After a study of their natural talents, our Circle of Friends Teens and Friends group is presenting a talent show tonight for parents and for the adult Circle of Friends group. They have worked very hard getting this together and deserve more than a round of applause.
Good news for homebound and parents who cannot be there: the show will be livestreamed through Chapelwood.org but you must have a link to it. Time between 7:00 and 8:15 central time. Don’t be late.
Use this link:
<http://www.chapelwood.org/cof> <http://www.chapelwood.org/cof> <http://www.chapelwood.org/cof <http://www.chapelwood.org/cof>
Sorry the link may not work as it is not up and running until late this afternoon. You will probably have to type it in.
At last! Amazon has my Quick Look for Volunteer Emergency Responders in stock, so my friends in the disability community can spread the word that it is available. This book will save lives as well as provide a safe and comfortable rescue zone for both the rescuer and person in need of help. The title page listed on Amazon needs a tweak, but that is out of my power. It lists the author as Naomi Mitchum and Naomi Mitchum. There have been many days when I tried to clone myself and was unsuccessful, but finally the power structure at Amazon did it! Yahoo! One of me is going fishing while the other works.
On the local scene, our teens and friends group of Circle of Friends is doing a talent show next week, and it promises to be the best ever. Best part is that they learned a lot about their natural talents before they put the show together. There will be singing, playing, dancing, basketball shoots and many other events. I’m told it will be live streamed, but to get it you have to have a personal link known only to parents and friends. Our number of students keeps growing, so the set up takes many chairs. The drama group of adults is preparing a wonderful Easter play. We do have fun, and every week we realize that we are a big family within a family. Next time I will tell you about our theme Bible verse this year.
Chapelwood Circle of Friends leaders know how to throw a Christmas Party.
It was fun. The food was delicious thanks to Chapelwood’s kitchen ministry. If you looked in the room, you’d see that everyone looked alike with Santa helper hats, one of the party favors. There was a gift for everyone that showed the light – a blue flashlight with Circle of Friends emblem on the side.
A troupe of cultural dancers performed amidst tables in the round. They had three costume changes appearing each time in even more colorful dress than before. The finale of flamenco dancers had everyone clapping and staring in amazement at the footwork and beautiful black sombreros.
Student highlights throughout the evening were phone calls to Steve, master of ceremonies, from Santa who said in his first call that he was from over Abilene. He checked in periodically with news of where he was, and he talked to persons in the audience with questions and personal instructions. Finally, he arrived with gusto.
AT the end there were sad faces because we do not meet again until January, but mostly everyone went home on high wearing a hat and with a ready flashlight to light the ways to cars.
The light of Christmas bathed the Circle of Friends with the spirit of light last Wednesday. First the Chancel Choir led by Tom and Andrea Jaber caroled the group, letting them join in on some songs. Then Reverend Dennnison led the adult and teen groups in a worship experience where they participated with the sounds of the Christmas story. She told the full version in a simple way that began with the census and ended with the meaning of Jesus as the light of the world. An adult student told his leader that for the first time, the Christmas story made sense. He was filled with awe. Our students understand a story on several levels: One, it is a wonderful story, or Two, it is a story set in the time of Jesus with real people, or Three, some students understand what the story means in their lives. On any level, it’s okay, AND THEY “GET IT.”
This week we have our annual Christmas party with gifts for everyone and special entertainment. We adjourn until January 4, so people can go on vacation while the leaders also have a vacation.
Artists in Action, Chapelwood’s newest program for teens and friends who have graduated school, is off to a fabulous start. It meets every Monday morning. Creativity of the students and leaders is unbounded and very impressive. Their goal is to give back to the church and community and to have fun doing it. Persons who are homebound and persons on sick lists other places are the recipients of their art cards. If I were a photographer, I would post a picture of their amazing creations. The leaders with great tenacity got it off and running without the help of two leaders who were in the hospital at the time.
I was very ill for a long time with two hospital stays, a lot of pain and much pain medicine IV that put me in la-la land. Well on the mend thanks to Bob, my constant bedside companion, who kept me grounded to earth out of la-la land. Thanks also to the pigeons on the roof tops next to my hospital window and the window washers who entertained me with their safe antics. I could DO nothing but watch, making me revise my advice in the MOBILITY PLUS article to walk fast, talk fast and wheel fast.
Now that I’m slowed down (Bob says everything is relative to “slow”) I will cut out public speaking and concentrate on sitting at my computer to write for Circle of Friends and disability sites.
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.
In light of government funding to community based and private sector partnerships, the future is bleak for students who have graduated high school. Their parents, some of whom have had to quit jobs, have become the sole companion for the day, week, etc. Many of them are on waiting lists for any sort of help, but now is the time for them to reinforce the skills they learned in school, both intellectual and social. Now is the time for them to have a reason to take care with grooming and get out there in the world.
We are exploring an exciting new opportunity for students who have finished high school and have no place to take their talents. It’s a postage stamp on a full scale problem, but it may be an opportunity for churches. A day program for service to the community is on the drawing board. Fact finding is important before we decide to undertake a new program at Chapelwood UMC. Does anyone out there have a day work program for teens and those slightly above that age level? If so, please share your expertise. Our churches aim of making disciples includes helping them become disciples, so this has huge importance.
