June 2010 MCB Report June 8, 2010 CSAVR & NCSAB CONFERENCES IN BETHESDA Presentations by the new Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), Lynnae Ruttledge, highlighted the annual Spring conferences of the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) and the National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB), held in Bethesda, Maryland, April 18-23. More than 300 administrators and staff from rehab agencies throughout the country participated in the conferences' general sessions, break-out sessions and committee meetings, which featured several interesting and important topics, including transition services, deaf-blind services, marketing public rehab programs, Randolph-Sheppard Programs, independent living services for the older blind, technology and unique approaches to service delivery at residential training centers for the blind. The Commissioner's two major themes in her remarks were the need to increase the visibility of VR and the number of employment outcomes for persons with disabilities so they "get the best jobs and achieve self sufficiency". The Commissioner emphasized her desire to connect with all VR agencies and welcomes questions, ideas, and constructive criticism and noted that she is going to be meeting with RSA staff on a quarterly basis. In terms of policy issues, RSA, and the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), the Commissioner shared the following: 1. Moving RSA from Education to Labor has become a non issue, 2. RSA has a new and improved website at rsa.ed.gov, 3. Trying to increase the visibility of NIDRR, 4. Competitive integrated employment is the definition of a successful rehab closure that she supports and she will not support a change from this current definition, 5. Sub minimum wage is going to become a policy issue, 6. Moving Independent Living out of RSA to another part of Education or another federal agency will be another future policy discussion, 7. Need to modernize the Randolph Sheppard program so people can become entrepreneurs, 8. Working with Assistant Education Secretary Alexa Posny to revise the clearance process for policy in the Education Department so needed policies can be issued in a more timely manner. Commissioner Ruttledge also commented on the long-awaited reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), expressing her skepticism that Congress would pass it this year, but said that she is still hopeful. On the Appropriations side of the legislative ledger she noted that the budget proposed by President Barack Obama contains some good news for vocational rehabilitation programs, noting that it is the first time in years that there is not a draft provision to eliminate the mandatory COLA (Cost of Living Allowance) increase in VR funding. In her closing remarks, the Commissioner reiterated her view on the need to continue to improve the VR Program. She said that in order to improve, vocational rehabilitation agencies and rehab professionals need to start with much higher expectations of and for consumers and be more actively involved with getting consumers the best jobs so they can achieve self sufficiency. RSA COMMISSIONER MEETS WITH MCB AND MRS IN LANSING Newly appointed Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Commissioner Lynnae Ruttledge was in Lansing, May 20, to visit the state's two rehabilitation agencies - Michigan Rehabilitation Services and the Michigan Commission for the Blind - as part of a nationwide series of get-acquainted visits. In her introductory comments at a joint meeting of MCB and MRS managers, Commissioner Ruttledge emphasized that her visit was not related to RSA monitoring or RSA's final monitoring report that MCB and MRS have yet to receive, but rather an opportunity to share some of her goals for public rehabilitation and to listen to concerns and issues identified by state program representatives. Commissioner Ruttledge shared some of the goals she was committed to as the new Commissioner, which included increasing the visibility of RSA, increasing the employment of people with disabilities by working closely with VR agencies and working with state rehab partners to draft an American Rehabilitation Journal to celebrate the upcoming 90th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Program. Commissioner Ruttledge also met with MCB and MRS staff during separate meetings with each agency. In her meeting with MCB managers and Commission Vice Chair Michael Geno, topics discussed included the utilization of special federal stimulus funds in Michigan for the MCB Client Intern Program and strengthening relationships with consumers and consumer organizations and other community partners and stakeholders. The Commissioner also asked about efforts in Michigan to modernize the Business Enterprise Program, saying it's a question she is asking of every state. Commissioner Ruttledge noted that Michigan's commitment to successful collaboration and partnerships is impressive and spoke to the importance of engaging partners in program and policy development. She also said that MCB must be more expeditious in adopting policy and that the agency is accountable for doing so. She also noted that RSA needs to be more timely in its work with state rehab agencies, citing the final RSA monitoring report that MCB has been awaiting for more than a year. She said she enjoyed her visit to Michigan and the opportunity to meet with staff of both agencies face to face. Since she became RSA Commissioner at the end of December, Commissioner Ruttledge has been reaching out to every state agency administrator, either in face to face meetings or by telephone. She also said that she will be conducting a national teleconference in July to engage other rehab agency personnel. ALL MCB STAFF TO MEET IN DEWITT On June 16-17, all MCB staff, Commissioners, and representatives from the CIC, EOC, MCBVI, and NFB will meet at the Banquet and Conference Center of Dewitt. Many people have been requesting such a meeting for several years because it had been quite awhile since the last statewide meeting/in-service. The last meeting for all staff was in June, 2001. Part of the reason for this meeting/in-service came out of a desire by Pat Cannon and some members of the Commission Board to re-visit the agency's Vision 2020 