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Get to know Kanisha!

While Thanksgiving 2020 looks different in so many ways, we at Disability Advocates remain steadfast in our gratitude for your support. Thanks to your help, we have been able to continue to work alongside persons with disabilities throughout our community.

Our Pre-Employment Transition team has been no exception. They continue to work with high school and college-aged students who are looking to move ahead in their own lives. Remember how challenging high school was at times? Imagine adding to the usual peer pressure and various other challenges, difficulty learning in a traditional way, and an unstable home environment. It’s easy to imagine how one might fall through the cracks…(or worse). 

Instead, meet Kanisha. She is now 23 years old and employed full time at Spectrum Health. Kanisha plans to take advantage of the tuition assistance recently offered to essential workers to attend school to become a certified medical biller. She believes this is all possible because of the help she received from Disability Advocates of Kent County. “I don’t know where I would be without you.”  

Chloe, one of Disability Advocates’ Independent Living Specialists, met Kanisha while she was in high school. Kanisha was maintaining a 4.0 GPA in school and working, but it was a struggle. She wanted to move out on her own but didn’t know how. 

Disability Advocates helps people with disabilities manage the logistics of everyday life, and that is what Kanisha needed. Chloe was able to connect Kanisha with resources to obtain housing, furniture, and other housing necessities. Through the years, Kanisha has worked with our staff on budgeting, understanding her Social Security benefits, and job preparation including resume writing and interviewing skills.

As Kanisha says, “You provided me with what I needed to be an adult.” 

Today, Kanisha enjoys her job and her family. She is back living at home helping to take care of her mother as she goes through serious health issues, and the rest of the family. In her free time, she likes to give back by feeding folks experiencing homelessness. Quite a special young woman! 

It is such a joy to be able to work with motivated young adults like Kanisha and watch their progress. We look forward to seeing what you do next, Kanisha! To learn more about Disability Advocates programs and services click here.

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Veterans, we want to work with you!

Kent County Veteran Services and Disability Advocates of Kent County have teamed up to provide services to veterans with disabilities and their families. The purpose for this funding is to help veterans that are not eligible for other programs but are still in need. 

Below are some areas of what Disability Advocates can help with. 

Occupational Therapy  

  • Home assessments for accessibility in residential homes based on the needs of the individual.  
  • Coordination with builders and contractors that can implement recommendations  
  • Assistive Technology devices and durable medical equipment  

Additional Independent Living Needs  

  • Financial assistance with rent/deposit, utility bills, or other bills
  • Home repairs for safety purposes 

Employment Related Expenses

  • Car repairs  
  • Tools or clothing necessary for employment 
  • Transportation costs until the person receives their first/next paycheck.  
  • 20-hour job skills workshop* that helps people with disabilities understand their rights under the ADA as well:
    • Helps with resume writing
    • Interviewing
    • Job exploration/shadowing

*New session starts the third Monday of each month. Contact John Koon at 616-323-2249 or by email at john.k@dakc.us  for more about the workshop or to get signed up!

Benefits Planning 

  • For people who are receiving social security disability benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, other state assistance.  
  • Key outcome of this service is for the person to gain an understanding of how your benefits will be impacted if you do go to work.
  • Plan is individualized and specific to each person’s situation

This is not an all-inclusive listing of services that can be provided. Contact Trina Edmondson by phone at 616-323-2203 or by email at trina.e@dakc.us to see if you qualify.

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Employment

Independent Living Specialist

Disability Advocates of Kent County is seeking an Independent Living (IL) Specialist to join our dynamic and dedicated organization!  This is an hourly position with a pay rate starting at $18/hour, and full-time benefits including health, dental, vision, health savings account, a generous paid time off plan and more.

