Category Archive: News & Events

Jun 13

FROM EXCLUSION TO INCLUSION: What the “inclusion revolution” means for adults with disabilities and the powerful role business leaders play

YORK, Pa. – June 13, 2017 – On Tuesday, June 20, York area business leaders and influencers will lead a free public forum and share insights on creating a path to inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities that promotes shared social value and independence for all in society.

This first-time York County business forum entitled “From Exclusion to Inclusion: What the ‘inclusion revolution’ means for adults with disabilities and the powerful role business leaders play,” is being organized by Penn-Mar Human Services and the York County Economic Alliance (YCEA), and will be held at PeoplesBank Park in York.

Led by of Penn-Mar and YCEA, the forum will include a panel of local York County business owners and leaders:

•    Anthony P. Campisi – President and CEO – Glatfelter Insurance Group
•    Eric Menzer – President – York Revolution
•    Michael O’Neill – Executive Vice President of Fixed Operations – Apple Automotive
•    Larry Scoggin – Director of Operations – Perform Group LLC
•    Julia Dugan – Employee – Perform Group LLC

Less than a decade ago, most people with disabilities, who had a desire to work, were in “sheltered workshops” producing products for contract work for manufacturers. Most of the individuals made a piece rate or a subminimum hourly rate based on Department of Labor regulations.

In 2012, Penn-Mar, a recognized leader in providing innovative, quality supports and services to hundreds of individuals with intellectual disabilities in Pennsylvania and Maryland, shuttered its sheltered workshop, and initiated its Competitive Employment Program. The program is successfully partnering with numerous Pennsylvania businesses to provide employment in an integrated community setting, enabling individuals to earn a competitive wage, receive benefits equal to the job’s responsibilities and enjoy the satisfaction of working to maximum potential. To date Penn-Mar has assisted more than 80 residents with intellectual and/or physical disabilities in careers within industries such as Automotive, Clerical, Child Care, Custodial, Customer Service, Engineering, Food Service, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Retail, and Sports Maintenance.

From Exclusion to Inclusion: A Business Forum

WHAT:    York County business leaders, owners, administrators and influencers are invited to join Penn-Mar Human Services and the York County Economic Alliance in learning more about the talents and incredible work ethic of people with disabilities, and how Penn-Mar can support business initiatives and job creation for people who once felt invisible, but now through inclusion, invincible.

WHO:    Participants in this first-time York County business forum include representatives from Penn-Mar Human Services, York County Economic Alliance, Glatfelter Insurance Group, York Revolution, Apple Automotive, and Perform Group LLC.

WHY:    There is a painful history for people with disabilities being excluded from society and while we’ve come a long way, there is more to do. Inclusion is the ultimate goal because inclusion, interaction and engagement can lead to greater independence. More than exposure or integration, inclusion fosters experiences and interactions that will serve people with disabilities for a lifetime. Penn-Mar’s guiding belief is that there is a job for everyone who wants one, regardless of disability. Our goal is to secure employment in an integrated community setting, enabling individuals to earn a competitive wage, receive benefits equal to the job’s responsibilities and enjoy the satisfaction of working to maximum potential.

WHEN:     Tuesday, June 20, 2017, from 8 to 9:30 a.m.

WHERE:     PeoplesBank Park
5 Brooks Robinson Way
York, PA 17401

There is no charge to attend the forum, but space is limited and registration is required. To register, contact Jackie Summer by e-mail at, jsummers@penn-mar.org, or call 410.343.1069 x286.

About Penn-Mar Human Services
Penn-Mar Human Services, founded in 1981, serves more than 400 adults with intellectual disabilities through its residential, respite, educational, vocational and supported employment programs in northern Baltimore, Carroll and Harford Counties in Maryland, and in southern York County in Pennsylvania. www.penn-mar.org

Permanent link to this article: http://www.penn-mar.org/2017/06/from-exclusion-to-inclusion-what-the-inclusion-revolution-means-for-adults-with-disabilities-and-the-powerful-role-business-leaders-play/

May 18

Seeding Transformation: Penn-Mar Launches Garden Initiative to Promote Inclusion and Health and Wellness of Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

FREELAND, Md. – May 18, 2017 – This spring, Penn-Mar Human Services, in partnership with Whispering Rise Farm & Animal Sanctuary in Freeland, Md., is launching a multipronged horticultural initiative – “Seeding Transformation: Community Learning Garden Project” – in an effort to advance disability inclusion and promote the overall health and wellness of the men and women with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) the nonprofit supports in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adults with disabilities are three times more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions than adults without disabilities. Numerous research studies over the past decade have shown that people with disabilities, experience worse health and poorer access to health care than the general population, and are vulnerable to high rates of health risks including physical inactivity and obesity. In addition to being vulnerable to disability-related conditions, they are also at higher risk of chronic conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, cancer and heart disease.

