News about the Advisory Council
On July 28th, the Advisory Council met. Several members could not attend, however, I thought you’d like to know that we now have the following people on the Council:
- Jeannette Johnson, DHHS
- Pam Howland, Quota
- Kathy Freeman, Quota
- Nancy Cluley, DHHS
- Trish Lopucki, Northview
- Mary Kay Kolber, GROD
- Todd Sprunger, MRS (Kent County)
- Brenda Jones, Hope Network
- Deb Atwood, DHHS
- Hannah Cluley, student
- Marcia Patrick, Senior Neighbors
- Kirsten Kramer, Director of Audiology at Spectrum
- Cathy Cronick, MRS (Ottawa County, by email)
- Someone to be selected by Area Agency on Aging
At our recent meeting, we discussed the lack of reading and writing skills of the deaf and employability issues that restrict employment in the community. Both of these issues were expressed by Todd Sprunger and Brenda Jones, both of whom deal with the deaf on a daily basis. Todd and Brenda attended along with Deb Atwood, Jeannette Johnson and Nancy Cluley along with myself.
The students have two months left to raise enough money to visit Gallaudet University April 29. Part of their trip is funded by the Northview Education Foundation and a grant from the Grand Rapids Hearing Loss Association. The rest of the trip’s cost is left up to the GoFundMe page their teacher started.
The way these high schoolers communicate, between American Sign Language and English, along with how motivated they are to learn more, is inspirational.
“I’m proud of my language,” said Chase Spencer, Northview sophomore. “I’m proud of ASL, I’m proud of the way I communicate.”
Chase was born in Uzbekistan. When he was 11-years-old, he moved to the United States and started to learn English and ASL.
“My family all of them can hear, I’m the only deaf person in my family,” said Alexandria Martinez.
Alexandria said as she grew up, she learned how to read lips at home. Now she, Chase, and their classmates said, from being on sports teams to biology class with their hearing peers, they are learning and building their English skills at a fast pace.
“The deaf kids can do what the hearing kids can do”: that was the resounding message from these students.
They have a lot of support at Northview: on a daily basis there are several ASL interpreters, teachers, and a program director just in their home classroom. However, at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., everybody signs.
“Language! They use my language,” said Chase. “They use ASL and sign, and I can learn in my own language. It will be so much better for me.”
After their trip set for April 29, several Northview students said they hope to return there as a college students once they graduate.
“Gallaudet is really a place for the deaf community,” said Megan Ward, Northview teacher for the deaf. “It’s a place where people who are deaf belong. So this is a great opportunity for them to go and experience a world that was created just for them.”
When each student boards their plane come April, they will be one step closer to their future.
“I’m thinking about working in immigration, on the border of Mexico, especially as it relates to deaf people; maybe setting up a home and a school,” said Alexandria
One of our Club’s largest fundraisers – our annual 50/50 raffle – is coming up in a couple of months! Tickets will go on sale in March and the drawing for the winner will be held at our meeting on April 16, 2015.
YOU could be the lucky winner! (You do not have to be present to win.) Proceeds from the raffle help us in our service to the deaf and hard of hearing community. So we need a successful raffle!
Contact us if you would like to purchase tickets – and watch for more details coming soon.
Here are the minutes of our last meeting. The Advisory Council continues to build the bridge between clients and agencies. We will communicate with you on a regular basis.
Minutes of the GR/Deaf and Hard of Hearing/Quota Advisory Council held Jan. 22, 2015
Present: Trish Lopucki, Deb Atwood, Pam Howland, Kathy Freeman, Jeannette Johnson, Nancy Cluley, Cindy Cafmeyer, and Martha Herman
Guest: Jean Silba from the Comprehensive Therapy Center.
Jean led us off with a rousing description of the CTC with all of its benefits, programs and cool things they are doing with the community schools. The CTC also has a summer program for children, Therapy and Fun, for children 1 – 14 years of age. It’s a relaxed, integrated and intensive program that achieves maximum therapeutic progress for children with disabilities. For more information on the program, go to www.therapycenter.org.She has an abundance of information how Quota and other agencies and schools can maximize our potential in obtaining more assistance in the GR community. She mentioned that there is a program called Leadership GR that we might want to pursue in terms of gaining recognition, tapping into talents of the community and providing leadership training. She’s a keeper for us!!