Summary
The Independent Living (IL) Specialist will work closely with consumers, staff, interns, and volunteers along with community partners on a wide variety of activities to promote independent living and community-based services for people with disabilities.  Their two areas of focus will be to:

  1. Assist individuals with reaching their desired level of independence by supporting the development of an Independent Living Plan (ILP) to set and achieve goals, and provide documentation of all services to the consumer in a Client Information File (CIF). 
  2. Provide direct information on and make referrals to programs and services (I&R), as the subject matter expert addressing the needs of individuals with disabilities in the areas of Housing and Personal Care Attendant (PCA) services.

View entire job description: Independent Living Specialist Job Description

We advocate and facilitate action by persons with disabilities and the community to achieve equal access for all. We support equal employment opportunities at Disability Advocates for persons with disabilities through various workplace accommodations, therefore we encourage persons with disabilities and veterans to apply. Qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or protected veteran status.

How to apply:
Applications will be accepted through Monday, November 30, 2020.  Send your resume and cover letter to humanresources@dakc.us or Human Resources, Disability Advocates of Kent County, 3600 Camelot SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.  We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Employment

Independent Living Team Lead

Disability Advocates of Kent County is seeking an Independent Living (IL) Team Lead to join our dynamic and dedicated organization!  This is an hourly position with a pay rate starting at approximately $21/hour based on experience, and full-time benefits including health, dental, vision, health savings account, a generous paid time off plan and more.

Summary
The Independent Living (IL) Team Lead will work closely with staff, consumers, interns, and volunteers on a variety of activities to promote independent living and community-based services for people with disabilities.  Their primary focus will be to coordinate the Information & Referral (I&R) tasks for the organization that are provided by staff, volunteers and interns; and, assure consumers with I&R needs are assisted in the development of Independent Living Plans (ILPs).  The assignment of the ILP tasks will be under the direction of the Core Services Manager. View entire job description: Independent Living Team Lead Job Description

Education & Experience:  Bachelor or Master’s degree in social work, nonprofit, or related field or significant experience in these areas and working with persons with disabilities.

We advocate and facilitate action by persons with disabilities and the community to achieve equal access for all. We support equal employment opportunities at Disability Advocates for persons with disabilities through various workplace accommodations, therefore we encourage persons with disabilities and veterans to apply. Qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or protected veteran status.

How to apply:

Applications will be accepted through Monday, November 30, 2020.  Send your resume and cover letter to humanresources@dakc.us or Human Resources, Disability Advocates of Kent County, 3600 Camelot SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.  We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Employment

Communications Coordinator

Disability Advocates of Kent County is seeking a Communications Coordinator for its Development Department!

The Communications Coordinator for the Development Department will plan, develop, and implement all outbound communications and social media for Disability Advocates of Kent County.  Their primary function will be the development of Disability Advocates’ story to be disseminated through all communication channels to continue to build awareness of the organization, the work we do, and the community we serve and work with. View entire job description: Communications Coordinator Job Description

This is a non-exempt, hourly, 15-20 hours per week position at an hourly rate of $ 15-18 per hour, based on experience.  A benefits package is available pursuant to Disability Advocates policies for part-time employees.

We advocate and facilitate action by persons with disabilities and the community to achieve equal access for all. We support equal employment opportunities at Disability Advocates for persons with disabilities through various workplace accommodations, therefore we encourage persons with disabilities and veterans to apply. Qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or protected veteran status.

How to apply:

Applications will be accepted through Monday, November 30, 2020.  Send your resume and cover letter to humanresources@dakc.us or Human Resources, Disability Advocates of Kent County, 3600 Camelot SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.  We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Employment

Development Administrative Assistant

Disability Advocates of Kent County is seeking an Administrative Assistant for its Development Department!

The Development Administrative Assistant for the Development Department will provide direct support to the Executive Director and the Development Director as they implement a Capital Campaign.  Their primary function will be to ensure the organization and detail of the campaign, so they must be highly organized, extremely detailed, and self-starters who will do the job accurately.  Experience with Microsoft Office programs is necessary and experience with Bloomerang or other donor software is a plus.  An associate degree and one year’s experience as an Administrative Assistant is also preferred. View entire job post: Development – Administrative Assistant

This is a non-exempt, hourly, 20 hours per week position at an hourly rate of $13-15 per hour, based on experience.  A benefits package is available pursuant to Disability Advocates policies for part-time employees. 

