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July 1, 2010 – June 30, 2011 Independence Now Annual Report The mission of Independence Now is to facilitate independent thought and action by people with disabilities. We promote the principle that each person has value. To this end, we provide the tools for individuals to develop and discover their power to control their interactions with the environment, their families and their communities. Independence Now is part of a state and national network of Centers for Independent Living. Independence Now 12301 Old Columbia Pike, Suite 101 Silver Spring, MD 20904 8181 Professional Pl., Suite 107, Rm 119 Hyattsville, MD 20785 301-277-2839 www.innow.org On the Move! Maryland Independent Living in Action 2011 Sarah Sorensen, Executive Director I borrowed this title from the recent Maryland SILC Conference! It is very fitting for Independence Now’s current status. We are building relationships, reaching out to new segments of the population, offering more peer group sessions and increase our knowledge base. Since starting as Executive Director in November 2010, it has been an exciting time! Our staff connected with underserved populations. Following the lead of the State Plan for Independent Living, the underserved populations in our counties include youth, veterans and individuals of Hispanic background. In addition to holding youth specific events, we have attended many fairs and other events to provide resources and Travel Training participant information. waits at the bus stop. We established a greater presence in Prince George’s County. This was accomplished through the reopening of an office in the county as well as increasing our partnership and visibility with the Maryland Access Point Office in Camp Springs, where we are part of a shared space office. The calendar has been exploding with events for consumers at both offices. A six-week cooking class has been offered twice over the past year, in conjunction with Project Frontline and the Maryland Food Bank. A recent series on disability policy has supported consumers to understand their rights in a whole new way. Of course, the housing seminars continue to be very popular and well attended. Independence Now is looking forward to more growth inside and outside the organization in the year to come. A few of our goals include: increase services to youth; reinvigorate outreach to nursing facilities; improve our website and ensure all of our materials are available in accessible formats. Don’t forget to keep your membership with Independence Now, so you can stay On the Move with us! Administrative Staff: Sarah Sorensen, Executive Director Eddie Snyder, Administrative Assistant Todd Thorpe, Director of Operations Larisa Gracie, Bookkeeper Annual Highlights 335 Consumers served in Prince George’s County 190 Consumers served in Montgomery County Independence Now’s services are free of charge and are provided without regard to race, gender, ethnicity, 2027 Information and Referral Services Provided national origin, age, religion, or type(s) of disability. 516 Peer Counseling Services Provided All public information is available in alternate formats 136 Outreach/education sessions such as Braille, large print or electronic upon request. Benefits INfoSource Did you know: By using work incentives, you can earn money and in many cases continue to receive disability benefits? If you have SSI, you can earn up to $38,660 a year and still have Medical Assistance! If you have SSDI, you can have unlimited income for 9 months! You can get Medical Assistance even if you don’t have any SSA benefits if you are working and have a disability. A PASS can help you actually INCREASE your benefits to help you achieve a work goal. In the past year, Benefits INfoSource, the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance project for Maryland, has undergone several changes, but continues to provide much needed services across the state. Under a grant from the Social Security Administration, we help individuals who receive disability benefits understand and use the work incentives available to them. In short, we help people understand what happens to their benefits when they return to work. DORS has created a true fee-for-service system this year and we take referrals from local DORS offices to support even more people with their benefits. Benefits INfoSource helped 850 individuals last year. We provided everything from basic Information and Referral to intensive Analyses involving Problem Solving and Advocacy. We have helped many of these people manage their benefits while they work and become more self-sufficient. One such person began work as an independent contractor for a small non-profit organization. He was concerned that his income would cause him to lose his SSDI benefits along with his housing and food stamps. Through the use of nearly every possible work incentive, along with advocacy and informed self-advocacy, he was able to keep his SSDI. Though he may lose his housing voucher he is in a much better financial position to be able to afford his own housing. Staff: David Mitchell, Project Director Sherrone Polite, Project Assistant Tom Brincefield, CWIC Denise Thomas, CWIC in training Michelle Corron, CWIC John Warnick, Provisional CWIC Travel Training Independence Now, in partnership with Metro, provides free, comprehensive, individualized Travel Training for people with disabilities. The Travel Training averages 8-10 sessions and includes lessons in trip planning, travel safety on public transportation, how to communicate with drivers