principles that were developed 10 years ago. Since that time the agency has hired several new staff (approximately 50) who may not be familiar with the basic principles, definitions, terminology, and concepts. There was also some sense that the more experienced staff could benefit from exploring these ideas again. So topics such as dialogue circles, appreciative inquiry, tilting strategies, Plan-Do-Study-Act, and others will be presented and talked about during part of the staff training. In addition to exploring these concepts, the staff will be asked to provide their ideas for improving the way MCB does business. The facilitator for the original Vision 2020 venture was John Victory and unfortunately John is unable to participate this time. Instead, Grace Menzel, a former rehabilitation counselor and someone who has worked with John before, will be the lead facilitator along with a few MCB staff who were around during the initial phases assisting her. Grace's participation in this meeting is being provided by the Region V TACE Center. In addition to the Vision 2020 time on the agenda, presentations will be made by the State Library staff and the Administrative Services Division of DELEG. The library staff will talk about the various services available from them and how MCB consumers could benefit from those services. The department staff will talk about issues such as medical leaves, state car use, travel vouchers, and other related topics. There will also be a couple hours set aside for separate breakout sessions for counselors, teachers, secretaries, Commissioners, and BEP staff. A variety of topics specific to those groups will be discussed. SUMMER YOUTH PROGRAMS AND ACTIVITIES This summer MCB will present eight summer youth programs for eligible youth who are blind or visually impaired, all designed to provide opportunities to prepare for independence and the transition into postsecondary education or employment. Summer Employment Excursion (SEE) June 4 - August 27, will bring together the resources of Genesee Intermediate School District (GISD) and MCB for the implementation and continuation of programs designed to facilitate positive and stable work experience for blind and visually impaired students. A team approach will be utilized to place students in a community situation where they receive paid employment and ongoing support. It is the goal of this program that these individuals be able to realize their full vocational potential. Career Club, June 21 - August 27, is for Ingham and Eaton county students. The program includes but is not limited to job tours, job planning, interviewing activities, job shadows, job try-outs, disability rights/self advocacy, soft skills related to preparing for employment, team building activities, and goal setting. Detroit Summer Youth Program, July 5 - August 17, will provide youth with vocational exploration, technology training, pre-employment, and employment experiences. The participants will have an opportunity to work at a variety of organizations and agencies throughout the city of Detroit. Macomb Summer Transition Program, July 5 - July 16, will provide high school students with an opportunity to participate in pre-employment training, soft skills development, and possible work experience. Bear Lake, July 27, is a one-day summer activity that will focus on vocational information and career exploration, as well as activities relating to dressing for success. Summer Work Opportunity Program (SWOP), June 14 - August 20, will provide participants with an opportunity to gain valuable work experience in the food service industry. The individuals will work with a Business Enterprise operator. College Prep, July 1 - August 20, will give potential college students the opportunity to take a class for credit and find out what it's like to be a college student at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. The experience will encourage students by providing an opportunity to utilize and enhance their skills of independence prior to becoming a full-time college student and assist in preparation for post-secondary education. Summer in the City, June 14-24, will provide students with an opportunity to learn soft employment skills, job shadowing, and social etiquette. For more information on any of these summer programs for youth, please contact Susan Turney at 517-241-8631 or firstname.lastname@example.org. DIVERSITY AND DISABILITY AWARENESS TRAINING FOR DCR MCB Director Pat Cannon (who is also Disability Policy Advisor to Governor Jennifer M. Granholm) was one of several presenters at a day-long Disabilities Training Workshop May 6 in Detroit presented by and for the Michigan Civil Rights Commission and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Approximately 70 people participated. The purpose of the workshop was to emphasize that a disability is only one characteristic of a person, and that people with disabilities should be considered for employment based on their abilities, not their disabilities. After a welcome by Commissioner Mike Zelley of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, Pat Cannon presented a disability awareness survey and conducted two interactive exercises in which participants imagined themselves with disabilities or as potential employers of people with disabilities. Duncan Wyeth, director of the Michigan Commission on Disability Concerns (MCDC) introduced a video titled "The Ten Commandments of Communicating With People With Disabilities" and summarized its main ideas. In the afternoon, additional presentations included information on federal and state disability laws and conflict de-escalation techniques. The same workshop will be presented again in Lansing on June 24. VISIONS 2010 The Ann Arbor District Library (AADL), which also serves as the Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled (WLBPD), presented VISIONS 2010 on Wednesday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Washtenaw Community College's Morris Lawrence Building. MCB participated in this event, which is scheduled bi-annually and is co-sponsored by the library at Washtenaw Community College and MCB where a variety of technology vendors display their adaptive equipment that assist blind and visually impaired individuals in their daily living, employment and