Category: Community

Holiday Resources 2023

The holidays can be a hard time for families and people with disabilities.

INDEX has an updated Holiday Resources 2023 fact sheet. You can find holiday help in Massachusetts. Looking for food and food pantries? Want a place to go for a Thanksgiving or holiday dinner with others? Thinking about how you can get toys and gifts for children?

Resources are for:

* Food/Meals

* Toys & Gifts

* Financial Help

* Holiday Programs

Holiday Resources 2023

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.

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

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!

Advanced Leadership Fellowship Opportunity – Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental & Related Disabilities (LEND) Program

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental & Related Disabilities (LEND) Program

Deadline for applications is June 1, 2021

September 2021 to June 2022

$12,000 stipend available

The LEND Program at the E.K. Shriver Center/UMass Medical School in Worcester, MA prepares professionals, persons with disabilities, and family members to influence policy and clinical practice on behalf of children with developmental disabilities and their families.

We are looking for applicants who:

  • have relevant experience in the disability field and leadership potential
  • have professional degrees in health and/or clinical disciplines, disability studies, or policy. Other professional qualifications may be appropriate.
  • are individuals with disabilities, self-advocates, or family members of people with disabilities interested in pursuing careers in disability policy/systems change
  • LEND coursework can be credited towards a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Suffolk University at reduced tuition.

~ The LEND program involves a minimum commitment of 1 day/week ~

For questions or more information contact:

For additional program information and application forms, visit our website:  https://tinyurl.com/ShriverLENDApplication

INDEX COVID-19 Emergency Information Update

INDEX collects and keeps up-to-date information on programs, providers and services in Massachusetts that have something to offer to people with disabilities. We try to provide information relevant to the changing COVID-19 situation and offer updates as new information becomes available for  people with disabilities in Massachusetts.

As businesses, day programs, and schools are in the process of reopening, up to date information is helpful. Practicing safe social distancing, limiting of group size, wearing of masks, and other precautions  continue to be important, particularly for people with disabilities and elders who are often more vulnerable.  

We are continuing to update our COVID-19 Emergency Information web page.  Newly added links include Massachusetts Return to Day Program Risk/Benefit Discussion Checklist in English and Spanish and a link to Mass.gov COVID-19 Daily updates.

Updated COVID-19 Emergency Information

Links to current information about COVID-19 virus. This page is updated with new information.

Black and Disabled: A Death Sentence

Sign disable black lives matter too

Violence against people of color has been in the news a lot. Police are using too much force against them. This is even worse for people of color with disabilities.

This fall, police killed Keith Lamont Scott. He had a brain injury. Charles Kinsey helped people with disabilities. He was taking care of a patient with autism. He was also shot. More than half of people hurt by police have a disability. This should cause us to worry.

We do not know enough about disabilities. People in charge do not either. This puts people at great risk to be hurt by people in charge.

People in charge should:

  • Know how to spot disabilities
  •  Not jump to conclusions
  • Know that many disabilities cannot be seen
  • See their own racial biases

Every human has the right to feel safe. They should feel safe within their own skin. No matter what it looks like. No matter who is inside.

References:

Chokshi, N. (2016, October 17). Keith Lamont Scott was killed by two gunshot wounds, family autopsy finds. Retrieved October 17, 2016 from The New York Times

Harrell, E. (2014, February 25). Crime Against Persons With Disabilities, 2009–2012 – Statistical Tables. Retrieved October 28, 2016, from, Bureau of Justice Statistics

Neyfakh, L. (2016, July 21). Charles Kinsey did everything he possibly could not to be shot by police. Retrieved October 28, 2016, from Slate

Looking at the whole person?

Roles

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black and white masks

Have you ever stopped to think how many roles you played today? I bet you would be surprised at how many. For me, today I was a human service worker, shopper, friend, student, cook, and pet owner to name a few. The roles we play in life vary in how we and others value them. Sometimes I am Assistant Vice President, which I deem a valuable role. Others may not feel the same way. They may prefer to pick up and take off whenever they please. At times, I play the role of Democrat. Those who do not value politics or my views may not see this as an important role.

A Human Service View

I spend a lot of time at work reading or hearing about people with different abilities. Everyone has his or her own goals and plans for the future. They also have their own stories. I may never meet them in person, but I learn about them through their stories. After taking a class *, it occurred to me that their stories are only a piece of what makes them “them”. What I realized is the way a person is described places him/her into roles. These roles are not always valued in our society.
When I started working in human services, there was a focus on Person Centered Planning (PCP). The idea of PCP is care centered around the person. At the time, it seemed to make sense. Now I fear we may have missed the point. Much of the focus for people I work with is learning new skills. We work on life skills to help the person fit better in their world. While working on life skills we cannot forget the importance of social skills. There is value and balance when both of these skills improve.

How can we change?

So how do we change our ways? How do we help someone gain valued social roles? It starts with understanding what society values. Today’s society places a high value on money, health, youth, and freedom. These are words I do not typically see in the stories I read about people. In my job, I sometimes find the words used to describe people set limits on the person. We focus on what people cannot do instead of what they can do.
A shift to focusing on abilities and socially valued roles is essential to overall quality of life for anyone. Every person is valuable, but not all roles are valued. Let’s celebrate people for who they are instead of describing people in terms of what they are not. For more information on Social Role Valorization, community inclusion, and similar topics, check out the websites listed below.

* Dr. Wolf Wolfensberger’s theory of Social Role Valorization