Welcome to the Spring 2017 edition of In Touch, the quarterly newsletter of Independence Now. Please use the in-page links below to naviagte to the various articles. For your convenience there is a "back to top" link after each article.

In Touch

Supports Planning Agency
by Beth Munro, Director of Supports Planning

Have you heard about the Independence Now SPA? Did you wonder what it is? No, Independence Now didn't add a hot tub or sauna (although, those would be welcome additions). SPA stands for Supports Planning Agency which is funded through the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene as part of Community First Choice (CFC). CFC is part of the Medicaid expansion in the Affordable Care Act.

Personal Assistance is the primary benefit consumers enrolled in CFC receive. The goal is to provide supports to people in their homes rather than in institutions while also supporting individual preferences and independence ? goals that align well with the mission of Independence Now. Depending on the specific program, a consumer may also be eligible for other services enabling them to remain in or return home, such as environmental modifications. All consumers have Medicaid and have been found medically eligible to participate in CFC through an assessment conducted by the Montgomery County Health Department. Consumers can choose their SPA or may be assigned by DHMH if they have not made a selection on their own.

Supports Planners assist consumers in gaining access to the program, develop and coordinate their plan of services, ensure continuing eligibility, identify community resources and through phone calls and visits monitor quality of service provision and provide ongoing assistance as needs change.

Independence Now participated in the second round of contracting with DHMH this past January and was pleased to have our application renewed along with a plan for growth over the next three years. The Independence Now SPA has already grown this year by hiring Support Planner Carol Cordova who, among her many skills and talents, is also a native Spanish speaker. We support people who range in age from 11 to 102 and who speak almost 20 different languages; we are pleased that Carol is able to support many of our consumers without the need for an interpreter.

As part of a Center for Independent Living, the Independence now SPA has access to resources that are not available to most SPAs. We often consult with or seek resources from the Independent Living Specialists, MD WIN, the MFP staff and Community Living staff. These opportunities ensure that we are able to provide informed and complete information to our consumers.

So now you know a bit about the SPA. We hope that despite the fact there isn't really a sauna here, you will take the opportunity to stop by the SPA the next time you visit Independence Now.

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In Memory of Deborah Jackson

We regret to inform our consumers that Deborah Jackson, our long time Director of Independent Living Services, passed away March 4, 2017. Deborah worked for Independence Now for almost ten years and had a passion for Independent Living.? In her job, Deborah was committed to the notion that people with disabilities are in charge of their own lives and she worked tirelessly to ensure that happened for anyone who came across her path. Deborah thrived in getting consumers together to share experiences and solutions. It was her belief that if someone new to the disability community would just come to our office and see the success of their brothers and sisters with disabilities that it would forever change their opinion on their future. Martin Luther King Jr. said 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'

In the Independent Living movement we often remind the community that Disability Rights are Civil Rights. Deborah often taught others about Ed Roberts, the father of the Independent Living Movement. He once said 'The greatest lesson of the civil rights movement is that the moment you let others speak for you, you lose.' Deborah taught so many other people with disabilities to speak for themselves and the importance of doing so.

Deborah spent time advocating at the local, state and national level for laws that protected the rights of people with disabilities and increased the amount of affordable, accessible housing.? She organized many events at Independence Now that taught people about their rights and self-advocacy; she always put her own touch of class and d?cor on every event.?The disability community in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties is better for the work that Deborah accomplished.

All the lessons she taught us, the drive she gave us to make things better, and the understanding of Independent Living in a way we'd never known before. We will miss her terribly and only hope that we can carry on our work in her spirit and make her proud. From all the staff of Independence Now.

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Independence Now Regularly Scheduled Events

Contact the staff person listed for each event at least one week in advance to register/RSVP. Unless otherwise stated, all events will be held at the main office of Independence Now at 12301 Old Columbia Pike, Suite 101, Silver Spring, MD 20904. 301-277-2839. Travel reimbursement for IN consumers will be provided for Metro Access, Metro bus or rail.

Creative Cooking Class

11:00am ? 1:30pm. Contact Victor Murrana at 240-898-2185 to register or to request accommodations.

April 20 ? Spring Recipes
Bring some springtime sunshine into your cooking with Lisa Carolina Gonzalez, M.S. Nutrition, Food Safety and Wellness. Together we will research recipes, tips and fresh spring produce to brighten up our meals.

Wednesday, June 14th ? Creative Cooking Class ? National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month
While most of us know that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables are important for good health, do we actually know the variety of choices, the nutritional value, various ways of preparation and how much we eat? Let's learn and prepare together at Crossroads Farmers Market. Crossroads Farmers Market is located at 1101 University Blvd E Takoma Park, MD 20912. You may use your Food Stamp Card.

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Consumer Annual Meeting Event

June 15th ? 3pm ? 5pm
Join us for our annual meeting at Beco Park, 4425 Forbes Blvd, Suite D, Lanham, MD 20706

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Dinner & a Movie (Creative cooking and Advocate's Theater combined)

May 18th ? 4:30pm ? 7:30pm
Creative Cooking Class ? Did you know that May is National BBQ month? Well in light of this revelation we will be learning barbequing right from your kitchen in an easy and healthy method in any season.

Movie "The Accountant" ? Christian Wolff is a mathematics savant with more affinity for numbers than people. Using a small-town CPA office as a cover, he makes his living as a freelance accountant for dangerous criminal organizations. As Wolff gets closer to the truth about a discrepancy that involves millions of dollars, the body count starts to rise. Contact Shannon Minnick at 240-638-0070 to register and to request accommodations.

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Housing Seminar

1pm ? 3pm
This event is designed to provide up-to-date information about housing programs, housing options and provide training on housing preparation and how to retain your housing. To register, request accommodations or for more information contact Rochelle Harrod at 240-898-2184.

Apr 27th ? Roommate versus Room for Rent: Taking an extensive look at which is the best housing option while you wait for a place of your own.

May 25th ? How to Apply for In-House Section 8 properties presented Laura Fangmeyer Inwood House.

June 22nd ? Housing and Rental Assistance Program: Come learn about various rental assistances that can assist you rent or security deposit to help move you into your new place.

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Financial / Budgeting Seminar - Money Matters

May 3rd ? 1pm ? 3pm
Learning how budgeting affects your credit presented by Dan Florea of Guidewell Financial Service

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Legal Services Seminar

April 25th - 2pm ? 4pm
Is your record preventing you from getting employment or housing? Do you have a legal issue that you need help with but can't afford a lawyer? This seminar will feature lawyers from Disability Rights Maryland, Legal Aid and Volunteer Lawyers who will speak about expungement and other legal issues they can help in resolving. ?Learn how to access and qualify for their legal help.

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National Volunteer Week

April 23 - 29, 2017
"Honoring the people who dedicate themselves to taking action and solving problems in their communities". Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something. We thank you for all you do!

A special thanks to our wonderful volunteers:
Robert Watson, Cindy Buddington, Justin Campbell, Timothy Hairston, Sandra Sermons,?Alex Vakalopoulos, Francie Gilman, Jessica Finkel, Carolyn Diaz, Marc Wilkerson, Jamie Freeny, Lorenzo Kenney, Rhonda Austin, Karen Diggs, Taylor Brown, Jedania Terrell, Denise Webb, Savannah Jackson, Just4Us.

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