leisure time activities. This event was free and open to the public and especially for students who are blind and visually impaired. MCB also provided training for sighted-guide volunteers and hosted a booth at the event with information on MCB programs and services. At the 10:30 opening session, MCB Consumer Services Director Leamon Jones welcomed participants and briefly described MCB's services, followed by Ann Arbor District Library Director Josie Parker, who highlighted features and services of the Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled. Those attending VISIONS 2010 had opportunities for hands-on demonstrations and conversation with vendors and service providers. There were demonstrations throughout the day, including Leader Dogs for the Blind and Newsline, among others. A variety of foods and beverages were available for sale from MCB Business Enterprise Program vendor Dale Layer. Sighted volunteers were available throughout the day to assist upon request. According to Ann Arbor District Library staff, over 500 participants attended this year's fair. MCB has been a co-sponsor of four previous VISIONS vendor fairs beginning in 2002 and held every other year. NFB AND ACB HOLD NATIONAL CONVENTIONS The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) will each hold their 2010 national conventions in July. The NFB national convention will take place Saturday, July 3, through Thursday, July 8, at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas. Additional information is available on the NFB website at www.nfb.org, or by contacting the National Federation of the Blind at 200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, telephone (410) 659-9314. The ACB national convention will be held Friday, July 9, through Saturday, July 17, at the Downtown Sheraton Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona. More information is available on the ACB website at www.acb.org or by contacting Carla Ruschival, ACB conference and convention committee chair, at (502) 897-1472 or by e- mail at email@example.com, or by calling the ACB national office at 1-800- 424-8666. OCTOBER OBSERVANCES PROMOTE EMPLOYMENT OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES Governor Jennifer M. Granholm has declared this October as "Investing in Abilities Month," encouraging Michigan employers and the general public to focus on the abilities of people with disabilities, rather than any real or perceived disability. The "Investing in Ability" Fall observance in Michigan began in 1988 and in each year since then individuals with disabilities, their friends and family members, along with numerous disability organizations, have worked together to promote the employment of people with disabilities. The numerous events and activities in Michigan will underscore the truth that people with disabilities have the ability and desire to work and, according to national studies, people with disabilities in the workplace are just as productive or more productive than their non-disabled counterparts, have a better safety record and a better attendance record, underscoring that employing people with disabilities makes good business sense. Nationally, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy unveiled, May 14, the official theme for October's National Disability Employment Awareness Month: "Talent Has No Boundaries: Workforce Diversity INCLUDES Workers With Disabilities." The theme serves to inform the public that workers with disabilities represent a diverse and vibrant talent pool for hire. Early announcement of the theme helps communities nationwide plan a series of events, some of which will continue throughout the year beginning in October, such as proclamations, public awareness programs and job fairs that showcase the skills and talents of workers with disabilities. This theme epitomizes Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis' commitment to "good jobs for everyone." "The solutions and innovations applicable to the successful employment of workers with disabilities impact the entire workforce, including aging workers, injured workers, at-risk youth, women, people of color, and unemployed and underemployed workers," said Kathleen Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. As background, Public Law 176, enacted by the Congress in 1945, designated the first week in October each year as "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." President Harry S Truman designated the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (then called the President's Committee on the Employment of the Physically Handicapped) to carry out the Act. In 1962, the word "physically" was removed from the week's name to acknowledge the employment needs of all Americans with disabilities. Congress expanded the week to a month in 1988 and changed its name to "National Disability Awareness Month," which eventually evolved to its current name. The Labor Department's Office of Disability Employment Policy took over responsibility for National Disability Employment Awareness Month in 2001. Members of the public with questions related to the theme should contact Carol Dunlap at 202-693-7902. More information on the Michigan observance, "Investing in Abilities Month," may be obtained from Susan Turney, 517-241- 8631. MINI ADJUSTMENT PROGRAM IN BAY CITY A total of 20 MCB clients participated in the Commission's second Mini- Adjustment Program Workshop of 2010, held in Bay City, May 3-7, at the Doubletree Riverfront Hotel. MCB clients attending the week-long Mini- Adjustment Program workshop are introduced to a variety of skills of blindness, such as cane travel, Braille, managing time and money, adaptive kitchen skills and other skills to enhance independence. In conjunction with the workshop, the Commission also conducted an Employment Readiness Seminar, May 6, for seven rehab clients who have advanced to the job-readiness stage of their rehabilitation program. Consumers attending the seminars learn about various approaches to job searching, Michigan Works!, the Talent Bank, interview preparation and resume development. They also participate in mock interviews and hear from local employers on their workforce needs. Additionally, consumers receive information about social security benefits and work incentives, as well