Buy Dinner to Support Chicago Marathon Team

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is coming at us fast! Our eighteen person team is busy training and fundraising their $1,000 minimum, but we want to help them as much as we can! So we are hosting two fundraisers at restaurants in Evanston! Read more for the details..

Chipotle Fundraiser

Chipotle fundraiser flyerFirst up, visit the Chipotle at 711 Church St. in Evanston on Tuesday, September 11th! From 4-8 pm, you can buy dinner for yourself and your family or friends. As an added bonus, a whole 33% of the proceeds will benefit our Chicago Marathon team!

Bring in your phone with this post to make sure the donation goes to Center for Independent Futures. Show the cashier this flyer, and they will take care of everything else!

Potbelly Fundraiser

Then, on Tuesday, October 9th, Potbelly will be hosting a fundraiser to benefit the team just after the Marathon is over.  25% of the proceeds will be donated to our Marathon team’s efforts from 5-8 pm. Visit the location at 630 Davis St. to participate!

This post will be updated with the Potbelly flyer within the next month, but it will work the exact same way the Chipotle fundraiser does!

What Other Ways Can You Support the Team?

Are you looking for other ways to support Team CIF? Check out this blog post where you can donate to our current team members, or put the Marathon on your calendar! We will be cheering on our runners from the Charity Block Party all morning, and we would love to have you join us!

If you are interested in running the 2019 Chicago Marathon, let us know! We will be looking for team members starting in late October or early November.

Want to find out more? Email Connor Larsen with your question, and she will get back to you as soon as possible.

Taking the Full Life Process International

Blue and green logo for Community Living Essex County

COMMUNITY LIVING ESSEX COUNTY, located in Ontario, Canada, believes every individual is essential to the success of the entire community. With over 725 employees supporting over 700 individuals with intellectual disabilities, we knew that our collaborative approach could help this agency support its participants.

“People were asking for a change in their living environments, and we had difficulty determining the level of support needed to assist more independent living,” says project manager Shelbey Pillon. Her organization became involved with Center for Independent Futures as the agency researched tools to aid accurate skills assessments. With more than 300 identified skills and 150 lessons with resources to train skills, our Full Life Process fit the bill.

“The Full Life Process addresses a common struggle among large agencies,” Shelbey says. “The process allows organizations that have many staff working with an individual to efficiently coordinate support.” Because the online application is easy to access by multiple staff members, the agency team can work collaboratively with concrete information to teach and track skill progress. “Staff can monitor progress and share information so everyone knows what has been accomplished and can begin working where other team members left off.”

“It is a thrill to work with our first international partner,” shares Chrissy Lewis, Center for Independent Futures’ Full Life Process Consultant. “Working with Shelbey’s team has been so exciting. They are thinking outside the box as they work to implement the use of the Full Life Process in their organization.”

Our comprehensive, person-centered approach to skills assessment, skill training, and life planning helps us build partnerships with service providers like this one. Working with our programs, Community Living Essex County is able to support people as they follow their dreams toward more independent living.

Save the Date: Something’s Cooking 2018

Two participants attend Something's Cooking, smiling at eventOur favorite fall activity is just around the corner! On Sunday, November 4th, join us at the Woman’s Club of Evanston from 3:00-6:00 pm for Something’s Cooking. We will be joined by the North Shore’s favorite local restaurants, bakeries, and breweries for a tasty evening with delightful treats! Mark your calendars today to guarantee you won’t miss out on this fun fall favorite!

We are looking forward to the signature dishes available to sample, giving us all a taste of Chicago and the North Shore’s best offerings. From pasta to pizza and tacos to cupcakes, a ticket to Something’s Cooking provides you the opportunity to find some new favorites! Plus, don’t miss the event’s silent auction for the chance to place the winning bid on some excellent items.

How Can You Help Out?

Want to help us prepare at this fun event? Volunteers help us plan and run the event while taking part in all the fun! To learn more about available volunteer opportunities, contact Jamie Annenberg by email or call the office at (847) 328-2044. We are also seeking community businesses to support our silent auction. Contact Niki Moe Horrell or call the office number to learn more about this business opportunity.

Something's Cooking attendees smiling in front of barAs always, all funds raised at Something’s Cooking will go toward continuing to support our vision of a future where all people have access to the opportunities of a full, independent life. Watch for more blogs about Something’s Cooking to learn about our featured partners, restaurant partners at the event, and a link to buy tickets online in a new, streamlined format.

Thank you to our sponsors who make Something’s Cooking and our other events possible every year! Once again, we also want to thank our wonderful community for coming out to support the hopes and dreams of our participants every year.

