SMILES offices in Mankato, Waseca, Fairmont and New Ulm will be closed in observance of Labor Day, Monday, September 2nd, 2013. We will re-open at 8:00 am on Tuesday, September 3rd. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend.
PBS NewsHour aired a program on Wednesday, August 7th titled “Limited Funds, Lingering Bias Has Delayed States’ ADA Compliance”. George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law in 1990, but more than two decades later, problems still persist in implementing portions of the landmark civil rights measure. Judy Woodruff reports on the struggle states face to fully transition individuals with disabilities out of institutional living.
You can view this segment on-line at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/government_programs/july-dec13/ada_08-07.html
PEER COUNSELOR/VOLUNTEER/RECREATION MANAGER
SMILES a Center for Independent Living has a full-time position available involving the management, of its Peer Counseling, Recreation and Volunteer Programs.
This position is responsible for recruiting, interviewing, training and supervising all potential Peer Mentors and Volunteers. The position is also responsible for arranging and conducting various recreational events.
The candidate should possess knowledge of various disabilities; knowledge of program coordination; ability to perform supervisory duties; ability to work with diverse populations of individuals with disabilities; work flexible hours; and have reliable transportation.
Minimum qualifications require a Bachelors Degree in a Human Services or related field of study combined with one year of work experience in a disability related position.
Starting salary $28,100 -$30-348 per year plus benefit package. If you have any questions, or would like to request an application packet, call 507-345-7139.
Closing date Friday August 22, 2013. SMILES is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) provides and opportunity for volunteers to put the skills, talents, and life experiences into motion for others – and benefit our Minnesota communities in the process. Sharing the skills they have spent years developing, RSVP volunteers put those skills into practice to improve the lives of community members throughout the state. whether building homes for the needy, preparing income tax reports for the elderly, or mentoring a child, RSVP volunteers strengthen our communities.
- A non- taxable stipend of $2.65 per hour (minimum of 15 hours of service per week to qualify).
- Transportation reimbursement and stipended time off.
- ongoing training and recognition
- Accident and liability insurance while volunteering
- Possible meal on site.
To qualify as a volunteer
- You must be 55 years of age or older and in good general health.
- Be flexible and available with service activity schedule.
- Have dependable transportation available and is willing to travel in the service area.
- Have compassion, patience, flexibility and respect for others.
- Work well with diverse individuals, families, groups and organizations.
Find out more about our programs online at mnseniorcorps.org.
Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents are two of the programs under the “umbrella” of Senior Corps. The third program is RSVP, coordinated by Lora Brady in Mankato. The Minnesota Senior Corps is part of the National Senior Corps operated under the Corporation for National and Community Service.
More that 15,000 seniors in Minnesota contribute their time and talents in one of three Senior Corps programs. Foster Grandparents serve one-on-one as tutors and mentors to more than 5,600 young people who have special needs. Senior Companions help more than 2,300 seniors and other adults maintain independence in their own homes or apartments. RSVP is “one stop shopping” for all volunteers 55 and over who want to find challenging, rewarding, and significant service opportunities in their local communities.
The Foster Grandparent Program provides the opportunity for volunteers age 55 and better to make a lasting difference in the lives of our children and youth in a variety of settings, including elementary schools, preschools, shelters, childcare centers, and juvenile detention centers. From striving to prepare children for success in elementary school to mentoring incarcerated teenagers Foster Grandparent volunteers make a difference in the lives of those they serve. The Senior Companion Program provides an opportunity for volunteers age 55 and better to support the desire of elderly Minnesotans to live independently. Senior Companion volunteers support elderly individuals who have difficulty with daily living tasks. The also enable elderly Minnesotans to live independently by providing transportation to essential activities such as medical appointments and household errands.
The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is extremely excited to announce that a bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate, S. 1356, to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and its contained Rehabilitation Act. Staff from the offices of Senator Harkin and Senator Alexander made an announcement this morning at 10 AM during the NCIL Conference, presenting a bill that has historic significance for Independent Living, including the introduction of a new Independent Living Administration (ILA).
This bill has a number of provisions that strengthen America’s Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs), and also would relocate the Independent Living Program from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) in the Department of Education to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the Administration for Community Living (ACL).
NCIL would especially like to acknowledge the efforts of Senate HELP Committee staff including Andrew Imparato, Lee Perselay, and Bill Knudsen for working closely together across party lines to create a bipartisan bill that presents common sense solutions for many of our toughest problems.