as information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how it relates to employment of persons with disabilities. Plans are being finalized for two additional Mini Adjustment Program and Employment Readiness Seminar this year to be held in Muskegon and Monroe. CONSUMER SERVICES REPORT In the last quarter, the Consumer Services Division has been busy with a variety of activities. These activities relate to outreach, training, employer development, small business initiative, as well as a variety of other educational and community events. Outreach The staff of the Consumer Services Division continues to demonstrate the importance of reaching out to all consumers to make MCB's services available. The staff has initiated projects with libraries and senior centers to provide access to technology for seniors to be trained in the use of adaptive computers. This activity continues to expand throughout the various parts of the state ranging from Marquette to Southeast Michigan. The staff continues to work with the Area Agencies on Aging providing information and answering questions regarding MCB's services to the senior population. The staff is fully aware of the importance in collaborating with agencies and organizations as they focus on providing services to the senior population. MCB's Older Blind program is positioning itself in order that the staff will be able to meet the needs of this increasing population. A number of other staff continues to make contact with support groups where many visually impaired and blind consumers receive information and support to assist in maintaining themselves independently in their home and home environment. In many instances, basic orientation was provided as well as simple instructions on the use of telling time and handheld magnification devices. In the U.P. the staff initiated four outreach luncheons to Native Americans in Manistique, Hessel, Sault Ste Marie and St. Ignace. At each of the events, a number of native elders attended where MCB shared with them information regarding services and the criteria for one to be able to access services. As a result of these activities, a number of referrals have been received from the various tribes. These referrals include both independent living as well as vocational referrals. A Native American Cultural Awareness Day was provided by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, along with MCB's Central Region. This cultural event was open to all staff. It provided an opportunity for staff to become familiar with many of the traditions of the Native Americans. The tribe staff taught MCB staff how to make various Indian artifacts and serve a traditional Indian cuisine for lunch. Employer Development MCB staff has been working diligently with a number of employers to develop relationships to increase employment opportunities. One of the employers is Wright & Philippis where the Consumer Services staff and the director have been working with the personnel to introduce MCB's Business Services program which will assist the company in meeting their employment needs. The Consumer Services director and a business services staff member are working collaboratively with Wright & Phillipis to develop a process that will allow MCB to share the job ready consumers, as well as to answer any questions regarding access and technology needs of the blind in order to perform the task. The staff is also in contact with Wal-Mart in regards to the plans to staff a new store in Southeast Michigan. Continuing efforts will be channeled in this area. Meijer's also will be developing its first store in the city limits of Detroit and the Business Services staff is working with the city to assure that MCB job ready consumers will be considered for the numerous employment opportunities. These are just a small number of employment activities that the staff continues to investigate. Small Business Initiative The Southeast area continues to work with the Governor's Small Business program to become aware of the needs of a number of small businesses within the area. The office has presented at the Small Business Summit where they were able to secure information and potential job leads from some small businesses. As a result of these activities, two consumers were able to obtain on-the-job training where it is anticipated that they will receive employment at the completion of the training. They are in dialogue with several other small businesses in the area that have expressed an interest in working with MCB's job ready consumers. The Governor's liaison continues to work with MCB staff to inform them of any new and upcoming small businesses in development. Education and Community Events The staff has been very busy in attending the Individualized Education Plan's (IEP) for students that are a part of MCB's transition activities. Some of these IEP conferences are for senior students who will be exiting school this year and are important because planning for the future occurs during this meeting. MCB staff will have an opportunity to share with the students and parents the expectations regarding services, as well as additional training and/or job placement. At these meetings, the summer programs are discussed as well as college assessments and the College Prep program. A number of the students will be involved in a variety of summer activities provided by MCB which will offer opportunities for students to receive pre-employment training and possible employment during the summer. MCB will be sponsoring eight summer programs in collaboration with the intermediate school districts and community partners. The summer programs are: Summer in the City, Summer Employment Exploration(SEE), Bear Lake, Detroit Summer Youth program, Macomb Summer Transition program, College Prep, Career Club and Summer Work Opportunity Program (SWOP). See article above. The Southeast area intermediate school districts will provide a technology event called the Sizzler. MCB is a co-sponsor of this event which will showcase a variety of vendors who will share with the students the current technology that are being utilized in high school and college. It will also emphasize the importance of utilizing technology in every day life, as well as in academic and employment. The Consumer Services Director visited