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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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-
OCTOBER OBSERVANCES PROMOTE EMPLOYMENT OF PEOPLE WITH
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
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-
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
* 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
* new dorm room furniture
* a new technology center.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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:
,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
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
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