Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes ….

Maybe you know this.

Maybe not.

I’m making a change to my work-life balance …. less work and more balance … well, that’s the plan in any event!

After a great deal of mulling it over, I’ve decided to spend less time working “outside the home” and spend more time taking care of myself and by extension, my family.

I’m trading in my position as a PEATC employee to become an “independent contractor” with Understood.org this week.

And since we couldn’t quite bear to say “adios” completely, I will also be providing support to PEATC in a small contract role.

I’m experiencing that nervous excitement that often accompanies the first day (back) to school as I head into a new and uncharted career waters.

I can’t wait to see what lies ahead!!!

 

 

A little progress and another drop-off location

The school year is winding down and summer is revving up … and Jake has an additional spot for you to drop off toiletries for his Comfort Cases collection project!

You can drop NEW toiletry items at the office of Braddock District Supervisor John Cook in Burke, VA; his office is open from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Monday – Friday (excluding holidays) and is located in the Kings Park Library at 9002 Burke Lake Road, Burke, VA 22015.

Jake is happy to report that he has already received some donations to his project, both monetary and supplies! Jake wishes to thank all his generous friends: Ms. Laura, Ms. Martha, and Ms. Gwendolyn for the donations made directly to Comfort Cases; Ms. Suzanne and Ms. Courtney at PEATC, for their recent contribution of toiletries; and Ms. Tina for the toiletries she saved from a recent trip!

IMG_6946
Thanks, Ms. Tina!

Jake is really forward to sorting all the toiletries collected so far! But, please keep collecting them as you travel this summer … he’ll be in collecting mode through early September!

 

Going on vacation this summer? Jake’s got a question for you …

Jake knows summer is coming and he knows that means vacation and traveling for many folks. And for some of you, it might mean a hotel stay. And if you are a Washington Redskins player, like Jake’s buddy Nick Sundberg, it means an extended hotel stay while you are at training camp!!

14804731_10154269516198101_436012923_n
You end up with a lot of toiletries after you attend training camp!!

Jake also knows that people often travel for work.  He knows that many of my PEATC colleagues travel to various locations across Virginia to train parents of children with Special Needs and/or children receiving Special Education services.

If your plans in the near future involve a hotel stay, for business or pleasure, Jake would like you to save your toiletry items for him.

Why does a 12-year-old with Autism & ADHD need toiletries?  Well, they are not for Jake, but for Comfort Cases!

Comfort Cases is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides children ages 0-18 who are in the foster care system with a bag filled with essential needs as well as comfort items.

So … back to toiletries!!!

If you are familiar with Jake, you may be aware that he is a fan of logos, branding, and graphics.  He also likes sorting, counting, and categorizing.  When given a big bag of toiletries, he loves nothing better than looking at what hotel chain they came from and then sorting into categories by type.  It is a task that appeals to his sense of order and structure, not to mention the visual elements.

Sooooooo … all this to say … Jake would love it if you’d save those toiletries that you were more than likely stuff into *that* drawer in your home and forget about … and give them to Jake as part of his collection project for Comfort Cases.

Not traveling but still want to help Jake’s project and Comfort Cases? Well, they are also looking for the following NEW items to supply to kids and youth entering foster care:

  • Small duffel bags/backpacks
  • Pajamas/Sleepwear – Sizes Newborn through Adult XXL
  • Small Blankets – Up to Throw Size (40″ x 60″)
  • Toothbrushes – Youth & Adult
  • Stuffed Animals
  • Coloring Books
  • Crayons
  • Journals
  • Pens & Pencils
  • Books

If you’d like to learn more about the genesis of Comfort Cases and founder Rob Scheer, please check out his story from his interview on the Today Show:

http://www.today.com/video/meet-the-man-whose-childhood-in-foster-care-inspired-nonprofit-for-kids-839453763557 and the Comfort Cases website: https://www.comfortcases.org/.

If you are interested in supporting Jake in his effort to show that kids (even kids with disAbilities) can help other kids, please leave a comment on this post or reach out to me via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram so we can coordinate pickup/delivery of donations.

We are hoping to arrange some drop off locations, so please stay tuned!

So, Happy Travelling, and remember the kids entering foster care who would take so much comfort in something so simple!

Thank you!