We advocate and facilitate action by persons with disabilities and the community to achieve equal access for all. We support equal employment opportunities at Disability Advocates for persons with disabilities through various workplace accommodations, therefore we encourage persons with disabilities and veterans to apply. Qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or protected veteran status.

How to apply:

Applications will be accepted through Monday, November 30, 2020.  Send your resume and cover letter to humanresources@dakc.us or Human Resources, Disability Advocates of Kent County, 3600 Camelot SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.  We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Monthly Highlight | Veteran Supports

Sandra Conley joined Disability Advocates of Kent County in June, 2020 as a Veteran Apprentice with the hope of learning skills that will help her find meaningful employment. The Veteran Apprentice program provides services and assistance needed to enable veterans with service-connected disabilities to achieve maximum independence in daily living. This program also provides the tools necessary for obtaining and maintaining suitable employment. 

In February, 2019 Sandra endured a 14 hour surgery on her heart to regulate her pacemaker. Through the months of her recovery, she became discouraged hearing from so many about what she can’t do rather than what she can.  After that discouraging time, she told herself that she had made it through the surgery for a reason, and said to herself “I am better than this.” She believed that the best years of her life were ahead of her and told her doctor “I am ready to go back to work.”

Sandra served in the US Army for 11 ½ years. Because of her service she was eligible for benefits through the Veterans Administration, and she took advantage of that help. Since she had been off work for quite a while, she knew she needed to upgrade her skills and get some experience in today’s workplace. Her Case Manager from the VA suggested Disability Advocates Veteran Apprentice program, she applied and was accepted into the program.

In the two months that Sandra has worked here, she has become part of our family and as she says “I am doing the best I can and trying to learn more.” She has accompanied our OT team on home visits and delivery of equipment to help folks become safer in their own homes. One visit was to deliver a knee scooter to a woman who had just had hip surgery. As Sandra was helping explain how to use it, she felt water dripping on her. She looked up and the woman was crying. “You just made my day. Now I can get around my house without pain.” And Sandra responded “Helping other is what I do.”

Sandra will be with us for a year. “The experience here is overwhelming and my confidence is coming back. The idea that I can help someone else feel better is wonderful.” She is excited to continue to learn new skills and be able to demonstrate that compassion she has for others. And that second phone number – Sandra says her goal is to add a work phone number to her home number – just like most other people. And we believe she will!

To learn more about our Vocational Rehab program along with other Veteran Supports click here. 

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Impact Story

How We Are Helping People in Need During COVID-19

Despite the many disruptions caused by COVID-19, including our entire staff working from home, we are fortunate to continue making an impact in our community by helping people live independently.

Izzie is a 37-year-old woman who spent time in ICU with double pneumonia, acute bronchitis, and unspecified respiratory failure, all exacerbated by a bad asthma attack in late March.

After Izzie’s transfer to an area nursing and rehab center, she was connected to Jeanette, our Nursing Facility Transition Services Specialist. Izzie wanted to return to her own home as soon as possible, but did not have family in the area who could help her do so safely.

Thanks to the internet and online shopping skills, in less than two weeks, Jeanette had arranged to have the carpets deep-cleaned to eliminate allergens, furniture delivered, and several needed items purchased online, including an air purifier and humidifier to aid in Izzie’s healthy breathing.

Like many others leaving the hospital or a rehab center, returning to the community with a weakened immune system in the middle of a pandemic was a very real fear for Izzie. We are so happy we were able to help.

Izzie reports she is feeling much better and, not surprisingly, is thrilled to be home! Her gratitude shown through in her numerous messages to Jeanette. “Thank you so much… I was just speaking to my counselor about getting home and your help made it so much easier!”

Learn more about our Nursing Facility Transition program here.