the Escanaba staff during the first week in May. He also met with the Hannahville Vision Rehabilitation staff to discuss ways to enhance the agreement with the Hannahville tribe. This was a productive meeting on May 5th because the director was able to meet with the staff of the Hannahville Vision as well as Michigan Rehabilitation Services and Michigan Works! staff to discuss ways to improve employment outcomes. Several ideas were initiated that will lead to possible improvements in this area. MCB will be working with the staff to implement the ideas. MCB will also work with the Vision staff to improve information sharing and training opportunities. Trainings MCB is working in collaboration with the Region V Technical Assistance and Continuing Education Program (TACE) at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale to provide the staff with two training programs. These trainings will take place June 8-10, 2010. A number of the staff will participate in one-day Case Management training, which is a vital component of the rehabilitation process that enables individuals to monitor progress within the case. The second training is Motivational Interviewing. This two-day training is for all Consumer Services staff, as well as counselors from the Training Center. The objective of the training is to provide staff with tools that will enable them to work effectively with blind consumers who have not determined their vocational goal and/or those who may have little interest in the rehabilitation process. The training will be held in Lansing at the State Police Academy. MCB, Michigan Rehabilitation Services and the Department of Community Health continue to collaborate on the improvement of services to persons with developmental disabilities and mental impairments, which includes individuals who are blind and visually impaired. They have developed four regional training programs to inform and improve relationships with the various community mental health agencies. The first regional training will be in Kalamazoo on June 2, 2010 at the MCB Training Center. The following three regional trainings are scheduled to be in Detroit -Wayne County, Macomb/Oakland and possibly the northern region of Michigan. These regional trainings are to provide all staff with the updated information regarding the agreement between the three agencies. Emphasis will be placed on improving referrals and employment outcomes. Personnel MCB is in the process of interviewing to fill counselor, teacher and administrative support vacancies. Upon the completion of the selection criteria and interview process, it is anticipated that the staff will provide comprehensive training for all new employees. The new staff will enable the agency to provide timely and comprehensive services to all eligible blind and visually impaired individuals within the state. LIBRARY SERVICES FOR THE BLIND AND PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED REPORT The Michigan regional and subregional librarians met April 15th at the Library of Michigan. Suzanne Dees and Ruth Ruff from Marquette attended via phone for the last time prior to closing the U.P. subregional. Deborah Toomey from National Library Services (NLS) was here to present an NLS update and to answer questions from the subregional librarians. While here, Deborah conducted a biennial site visit and will be submitting her findings in the next few months. Recommendations will be made based on the 2007 American Library Association Standards for Regional Libraries. Scott Norris spent the week of April 26th and Bob Blakes spent the week of May 3rd at the MCB Training Center as staff in training. Scott will complete his second week beginning June 7th. Bob will return for another week in September. SBPH now has a total of 10 college students working part time in materials handling. This has allowed full-time staff to better respond to the demands of digital deployment. As of May 27th 3,608 digital machines have been assigned to LSBPH and subregional patrons, which is approximately 32% of the current patron count. Also there is now 2,227 digital titles in the collection. In April 43,388 books circulated, of which 8,811 were in digital format (20%). Braille and Audio Recording Download (BARD) statistics show that 275 LSBPH patrons are using the download to access books. More than 1,800 titles were downloaded by those readers in April. The BARD site now has over 18,000 titles available. NLS is training Scott Norris, Nancy Verburg and 5 others from the subregional libraries to take over administration of BARD accounts in the LSBPH region. Interns Trendell Gobert and Meagan Daniels assisted Scott Norris with the LSBPH booth at the Visions 2010 Technology Fair in Ann Arbor on May 12th. Staff demonstrated use of the digital players, BARD downloading, JAWS, Window Eyes and the KNFB Reader. They both did a fine job talking to people about services. Sue Chinault, Scott Norris and Andrew Wilson attended the NLS Conference in Iowa May 16-20. Funding was provided by the Library of Michigan Foundation. "We all did it!" was the theme in recognition of a successful debut of digital service throughout the country. Staff learned more of what's to come and shared experiences with peers from other states. Staff remaining in Lansing that week, expressed appreciation for SBPH interns, Meagan and Trendell, who were available to assist staff in various ways throughout the week helping to ease the workload. Computer Club continues to draw patrons to the library on a monthly basis. June 12th will be about things to consider when purchasing a computer. July 10th will focus on BARD downloading and on August 14th the subject is downloading music. Unless otherwise noted, Computer Club meets in the SBPH Lobby on the first floor of the Library of Michigan from 10:30-12:30. TRAINING CENTER REPORT Programming The Training Center is gearing up to conduct the yearly 2 week intensive college assessment program for up to 28 teenagers from June 20th until July 2nd. During this time, all instructors will work on gathering and evaluating information concerning students' college readiness skills. Timely reports will be generated and sent to the field staff for use in designing consumer's overall MCB vocational programs. Some of these students may also decide