Outreach Newsletter: June 2011

See the pdf version here.

Farewell to Our Co-worker, Our Friend, Our Peer

Disability Rights California staff, Sharon Schmidt, of the Peer Self-Advocacy Unit recently passed away. Sharon facilitated Peer Self-Advocacy groups in Sonoma and Marin Counties. Assisting individuals with disability was her passion. For nine years, she provided trainings and workshops for consumers who attended Interlink Self Help Center, Canyon Manor, Crestwood and the Wellness and Advocacy Center of Santa Rosa. In addition she served as a member of the California Network of Mental Health and on the Sonoma County Mental Health Board. Sharon was tireless in her advocacy efforts, her compassion showed in the work she did. Sharon was truly a lifelong advocate. She will be dearly missed.


Transitioning Is Very Important in San Jose

On March 17, 2011 Yesenia Roman, Multicultural Affairs Advocate and Rita Defilippis, Assistant Clients’ Rights Advocate of Disability Rights California participated at the Spring Transition Fair in San Jose. The Transition Fair welcomed a diverse group of consumers, parents and professionals. Over thirty agencies participated in the event including the California Telephone Access Program, Parks and Recreations of the City of San Jose, and the Department of Rehabilitation. At the fair, people learned about resources, programs and other basic information about education, employment, public benefits, living options, leisure programs, legal services and parental support.

The event takes place every spring and fall to promote education and provide resources to families who have children with disabilities. Disability Rights California staff distributed much needed information and publications throughout the day.


Training in Tribal Rights Advocacy Hosted by Mechoopda Maidu Tribe

On March 28, 2011 the Mechoopda Maidu Tribe hosted the Tribal Disability Rights Advocate Training in Chico. Over 25 individuals representing service agencies in the Butte, Glenn, and Sutter county area. Those attending the training included Northern Circle Indian Housing, Chico Rancheria Tribal Housing Authority, Northern Valley Indian Health, Connecting Circles of Care, Butte County Mental Health, Oroville Adult School, Area II Board, Chico Unified School District, California Tribal TANF, and Mechoopda Tribal Education, social Services and Child Care Programs.

Disability Rights California staff Attorney, Thovinh Banh, Developmental Disability Peer/Self Advocacy Coordinators Marinda Reed and Daniel Meadows presented a workshop on “The Native Vote.” Andy Holcombe, Clients’ Rights Advocate did an excellent training on Housing Rights. Multicultural Affairs Advocate Leilani Pfeifer and Native American Affairs Advocate Phyllis Preston presented “Your Child’s IEP”. The multiple topic training resulted in various intakes for advocacy services as well as networking among the diverse agencies.


Disability Awareness Day at Fresno City College

Approximately 39 agencies to provided information and education to a crowd that included 1800 high school students with disabilities. Disability Awareness Day at Fresno City College took place on March 31, 2011. The Annual event was organized by the Disabled Student Program Services (DSPS).

The DSPS was established in 1970 to provide supportive services for students with learning, physical, and/or psychological disabilities. Fresno City College was the first community college in California to offer a comprehensive disabled student program.

Disability Rights California staff, Andrew Berk, Staff Attorney; Ernie Moreno, Legal Secretary; Kendra McWright, Clients’ Rights Advocate; and Kay Spencer and Maricruz Magdaleno, Assistance Clients’ Rights Advocates staffed an information booth at the event. The Annual event promotes awareness, education and support to students with disabilities at Fresno City College.

Agencies present were, the California Council of the Blind, Greater San Joaquin Valley Chapter, Disabled American Veterans, Down Syndrome Association of Central Valley, ARC of Fresno as well as Disability Rights California. Good contacts were made and trainings were requested as a result of this outreach.


San Diego Staff Join Training on “Helping Community Leaders Become Better Advocates”

On February 4, Griselda Delgadillo, Multicultural Affairs Advocate and Wendy Dumlao, Clients’ Rights Advocate joined forces with Debbie Marshall and Mary Ellen Stives from Area Board XIII to train advocates from San Diego and Imperial Counties.
Area Board XIII promotes and implements policies and practices that help Californians with disabilities and their families achieve self-determination, independence, productivity and inclusion in all aspects of community life.

The all-day training brought together 30 participants from Team Advocate for Special Kids (TASK), ARC of San Diego, Community Interface Services, United Cerebral Palsy, Exceptional Family Member Program, Advocate for You, DMS Consulting Area Board XIII, Parents Advocating Together, and Mental Health Consultant and Independence for Life Choices.

The training provided advocates an opportunity to learn about new developments in special education and the Lanterman Act. The participants also took the opportunity to share information and resources with each other. Disability Rights California developed new relationships with the participating organizations and scheduled future trainings for many of the families served by these agencies.


More Than 500 Attended the Community Resource Fair in San Bernardino County

The 8th Annual Fontana Community Assistance Resource Fair took place April 28, 2011 at the Jessie Turner Community Center, a state of the art facility in rural San Bernardino County. The event was hosted by Community Assistance Program, an organization that provides area residents with resources and community services to enrich the lives of families and individuals.