The bill is scheduled to be marked up on July 31, 2013, and NCIL will be monitoring HELP Committee activity very closely to ensure that our progress remains intact.
NCIL members should be incredibly proud of this achievement; the introduction of such a favorable bill in the Senate is no small feat. However we must use this excitement and momentum to encourage senators to pass this bill out of the HELP Committee, and we need every available advocate to make calls and visits to the 22 members of the Senate responsible for taking this bill to the next level, a full vote on the Senate floor.
Below is a list of senators on the HELP Committee that need to be contacted at their local offices. Even if you don’t have a senator on this list, we are urging you to contact one in a neighboring state, asking them to pass S. 1356 out of committee. We need our members to call this week; there will be no second chances. We have come this far, now is our moment, and we must act immediately.
Senators on the HELP Committee:
Democrats by Rank
- Tom Harkin (IA): (515) 284-4574
- Barbara A. Mikulski (MD): (410) 962-4510
- Patty Murray (WA): (206) 553-5545
- Bernard Sanders (VT): (802) 862-0697
- Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA): (215) 405-9660
- Kay R. Hagan (NC): (704) 334-2448
- Al Franken (MN): (651) 221-1016
- Michael F. Bennet (CO): (303) 455-7600
- Sheldon Whitehouse (RI): (401) 453-5294
- Tammy Baldwin (WI): (414) 297-4451
- Christopher S. Murphy (CT): (860) 549-8463
- Elizabeth Warren (MA): (617) 565-3170
Republicans by Rank
- Lamar Alexander (TN): (615) 736-5129
- Michael B. Enzi (WY): (307) 772-2477
- Richard Burr (NC): (336) 631-5125
- Johnny Isakson (GA): (770) 661-0999
- Rand Paul (KY): (859) 219-2239
- Orrin G. Hatch (UT): (801) 524-4380
- Pat Roberts (KS): (785) 295-2745
- Lisa Murkowski (AK): (907) 586-7277
- Mark Kirk (IL): (312) 886-3506
- Tim Scott (SC): (803) 771-6112
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs announced emergency storm relief grants for up to $1,000 in reimbursement of expenses related to the storm on June 21, 2013. Grants are available to eligible veterans and spouses residing in Benton, Dakota, Faribault, Fillmore, Hennepin, Houston, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lyon, McLeod, Sherburne, Sibley, Stearns, Swift, Todd, Wilkin, Wright Counties.
All applications must be submitted no later than September 30, 2013 and must include copies of receipts for storm-related expenses. Contact your County Veteran Services Office or the Center for Independent Living in your area.
For more information or to complete a grant application, contact the Lyon County Veteran Services Office, located at the Lyon County Government Center, 607 West Main Street in Marshall or call the office at (507) 537-6729.
Veterans with disabilities in Sibley or Faribault Counties who need assistance completing the application may contact SMILES Center for Independent Living or phone 507-345-7139 (888-676-6498 toll free). Veterans in Jackson or Lyon Counties may contact Southwestern Center for Independent Living.
“A Little Less Pity and A Lot More Action”
Community has pity but no accessibility. According to the U.S. Census Bureau “about 12% of the US population is disabled” (Latest 1). Sadly, many Americans express regret to this small percentage of Americans but do very little in the way of making sure that disabled Americans have equal rights to activities of daily living such as making sure that areas in the community are wheelchair accessible. There are many things that are difficult for people with disabilities such as transportation. Many non-disabled Americans don’t realize that they could make a world of difference in the life of a disabled person just by making others aware of the issues that disabled Americans face. Pity is not the answer… ACTION IS!!!