to receive personal adjustment training (PAT) services at the Training Center during the summer. Others will go on to experience MCB's college preparation program at Western Michigan University. Additional recreational staff is being hired during the summer months to facilitate an expanded recreational program geared toward MCB's younger consumers. Up to 4 student assistants will provide recreational supervision and support as they facilitate this expanded program. The Center's gardening class has begun the season's work by planning and planting garden spaces outside the Center building and at a dedicated large garden bed located next door at the Community's Five Senses Garden. Building The Training Center's major renovation project is moving forward with the submission of proposals for professional services from architectural firms. These firms are bidding for the opportunity to design the construction details of the project. It is hoped that ‘dust can start flying' by the beginning of fall. This project includes: * the replacement of the Training Center's obsolete heating and air conditioning system with a state-of-the-art geothermal system * updating the electrical, plumbing and lighting systems * renovation of all dorm rooms to create single rooms with private baths and cable service * new dorm room furniture * a new technology center. Staffing The Training Center has just hired 2 full time consumers as maintenance and groundskeeper interns using Federal Stimulus program funds. They will work in the maintenance department both indoors and out for the next year. Through collaboration between the MCB's Western Field office and the Training Center, another consumer will be hired as an office assistant intern. Again, this position is being developed with the use of Federal stimulus program funds. Laura Schmelzer, from the support services department, just earned her law degree from Cooley Law School and graduated cum laude. Congratulations! Community Outreach On Tuesday, January 26th O&M instructor Dave Greenwald, a current MCBTC student, and Bailey, one of the TC's demonstration dog-guides were invited to speak with approximately 50 students and teachers at the Alamo Elementary School in Otsego. The presentation focused on the dynamics of blindness, adaptive techniques, strategies, and technology, cane and dog-guide use, and etiquette. Most importantly, the students had an opportunity to interact with a very open and competent blind person with whom they quickly became very comfortable and friendly. For the past 9 months Training Center students have been volunteering at the Kalamazoo Deacon's Conference. This is an area agency which provides counseling, food, clothing, and financial assistance to families in need. The first Friday of each month is assigned to TC students, who provide any services needed at that time. There are usually six to twelve students, along with one or two staff members, attending these activities. Center students have completed such tasks as sending out mailings, sorting and folding clothes, preparing laundry kits, and separating diapers. This opportunity has been a wonderful way for the Training Center to give back to the Kalamazoo community. Originally the Training Center initiated contact and asked for the opportunity to come help. But during the past several months, the Deacon's conference has come to depend upon the services provided and have been calling MCBTC to come and help. The students have done such an amazing job volunteering at the conference that students are not just serving, but are being counted upon. This service project has led many of the TC's former students to volunteer and serve in their own communities. Former students frequently call to share information about their new-found avocations. This has been an awesome opportunity for all. The Kalamazoo Community Foundation is facilitating a community event called Match Day at Bronson Park in Kalamazoo on June 23rd. Many recipients of endowments established at the Foundation are going to take this opportunity to ‘tell their story' to the general public. Since the Training Center is the recipient of a newly created MCBTC endowment fund, the Training Center will be represented there from 11am - 6pm. Current and former MCB consumers plan on hosting a table and offering snack foods prepared by consumers, as well as handouts and face-to-face discussions of information about MCB and the services provided at the Training Center. ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES REPORT Budget The budget through May continues to be on target. At the end of the month, 66% of the fiscal year is complete. MCB's expenditures and encumbrances through May total 14 million dollars which is 60% of the total 23 million dollar budget. ARRA and Capital Outlay funds have not been included in the totals as both projects are in beginning stages and would skew an accurate account of MCB's financial picture. However, the job experience and job placement positions funded by ARRA funds are in full swing and are proving to be excellent projects for the funding. In addition, MCB has purchased equipment/software for two additional computer training stations for the blind and visually impaired at Senior Centers and Areas Agencies on Aging in Escanaba and Grandville. MCB has received 4 bids for the HVAC and building renovation architectural plans at the Training Center. MC Smith has been chosen as the firm to provide those services for the project. The timeline for the completion of the HVAC and renovations is September, 2011. The Memorandum of Understanding with the Energy Office for the energy ARRA funding grant is still working its way through the system and is expected to be signed soon. New replacement desktop computers have been delivered and installed for staff at MCBTC. Laptops for MCBTC staff and desktops for support staff are next in line to be replaced. It is anticipated by August 2010 that all staff computers will have been replaced within that last two years. HR MCB has been very busy hiring new staff since the last Commission meeting. The Central Region has hired a new job placement specialist - Jules Brown - to provide job placement for all consumers in the region. She will be based in the Lansing Regional Office. MCB also hired two new Promotional