Penn-Mar, a recognized leader in providing innovative, quality supports and services to hundreds of individuals with IDD, is staunchly committed to disability inclusion, which allows for people with disabilities to take advantage of the benefits of the same health promotion and prevention activities experienced by people who do not have a disability. By piloting the new Garden Project initiative through its Community Learning Services (CLS) program, Penn-Mar is taking a multipronged approach to promoting greater community inclusion and improved health and wellness for participating adults.

The Seeding Transformation: Community Learning Garden Project will progress throughout the growing and harvest season into the fall at the nonprofit Whispering Rise Farm & Animal Sanctuary. Fourteen Penn-Mar CLS participants along with instructors have already established garden beds and begun planting. Working off the theme of Seeding Transformation the project aims to:

  • Seed Inclusion, by promoting engagement, interaction and opportunities for individuals in the community through education and partnerships.
  • Seed Health and Wellness, by promoting nutrition and physical activity through gardening. By creating a tangible educational experience, individuals will learn to grow and harvest their own food, learn the nutritional value of food, and how to prepare it.
  • Seed Employment, by promoting opportunities for job discovery, whereby individuals may discover they have a passion, interest and talent for gardening, which could lead to paid career opportunities through Penn-Mar’s Community Employment program that partners with regional businesses.
  • Seed Relationships, by promoting relationship-building exercises, CLS participants will be working side-by-side with their peers, Direct Support Professionals, families, the participating public and business community, who have stepped forward to get involved.

“We have a lot of experience at Penn-Mar with the transformation process, continually ‘transforming life into living’ for the individuals with disabilities we serve,” says Greg Miller, president and CEO. “The Seeding Transformation Garden Project is a great example of how we leverage the strengths and talents of our staff to find out what they are passionate about and then using their considerable skills and knowledge to support and energize programs like this that positively impact the well-being of our individuals.”

For more information about Penn-Mar’s Seeding Transformation: Community Learning Garden Project and how the community can get involved, contact Kathy Rogers (410-343-1069, kathyrogers@penn-mar.org), or visit www.penn-mar.org.

About Penn-Mar’s Community Learning Services Program

Penn-Mar’s Community Learning Services (CLS) provides the individuals we serve with the opportunity to access and participate in the communities in which they live, in the same capacity as those in the non-disabled population. Different from a traditional, facility-based day habilitation program, Penn-Mar’s Community Learning program partners with the community, and supplies the means by which individuals can develop maximum independence in meaningful activities of daily living – through exposure to and integration with their individual communities. This is connected and authentic learning, where real-world experiences are lived and engagement with the community is a possibility. Designed with the individuals’ interests, preferences, strengths, and needs, the program provides goal oriented services that assist individuals in developing skills, and promoting positive growth.

About Penn-Mar Human Services

Penn-Mar Human Services, founded in 1981, serves more than 400 adults with intellectual disabilities through its residential, respite, educational, vocational and supported employment programs in northern Baltimore, Carroll and Harford Counties in Maryland, and in southern York County in Pennsylvania. www.penn-mar.org

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.penn-mar.org/2017/05/seeding-transformation-penn-mar-launches-garden-initiative-to-promote-inclusion-and-health-and-wellness-of-adults-with-intellectual-and-developmental-disabilities/

May 12

Creating Side by Side: Drawing out the Superhero

Ever since the debut of Superman in 1938, our fascination with superhuman, crime-fighting, heroic characters has not only gone unabated, but has intensified. Today we live in an age of the superhero, one who dominates the big screen with blockbuster action taking out the supervillains and setting the world right, until another baddie comes along.

If there’s anyone who has a finger on the pulse of our fascination with superheroes, it’s Bobby Prado. In fact, Bobby has more than just a finger. With a color pencil or oil pastel in his hand he can render in startling likeness his favorite costumed crusaders. His love of drawing began when he was five, he says, and like our captivation with the crime-fighting comic book and animated characters that he likes to draw, hasn’t stopped.

