Every year HMEA throws a party to celebrate the many accomplishments and achievements of the people supported by the agency, as well as staff members. This year the agency marks its 26th year of hosting the Annual Awards Night celebration, which will be held on Wednesday, October 8th at the DoubleTree by Hilton Boston – Milford Hotel.
Sixteen people will be receiving awards this year ranging from Outstanding Employee Award, which recognizes up to two individuals served through Employment Services and/or TRACS program to the Board of Directors Award potentially recognizing four direct care staff members from Residential, Day, Children’s Services, and Family Supports.
Nine other categories of awards will also be presented to at least one individual this year. Five are Shared Living Provider, Volunteer, Team, HMEA, and Advocacy Awards; three memorial awards, named after three outstanding individuals in their respective fields who had been employed by HMEA; Eric Rodgers, Kevin McMullen and Kathy Gilchrist, and a Citizen’s Award given to someone outside the agency who made a significant contribution to the people HMEA supports.
HMEA congratulates all the winners of these prestigious awards and applaud their many successes.
Nearly 145,000 individuals work in the human services sector to provide support to our most vulnerable residents. This week HMEA joins The Provider’s Council in celebrating “those who make up the backbone – and the golden heart – of our sector, our direct care staff.”
Direct support professionals include direct care workers, residential staff, personal assistants, personal attendants, in-home support workers and paraprofessionals. DSPs provide support in helping those with disabilities and others in need to lead a meaningful life at home, at work and in their communities.
Gov. Charlie Baker and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey have officially declared this week — the second full week of September — Direct Service Professional Recognition Week in Massachusetts.
We have chosen to share one of our agency video’s titled “Building Dreams” as we believe this is an accurate portrayal of what our 650 caring, committed and competent staff do every day as direct care professionals at HMEA, Inc.
“HMEA cannot thank these dedicated men and women enough for the incredible work they do each day which makes it possible for the people we serve to realize their dreams.” ~ Mike Moloney, CEO
You have probably heard the reports in the media of the cases of suicide on the rise in America over the past decade. These cases span from young teenage victims to war heroes to celebrities, most recent comedian Robin Williams. The headlines grab at our hearts and even more tragic is how common suicide is with an estimated 41,000 lives lost annually. This equates to one life lost almost every 13 minutes. Besides those who end their life’s journey in suicide, there are approximately 1,028,725 Americans who attempt suicide each year and the 4.8 million affected by these attempts and lost.
As much as people hear these stark statistics, there is a population often overlooked when it comes to this epidemic. Very little data is provided when it comes to the numbers of individuals with disabilities who commit suicide. Though the issue is nothing new, still very little research has been done on the topic. Thomas Weiss, a writer and editor at disabled-world.com states “It is amazing that even though 18.7% of all non-institutionalized civilians in the United States experience a form of disability, they remain nearly invisible when it comes to the issue of suicide.”
The research that has been conducted on disabilities and depression has often found that disabled individuals state that their unhappiness is due to the lack of intimate encounters and financial stability. Like many, they want fulfilling relationships, to be good at their job and not have to worry if they are in danger of losing their source of income. Those with disabilities already have to deal with the negative social presentation of their lives being less than satisfying or depressing but really they have the same basic needs and concerns as those without disabilities that commit suicide.
It’s not the physical or mental change that is the concern; those become a way of life and overtime many adapt to their new lifestyle. But, like any human, it is the need to feel part of the world you live in. To have a role to play that makes your life impactful to others you encounter. That has become the purpose driven mission at HMEA, that through the right supports, education and life experiences those with disabilities can find resolve and contentment in their lives.
Many of the Day programs cater to the work and life needs of our consumers. HMEA’s Employment programs give individuals the opportunity to pursue meaningful employment either on a full- or part-time basis. For people in the Employment Program who work part-time, HMEA encourages volunteering for community organizations, or leisure and recreation activities to supplement their day. Our Day Habilitation programs focuses on identifying skill areas that are of interest to individuals. These programs foster growth in community integration, relationship building, social and communication skills, activities for daily living and recreational activities.
Implementing programs that support individuals with disabilities takes away the option for suicide and opens up the door for other opportunities in life some never thought were possible.
~ Kormasa Amos
On Tuesday, July 14th, HMEA’s Family Supports Director Jeanne Clapper and AFC (Adult Family Care) Nurse Gianna Battista participated in EMC’s “Caring for the Caregiver” employee resource fair. The fair is part of an effort known as “EMC Caregiver Circle.” The group’s goal is to promote awareness and understanding of the competing demands placed on caregivers, and to assist EMC employees and their families by creating a support network and providing access to resources and information about care-giving.
Exhibitors represented many areas of health, well-being, and care-giving support – including financial (eldercare attorney), housing (an assisted living facility), and much more. HMEA supplied resources for families who care for a loved one with a disability including: Family Supports, medically complex wrap services, Adult Family Care and more.
The event was well received by employees. HMEA was happy to give back to the employees of EMC, many of which help with HMEA’s annual Independence 5k Run & Walk hosted each May at EMC in Franklin.
HMEA was invited to participate in the Red Sox Disability Awareness Night (DAN) for the 11th year in a row along with other providers of services for individuals with disabilities. Two young women from HMEA’s Autism Resource Central were invited to sing the National anthem and a young boy and young girl also from the Center participated in the pre-game ceremonies on the field as the Honorary Bat Boy and Bat Girl.
In addition, 50 individuals, staff and family members were able to attend the special evening along with Bill Gross (an HMEA Board Member) and his son Jackson and me! Before the game we were introduced along with the other honorees around the pitcher’s mound and then were given 4 seats by the Red Sox directly behind home plate. We were on National TV at every pitch. Yes we all behaved. To top it all off? The red sox won! Kudos to the entire Red Sox organization and top brass – a real class act.
– Doug MacPherson
Winter Considerations for People With Disabilities
Keep Your Sidewalks Clear
With record-breaking snowfalls, nor’easters and blizzards, Winter 2015 has presented Massachusetts with many challenges – and, winter isn’t over yet.
If we find it hard to get around with 4 foot snow bankings and roads that have yet to see a good melting, imagine the difficulty for someone using a wheelchair.
It is important to keep sidewalks and the ends of your driveways clear if you have a person with a disability living in your community. Whether it’s a traditional or motorized wheelchair, these transportation devices require sidewalks to be cleared wide enough to allow safe travel for wheelchair users.
Winter weather considerations go beyond sidewalk clearing and include important winter safety tips for people with disabilities.
Winter Safety Tips for People With Disabilities
When heading out into the cold weather, dress in layers. Air acts as insulation when it gets trapped between layers. Also, wearing multiple layers offers you the ability to remove layers as you get warm or cool down.
Avoid cotton clothing when possible as it does not dry once wet. Try a moisture-wicking material like polypropylene and other lightweight, man-made fabrics.
Invest in good gloves. Grip driving gloves not only keep your hands warm but also prevent slipping when sleet or ice stick to wheelchairs and other surfaces. Always carry a second pair of gloves with you, in case one pair gets wet.
Use Sunscreen. We never think of it but when the sun’s reflection on the snow can cause sever sunburns.
Another helpful tip is to use Vaseline on exposed areas of your face. It reduces the risk of your face becoming dry or chapped by acting as a moisture insulator.
Using a wheelchair in the snow can be very strenuous. Always take your time and be careful when maneuvering through the snow as the extra exertion could have negative effects on your body.
Don’t Forget Your Four-legged Friend
Dogs can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite, too. If you’re accompanied by a service animal or taking a pet outside, consider a dog coat and boots for their feet. It’s also a good idea to keep a blanket in your vehicle for your pet.