allowed him to move into his own home in the community. His persistence paid off at last, and he was on his way to moving into his own apartment.

Once he was in his own apartment in the community, he encountered problems with accessibility. Marvin had to advocate for himself with property management to get these problems fixed.

One day, after Marvin left his apartment, he realized he left something there that he needed, but his aide had already left for the day. Marvin returned to his apartment to retrieve his belongings, but then he realized something – he had no way to get out of his apartment on his own, because there was no electric door opener. He was stuck. Marvin wrote a letter to the property manager about the problem, and 3 months later his electric door opener was installed, as well as an accessible showering system in his bathroom. Again, Marvin’s self-advocacy paid off.

During an interview, Marvin had some advice to offer others who are interested in moving out of a nursing facility and into the community:

“You have to really want it – to go after it and get it – otherwise you are going to be frustrated because everybody has things that come up and problems they are going to run into. You have to really want it.”

Marvin encourages people to make careful decisions about where they will move to:

“I tell people to insist to see the place before you move into it. There are certain things you need to make sure you can do with a disability or using a wheelchair; you need to be able to open the refrigerator door all the way, and you might not be able to even though the apartment says it’s accessible. A lot of the places just put a grab bar in the tub and call it accessible even though it isn’t. I know people who have lived for years without taking an actual shower – they just washed off instead because the bath wasn’t accessible to them.”

Marvin is appreciative of all the people who helped him before and after his transition to the community:

“I met a lot of helpful people out there. I couldn’t have done it on my own. Some of these people were support counselors or supports planners – they can help you the most because they know all the problems everyone else has had.”

Marvin also worked with The IMAGE Center during his transition into the community. Crystal Brockington was Marvin’s Peer Support Specialist and, after he moved out of the nursing facility, Crystal was also his Peer Mentor, with additional assistance from Lori Baskette. With encouragement from The IMAGE Center, Marvin participated in committees with the Long-Term Care Ombudsman and eventually the National Consumer Voice. Marvin currently works part-time at The IMAGE Center as a Peer Outreach Specialist and Peer Mentor, visiting residents of nursing facilities and coaching them on their options for receiving services in the community. Marvin also volunteers for Public Service Consultants to do additional peer outreach work.

“It’s rewarding – people cry [tears of joy] at the prospect of being able to leave [the nursing facility],” Marvin said. “Being out gives you a sense of self-worth that you lose in the nursing facility. The longer you’re there, the more everything just drops down – your morale, and everything you look forward to. There are so many things I can’t do, so I don’t ever think about those things – I just think about the things I can do and I try to do those things.”

Marvin has worked with residents in about 12 nursing facilities in Baltimore City, and he has helped over 100 people apply for waiver programs to receive services in the community. He is passionate about helping others to realize their potential for greater independence.

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