When Bobby, 22, joined Penn-Mar’s Day Program in Freeland two years ago, it was no surprise that he instantly gravitated to the Adapted Art Studio Program.

“It was evident from the beginning that Bobby has a talent for drawing,” said Rebecca Lee, Art Activities Instructor, who began her career at Penn-Mar five-and-a-half years ago, combining her love of art, she’s an artist herself, and passion for working with people with disabilities. “He’s always been interested in art, and draws constantly, even when he’s not in class. He’s prolific and very creative in his output. He can draw better from memory than most people I know, myself included.”

Recently, Bobby has taken to identifying staff and individuals with comic book characters and action heroes and then drawing them – Rebecca is Rey from Star Wars, and he himself is Tony Stark AKA Iron Man.

Penn-Mar’s Adapted Art Studio Program is targeted as therapeutic for Day Program participants (Rebecca works with between 90 and 115 individuals a week), and encourages them to use their skills creatively on an individual and collaborative basis. Over the years, they have produced an extraordinary body of work that has been exhibited in gallery shows in Pennsylvania and Maryland, including in Bobby’s hometown of Hereford. Two of their pieces are on permanent display in York’s Central Market, and every year for the past four years, participants have created stunning works that are auctioned off at Penn-Mar’s annual Black-Tie Gala. Proceeds from the auctions directly support the art program and help cover the cost of materials and art supplies.

Not only are participants creating art, but they’re learning about art and famous artists as well. In addition to the group work and lessons, Rebecca provides one-on-one instruction for those who have a keen interest in art, like Bobby, or who simply enjoy it. Everyone benefits from the experience, she says.

“As an art teacher you want to keep the students focused on a specific task, but you also want to give them creative license,” she said. A recent example of Bobby’s creative license was turning a spring tree into the superhero Groot, the sentient tree-like creature from Guardians of the Galaxy, and turning a cardinal into an Angry Bird.

Bobby’s had a lot of encouragement along the way, from his family, teachers and staff at Penn-Mar, where’s he’s been able to take his art to the next level and expand his creativity. “Art means everything to me,” he says. “It makes me happy.”

You can bet Bobby will be seeing Wonder Woman when it comes out. Can he draw her? Yes, probably with his eyes closed.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.penn-mar.org/2017/05/creating-side-by-side-drawing-out-the-superhero/

Apr 26

Living Side by Side: For the Love of the Game

Everyone who knows Jon Martin knows that he has a deep, abiding love of all things sports, particularly NASCAR and golf, which he’s been playing since he was eight. His encyclopedic knowledge of competitive games extends beyond teams, players and stats to include the very venues where all the action takes place. Show him a picture of a speedway, and he’ll tell you which one it is. Watching the Masters and you don’t know what hole Phil Mickelson is playing, just ask Jon, even though he may have just walked into the room.

By all accounts, Jon, 41, a 15-year Penn-Mar resident, should be in a wheelchair. He was born with cerebral palsy with left hemiplegia that involves paralysis of one side of the body and developmental delays. His parents Martha “Marti” and Nathaniel “Nat” Martin were living in Richmond, Virginia at the time of his birth, and in an ironic twist, Nat, an occupational therapist, had just completed an affiliation with the city’s Cerebral Palsy Center.

“Call it whatever you want – divine intervention,” says Nat. “My experience with the CP Center was a blessing, as it gave us the tremendous basis for understanding and providing Jon with early intervention therapy. He was six months old when he started and today we can’t believe how functional and active he has been.”

Despite his cerebral palsy which has mainly affected his speech, fine motor skills and sensation on his left side, Jon has always been very active, outgoing, and competitive playing a host of sports over the years including softball and bowling with the York Special Olympics, and of course golf, which he plays regularly with either his dad or both his parents. He’s competed in the Special Olympics National Golf Invitational three times, and the year he played in Port St. Lucie, Fla., he took home a gold in his flight.

Not surprisingly, Jon’s love and deep knowledge of sports has prompted him to express to Penn-Mar Residential Supervisor, Ruby Jarrett, who oversees Jon’s home, which he shares with four active roommates, that he would have liked to have been a sportscaster. “That would have been his ultimate dream,” she says. “He watches all sports, and never misses a NASCAR race. Jon knows all the teams, when they’re playing, what their current stats are, and who’s won in the past. It’s amazing what he knows.”

