Apologies to my blog readers for disappearing. WordPress and I had a difference of opinion on who is doing this. Been too busy to work it out.
Work on emergency planning for Chapelwood United Methodist Church has been top on agenda with a Ferno sales rep coming today to demonstrate an evacuation chair that might let us get our persons with disabilities out of harms way in case of any kind of emergency. It’s amazing the number of appliances out there that help people to safety. Our priority is safety for both the person being transported down stairs and for the persons who are doing the transporting. I may be the guinea pig this afternoon as I transfer to one of the chairs. The planning committee is made up of people who are experts in their fields who have worked diligently to put an emergency plan together. I have learned a lot from them, and will now need to amend the Circle of Friends emergency procedures.
Our new service opportunity for teens begins in September, and we are in the process of organizing information and meeting with volunteers to work out safety practices and schedules that will be not only fun but productive. The group will be small, but we expect it to grow as do all our programs that are based on need. The program will serve high school graduates who have no transition program or place to go due to state cut backs in funding.
I shared information with the Heights CERT group this week. As usual, I learned a lot from this group of volunteers who have trained themselves as first responders as well as community activists for emergency preparation. A few already had experience with caregiving or disabilities. Main pitch of our discussion was around how to meet a person with a disability and let communication give you clues to your assessment of what is needed. This lets you respond quickly in the correct manner. I stressed the importance of immediate post emergency care in keeping everyone together at the evacuation point or caring for persons who are hunkered down. There was a lot of interest in how to aid shut ins, and we discussed some of the ways to find shut ins and help them prepare for an emergency. I took with me a prototype of a booklet I am making for first responders, and the group made suggestions for improving it.
Perhaps your neighborhood has a C.E.R.T group: Community Emergency Response Team. They may be on the job and you never heard about them. They offer basic training in disaster survival and rescue skills. They train ordinary citizens to first take care of themselves, their families and home, and then, if possible to help their neighbors.
Circle of Friends is updating their emergency material to include additional groups that use their facilities. Hurricane season will do that to you as well as seeing a fire or power outage on the news. A new discovery last week when the power went off: have occupants open their cell phones, and, voila!, light! Trick is to rotate usage to preserve batteries. In the news this week was a woman and her family trapped under a house-load of debris by the tornado in Joplin. She turned on her cell phone, opened it and rescuers found her in the night because of the tiny rays of light showing.
Our leaders of disability groups are instructed to grab emergency information notebooks as they evacuate. A designated person leads and a designated last person makes sure no one is left behind.
Let’s hope no one needs to use any of this, but we all think emergencies happen to someone else. Not true, is it? Do you have your grab bag and ID ready?
Networking and new information presented by Reverend Greg Edwards encouraged parents at a joint meeting of parent chat groups last week. Greg, who is on the board of directors of the Methodist Mission Home in San Antonio, talked about the arm of the Home that is Southwest Center for Higher Independence. Every parent there wanted higher independence for their student, so there were many questions about evaluation, prospects for future independence. Parents pointed out that many students do not qualify for DARS and function at a different level than expected at most transition institutions. There is a huge need in this area, especially since Texas is cutting funding to most programs that would help these students. It was an informative evening, and some of you are planning to visit the facility. I offered my cabin for an overnight bed and breakfast, but I will wait to buy the eggs and bacon until plans gel.
Sign language interpreters at our church are placed in good visual lines to both read and see what is happening. More than one interpreter is needed, and they trade off, sometime with specialty in music for which they have been given words to an anthem or Bible reading for which they have been given advance references. Theological terms are different from regularly signed words, and references are available to help with this. Our church had several signing classes, and about eight persons became minimally proficient and some went on to do advanced study. If you hire interpreters, it costs from $100 up for a few hours, so this becomes a budget item for the general church rather than the worship budget. We also had a speech reading class that helped persons learn to place ideas under a topic for clues to what they were hearing.
Our minister uses big screen power point phrases and verses as illustration of his sermon. This helps speech readers understand categories and idea tags. Make sure the ministers face is well lighted and not in shadow.
A big need for persons with hearing impairments of any kind is socialization. Invite a group of persons who use sign language to lunch. Laugh at yourself at the awkward mistakes. The act of caring enough to do this sends a message of its own. Teach Sunday school teachers to use white board idea words and other visuals to help persons in their groups who are losing their hearing.
I hope this helps the persons who responded with questions on this topic.
There is no voice loud enough to yell at the State of Texas budget cuts to the disabled and elderly. You can’t yell at the cuts. You have to yell at people, but they are deaf. Care givers of persons with special needs and older persons have yelled, they have called, written, faxed, demonstrated to absolutely deaf ears and blind eyes. When nursing homes are closed along with group homes and the closure of two state institutions mandated by the Justice Department puts persons with disabilities on the streets, someone might notice. It will not be our state representatives or the governor. They are in their cool offices drinking Starbucks coffee. It will be the general public saying, “Why didn’t someone tell me?”
We are telling you now. It is heartless, shameful and wrong to take away the foundations and futures of all these people and their parents. Yes, I am angry. Because I hear and see the terror of parents and loved ones who have had the rug pulled out from under them. Their safety net is gone.
The economic impact will also be felt across the state. Intellectually disabled persons who have no place to spend their days in work and transitional programs must stay home with a caregiver who will have to quit a job to be there. These are the caregivers who work to save a nest egg for the aging years of their loved one. In another area, thousands of workers will be laid off from care, work and nursing centers. We are about to see a huge drain on the government for unemployment. Has this been figured in by those in Austin? I doubt it.
If you haven’t faxed or called your representative, now is the last minute. This is definitely a rainy day.
When is a disability not a disability? When you discover an ability or try to develop a gift you have. The new year would be a good time to do this. Try along with me. For openers try some whimsy, humor, giggles, a new way of expressing yourself.
My whimsical way of starting the new year in a city where fireworks are outlawed by the fire marshal, was guess what? I saved bubble wrap of all sizes from Christmas packing, laid them on my patio and ran over them to make fake fireworks. The sound was impressive and lots of fun. Son Paul, a photographer, created a 30 second video of my fun!