Summer Camp for Transition Students

The end of summer is approaching, but at Center for Independent Futures, we will be leaving summer with a bang! This summer, we hosted two summer camp options for Evanston Township High School Transition House students. The first, Life Tools Camp, we have been offering for eight years, and the second is a five-week Transportation Camp.

Community Resources at Life Tools Camp

Transition students smile during game of kickball at Life Skills CampCynthia and Sharon have run Life Tools Camp since the beginning of this program. Between the two of them, they have yet to miss a year! According to Cynthia, at Life Tools Camp, “We spend time in the community each day, learning safe routes to walk to some destinations and taking the bus or Metra to others.”

As a result, Life Tools Camp students were able to visit and learn about community resources. The students learned from ComEd Ambassador Brian about energy use and conservation, plus a former student from the Transition House met with the campers and discussed how the experience impacted them. In addition to these activities, the group visited the Evanston Public Library, walked to the Evanston Ecology Center, and even took a trip to downtown Chicago – a first for some students.

From learning to playing, Life Tools Camp is an opportunity for students to receive hands-on training in critical life tools while also getting to know their community.

Discovering Transit with Transportation Camp

We hosted a new summer camp too: Transportation Camp. Over the course of five weeks, students from the Transition House met with Sharon and Laura on Fridays.

Each week, they met at the Center for Independent Futures office, and then they went over the information they needed to know for the day. They were asked questions such as, “When do you use your Ventra card?” and “Which stops will we get on and off at today?” The camp covered transportation via Metra, CTA train or bus, and navigating the Evanston area.

We were excited to provide this opportunity, and we hope to offer similar Transportation Camps in the future.

Grateful for Our Community Supporters

Evanston Community Foundation funded our Transportation Camp grantWe want to thank all the Evanston community for welcoming our campers throughout these programs. In addition, we want to thank the Evanston Community Foundation for graciously funding our new Transportation Camp opportunity.

We also want to thank Evanston Township High School for partnering with us to offer life skills programming to their Transition House students. To learn more about our work in schools, click here.

Presentation at National Down Syndrome Conference

Chrissy & Cynthia at the National Down Syndrome ConferenceCenter for Independent Futures hit the road again last month! Schools Consultant Chrissy and Community Life Coordinator Cynthia flew to Dallas in the middle of July. They faced the heat of Texas to present to the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) Conference.

At the National Down Syndrome Conference, parents, self-advocates, siblings, and volunteers gather to learn from industry experts. Thousands of people come to the conference to hear the newest information in the field. Center for Independent Futures was honored to be considered a leader in the field at this conference.

“We were pleased when we were asked to submit a proposal to present at the NDSC,” said Cynthia. “Our informative and interactive presented, ‘A Roadmap to Hope: Creating a Circle of Support for Your Adult Sibling,’ was well received.” Cynthia also expressed how wonderful it was to reconnect with other groups who are using the Full Life Process around the country, like Club 21.

Explore the Full Life Process

Though we don’t focus on labels here, we designed our Full Life Process to help anyone with an intellectual or developmental disability who needs support. It covers eight areas that encompass a full life, including home life, wellness, getting around, and more. The Full Life Process includes three crucial steps: planning, skills inventory, and skills training.

Those three investigative and planning steps help individuals work toward discovering their hopes and dreams – and then achieving them. After acknowledging obstacles, our process helps to develop action plans to develop necessary skills. We love sharing our Full Life Process throughout the country, providing schools & agencies with tools to facilitate person-centered planning.

Thank you to the NDSC for inviting Chrissy and Cynthia to speak at the Conference, and thank you to the audience for participating and engaging! Finally, keep an eye out for where our training consultants fly off to next!  

3 Things to Know About the ADA

Logo with ADA on it, as well as traditional symbols for various disabilitiesIn 1990, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in a step to shift the country toward accessibility for all. The 28th anniversary of the bill’s passage is on July 26th. Since 1990, the ADA has been defined and redefined again to include all levels of disabilities, including mental health challenges.

Laws can change as new situations arise. In fact, that is how the United States has expanded the ADA so far. With new challenges, lawmakers include additional elements or amendments to solve similar problems in the future. What are some other ways the law has changed? What else do individuals with disabilities and families need to know?

How to Get Accommodations You Need

For most, if not all, accommodations, it is necessary to have the proper documentation ready. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, disability documentation may take the form of a letter on medical letterhead stationery, records from a government agency that issues benefits, or certification from a private counselor that provides benefits.

Other documentation may apply, so always ask to make sure you know what you need.

How to Receive Support at Universities

The process of receiving support differs from school to school, but similar documentation is usually necessary. Following documentation, students can work with the appropriate office to coordinate support.

Being a self-advocate is important to receiving support in college. Students with disabilities may need to approach their teachers and discuss their support needs in person. For example, when classes are in inaccessible buildings, it could even be possible to move the class to an accessible classroom.