Interestingly, Jon’s passion for NASCAR came via football. During the 1980s Jon was attending therapy in Carlisle, Pa., and on occasion, as a special treat, Marti would take him to watch the Washington Redskins train (Carlisle was their training camp for 34 years). A chance meeting with former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs one year, led to an invitation for Jon to come down to Redskins Park to watch the team practice. Jon became an instant Joe Gibbs fan. When Gibbs retired from coaching in 1992, to focus on his NASCAR team, Jon also made the transition, and has been a loyal NASCAR fan ever since.

For years now, Jon, Marti and Nat have been attending a race a year, which Jon gets to pick out for Christmas. His current favorite driver is “Rocket Man” Ryan Newman, and, as his dad points out, he has a thing for Danika Patrick. This year the family will pack their motor home, which they recently acquired after years of tent camping at the various NASCAR sites, and head down to Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. Their trip this coming August 21st coincides with the total solar eclipse that will pass through the center of the U.S., making this year’s trip that much more exciting.

“I used to say Jon would have been a good athlete,” says Nat “No, Jon IS a good athlete.” Marti adds, “He’s slowing down a little bit now, but he still plays golf. His interest in NASCAR has given him another outlet, and an opportunity for all of us to share in an exhilarating experience.”

Permanent link to this article: http://www.penn-mar.org/2017/04/living-side-by-side-for-the-love-of-the-game/

Apr 17

$250,000 Challenge Grant to Support Community Employment Opportunities for Adults with Disabilities

 

FREELAND, Md. – April 17, 2017 – With a lack of employment and inclusion opportunities, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) struggle to be integrated in the communities in which they live. Thanks to a $250,000 challenge grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the nonprofit Penn-Mar Human Services, an Employment First provider, will be able to expand its Community Employment (CE) program over the next two years, to help men and women with IDD find and keep jobs in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

 

Penn-Mar’s Community Employment program, established in 2010, is regionally recognized for its innovative and collaborative approach to placing adults with IDD in community-based jobs in Baltimore, Carroll and Harford Counties, Maryland, and York County, Pennsylvania. The overarching goal of the CE program is to explore and discover talents that lead to placing individuals with IDD into competitive jobs, thereby decreasing the poverty rate of these individuals and creating greater opportunities for community inclusion.

 

As a standard challenge grant, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation grant – $125,000 per year for two years – will leverage other donations for Penn-Mar’s CE program. Penn-Mar has already raised more than $100,000 through generous matching grants from The Marion I. and Henry J. Knott Foundation, $45,000; People’s Bank, $25,000; Transamerica Foundation, $25,000; Koons Westminster, $5,000; and The John J. Leidy Foundation, $4,000. The Challenge Grant will enable Penn-Mar to increase the number of individuals participating in the CE program, diversify the businesses in Penn-Mar’s employer portfolio, and increase job retention rates for the individuals participating in the program.

 

“We are very grateful to The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation for its generosity and to the matching funding partners for helping Penn-Mar continue to break down the barriers to employment and full social inclusion for the men and women we support,” said Gregory T. Miller, Penn-Mar’s president and CEO.”

 

Individuals with disabilities face barriers the majority of the non-disabled community does not struggle through. The three major barriers, as identified by US Department of Health and Human Services, are: (1) the lack of appropriate jobs and training; (2) need for specific accommodations; (3) access to and use of transportation systems. Penn-Mar’s customized approached reduces the need for accommodations and thereby opens up additional employment opportunities.

 

Additionally, the fear of exploitation and loss of benefits are also of great concern. These barriers are the result of the denial of opportunities provided to individuals with disabilities and the practice of keeping these individuals sheltered and invisible in communities throughout the country. In 2010, Penn-Mar’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to transition from the popular, but antiquated sheltered workshop model to an inclusive community-based employment program.

 

Penn-Mar’s customized approach to community-based employment has a zero exclusion commitment to anyone who wants to work. No one is turned away because of their disability. All individuals undergo a Discovery Process – an assessment of skills, abilities, interests, motivations and ideal work conditions. The key is not to fill a slot but find  work the person wants to do and has the skills to be successful, along with meeting an unmet need for the employer. All work is competitive, in the community and in integrated work places – people with and without disabilities working alongside each other.

