Christmas of Caring at First Congregational Church (FCC) Aims to Help Ease Medical Debt

Rev. Josh Fitterling and FCC Worcester will be partner with the nonprofit organization RIP Medical Debt to forgive medical debts for individuals in Worcester County and across Massachusetts.

FCC Worcester is currently taking donations for RIP Medical Debt and planning the Christmas of Caring fundraiser for Dec. 11, which will include a Christmas carol singalong and a chance auction. According to Fitterling, the church will also donate collection money from its Christmas Eve service to RIP Medical Debt this year.

According to Daniel Lempert, vice president of communications at RIP Medical Debt, the organization is a New York-based nonprofit that uses donations to buy and then forgive medical debt across the United States. It was founded in 2014 by two former debt collections executives who chose to use their knowledge of the industry to forgive, rather than collect, individuals’ debts.

Read full Worcester Telegram article.

Supporting Siblings of Autistic Children with Aggressive Behaviors

Emily Rubin, Director of the UMass Chan Medical School Shriver Center’s Sibling Support Program, shared information about siblings experiencing aggression from autistic brothers and sisters.   In a Q&A session with Autism Speaks, Emily discussed aggression and other severe behaviors.

The Sibling Support Program: A Family-Centered Mental Health Initiative is a community-based program offered by UMass Chan Medical School. 

Families interested in the Sibling Support Program: A Family-Centered Mental Health Initiative can contact Emily directly at emily.rubin@umassmed.edu. They will receive information about the program, a permission form and Zoom link to log in. 

Read Emily Rubin’s Autism Speaks Q&A Session

Seen and Heard: IDD Community

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The Seen and Heard: IDD Community is Partnership Project of Strategic Education Solutions and INDEX program of the Shriver Center at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School.

The Seen and Heard: IDD Community is making videos about sexual assault prevention and recovery. Our videos are made by and for people with IDD who are survivors or just want to learn about staying safe. James Meadours, a self-advocate and our team co-leader, shares his experiences and thoughts. James speaks out for others with IDD who are survivors or just want to learn about staying safe. Sexual assault prevention and recovery are important.

You can watch the videos on Seen and Heard: IDD Community YouTube channel. Please be sure to subscribe and like these videos.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Linkages Program

The Department of Public Health’s Linkages Program evaluates, refers and links persons 18 and older with intellectual and developmental disabilities to preventative health care and health promotion programs in their community.

Based off participants responses to a series of surveys and questionnaires the Linkages Program zeros in on common trends and remarks in order to coordinate an individualized plan of action for each participant. The Linkages Coordinator meets with potential participants either virtually, over the phone, or in-person to see what their health needs are and then works with the participant to link them with providers or other services.

The Linkage Program looks to remove barriers and hardships to healthcare access, health promotion activities, and mental health care needs. The program encourages participants to be confident, self-reliant, and knowledgeable about their rights and resources that are available to them.

As the Linkage Coordinator, Phelicha is committed to creating an environment that is inclusive, supportive and relevant. She aims to provide immediate one on one consultations that collaboratively prioritizes participants needs and goals. Thus, ensuring that each person alongside their support systems feel seen, heard and understood.

Please contact Phelicha!

-Phelicha Berdet, Linkage Coordinator, MA DPH Health and Disability Program

Email Phelicha.D.Berdet@mass.gov

Cell Phone: 617-279-3730

MassHealth Transportation and Other Resources

MassHealth launched 2 new webpages about Transportation for MassHealth Members. We are pleased to be able to share this info.

These pages can help people:

  • Ask medical provider to fill out PT1 form
  • Get  PT1 transportation
  • Schedule rides
  • Check the status of a PT1 form
  • Get questions answered
  • Know who to call
  • What to know before you go

Transportation for MassHealth Members

Get a ride to MassHealth medical appointments 

Learn about how to find transportation services for older adults, people with disabilities, veterans, commuters, and others in your community.

I’m Looking for Transportation

Children’s Mental Health Week (CMHW)  May 1-7, 2022

This year’s theme is Action Changes Things. One way to advocate for children’s mental health is by lighting up green in support of Children’s Mental Health Week this year.  Parent/Professional Advocacy League has a toolkit for people to use. Toolkit materials are free. Posters can be downloaded.  Some towns and cities will have CMHW public lightings.