How to Check for Accommodations at Businesses

Logo for ADA Network checklistAll government buildings and offices, as well as businesses and nonprofits, must be accessible to people with disabilities on an equal basis as others. The ADA National Network provides checklists online to help with this.

The ADA Network has several checklist versions available, including fillable and non-fillable Word documents and PDFs. The sections in this checklist include accessibility of entrances, bathrooms, and access to goods and services.

Finding accessibility resources is not always easy. But if you know what businesses and buildings are supposed to have, you can help make the world more accessible for everyone.

Sharing the Full Life Process

Our partnerships with schools and agencies put our person-centered approaches in the hands of teachers and human service professionals working to support individuals to build full, independent lives. By sharing tools and resources, we help schools like Stevenson High School prepare students for the transition after graduation.

Partnering with a Blue Ribbon School

Logo for Stevenson High SchoolSince opening in 1965, STEVENSON HIGH SCHOOL has been a recipient of four Blue Ribbon Awards for Excellence in Education. As one of the best high schools in America, Stevenson’s Special Education Division works diligently to understand its students as individuals and help them choose their paths through self-advocacy.

As part of Stevenson’s Transition Team, Megan Sugrue has worked to build a program based on teaching the vital skills necessary for life after high school.  The Full Life Process has been an essential addition to their program. “The Full Life Process curriculum is high quality, visually appealing, and focused on skills attainment,” Megan says. “The online application makes it easy for me to find the lesson plans and resources relevant for individual students.”

Working with the online application, Stevenson students are able to have a voice in creating the life they envision. “Some students don’t see themselves as people with strengths,“ relates Marney Orchard, a Center for Independent Futures School and Agency Consultant working with the Stevenson team. “I love how this process allows students to reflect, recognize their talents, and express what they want for their future.”  

Moving Forward with Stevenson High School

Stevenson High School crestMegan has become an advocate for the Full Life Process with other educators. “In addition to the curriculum, professional development and training to use the platform are provided,” Megan tells her peers. “Center for Independent Futures’ professional, responsive, and personable support staff are available to problem solve and troubleshoot as needed.”

Using the Full Life Process, Megan’s days as a transition educator are smoother and more efficient. The Stevenson team is beginning to bring data collected from the Full Life Process into Individualized Education Plan meetings. We are excited to continue supporting transition programs like Stevenson’s across the state of Illinois and beyond.

Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund Created

Individuals with disabilities should have access to all the opportunities that a full, independent life offers. To achieve that access, many individuals need support from organizations like Center for Independent Futures. But what happens when a family can’t afford those services?

A Journey to Community Support

Arnie Schumer and his sister, Karen Berkowsky, could not afford the services provided by Center for Independent Futures, but they knew it was the right fit for Arnie. Through a scholarship fund, we were able to offer Arnie services that supported his needs and provided access to independent living. Before Arnie passed away last May, Arnie had been a part of our community since 2007.

Arnie was a caring, generous person, and Center for Independent Futures helped him further develop his existing skills and talents. Because of the impact this support had on her brother’s life, Karen decided the best way to honor him would be to help others get the support they need, too.

Karen started by taking Arnie’s story to a group called Women Giving Back. Each year, this group of generous women gathers to hear about three local charities three to four times. Then they vote on the story that they would like to support. The winning charity receives a donation from each voting member.

Ann & Megan receiving initial check from Women Giving BackWhen Karen presented her family’s story, it touched many hearts, and also received the most votes. The total donation received was a wonderful gift of $5,550. We will use the donations from Women Giving Back to start a hopefully long-standing scholarship fund in Arnie’s memory. The scholarship dollars from the Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund will be given to qualifying individuals with disabilities and families who need financial help to pay for Center for Independent Futures’ services.

How You Can Help Others Like Arnie

Along with Arnie’s sister, we are reaching out to our community to help provide the same opportunity that Arnie had to others who need it. If you want to donate to the Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund, you may write a check to Center for Independent Futures or donate online. To donate online, click the purple “Donate” button on our website. Once the Paypal Donation window opens,  enter the amount you want to donate and include “Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund” in the “In Honor of” box.

Everyone deserves access to a full, independent life. The Arnie Schumer Scholarship Fund is one more step toward creating access for all.

Moving Beyond Diversity

Thanks to Evanston Cradle to Career, some staff members attended a two-day seminar on moving beyond diversity. What does that mean?

It means that if we are going to create a society that treats everyone equally, we can’t only consider diversity. We must reconsider the ways we are taught to think about abilities, race, class, and gender. Together, our community needs to think of the diversity of experiences people have – not just diversity of skin color.

Continue reading to find out what each staff member discovered at Beyond Diversity.

Sharon Purdy

As our facilitator said, “public learning is hard.” My best learning happened when I was most uncomfortable.

