As we begin a new year, it is rewarding to look back and celebrate benchmarks reached and goals met, yet challenging when we look forward to what still needs to be accomplished and issues that still need to be addressed. What will health care reform look like in 2010? Will it include additional long-term care provisions or the Community Choice Act? Advocacy efforts need to continue, so I encourage everyone to stay involved and let your voices be heard.
Over the past fiscal year, Ravalli County assisted 154 consumers with disabilities in setting and achieving their individual goal of securing a benefit, resource, or service that was essential for them to remain independent and active in the community. Another 184 individuals were provided information on community resources or referred to other community programs and services to meet their needs. It was a very busy year!
Last year Summit began a new program to increase community participation for people with disabilities and provide group support while participating in a variety of social activities. Last June, the LEAD-ON Workshop (Learn and educate yourself, Empower yourself and others, Advocate for yourself and others, know your Disability rights, Organize, and Network) kicked off these activities as attendees were introduced to disability history and the leaders of the independent living movement, with the opportunity to participate in healthy discussions and network with others. Last August we had a cookout at Larry Creek Group Camp with lots of food, fun, and games. In September, many enjoyed the D’s Guise Concert held at Claudia Driscoll Park and in December we got together for a great Christmas potluck dinner. So what’s in store for 2010? Our goal is at least four social activities throughout the year, with the first event being a “murder mystery” scheduled during March around St. Patrick’s Day. In July, we’re planning an event to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you are interested in planning or participating in any of these social activities give us a call and we will add you to our contact list.
We will continue to offer various training and workshops throughout 2010, including orientation on Summit services on the 4th Monday of each month, which includes training on Social Security disability benefits, including information on expedited processing for Wounded Warriors, the homeless and those with a terminal diagnosis. The “Living Well with a Disability” workshop will be offered again in early spring and we will continue to offer a variety of other classes to meet consumers’ interests and needs. Give us a call if you are interested in any of these classes.
The Ravalli County Transition Coalition began their monthly meetings in October and throughout the school year will alternate every other month between Hamilton and Stevensville to help middle and high school students prepare for adulthood. These meetings feature a guest speaker followed by questions, discussion and networking. If you are interested in attending these meetings, contact Serenity at 363-5242.
Over the past year, the Bitterroot Valley People First Aktion Club has been very active in Kiwanis and other community activities, and members have joined the Missoula People First Aktion Club in participating in many social activities, including the Halloween Party held in Missoula and our recent Christmas Potluck Dinner held in Hamilton. For the 2nd year in a row, Mary Millin, People First Advisor, was presented with the Distinguished Service Award from the local Kiwanis Club of the Bitterroot Valley. Currently, Mary and an Aktion Club member, Lisa Howard, are part of a steering committee for a Rural Institute grant, “Partnering With People With Developmental Disabilities To Address Violence”, which is a 3-year research project to look at ways in which people with developmental disabilities are being hurt or abused by the people in their lives, and the effects of that abuse on their health. The Bitterroot Valley People First Aktion Club is a great group, dedicated to advocating for the betterment of their own lives and the lives of others.
Throughout 2010, may you discover new opportunities, reach the goals you have set for yourself, and enjoy all the good things life has to offer.