It’s no secret that a big part of anyone’s life is transportation, but for many disabled people getting from Point A to Point B can present enormous challenges. Many disabled people have to rely on public transportation and that makes it harder for them to get around. The City of Mankato publicizes that they have options for public transportation. However, they are not telling you about the limitations of these services. Take AMV for example. AMV stands for AmeriCare Mobility Van. This organization provides transportation for disabled people but they limit this service to medical transportation only. This means that you can only use AMV for transportation to doctor appointments or if you have a dentist appointment. You CAN NOT use AMV for recreational activities such as going to the park on a bright sunny day. If you look up AMV in the Yellow Pages it is listed under Transportation Services but nowhere does it say anything about being just for medical purposes. This could be considered misleading information because a person looking for a taxi service calls AMV for a ride only to discover that they only provide transportation to medical appointments. Businesses need to state clearly what their business does and does not do so that everyone understands. Mankato does have a wheelchair accessible busing system. However the bus system does have flaws. The buses do not run after 6:00 P.M Monday thru Saturday so you can forget about going to McDonald’s for a midnight snack. In addition to the limitations already mentioned the buses do not run on Sundays or holidays. Generally, it is hard for people in wheelchairs to use a taxi service. One reason for this is because the taxi company does not want to pay the cost of vans with ramps in them. Another reason is because the company does not want to compensate their employees for injuries sustained when trying to lift a person out of their wheelchair. Mankato does have The Mobility Bus which is sort of like a makeshift taxi for people in wheelchairs. The bad news is that the buses (including The Mobility Bus) can only be in North Mankato during certain times of the day so that makes it hard for people who need to go to North Mankato such as South Central College students. It’s sort of like the City of Mankato is controlling the disabled community like a puppeteer does to his puppets. They try to control when and where people with disabilities can go and that makes them feel very isolated.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. Your mom may have taught you this famous saying as a way to teach you not to let mean words get the better of you. The harsh reality for people with mental or physical disabilities is that there are words in the English language to describe a person based on his or her disability. The catch is that most of these terms are derogatory in nature and can offend someone who has a disability. For example the term “cripple” is used to describe someone who is handicapped in some form or another. In 2003 Ouch!, a blog for people with disabilities created by the British Broadcasting Company held a poll and asked their readers to vote on the worst disability words and which ones they thought caused the most harm (Ouch 1). Retard came in 1st place with 404 votes and spastic came in 2nd place with 373 votes. People need to stop using these words and remember The Golden Rule that we all learned back in kindergarten: Treat others as you would like to be treated!!!
Most of the places you visit now days have a handicap icon above the entrance doors or bathroom stalls. This means that the place that you are about to enter is accessible to wheelchairs. Or is it? The American Disability Act states that public places need only to make reasonable accommodations. This means thing like making sure the doors are wide enough for wheelchairs to pass through. It must be easy to get the stick-on icon because not every place is handicap accessible. A perfect example of this is The American Legion in Nicollet. If you are in a wheelchair, you would have to enter through the back door. If you are in an electric wheelchair you better bring a backup manual wheelchair because the door is not wide enough for the electric wheelchair to squeeze through. HANDICAP ACCESSIBLE YEAH RIGHT!!!
It would seem now days that everything is a disability. Imagine this scenario you are 300 pounds overweight. The doctor looks at you and says you are obese. That could lead to heart problems therefore you are eligible for a handicapped parking sticker. The doctors pass those stickers out to people who don’t need them rather than the people who do really need them.
In Southern Minnesota we often have to improvise because it is so hard to find assistive technology because we often have to make special trips up to the Twin Cites just to find a piece of assistive technology. This is because we live in a rural part of Minnesota. A new wheelchair could be considered a piece of assistive technology but when it breaks down guess where you have to go to get it fixed. That’s right you guessed it. You have to drive 2 hours up to the Cities only to find out there was an easy fix to your problem and be back in your car in 15 minutes or less. In recent years there have been many advances in finding assistive technology resources for Southern Minnesota. Gillete Children’s Specialty Healthcare is in the process of building a satellite clinic that will be open on the weekdays. However assistive technology software makers could reduce the price of software that is sometimes needed by disabled college students needed for completing homework assignments. Voice recognition software such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking or word prediction software such as Cowriter can help students do their homework more efficiently but software like that could cost as much as $300 making it hard for students to afford it.
Over the years people with disabilities in Southern Minnesota have made great strides in the many years. We now have handicap accessible apartments such as Durham Apartments that give us some sort of choice in where we live. Up until the late 1980s we were forced to stay in mental intuitions so this is a big step forward for us. However, there are still some things that I feel people with disabilities need to work on such as the transportation issue but if disabled people and non-disabled people work together as one unit and leave the pity at the door and work together there isn’t any problem that can’t be solved TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!
Works Cited Page
Latest U.S. Disability Statics and Facts. Disabled World, n.d. Web. 12 April 2013.
Ouch Team. Worst Words Vote. BBC, n.d. Web. 14 April 2013.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. EEOC, n.d. Web. 14 April 2013.
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