Agents in the Business Enterprise Program. Josh Hoskins has the Lansing position and Chris Elliott has the Flint position. Both were transfers from other state departments. In addition to the new BEP staff, five MCB interns have started working since mid-March bringing the total to sixteen. Jason Browning and Kyle Schafer are working at the Office of Retirement Services in Lansing, Yolanda Ragland and Tiffany Brooks are working at the Oakland County DHS office, and Michael Travick was hired at the MCB Training Center. As of this moment, one person has been hired to begin working at the State Police Headquarters in Lansing but has not yet completed the background check. Finally, four new student assistants have been hired to work part-time at the Library. Haley Simon, Stephanie Demerly, Symone Coleman, and Mitchell Droste have all started in the past few weeks. These are regular student assistants, not MCB interns. There are also a number of positions in the process of being filled. Two counselors in Detroit, a secretary in Detroit, a counselor in Flint, a job placement specialist in Detroit, two more interns at MCBTC and three or four summer student assistants at the MCBTC will hopefully be hired very soon. All of these positions have been given approval to move forward and are in different steps along the way to being filled. Sherri Heibeck has been selected to be the new MCB Training Center Director. This selection process was a particularly competitive one, with a total of 208 applicants seeking the position and Sherri was the unanimous first choice of the four-member interview panel. Sherri has worked with the Commission for 24 years in various capacities, serving as the MCB Administrative Services Manager for the past six years, providing direction for budget, purchasing, audits, federal reporting, information technology and the Commission's Business Enterprise Program. She has also been a member of MCB's Executive Management Team since 2004 and has been a leader in MCB's Vision 2020 Initiative for the past ten years, serving on the MCB Planning and Quality Team, and the Committee Chairperson of the Strategic Planning Technology Team. Sherri holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Spring Arbor University in Management and Organizational Development and a Master of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from Grand Valley State University. She has also successfully completed the National Rehabilitation Executive Leadership curriculum at San Diego State University. As Sherri assumes her new role as Training Center Director, June 14, her administrative services responsibilities will be assumed, on an interim basis, by Constance Zanger, who has agreed to serve as the agency's Acting Administrative Services Manager. James Hull, the Assistant Manager of the Business Enterprise Program, has agreed to serve as MCB's Acting BEP Manager during this interim. Training Representatives from the State Attorney General's Office will conduct a special in-service training, June 17, for MCB Commissioners. The two-hour training will begin at 1:00 in Conference Rooms A and B, located on the Third Floor of the Victor Office Center, 201 North Washington Square in Lansing. Assistant Attorney Generals Daphne Johnson and Tom Quasarano will provide general training for Commissioners on two important state laws: the Open Meetings Act (OMA) and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In late April, 11 MCB staff attended the annual MAER Conference held in Livonia. The theme of the conference this year was Maximizing Alliances in Education and Rehabilitation. Program Evaluation The latest round of 360 Evaluations has begun with DELEG. Several staff are participating in the process of having their own staff, peers, and managers evaluate their performance on the job. The results of these evaluations will be provided to the person being evaluated over the next couple months. The first case review for 2010 will be done sometime in July. It is still undetermined which office will be first this year. A total of three reviews will be done by the end of the calendar year and the office under review will be notified ahead of time. MCB Publications Update The MCB Independent Living brochure has been reprinted and distributed to all MCB offices. Copies are available in large print, Braille, audio cassette, audio CD, and electronic text CD formats from Susan Turney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-241-8631. An initial draft of the Vocational Rehabilitation brochure is being reviewed this month by the VR brochure sub-committee of the Image & Identity Team. The publication is planned for distribution in August 2010. Christine Movalson is the new editor of MCB Insight, effective with the May 2010 edition. Christine has been working as an MCB employee in the MCB Client Internship program since October 2009. MCB Insight is the MCB employee e-newsletter, published every other month and archived on the MCB website. Events April 2010 was Blindness Prevention and Services Month, by proclamation of Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. As noted in the March MCB report, the month included meetings and communications with the Michigan Optometric Association and the Michigan Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, in addition to MCB Director Pat Cannon's annual presentation to senior optometry students at the Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State in Big Rapids. MCB will host a table at the second annual Braille-A-Thon on Tuesday, June 22, in Lansing on the State Capitol lawn. MCB publications will be distributed in Braille and other formats. MCB is one of 19 organizations working together on a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The celebration will take place on July 26 on the lawn of the State Capitol. Hosted by the Capital Area Center for Independent Living (CACIL) and the Michigan Commission on Disability Concerns (MCDC) with the support of other partner organizations, the event will be open to the public free of charge and include live music, food, informational exhibits, and guest speakers. MCB will host an information table, and a Business Enterprise Program vendor will provide catering for the event. MCB Consumer LeeAnn Buckingham Named Greater