The event featured over 100 local community resources, offering legal services, counseling, day care, and disability programs. The event provided Disability Rights California staff with an opportunity to learn about other community resource available in the San Bernardino area. Some of the participating agencies were Alternate Avenues Women’s Resource Center, Molina Healthcare, the Blindness Support Agency, San Bernardino Headstart and Inland Counties Legal Services.

Los Angeles Regional Office staff Mary Rios, Multicultural Affairs Advocate and Beverly Familiar, Administrative Assistant, provided information and answered questions about Disability Rights California’s services throughout the day. This event fulfilled its promise to raise awareness about resources for individuals and families in the community.


Health Fair for Homeless People, Placer County

Disability Rights California’s Sacramento Regional Office staff participated at the 1st Annual South Placer Homeless Health Education and Resource Fair on April 9, 2011. The event which took place at the Roseville High School assisted homeless youth and families to access community resources. Dry Creek Elementary, Rocklin Unified School District and Roseville Joint Union took part in putting the event together for families who reside in Placer County.

Disability Rights California’s participation along with other non-profit organizations helped make this 1st Annual Health Fair a success. Services provided at the fair included dental, vision and medical screenings as well as informative workshops on topics such as “Bullying and Cyber Safety,” and “Tips for Parents about Drugs & Alcohol.” At least 50 families took part in the day’s event.

Agencies such as Placer County Veterans services, Headstart, Roseville Adult School, Peace for Families, Coalition for Teens, and Placer County Food bank were also present. Disability Rights California staff member, Taiko Ishikawa, Dixie Diaz, Adrienne Macias and Pet Alcairo provided information about special education, public benefits and regional center services. Some of the families followed up on that information by calling Disability Rights for further assistance. CD’s, publications and brochures were handed out to teens and their parents throughout the day.


Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy Offers Rights Based Bingo,“What a Great Way to Learn!”

Thirty participants from Pathpoint’s day program in the San Fernando Valley were eager and ready to learn about their rights to services. Ibrahim Saab, Clients’ Rights Advocate and Ada Hamer, Assistant Clients’ Rights Advocate from Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy (OCRA) of North Los Angeles County Regional Center (NLACRC) conducted a training featuring a festive game of “Clients’ Rights Bingo” on February 4, 2011.

The interactive bingo game entertained the participants while they learned about their rights to services. During the training, OCRA staff presented cards with images that correspond to icons on each player’s bingo card. The participants were then encouraged to identify the “right” depicted on the card and discuss as a group why that particular right was important. As part of this lively discussion, the consumers also identified individuals within their own circle of support who could assist with ensuring that their rights were respected.

Each player who yelled “bingo” won a prize. At the conclusion of the game, many of the players expressed how much fun they had had and how much they learned about self empowerment and asserting their rights.
Pathpoint staff invited OCRA staff to return and conduct future self-advocacy training and OCRA looks forward to the opportunity to provide future trainings.

Self Advocacy Bingo Game for Golden Gate Consumers!

Katy Lusson, Clients’ Rights Advocate and Trina Saldana, Assistant Clients’ Rights Advocate from the Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy –of Golden Gate Regional Center provided the Clients’ Rights Self-Advocacy Training on March 22, 2011.

The training featured a self-advocacy Bingo game that was a real hit with participants. Everyone had fun discussing the many examples of rights presented on the Bingo cards. The hotdogs, drinks and prizes provided were enjoyed by all!

Learning All About Making Choices

On March 10, 2011, Veronica Cervantes, Clients’ Rights Advocate for consumers of Inland Regional Center, presented a training entitled “My Own Choice” to residents at Sierra Vista Rehabilitation Center in Highland, California. The residents learned about various living options and making choices for their future. The training materials, including a work booklet, sticker booklet, and DVD, were provided by the Department of Developmental Services.

The residents were excited about discussing their preferences and had many questions. They all had very strong opinions about where they would like to live, what kind of housing they prefer, who they want to live with and what activities they enjoy. Many used the stickers to indicate their choices, but many also thought of new and original ideas that they wrote into their workbooks. The residents plan to share their workbooks with friends, family, and regional center service coordinators.


5th Annual Autism Conference Brings Over 100 Families to Long Beach

The 5th Annual Autism Conference took place January 29, 2011 in Longbeach, CA. Disability Rights California staff members, Scott Barron, Developmental Disabilities Peer/Self Advocacy Coordinator; Katie Hornberger, Clients’ Rights Advocate; and Mary Rios, Multicultural Affairs Advocate, were invited to speak at the conference.

The conference theme, entitled “Environmental Factors in Autism: What We Know and What We Don’t Know-Increasing Social Attention in Learning.” The event featured presentations by physicians and experts related to autism and services. The conference was held to help parents learn about the full range of available resources for people diagnosed with autism and how to be an effective advocate.

Disability Rights California staff participated in a two-hour panel discussion entitled “Ask the Experts.” Disability Rights California staff presented an overview of services we offer, then discussed rights under the Lanterman Act and government benefits. Well over 100 families were in attendance. As a result of the training, future trainings were requested.