 

The CE program has four distinct processes and stages that aid in attaining and retaining a career: the aforementioned Career Exploration and Discovery process, Job Development, The Hire, and Stabilization and Retention.

 

The US Office of Disability Employment Policy estimates that 70 percent of working-aged individuals with disabilities nationwide are unemployed, and one-third of those employed earn an income below the federally mandated minimum wage. Without job opportunities and fair wages, individuals with disabilities are nearly three times as likely to live in poverty than people without disabilities. The poverty rate for individuals with disabilities in Maryland is a marginal improvement on the national average of 28.7 percent, ranging from 16.7 to 24.6 percent, however, in Pennsylvania the poverty rate is at 27.8 to 30.2 percent. In the non-disabled community, the poverty rates are 7.5 to 10.9 percent and 10.9 to 12.8 percent in Maryland and Pennsylvania respectively.

 

For information about Penn-Mar’s Community Employment program and supporting employment and inclusion initiatives for individuals with disabilities, call 410-343-1069, or visit www.penn-mar.org.

 

About Penn-Mar Human Services

Penn-Mar Human Services, founded in 1981, serves more than 400 adults with intellectual disabilities through its residential, respite, educational, vocational and supported employment programs in northern Baltimore, Carroll and Harford Counties in Maryland, and in southern York County in Pennsylvania. www.penn-mar.org

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.penn-mar.org/2017/04/250000-challenge-grant-to-support-community-employment-opportunities-for-adults-with-disabilities/

Apr 03

Living Side by Side: Family Is What You Make It

 

When we think of family, in its purest form, our thoughts, more often than not, travel home to a place that is loving, nurturing and safe. A place in which the people we are connected to at the very center of our lives share with us mutual respect and understanding.

 

Up until about four years ago, Jimmy, 55, lived with his father, and for a long time they had shared a very full and active social and recreational life together in the community. When his father fell ill, and too ill to care for Jimmy himself, he turned to Penn-Mar in search of a home where he felt secure that his son could live and be cared for when he was gone.

 

Jimmy’s first home at Penn-Mar turned out not to be quite the right fit for him. A very energetic and outgoing person by nature, Jimmy thrives on activity and the men he first shared a home with were not as mobile and active as he wanted to be. So he asked for a transfer.

 

“Given the understanding that the people you live with are your roommates for life, we try very hard to place an individual with others who share many commonalities,” says Kathryn “Kas” Jasinski, Residential Supervisor, who this past January celebrated her 10th anniversary with Penn-Mar. “Jimmy came to us and loved it right away. He loved the energy and the fun atmosphere.”

 

Jimmy shares his Penn-Mar home with Robert, Wayne and Greg. In the nearly two years that he’s been there, he’s taken on the role of the big brother and has become Kas’ right-hand man about the house, helping out with whatever is needed. As Kas says, Jimmy’s innate helper quality has come out in full force, and a day doesn’t go by when he doesn’t ask “What do you want me to do.”

 

For her part, Kas encourages Jimmy’s nurturing character, because she understands that he wants to help and needs to be stimulated and busy, and that he’s capable of great growth and potential. “That’s kind of how I am,” she says. “If someone finds something that I’m good at, it encourages me to grow and validates my purpose.”

 

And busy he is. Jimmy recently landed a part-time job as a construction site helper with one of Maryland’s top roofing and remodeling companies, Brothers Services Company, based in Hampstead. He leads physical therapy sessions at home with his roommates, and regularly attends Day Program activities. A self-advocate, Jimmy attended Developmental Disabilities Day in Annapolis on February 22, with a large group from Penn-Mar advocating for DSPs. “It was amazing,” says Kas, “As DSPs we’re his voice, but he was our voice that day. It made him so proud.”

 

The day of Penn-Mar’s 25th Annual Black Tie Gala was a busy one for Jimmy. Not only did he attend the event with Kas, but earlier that day had the honor and pride of walking Debbie Nickle, DSP and Kas’ former senior residential assistant, down the aisle at her wedding.

 

“I’m so impressed with him,” says Kas. “Our job is to help him reach his potential. If you have a relationship based on love, respect and care, they know it. It makes their lives better and it makes our lives better. The relationships we have with our individuals are mutually enriching and benefiting.”

 

As for Jimmy, it’s simple, “This is my home and Kas is family.”