The Giving Season

It’s been a while since I updated this blog, and I will need to go back and document a few events from the summer months, but right now, I’m going to write about Jake’s continued commitment to #GivingBack.

dfkdc-4

As soon as school ended in June, we began talking about what sort of things Jake could do as a community service / community giving project. He told me that he wanted to do it again this year.

Because of his purses and toiletry items last year, he’s gained a reputation as the “travel toiletry kid”; most of my colleagues at PEATC travel extensively throughout Virginia during the summer months conducting special education related training, and they saved their items for Jake. Our family traveled in the summer and Jake’s aide traveled as well, so we added more to Jake’s collection efforts. To top it off, Jake’s pal Nick Sundberg of the Washington Redskins had an extended stay at the Omni in Richmond during Training Camp and saved a shopping bag full of toiletry items for Jake! Jake is thankful for all these items, and these toiletries will be a part of the giving as a result of the Dreams For Kids DC (DFKDC) Holiday Celebration.

14804731_10154269516198101_436012923_n
Thank you, Nick Sundberg!

But, in talking with DFKDC‘s Executive Director, we came upon another idea of a project that would involve kids “giving back” to other kids!

This year, Jake is collecting fleece to make blankets for the children who are patients at Inova Children’s Hospital.

img_3565

When we talked about it, Jake liked the idea of making kids feel better. He could relate to the idea that when you are at the hospital you might be missing your home and all the things you are used to having around. So, making something that feels comfortable and cozy seemed like a great idea, and one that DFKDC participants and volunteers can help to make during the DFKDC Holiday Celebration.

The 2016 DFKDC Holiday Celebration isn’t just a party, it’s an opportunity!

During the DFKDC Holiday Celebration, DFKDC participants and their families will be transformed into community givers and volunteers! With the assistance of other DFKDC volunteers, the DFKDC participants will take part in activities such as making holiday cards, assembling gift bags, and wrapping presents. They will also enjoy lunch, entertainment, and I’d be willing to bet, a little dancing!!!

Just as he did last year, Jake wants to demonstrate that DFKDC participants are able and interested in community service and community giving, and, most importantly, that their disAbilities aren’t a barrier to the giving spirit!

Jake excited about helping DFKDC make sure that other kids will have a happy holiday as a result of the event, but he could use your help!

Between now and December 15, 2016, Jake will be collecting fleece (or the means to purchase fleece) to make blankets for pediatric patients at Inova Children’s Hospital.

The fleece blankets can be made for teens, kids, or toddlers; each blanket consists of 2 pieces of fleece, typically a print and a coordinating solid color:

Teen blanket: 2 X 2 yards of fabric
Kids blanket: 2 X 1.5 yards of fabric
Toddler blanket: 2 X 1 yard of fabric

Jake has already received a few contributions to his project, but he could use your assistance to provide the kids at Inova children’s Hospital with something cuddly and cozy to hold.

For more information about Dreams For Kids DC, the 2016 DFKDC Holiday Celebration, and how to get involved, go to http://www.eventbrite.com/o/dreams-for-kids-dc-4251397915 or http://dreamsforkidsdc.org/. You can also email/message me for more details on contributing fleece.

From IDEA to high expectations, opportunity, and beyond! #IDEA40

On Nov. 29, 1975, the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), guaranteed access to a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment to every child with a disability. Subsequent amendments, as reflected in the IDEA, have led to an increased emphasis on access to the general education curriculum, the provision of services for young children from birth to five, transition planning and accountability for the achievement of students with disabilities.

idea-40th-banner-480

Thanks to IDEA, children like Jake not only have the opportunity to have an education that meets a their unique needs, but also an education that prepares them for further education, employment, and independent living. In Jake’s case, this may take the form of a career in the culinary arts … Jake has often expressed a desire to work for Wegmans, and more recently, at Wegmans’ “The Pub” restaurant.

idea40_jake

Jake began his academic journey in December 2006 shortly before turning 2 1/2 years old. It’s not a stretch to say there was hesitation on my part, putting my “baby” on a school bus, but, I see now what a great gift IDEA has been to Jake and our entire family.

I am also thankful for the establishment of Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and their role in educating, training, and supporting parents like myself. I am so appreciative of PTIs, I now work for Virginia’s, which is called PEATC. I am happy to be in a position to put my Library and Information Science background coupled with my personal experience as a parent of a child with a disability to good use!

Happy 40th Birthday, IDEA … I can’t wait to see what you look like in another 5 to 10 years!!