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Life Skills & Learning Center Spring Update

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Advocates
April 26, 2022

COVID-19 UpdatesOn Site | Community Based Day Supports | Employment Services | Meet Our Staff | News & Social Media Healthy Habits

An Update from Advocates Life Skills and Learning Center

As spring begins, we are reflecting on the challenges we overcame in the early months of 2022. Day Services experienced a significant COVID-19 surge that affected 50% of our staff, and we monitored 75 individuals for exposures.

Our amazing and committed staff overcame these challenges with all the necessary tools and resources in place. We recently welcomed back 16 more friends to the program! With one cohort left, we are excited to get back into the swing of things.

Brighter days are ahead of us this season! We are thrilled to come together as a community at Advocates See Me 5K Run, Walk, & Roll on Saturday, May 7. Friends, families, and people we support are welcome to join the Day Services team for a fun-filled day celebrating all abilities at Hopkinton State Park. I hope to see you there!

In other exciting news, Advocates Day Services was recognized with the first-ever Family Choice Award at the Bill Taylor Award Ceremony in March! Bill Taylor was Advocates' visionary and dedicated leader for more than 33 years. So many of you have said such beautiful words about the services your loved ones receive and your communication with staff. Our team strives every day to make sure that each person is receiving the care, support, and happiness that they deserve. We are honored to receive this award and thank each of you. Watch our team accept the award.

Hugh Doherty, RN, moved on from Day Services and traveled back home to Pennsylvania to be closer to his family. Hugh had strong connections with so many of the people we support. We're sad to see him go, but we wish him well on his next journey.

Here's to spring and warmer weather!

 

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Bardasz
Vice President of Developmental and Brain Injury Day Services

 

COVID-19 Updates

All COVID-19 policies remain the same, with masks worn within the program setting and when traveling in any vehicles. Individuals may choose to take their mask off when outdoors and/or alone. There are still no visitors allowed in the program. We hope to lessen this restriction as we watch the guidelines and funding requirements update.

Great news! The National Guard recently delivered more than 1,300 rapid test kits. Over the next month, your loved ones will be bringing home COVID-19 test kits that you can use as needed.

Remote services will continue through July of 2022 thanks to the Federal Public Health Emergency extension. For those of our friends still at home, Zoom will remain 3 days a week in the afternoons with Scott, Rehab Aide, and we will continue to call and check in.

 

On Site

Update brought to you by Kathy D’Errico, Director of Developmental Day Services

We got in the festive spirit celebrating Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day with special activities and games! We look forward to more celebrations this spring.

Our gym and cafeteria recently reopened for larger group activities, and we are having fun with weekly activity schedules in all program spaces. New supplies such as speakers and projectors aid in teaching various themes.

     

An exciting collaboration with the Weston Public Library is coming soon! Some of our friends supported in our traditional and autism day habilitation programs will begin a pilot program featuring a curriculum developed by the library that will focus on a theme and involve reading, music, art, and guest visitors. The program highlights the local community and its helpers through activity and recreational development for the individuals participating.

          

 

Community Based Day Supports

Update brought to you by Eric Dwinnells, Senior Case Manager

Our friends in traditional and autism CBDS programs are thrilled to be volunteering at two new sites! At Project Just Because we assist with tasks like making gift baskets and organizing food pantry items. At The Blessing Barn, we organize, price, hang, and clean donated items.

We never stop seeking new opportunities, which allow for increased community access and job readiness skills. Our friends also continue to work very hard at our regular volunteer sites including Meals on Wheels, MetroWest Humane Society, The Boys and Girls Club, Unity Farm, The Framingham Food Pantry, and Framingham Parks and Recreation.

     

We got up close to tanks, planes, jeeps, and more on a recent visit to the American Heritage Museum, which displays the history of the American military and is staffed by veterans. At the Clayground, we had a blast creating ceramic works of art, and we enjoyed a fun-filled trip to Altitude Trampoline Park in Franklin. When we’re not on trips in the community, we enjoy spending time at a new park in Natick featuring a great workout area!

 

Employment Services

Update brought to you by Colleen Graham, Employment Program Manager

Our friends are looking forward to time in the sun as many prepare to return to seasonal employment at Russell’s Garden Center and Putts and More Family Fun Center. We are excited to welcome a new job coach, Ryan, to our team. Ryan will focus on Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) Employment Services.

95% of our friends are currently employed in settings like restaurants, pet stores, grocery stores, medical facilities, and libraries. For those still looking for employment, we work side-by-side with them to find the right placement. We also run weekly employment trainings focused on topics like goal setting, budgeting, and how to handle rejection during the job search with team problem solving.

          

 

Meet Our Staff

Get to know a couple of our wonderful staff from the Choices program!

Anna Hand (She/Her/Hers) | Case Manager

How long have you been at Advocates?
1 year 2 months

What brings you joy at work?
Laughing with all the individuals.

Who inspires you at work?
Everyone! All our beautiful individuals and my co-workers.

What superpower would you like to have?
To teleport.

 

Philip Davis | Skills Instructor

What brings you joy at work?

When I come in the morning and all the individuals are happy to see me and have a big smile on their faces. I’m happy to make them smile daily.

Who inspires you at work?

Every morning I’m inspired to come to work to help my individuals achieve their daily goals and every day I learn from them as they learn from me as well. It’s a great inspiration.

What is one thing many people don't know about you?

I’m a professional boxer.

What superpower would you like to have?

To be honest, if I could have any superpower, it would be to be able to help as many people smile and be happy.

 

News & Social Media Healthy Habits

Update brought to you by Kelly McKeon, M.S., BCBA LABA, Director of Day Clinical Services

To ensure that social media and the news has a positive impact on your health, it's important to be conscious of how you're using it. That means knowing when to take a break and direct your attention elsewhere.

Some signs you may need a break…

  • It’s not fun anymore.
  • You are comparing yourself to others you see on social media.
  • Always thinking of the bad (doomsday scrolling).
  • It’s the first/last thing you see every day.
  • It transitions from a nice-to-have activity to a need-to-have activity.

We can take steps to create healthy boundaries with social media and the news.

  • Turn off notifications on your phone/device from social media and news apps.
  • Set a limited amount of time to be on social media or watch the news. (You can use the settings in your phone to help with this).
  • Plug your phone/device in across the room so you can’t scroll before bed.
  • Prioritize self-care.
    • Take a walk, hike, bike ride… move your body.
    • Make plans with a friend.
    • Cook your favorite meal.
    • Journal for 15 minutes.

 

About the Life Skills and Learning Center: Through our Day and Employment Services at the Life Skills & Learning Center, Advocates staff partners with adults who have disabilities and their families to customize experiences and activities uniquely suited to each person’s interests, skills, needs, and goals. Learn more at www.Advocates.org/LSLC.