and station managers, and with the ultimate goal of traveling independently in the metro area without relying on para-transit. Since March of 2010, Independence Now has assisted 19 consumers to travel to work, school, appointments, and the mall. Most were young people, transitioning from high school into the world of work or college. Many were taking their first steps to independent living. Travel Training has meant a great deal to not only the consumers but also to their families. Parents who were at first reluctant, now feel more confident in watching their sons or daughters “leave the nest” with greater independent living skills! One young man, after learning to go to school and work, explained that now he felt so comfortable he could probably use his travel training skills at the airport when flying to visit his aunt in Texas. Staff: Trish Foley, Project Director Damian Gregory, Travel Trainer Georgia Smith, Travel Trainer Independence Now, Inc. Statements of Financial Position as of September 30, 2010 TOTALS 2010 2009 Assets $ $ Cash and cash equivalents 76,362 50,716 Investments 457,722 514,500 Grants and contracts receivable 197,493 226,724 Prepaid expenses and other 25,631 39,144 liabilities Property and equipment, net 14,024 22,368 Total assets 771,232 853,452 Liabilities Accounts and other payables 14,946 36,065 Deferred revenue 28,260 5,951 Deferred rent 14,070 6,956 Capital leases 11,810 17,530 Total liabilities 69,086 66,502 Net assets Unrestricted 651,895 686,193 Temporarily restricted 50,251 100,757 Total Net Assets 702,146 786,950 Independence Now, Inc. Statements of Support, Revenue and Expenses and Changes in Net Assets Balances As of September 30, 2010 TOTALS 2010 2009 Support and Revenue $ $ Support 1,062,572 1,089,370 Revenue 54,975 97,099 Total support and revenue 1,117,547 1,167,303 Expenses Program services 951,774 923,289 General and administrative 200,071 148,787 Loss from misappropriations - 43,895 Total expenses 1,151,845 1,115,971 Changes in Net Assets (34,298) 70,488 Independent Living Services During July 2010 to June 2011 Independence Now provided independent living (IL) services to 533 consumers from Montgomery and Prince George's Counties. Consumers received IL Core services and other services to assist with achieving self-directed goals. Addition to the provision of IL core services, consumer participated in the following monthly events: Women Group Transportation Action Group (TAP) Men Group, Creative Getting Your Act Together (a series on legislative Housing Seminars laws) Movie Advocate’s Theater Creative Cooking Class (a 6-week course) A thirty year old male with an orthopedic impairment living in Prince George’s County obtained housing in spite of a misdemeanor record. After becoming a person with a disability, he was living at home with his mother. He was denied public housing in Anne Arundel County because of his criminal record. He requested Independent Living Services to assist with acquiring affordable housing and an advocate to assist with a hearing on his housing. Through peer counseling, information and referral, housing counseling, independent living skills training and advocacy he was able to have the denial overturned and obtained housing with Anne Arundel County in 8 months. He officially moved into his own apartment in May 2011. A Montgomery County resident received repairs for her two lifts that provide accessibility to her duplex home. She had the lifts installed after having a stroke. The lifts had not been operating for over three months. Her son had been physically lifting her and bringing her downstairs or she remained upstairs all day. She obtained the repair about 2 weeks before her 85th birthday and was thankful to Independence Now because she was able to attend her 85th birthday celebration without a worry of how she would get out of the home. In conclusion, Independence Now has had a thriving year with plans to continue providing quality service to individuals with disabilities, increasing outreach, networking with other community services agencies and providing opportunities for staff development. Staff: Deborah Jackson, Director Kelvin Hawkins, Independent Living Specialist Rochelle Harrod, Independent Living Specialist Lesia Veloz, Independent Living Specialist Independence Now Funders Aid Association for the Blind of the District of Columbia Maryland Department of Disabilities Maryland State Department of Education Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Rehabilitation Services Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development Southern Maryland Center for Independent Living/DHMH Recent Graduate of Cooking Class US Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration US Social Security Administration Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority And of course, private contributions! Money Follows the Person The State of Maryland was chosen by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services to participate in the Money Follows the Person (MFP) Rebalancing demonstration, which is an opportunity for states to rebalance long-term care systems. Through MFP, Maryland has the opportunity to improve long- term care by improving the availability and quality of community-based services while providing people in institutions information about the option to be served in the community. The data from the project shows that MFP participants were about equally likely to move to a home, apartment, or Assisted Living Unit. About 28 percent moved into a home owned either by the participant or by a family member, 30 