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.penn-mar.org/2017/04/living-side-by-side-family-is-what-you-make-it/

Mar 21

Working Side by Side: Standing Proud

 

We all aspire to find meaningful, fulfilling work, and for those of us who find it, the experience is transformative, providing us with a sense of purpose and pride. Penn-Mar resident and York County native Jedd Poff has found both.

 

Two years ago this past February, Jedd, who has fragile X syndrome, landed his first job at the Olive Garden in York, Pa., through Penn-Mar’s Competitive Integrated Employment program. Working together with Jedd and the Olive Garden, Penn-Mar Employment Support Manager Emily Malone and staff created a customized position that has been drawing on and drawing out Jedd’s talents and skills. The partnership has been a success, and Jedd has astounded everyone by how much he’s transformed.

 

“Jedd has excelled at his work and takes great pride in it,” says Emily. “The Olive Garden did an excellent job of molding his initial duties, which included wrapping silverware and some light custodial work. He’s made such quick progress in the past two years that they have added a lot of other tasks that he’s been able to do including food prep and baking their signature bread sticks.”

 

Emily attributes part of the success of this partnership to how management and staff at the Olive Garden have taken on the role of job coach themselves. “They have learned how to help Jedd, and understand what they need to give him to be successful.”

 

For Jedd’s mother, Debra Bennett, the successful partnership has been with Penn-Mar, who she says promotes peace for a parent. “As a parent of a disabled child you can’t do it all, and you don’t want to do it all because you want your child to be as independent as possible and to have a normal life. Working with Penn-Mar gives you that peace of mind.”

 

She marvels over his transformation in the past few years, and notes how his overall demeanor has changed since he started working, both in terms of his manner and appearance.

 

“Jedd went from not wanting to get a haircut to going every two weeks for a trim,” says Debra. “He has become very meticulous about his grooming. He takes great pride in his appearance, making sure his uniforms are dry cleaned every week. But the main thing is how his level of confidence and sense of purpose has soared.” – Something Penn-Mar Residential Supervisor, Dawn Mitzel, can attest to.

 

“Jedd’s social skills have really developed,” she says. “He’s so much more confident and socially outgoing, but he’s also developed an understanding of people’s personal space, especially on the job interacting with coworkers.”

 

Jedd’s social interaction doesn’t stop on the job. He keeps himself busy as a team member of the York County Special Olympics, concentrating on track and field as well as bowling on its All Star team. Recently he was asked to join a local bowling league.

 

Debra sees Jedd, who turns 35 this May, as successful as anybody because he is functioning at his highest level, as he pushes himself to learn and grow. “It’s a normal thing. I have a son, he has a job, and he’s happy.”

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.penn-mar.org/2017/03/working-side-by-side-standing-proud/

Mar 21

Learning Side by Side: The Measure of Friendship

 

Friendship has often been described as two bodies with one mind. This could be said of two young men, who over the past year have become fast friends through Penn-Mar’s Community Learning Services (CLS) program.

Mike Gallo, 22, and Michael Orsulak, 24, were teamed up last March to participate in CLS, giving them the opportunity to access and participate in their community through connected and authentic learning, and real-world experiences. As friendships often start out, neither one was sure of the other, but over time their friendship has blossomed– to the extent that they now frequently finish each other’s sentences, or repeat what the other has said, especially if it involves a joke, which Mike, the comedian, often cracks.

Mark Rivera-Junkins, Community Learning Coordinator, who oversees CLS, notes that like the “best” friendships, Mike and Michael bring out the best in each other. “We have found that because of their friendship, they have become each other’s greatest motivator. If there’s something that Mike isn’t excited about, or vice versa, they’ll do it because the other is doing it. They are encouraging one another along the way.”

Mark sees the power of peer influence as playing an important role in the program, particularly as individuals are being exposed to things that they would not readily choose for themselves. Working with their CLS support professional She-Ra Pettiford, the two friends, engage in daily community activities that include volunteering at Our Daily Bread in Baltimore, and Meals on Wheels; various occupational therapy-based workshops through Studio One at Towson University; and recreational activities, like working out at their local YMCA. Recently, they had the opportunity to experience screen printing t-shirts alongside the staff at Charm City Tees in Baltimore.

Their shared interest in video games and computers has opened up learning opportunities for them to work independently. Their skills made it very easy for them to focus on the use of the computer lab at Towson University and the functions of the computer outside of just watching YouTube or playing games.