Since 2002, the Governor of Massachusetts, has issued an official proclamation for Children’s Mental Health Week. Some Massachusetts  mayors issue proclamations, too. Children’s Mental Health Week is dedicated to increasing public awareness about the triumphs and challenges in children’s mental health.  It emphasizes the importance of family and youth involvement in children’s mental health.

In Massachusetts, Children’s Mental Health Week is sponsored by the Department of Mental Health and the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership (MBHP), a Beacon Health Options company.

Here are some Children’s Mental Health resources that may be helpful. 

Children’s Mental Health Campaign (CMHC) has six highly reputable partner organizations: 

Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI) – Helps MassHealth children with behavioral, emotional, and mental health needs.  Families can get integrated behavioral health services and a comprehensive, community-based system of care.

     Find a CBHI Provider 

Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) HandHold – DMH has a collection of resources that you can try at home today and organizations that we know can help.

Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership (MBHP) – MBHP is here to provide you or your loved one with a full range of services to help with medical, mental health, and substance use disorder conditions.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Massachusetts Resources for Children and Teens – Includes family support programs. 

Children’s mental health is important every week of the year. 

VaxAbilities Disability Friendly Vaccine Sites

The Arc of Massachusetts has an update to share regarding vaccines and boosters from colleagues at the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and our state’s Developmental Disabilities Network.


This is about disability vaccine-friendly sites and options; please note volunteers are needed, too.


I. Disability-Friendly Vaccine Sites or Mobile Events

  • Disability-friendly vaccine sites or mobile events can be found by going to https://vaxabilities.com/
  • Organized by UMass Medical and Shriver Center in cooperation with our Developmental Disabilities Network (which also includes ICI, MDDC, and DLC). These events are scheduled to take place across the Commonwealth after the anticipated approval of the COVID vaccine for 5-11-year-olds this month.
  • The goal of these events is to support people with sensory and/or other accommodation needs in Massachusetts to have the most positive and comfortable vaccination experience possible.
  • We will accomplish this by bringing in clinicians with sensory training to partner with vaccinating clinicians, physical tools to assist with numbing and distraction, strategies for positioning and distraction, and the assistance of volunteers to help with logistics and engagement. Most events will offer vaccines to both children and adults.

Disability-friendly Vaccine Events

We also want to note that planners are hoping for clinicians and volunteers to sign up for the upcoming “VaxAbilities” disability-friendly vaccine events! Currently, they are looking for:

  1. Sensory-trained clinicians who will partner with vaccine-administrating clinicians to understand and use strategies to support the sensory needs and accommodations children or adults may have through the vaccination process (paid or volunteer)
  2. Pediatricians on-site to answer parent and child questions about the COVID19 vaccine (paid or volunteer)
  3. Volunteers that can help direct visitors, help engage children as they wait for vaccines, hand out distractor items/toys, assist with vaccine station cleaning and collect survey responses, etc.

Sign up to volunteer.

Massachusetts Personal Care Attendant (PCA) How-to Training Videos

We want to share some information about Personal Care Attendant Services in Massachusetts.

The Personal Care Attendant Workforce Council developed new training videos for Consumers, Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) and Job Seekers. These videos explain:

  • Directory Basics Video
  • Consumer Video
  • Worker Video

There are questions and answers for both consumers and workers.

Consumers that need PCA services during this public health emergency can call the MassOptions call center at 1-844-422-6277.

  • The MassOptions call center will connect these consumers to home health services in their region

Training Videos and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

EasyCOVID-19 Project Now Recruiting!

Please help EasyCOVID-19 simplify COVID-19 info world wide!

The EasyCOVID-19 project is now recruiting people to help us simplify COVID19 terms. Please help us by visiting our EasyCOVID-19 crowdsourcing app. This is the start of our project to simplify the COVID-19 information published by every country’s government websites.

Overall Plan

We will start with the Massachusetts. We will then expand to the other U.S. states. We will then move to the 18 English Speaking countries, then the 21 Spanish speaking countries, then the world! This will help many huge populations, such as people with cognitive disabilities, non-native language speakers, the Deaf, and seniors. When they understand how to be safe and healthy, the whole world will be safe and healthy.

Our project would not be successful without:

Please help us now!

For more info, see our EasyCOVID-19 Website!