Two students from our recent special needs confirmation class want to put into action what they learned about giving something back to the church and about helping others. At our first exploratory meeting we set goals for the students and the parents and discussed how to accomplish these goals. Every program that meets student’s needs will grow, so our preliminary fact finding is taking that into consideration. It’s exciting, but also a little daring even daunting in these hard economical times. I’m convinced that big hearts make big plans, so watch this billboard to find out if this is a go.
Four spectacular students aged 14 to 45 were confirmed yesterday at Chapelwood United Methodist Church in an awesome service of sacred flow and celebration. Along with the five leaders who helped them in this quest, the students stood before the congregation to make their verbal and American sign language promises to God and the congregation. After the vows of membership and a reaffirmation of their previous baptisms, the congregation joined in a holy hug with every member gathered toward the confirmands at the altar and touching the shoulder of another person in a spiritual chain. In an impressive and reverent, spirit-filled moment, Reverend Denison, who led the class, then gave a prayer for each student as she recounted the blessings each brings to the body of Christ. There was a holy hug of silence before the congregation broke into thunderous applause, the longest applause I have ever heard in our sanctuary. Everyone there REALLY supports and speaks love to all the persons in our programs of special needs. Do we feel blessed? You bet.
At a reception later, parents were thanked for entrusting their children to the church, and Reverend Denison presented each confirmand with a prayer box with a commemorative card with the cross and flame, symbol of the United Methodist Church. On the back of the card is listed the promises each student made. It was fun with family and friends, the Circle of Friends adult and teen Sunday school class and good sandwiches and a cake with the confirmand’s names on it. I personally ate “Alec.”
The Texas Senate is holding public hearings this week on $16 billion cuts over the next two years to the Health and Human Services agencies and the programs they run.
There is a lot to be radically upset about if you are the parents of or are a person with disability needing a helping hand from already underfunded programs. Of great concern to me is the $342,683,706 (million) CUT from (CBA) Community Based Alternatives Waiver. Then just take your pick from any one of the following that will cause grevious harm to a population that mostly cannot speak up for itself:
$451,866,354 (million) CUT from (HCA) Home & Community Services Waiver
$107,869,131 (million) CUT from (CLASS) Community Living Assistance Supports & Services Waiver
$28,078,989 (million) CUT from Medically Dependent Children’s Programs
$102,091,552 (million) CUT from Deaf, Blind, Multiple Disabilities Programs
Medicaid providers will be taking a 23.7 to 46.3% reduction in funding. It’s difficult to figure the exact amount. Reading the various version of bills takes more brains than I have. This figure is from experts.
I’m feeling the pain of hard working parents who plan ahead and were depending on some of these programs for help. This places them in a terrible position. Many of them are in Austin today for the hearings – brave souls in the bitter weather. Teresa is standing in line to be first on the list to speak. She is very well informed on the history and actions of all these agencies, and the services to her daughter’s community based facility will be drastically cut.
If you can’t go to Austin this week to make your voice heard, please write everyone on the finance committee as well as legislators. Make it personal. Tell your story!
Texas is second to New York in people in state run facilities for mental health and disabilities. It costs $300,000. per person per year to maintain a person there. It costs $20 to $40,000 to maintain a person in a community based setting, but this setting is being cut by millions which means fewer persons served (there is a huge waiting list) and less quality of service within those settings.
It’s Official! Mayor Anise Parker presented me with The Mayor’s Disability Advocate of the Year Award at City Hall on Tuesday with family, friends and co-workers present as support. In a wheelchair for the last 15 years, I was the recipient of an award for a disabled advocate. Other awards were to Dr. Cynthia Peacock as a non-disabled person and Matthew Stephenson as a youth advocate.
Advocacy made me use or develop skills I didn’t know I had, so I am still working on them. By nature I am a hands-on person who likes to teach and write, but the field of work with persons with disabilities has promotional needs and a desperate call for vision and someone who will speak up loudly for them. Some people say I have a loud mouth. Some say I have a loud presence. Some say, “Stay away from Naomi, or she will recruit you,” To sign up to help try firstname.lastname@example.org or through this website Contact Us page.
The landmark American With Disabilities Act achieved much, but the act did not tell us how to enact and interact with persons on personal scale in the fields of spirituality, education and physical accessibility in churches. I came to the right places at the right times with ambition to find ways to do this. Right or wrong, I plunged in, and along the way people taught me and helped not only me but the programs I proposed. No one person can be successful in disabilities work without the persons of like heart who join the vision. Along the way, God took little achievements and turned them into goldmines.
One of my goldmines is still underground: I want to start a full-scale respite center in my area where students can have a good time while their parents enjoy a little vacation together. That’s for when I win the lottery.
A little tea party after the award ceremony was fun with my family, Circle of Friends family and supporters and other friends . The Revs. Greg and Betty Edwards, who worked with me on the Texas Conference committee on disability concerns, surprised me all the way from Beaumont.
Thanks are due to many persons for the award, especially Dr. Jim Jackson who nominated me.