As their friendship has blossomed, so have their social interactions. Although socially reserved, because they’re interacting with people all day, every day, they’ve become more confident and outgoing. They recently went on a double date to dinner and a movie with two young women in another CLS group. The night was a hit, and CLS staff is trying to figure out how to foster more social engagement outside of the program.

What’s the measure of friendship? In their words, “We have fun and like to be goofy,” says Mike. “And we love to play video games,” adds Michael.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.penn-mar.org/2017/03/learning-side-by-side-the-measure-of-friendship/

Mar 13

Penn-Mar Self Advocates Making a Difference in Annapolis

A big thank you goes out to the 700 advocates including over 20 individual self-advocates, staff and family members from Penn-Mar who participated in the Developmental Disabilities Day in Annapolis on Thursday, February 22nd. They spoke to numerous legislators, key staff, and interns urging them to support the re-instatement of the 3.5% mandated rate community service rate. As of last week, it looks like their efforts worked and it will be restored in the budget.

Mark Rivera-Junkins, Community Learning Coordinator for Penn Mar, said, “I believe the most significant outcome of that day was witnessing the empowerment of the individuals we support, to speak on a topic that has an impact on them. As we continued to speak to more people throughout the day, those individuals who by nature are normally more reserved, requested to read the speech, wanted to pass out materials developed, or speak unscripted. Everyone who came with us wanted to contribute in some way and the act of empowerment was contagious.”

When speaking to staff and members of the government that day, our individuals wanted to let them know how important their support staff is to them.  Over 400 Penn-Mar individuals rely on support staff to live and work as independently as possible. They shared that it is hard to find people to support them when they can make more money working at McDonalds.

The day was very special to everyone who attended and now that they know their voice was heard, we all have reason to celebrate.  Thank you to all of our advocates who took the time to share their stories with our elected officials!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.penn-mar.org/2017/03/penn-mar-self-advocates-making-a-difference-in-annapolis/

Feb 09

THE PENN-MAR FOUNDATION NAMES JULIA HUGGINS AS THE NEWEST MEMBER ON ITS BOARD OF DIRECTORS

 

FREELAND, Md. – Feb. 9, 2017 – Penn-Mar Human Services, a recognized leader in providing innovative, quality supports and services to hundreds of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Maryland and Pennsylvania, names Julia Huggins as the newest member on the board of The Penn-Mar Foundation.

 

Julia Huggins is president and general manager of the Mid-Atlantic office of Cigna, overseeing Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia. She joined Cigna in 1999, after a 14-year career with Aetna. Under Huggins’ leadership, Cigna has been recognized by the Maryland Health Care Commission for its quality of care and service as the top-performing PPO plan in Maryland. The company also received a Million Hearts recognition from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

 

“We are privileged to have Julia Huggins join The Penn-Mar Foundation board of directors,” says Kathy Rogers, the foundation’s executive director, and Chief Development Officer of Penn-Mar Human Services, headquartered in Freeland, Md. “Her knowledge and wealth of experience in the field of health care is a boon to our mission of providing our most vulnerable citizens the opportunities to live full and inclusive lives in the community.

 

Huggins is a graduate of Saint Joseph’s College, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry. Named one of The Baltimore Sun’s 25 Women to Watch in 2016, she is an active member of the community, sitting on the boards of the Maryland Business Group on Health, the American Diabetes Association – Maryland Chapter, the American Heart Association –Maryland, and the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education (MCBRE). She also participates in numerous community-sponsored events to promote health and wellbeing that include the American Diabetes Association’s Greater Maryland Tour de Cure, and the American Heart Association’s CPR in Schools Training.

 

Huggins resides in Westminster, Md. with her husband and four children.

 

About The Penn-Mar Foundation

The Penn-Mar Foundation supports the work of Penn-Mar Human Services and secures funding for programs and services that create opportunities for employment, community living and education for individuals with disabilities and all who share its vision of transforming life into living.

 

About Penn-Mar Human Services

Penn-Mar Human Services, founded in 1981, serves more than 400 adults with intellectual disabilities through its residential, respite, educational, vocational and supported employment programs in northern Baltimore, Carroll and Harford Counties in Maryland, and in southern York County in Pennsylvania. www.penn-mar.org

Permanent link to this article: http://www.penn-mar.org/2017/02/the-penn-mar-foundation-names-julia-huggins-as-the-newest-member-on-its-board-of-directors/

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