DHHS – The organization is pleased to have Nancy Cluley join them in the interviewing of senior members who are in need of hearing aids. Money from the Senior Millage was earmarked to help this population. She’s really learning and understanding their struggles with low incomes. She’s on board with all of us looking for new sources of funding, collaboration and cooperation.
Upcoming DHHS Events:
- Kids’ program, called KidSigns – There will be a rock climbing and swimming adventure on January 29, 2015 at Kroc Center at 2500 S. Division Ave., 5:30 pm to 8 pm.
- March 28th, kids from KidSigns will be exploring the Children’s Museum from 10 – 11:30 a.m..
- May Fest, May 9 at Ramada Inn, 28th and E. Beltline, local wine and beer, hors d’oeuvres, Silent Auction and FUN
- May 31, KidSigns activities will venture to Binder Park Zoo. Children from DHHS and the Deaf Interaction group from the Kalamazoo area will be participating.
- June 13 – Silent Celebration, June 6, 11 to 3 pm, Pinery Park Lodge
- July – Field Day, Lamar Park Splash Pad, 1 – 4 pm
- July 20 – 24 Kids Kamp
Quota – Pam and Kathy explained where we are as a Club right now and the journey moving forward. Jean suggested that we explore Leadership Grand Rapids programs that might help and support our mission. Everyone is appreciative of the work we do for the deaf community.
KenOSha – Cindy reported that there aren’t many new things happening but she and the rest of the staff were thrilled to get a little bonus for supplies from Quota. You can do a better job of anything if you have support. We’re glad to help!
Northview – Trish reported on the special trip for some of the seniors to visit Gallaudet University this spring in Washington, DC. She will be taking these students to visit the campus and learn about what they have to offer. She still needs about $1000, or a private jet, to complete the trip! Trish also recommended that representatives from Michigan Rehab Services should join us on the Council. Word from a recent retiree is that the budget only allows for direct contact with clients, and we aren’t clients. Trish will be meeting with them shortly at Northview. Trish also indicated that some of her teachers would like to join Quota knowing that we are doing some changes.
JJ – The Facebook page is up and running. Put any news you’d like on the page for sharing. We’ll get in the habit of posting info. DHHS is raising money for a new server for their office. They still need some funding to reach their goal.
Trish will give us instructions on how to use Google docs next time. Please bring your laptops so we can practice. There will be a test. She also has all of our email addresses on a spreadsheet and will share that with us as well. First, she needs to go on vacation.
Martha talked about the continuation of the Hear for Good project. Starkey will refurbish the hearing aids Quota is collecting; we get points; after a number of points are accumulated, we can get free hearing aids. Older hearing aids will be distributed in third world countries. Quota will re-launch this program in March.
Our next meeting will be March 12th at 3:30, DHHS.
Respectfully submitted by
January 26, 2015
Thanks to Quota’s donation to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, two more people now have hearing aids.
One person emigrated to the US from Vietnam, however because of his lack of hearing aids, he has been unable to learn English and thus been unable to find employment. He is now taking English classes and is actively looking for work.
The second recipient is a gentleman in his early 50’s who is on disability due to other physical issues. With his new hearing aids he can now better communicate with his doctor.
Quota also assisted a deaf student who needed an alarm clock with a bed shaker to make sure he gets to school on time.
These are just a few examples of how Quota helps the deaf and hard of hearing in West Michigan.
We received a thank you/quarterly report from Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) in Ottawa County. Quota provided a $1000 grant to this agency for service to those who are deaf or hard of hearing in their county. Using our grant monies, MRS was able to capture an additional $2704 in federal matching funds. The goal of MRS is to help persons with disabilities obtain and maintain employment. To that end, MRS assisted two individuals whose employment involved constant verbal interaction to obtain hearing aids. One customer received $2200 in assistance, the other received $1000. In both situations there was no other source of financial assistance available and without the new hearing aids, these two individuals would have lost their employment.
By combining our funding and resources Quota and Michigan Rehabilitation Services were able to make a significant difference in the lives of these two people and allow them to continue to be contributing members of our community.
On December 9, we hosted our annual holiday party for some of the clients of DHHS. We had a nice, homemade lunch (thanks, Debbie!) and gave each attendee a gift card AND a goodie bag filled with fun surprises. They all loved the food, the gifts and they couldn’t wait to play hangman! Thanks to the Quotarians who donated time and money to help bring a holiday smile to many faces. Special thanks to Kathy Freeman, Pat Cook, Martha Herman and Debbie Buckley!