June 15, 2021
By Cheryl Steenerson, PFK Bluegrass Region Coordinator
As 2019 rolled in, I began to realize just how few opportunities existed for our adult consumers to socialize and make new friends, after they left school. That’s when the 3rd Thursday Social Club was born.
Though PFK started it, we only organize and execute it, because we wanted to open it up to all adult IDD folks in the Bluegrass area. Any adult on the Waiver can attend, along with their staff.
Though 2020 got hijacked from us, 2019 saw lots of fun activities and attendees. On the 3rd Thursday of each month we would gather for a meal and a fun afternoon activity like visiting the Bluegrass Airport Museum, touring Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory, The Movie Tavern, 3D printing, pizza and bowling, crafting and painting. Each event is kept low cost and each participant pays their own way, if there is a fee.
Now that 2021 has arrived, we already have one done! On Thursday, May 20th, the group met at the Josephine Sculpture Park in Frankfort for an outdoor picnic and tour of the grounds.
It was a perfect day with plenty of sunshine and even a light breeze! Participants brought their own lunch and then followed the map to see numerous astounding works, complete with information signs explaining the work and the artist. Everyone had a blast!
Several of the pieces were interactive and invited the participants to touch, climb and even sing within them. The park is a nonprofit that runs on donations. A golf cart is available for use for those with mobility issues. They also have classes and events, both day and night, to introduce visitors to a variety of art and even understanding the night sky!
Many events for 2021 are in the works including Shaker Village (Harrodsburg), The Living Arts & Science Center (Lexington), lake fishing (Richmond) and the River Cruise (Frankfort). Suggestions for events are encouraged from the participants.
August 19, 2019
Creating a Beautiful Space!
By Tammy Ritchie and Eric Fitzpatrick
Creating a beautiful space is hard, especially when starting from scratch! Eric’s new home needed a garden, according to Eric because he loves watching things grow. The space was cleared, supplies purchased and the work begun. Eric learned how to use pruners, shovels, rakes and a wheelbarrow. It was hard work and Eric never complained. He choose the plants and put them in place. A bird feeder and bath was added for feathered friends to enjoy. Eric loves maintaining it and the new garden, after creating such a beautiful space!
By Jo Grayson
When I was a college professor teaching English composition courses at Eastern Kentucky University, I never put much thought into what some of my students called “green therapy.” My students would enthusiastically write about the benefits of extra recess time in elementary school as many of them would go on to become teachers of young children who need to have that time outdoors. As I would read on my own, I would read the many benefits of “green therapy" even for adults who have several disorders ranging from Attention Deficit Disorder to Depression. So when Chelsea and her friend Eric asked if I would help them build a garden, I was happy to oblige. I felt that this would be a good opportunity to learn, not only about growing your own food, but also to be able to use these plants in the kitchen. As a project my consumer and I were able to learn many things, including what building materials are required to build a raised flower bed. Together, we were able to choose a design we liked from Pinterest and have some professionals help us with using the heavy equipment required. We were able to look at prices to build the most cost effective space. Chelsea and I were able to learn how long it takes to build such a garden. She and Eric were able to choose what plants they wanted to grow. We learned about planting things too early or too late and what effects wildlife can have on a garden. We also learned about soil and fertilizer. After the garden was built they picked out what they wanted to grow, we were able to plant herbs and some vegetables. All in all, this project has helped Chelsea learn new things as well as being a fun project that will benefit Chelsea for years to come, as we learn each year from trail and error.
May 22, 2019
In this edition of our employee spotlight, we would like to introduce our two case managers: Teresa Lonkard and Breanna Burton. Teresa and Breanna focus on advocacy for each individual they work with and ensure teamwork and continuity of quality of care for everyone on their caseloads. Their passion for helping others shines through in their work every day, as they assist others to achieve their goals and dreams. Here is what their journey has meant to them in their own words:
My best friend, Sean, has a rare form of Cerebral Palsy wherein he is primarily wheelchair bound, but has no cognitive symptoms. We met in college and he now does computer security for a large insurance company. Throughout college and afterwards people would often assume I was his girlfriend or care provider and direct questions towards me. They were usually surprised when Sean responded or when they found out I was just a friend. Though being friends with him, and his twin brother, who has a mild intellectual disability, I learned a lot about a population I rarely interacted with and started seeing individuals as more than just their appearance. After about two years of being friends with Sean, I didn’t see or think about his disability. I once turned around to tell him to hurry up when I was going up some steps because I forgot he wasn’t able to follow me and had to wait for the elevator. He told me it was both hilarious and one of the biggest compliments he could ever receive.
I’ve been working in the human services field for almost 4 years (since June 2015). I started by working as a Mental Health technician at Our Lady of Peace. It could be a tough job, but without working there, I don’t think I would love or be as successful as a case manager. I love advocating for my clients, solving problems and finding ways to maximize services. It means a lot to me that I’m just one person, but can start a chain reaction of improvements in someone’s life.
Seeing a client, who developed anorexia, for the first time after he started receiving behavior supports, has been the most memorable moment I’ve had since being in their field. This client has recently been hospitalized due to how much weight he had lost. After working with his behaviorist for a few weeks, he was already began to change his habits. He looked much healthier, happier and said he felt better than he had in the past few months.
Through this line of work, I’ve learned to see what people are capable of, not just what they are currently doing. Since many clients struggle with effective communication I’ve become more observant of body language and am a better communicator. I always try to ensure I understand specifically what a client wants/thinks along with the rest of the team through re-phrasing statements and questions. This has also helped me in my everyday life, as I can often find a way to explain something in a way everyone can understand regardless of his or her level of functioning. I’ve also gained knowledge of the Medicaid and Social Security systems and benefits, which I’ve been able to utilize when I speak with my friends or family members who have disabilities or are unsure for what benefits they qualify. I’ve been able to assist individuals outside of work with locating information and providing resources/guidance concerning benefits.
To me, being a service provider is a big deal. It’s about meeting people’s needs and promoting overall quality of life for the people you work with. No matter what population you’re working with, being a service provider means devoting your days to helping people who need support. To be a service provider means you need to have passion and it should not be taken lightly. I’ve been working in the human service field for the past four years and it has been the most rewarding four years of my life.
I have so many favorite moments since being in the human service field but the most memorable would have to be when one of the consumers I was providing community living support services for texted me months after I stopped working with him to show me that he passed his drivers’ permit test. I had been working with him for a year and we spent a lot of time together studying for his drivers’ permit test. He took it a few times and kept failing by one or two points. When I saw that he finally passed, I was so happy for him and it warmed my heart knowing that he made it a point to share his good news with me although we hadn’t talked or seen one another in a few months.
Everyone’s life is different. Everyone has a story. Each person’s life events, from the day they were born to the age they are now, has shaped them into the person they are today. Show compassion and be intentional about your everyday interactions with others. You never know how much impact you can make on someone’s life.