Why did I show up? I wanted an action plan. I wanted something I could do every day to be more aware and continue to learn from others’ perspectives. It’s great that our small group of colleagues at CIF has continued the conversation. I look forward to continued work together in hopes that we can keep this important conversation and resulting ideas and actions in the forefront of the work we do.

Niki Moe Horrell

I grew up in a mainly white community where there were distinct prejudices against people of color and this was against the threads of who I was, yet, this was where I lived. During the seminar, my mind was opened to some harsh realities:

Five staff members who attended Beyond Diversity pose for photo

I would not know how it feels to be racially profiled and followed by the police. I would not know how it feels to be watched in a department store. I would not know that the lighter the skin tone, the more privileged the person is.

People of color mentioned each of these experiences at the seminar. We all need to put ourselves in others’ shoes and create a change, for people of every color matter and every color creates the human race.

 

Claudia Quijada

Diversity and inclusion are becoming an important topic nowadays. However, there are always big challenges that societies face and these challenges, sometimes, become stronger than the willingness of good people. We can only achieve an inclusive goal when a society finds support from local governments. They must create policies specifically for the protection of the rights of minority groups.

Kathy Lyons

In championing inclusion for people with disabilities, we can be allies with others who face discrimination because the community of people with disabilities is as diverse as the population of people without.

The work of becoming racially conscious is deeply personal, often uncomfortable, and on-going.

Chrissy Lewis

Courageous Conversations logo

The opportunity to participate in the Beyond Diversity training for two days was a professional gift. The facilitator was willing to take risks and allow the people participating in the training to drive the conversation on race.  When these personal conversations took place, I learned the most about ideas like colorism and having courageous dialogues.

Although Evanston is a diverse community, it isn’t integrated. I spent time reflecting on my role in white dominance and the privileges that I am afforded. Finally, I reflected upon what conversations to take back to the Center for Independent Futures community on race.  

Connor Larsen

The most important aspect of being aware of race is possessing an ability to talk about difficult issues. The Beyond Diversity seminar provided us with tools for productive and valuable conversations about race, white privilege, and “whiteness.”

I am excited to work at an organization that encourages its staff to take racial differences and community building seriously. While there is so much work to be done in the world-at-large, the best thing we can do is start at home. We will continue to have these difficult conversations among staff and community partners, and I hope that we can spread the tools we learned.

A Jam-Packed Life

This story was featured in our 2017 Annual Report, which can be found on the Media Gallery page on our website. Check it out to learn more about our partnerships with families, schools, and agencies across the country.

Just Adam Being Adam

Living a full, independent life is something most people want as they grow up. Adam Wiser is no different. Over time, Adam knew he wanted to live on his own. He wanted to explore the world around him with a jam-packed life full of activities he loves.

Adam smiles at past Something's Cooking fundraiserA road trip offers a chance to experience new places, broaden horizons, and have fun. For Center for Independent Futures participant Adam Wiser, a road trip seemed like a great opportunity to bond with buddies. So last year, Adam and two of his friends went to Pittsburgh, singing along to Billy Joel and enjoying the “thrill of the open road.”

When Adam moved to the Chicagoland area, he left his family behind in Indiana. He fell in love with Evanston, and built a life filled with work at Nordstroms Café, cruising around on his Diamondback, and hanging out with friends. These days, Adam loves movies on the big screen and prefers comedy and action films. “You need to see the second Thor movie,” Adam advises. “It’ll really make you laugh!”  An avid sports follower and loyal Cubs fan, he enjoys an occasional chance to see them play. “It feels awesome to be at Wrigley Field,” he shares. “I am not really into the SOX.”

Following Adam’s Dreams

Adam poses with friends he has made through Center for Independent FuturesAdam’s parents, Tom and Gloria, encourage him to follow his dreams. “We want our son to grow as an individual, expand relationships, and have the support he needs to become who he is meant to be…his best self,” shares Tom. With Center for Independent Futures support, Adam is part of a genuine community and has a full life with authentic connections. “If anything comes up, serious or not, someone is there to support him through it,” says Tom. “For parents living away from their kids, that’s a lifesaver.”

“It’s an absolute joy to be part of Adam’s team and to watch his confidence and capabilities grow,” relates Community Builder, Aby Karottu. “He brings so much humor, positive energy, and liveliness to the community, and he always lends a helping hand.” Aby adds, “I consider myself lucky to support such a caring, charismatic, and kind young man.”

Adam’s Pittsburgh adventure included the symphony, a Pirates game, and the Heinz Museum, where he learned all about the city’s transportation history…and ketchup. When Adam thinks about his goals, more road trips and see new things are at the top of his list. Adam’s next destination: The Mall of America in Minneapolis. Anybody ready to hit the road?

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