Lansing Woman of the Year At a May 19 banquet hosted by Greater Lansing Woman magazine, LeeAnn Buckingham was named 2010 Greater Lansing Woman of the Year. LeeAnn is an MCB consumer, and her counselor, Nichole Wright of the Lansing regional office, was present at the dinner where the 10 finalists were honored. LeeAnn's photo is on the cover of Greater Lansing Woman magazine, June 2010 edition, and the four-page article about how she has continued to successfully run her business after vision loss is also online at www.lsj.com/glw. Speaking about her new title in an article in the Lansing State Journal, LeeAnn said, "It's a real honor and it's been a privilege to know all these women who were nominated." In December 2009, LeeAnn received an Achievement Honor Roll Award from MCB, and she has expressed an interest in doing some public speaking to help increase awareness of MCB's services. MCB Website Highlight: Cafeteria, Snack Bar, and Vending Machine Locations Did you know that there's a complete list of all of Michigan's Business Enterprise Program cafeteria, snack bar, and vending machine locations on the MCB website? The list is in one HTML document that can be searched by operator name, city, or other words such as "catering" using your browser's "Find (on this page)" function in the Edit menu. Each entry includes the facility or route name, the vendor name, location or locations, vendor contact phone number, and a description of the services available. The list is updated frequently. To visit this page on the MCB website, click on this direct link: http://www.michigan.gov/dleg/0,1607,7-154-28077_28313_33125-110828-- ,00.html or, from the home page of the MCB website at www.michigan.gov/mcb, click on Food Service & Customer Care in the main menu, and then scroll down to the link titled Cafeteria, Snack Bar, and Vending Machine Locations. BUSINESS ENTERPRISE PROGRAM REPORT Training Activities The spring 2010 B E P Manager Training class is in full swing. Three students are in the last weeks of their classroom training. Classroom training will conclude on June 11th, with On the Job Experiences (O J E) commencing June 21st. Students who successfully complete the training will be eligible to begin bidding on available facilities in mid-August. BEP Opportunities and Challenges MichiganStatePolice Headquarters Brian Rouleau has commenced operation of the new Michigan State Police Headquarters building. It is a state of the art facility, designed to be as efficient as possible. Brian brings to this facility a great deal of retail experience and outstanding customer service. BEP staff is confident this facility will be very successful under Brian's management. Cass Cafeteria Reopens The Cass Cafeteria remodeling project has finally been completed and the cafeteria is again open for business. While it has been many months in the process, this remodeling project is an example of a successful partnership between D M B and the Commission. Ben Ploch has commenced operation of this facility which includes soft seating and a conference room. Ben, too, brings experience and excellent customer service to this facility. Potential Military Opportunities A solicitation has recently been received for catering services at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, and an alert has been received that the Coast Guard may soon be issuing a solicitation for food service. The Program looks forward to exploring these opportunities. Promotional Agent Positions The March B E P report advised Commissioners that the program had been granted permission to fill the 2 vacant promotional agent positions. The Department of Civil Service forwarded 52 applications for consideration. Of those 52, 10 candidates were invited to interview based on their experience in food service and experience in working with people with disabilities. Interviews were conducted in early March and on April 5th, Chris Elliott and Josh Hoskins came on board as B E P's newest promotional agents. Joshua Hoskins will be working in the Lansing area and Chris will be based in Flint working in the northeast lower peninsula and the upper peninsula. Joshua comes to MCB with diverse restaurant management experiences as well as experience in management at a local credit union. Most recently, he worked at Treasury handling collections. Chris has a background in rehab, working with children with various disabilities. Most recently, he worked in Foster Care Licensing. They both bring unique skills to their positions that will compliment the skills of current program staff. Detroit Arsenal Building 200 The BEP and the Elected Operator Committee are very concerned about the remodeling of the cafeteria at the Detroit Arsenal Building 200 and the subsequent construction of a coffee and sandwich shop. While the Department of Defense asserts the coffee and sandwich shop will operate only while the cafeteria undergoes remodeling, the Program is getting strong messages that the coffee and sandwich shop, located around the corner from the B E P snack bar, will become a permanent fixture. The BEP has enlisted the assistance of the Attorney General in seeking a resolution. Working with the EOC With the 2010 Annual Workshop, a new Elected Operators Committee has been elected. While there are some new faces on the Committee, 6 operators remain from the past EOC. Consequently, the Program hopes it will have the continuing pleasure of working with another interested and active Elected Operators Committee. Following are some joint Committee and Program projects it is expected will be on the agenda: As one follow up to the Attorney General's opinion on the position paper, Program staff has developed a catering manual as well as catering training designed to be offered to operators on a regional basis. As a means to assist Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors present the Business Enterprise Program to consumers, it has been suggested a C D be developed for Voc Rehab's use. Counselors could review the C D with their consumers, or the C D could be distributed to a wider audience. As contained in the temporary policy, the Program and the Committee will re-evaluate the interim initial inventory policy that provides 3 weeks of initial inventory.
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