percent moved to an apartment and 29 percent into a group home of Money Follows the Person Staff Members no more than four people. Among the many people that Money Follow the Person has assisted was Montgomery County resident, Gail Carson. Gail was a resident at a Nursing facility who was able to live back into the community with assistance of the MFP program. She uses the Living at Home Medicaid Waiver that provides her great independence in her new apartment. Gail is very active in many events that Independence Now offers to their consumers and encourages other people with disabilities and older adult residents living in a nursing facility to become as independent as possible. Under a grant from MFP, Independence Now employs six Peer Partners who are either senior citizens or persons with disabilities. The peers go to the Nursing Facilities to do peer outreach and peer support to residents who wish to learn more about community based options. We are also working to expand the program to peer mentoring before and after the residents leave the nursing facilities. Jackie Littleford has been a peer partner since the MFP program started and has the experience of living in the nursing facilities and coming home. She loves going back to the nursing facility to inform residents about life after coming home. Jackie attends almost all the events that we offer at Independence Now and is always looking to do more. Staff: Melissa Snyder, Peer Outreach Coordinator Kim Anderson, Project Assistant Independence Now’s Board of Directors: Cindy Buddington, President, Montgomery County Pat Laird, Vice-President, Anne Arundel County Regina Lee, Secretary, Prince George’s County Robert Watson, Treasurer, Prince George’s County Carol Boyer, Prince George’s County Michael Fitzpatrick, Montgomery County Don Gilchrist, Montgomery County Timothy Hairston, Prince George’s County David Johnson, Montgomery County Sandra Sermons, Montgomery County In Fond Memory of Bill Lee, Founding Board Member of Independence Now Alex Vakalopoulos, Montgomery County Youth Programs It’s been an exciting time for the Youth Program at Independence Now, Inc. Our beginning steps have been successful ones and we are looking forward to future endeavors. In February we held a webinar Outreaching to Youth with Disabilities and Their Supports. Our aim was to provide an interactive way for teachers, coordinators, counselors, parents and youth to gain a greater understanding of independent living and the services we offer. We had lots participants which was thrilling. In March, we held an open house event for Prince George’s and Montgomery County residents called Stations for Services. Students and parents toured the office viewing displays that showcased our services. Staff members were available to introduce services and answer questions about our organization. April was a very exciting month for our youth program. We held a statewide Movie Advocacy Day during Spring Break. Youth were invited to join us at the AFI Silver Theatre in downtown Silver Spring for the feature film, Darius Goes West. We ended up with almost 50 people in attendance! Darius, the star of the movie chatted with us on Skype, allowing students to ask questions, make comments and gain an understanding of real life challenges and accomplishments. It was exciting for all of us to see such a positive reaction to the day! Although, our week long Youth Leadership Forum program will not be held this summer, we are excited about the new and fun activities Independence Now is putting together for youth with disabilities. For instance, this summer we are hosting the Capital Food Bank’s Cooking Matters class which teaches teens about healthy eating and independent meal preparation. This six week course will run through the summer, incorporating our Travel Training program and our Independent Living Services. Youth Programs are continuing to expand and we are looking forward to everything the next few years will bring. It is only the beginning! Staff: Kim Wilhelm, Youth Program Coordinator Assistive Technology Independence Now receives funding from the Rehabilitation Services Administration for modifications to the homes and vehicles of eligible consumers with significant disabilities. The home modifications are to improve access to the home, access to the bathroom and access within the residence. In the past year we have funded the installation of ramps, vertical wheelchair lifts, stair lifts, railings on stairways, and safety railings in bathrooms. We provide financial support to consumers for the modifications to their vehicles so as to make driving and transporting easier and safer. One of our consumers lived in a house with steps down from the house and up to the street. She was unable to get safely from her house to the street. She contacted the county and had them make the entrance accessible on the street side of her property. Independence Now assisted her in making her porch and stairs meet the work done by the county. We were able to help her find a contractor who could do the work and enable her to pay for the modifications. The grant also funds Assistive Technology. We have been able to fund hearing aids and augmentative communication devices for consumers. In this way we have made communication less problematic. With our help, a young man, transitioning from school to work, was able to obtain the augmentative communication device that he uses at school, facilitating a smoother transition to adult life. Staff: Trish Foley, Director of Community Programs
"Independence Now - Division of Rehabilitation Services"