Welcome to the Winter 2016 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

Independence Now (IN) Announces New Youth Programs Coordinator

Shannon Minnick, the new Youth Programs Coordinator at IN, has been employed with IN for the last 3 years as the Independent Living Specialist for Montgomery County. To her new position she brings 10 years of experience in the Social Science field, which includes community integration, research, social wellness, peer support, navigating the Health Care System, and advocacy. These diversified experiences will prove to be very useful in coordinating the Maryland-Youth Leadership forum and Independent Living Services for the youth (ages 18-26) in Montgomery and Prince George's County. Shannon is able to be contacted Mondays thru Fridays 8:30am to 4:30pm at sminnick@innow.org or 240-638-0070.regarding assistive technology and home and vehicle modifications.

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2016 Maryland-Youth Leadership Forum Scheduled for June

The 2016 Maryland-Youth Leadership Forum (YLF), a unique career and leadership program that provides high school students with disabilities the opportunity to develop their leadership, independence and self-advocacy skills, has been scheduled for June 23-25, 2016. The Maryland Youth Leadership Forum is open to students in their final two years of high school.

The Youth Leadership Forum is designed to provide students a taste of college life while offering them opportunities to increase their independence, explore and develop personal and career plans, and listen to guest speakers discuss topics ranging from the history of the disability rights movement and self-advocacy, to careers and technology. Approximately 30 students, with a variety of disabilities, will be selected to participate in this year's forum. Participants are selected to attend based on their accomplishments and leadership potential (academic achievement, community service, and participation in school and community activities), disability diversity and geographic representation.

Forum sponsors include Maryland Department of Special Education/Early Intervention Services, Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services, Maryland Department of Disabilities, Maryland Department of Transportation, ADA Information Center for the Mid-Atlantic Region, Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council, Resource Connections of Prince George's County, and many other state and private organizations.

Applications for the 2016 Maryland-Youth Leadership Forum are available online and must be postmarked by February 22, 2016 for consideration. There will be no charge for selected students. Applicant interviews will be conducted during the month of April. Applicants will be notified about their selection status by mid-May. For more information, contact Shannon Minnick at sminnick@innow.org or by calling 240-638-0070.

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Special Upcoming Events!

A Fitness and Beauty Symposium, "When You Look Good, You Feel Good". Presented by Independence Now, Maryland Parks and Recreation and a special guest speaker. March 9th, 11am-2pm. Get your exercise in, a makeover, and resources for women. Location to be announced. To register, request any accommodations, or for more information contact Rochelle Harrod at 240-898-2184.

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New Staff and Staff Changes at Independence Now

  • Beth Munro – Director of Supports Planning
  • Debbie Potts – Administrative Coordinator
  • Michael Saunders –  Lead Peer Support Counselor
  • Todd Thorpe -  Operations and IT Coordinator
  • Victor Murrana -  Independent Living Specialist/Montgomery County

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Path to Empowerment

Third Thursday monthly - 11am – 1:30pm
Contact Shannon Minnick at 240-638-0070 to register and to request accommodations.

January 21
In 2015, losing weight was the #1 in the Top 10 New Year's resolutions. But we are moving forward into 2016, and switching to a healthier diet to be healthier individuals and to lose weight can be incredibly tricky when we are surrounded by cheap junk foods. However, with a good amount of determination and some basic tips you can slowly develop healthier eating habits. Join us to learn how to control emotional eating, be aware of reasons diets fail, and receive some awesome and healthy recipes.

February 18
Who says you can only say 'I love you" on Valentine's Day? Looking for a delicious and affordable way to say "I love you" after Valentine's Day? Join us and learn to make a quick healthy meal for you and your loved ones too -- that will say "I Love You!"

March 17
Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day! So, let's celebrate St. Patrick's Day with some green grub. We strongly focus on healthy recipes. And sorry, folks—that dyed green beer and bagel aren't winning any nutrition awards. Join us to celebrate being green the healthy way.

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Housing Seminar

Fourth Thursday monthly - 1pm - 3pm
To register, request accommodations or for more information contact Rochelle Harrod at 240-898-2184.

January 28 - Subsidized Housing Programs
Presented by Susan Smith of HOC. Come learn what affordable and accessible housing programs are available to you.

February 25 - How to complete a housing application III
If you need help applying for housing and want to learn how to fill out an application, join us as we share tips on how to successfully submit an application.

March 24 - Are You Ready To Move?
If you have found a place and need help getting a security, first month's rent, or furniture, come and find out what resources are available to you through The Salvation Army, Eviction Assistance and Homelessness Prevention, and Wider Circle.

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Financial/Budgeting Seminar - Balancing your Budget

Wednesday, March 16 - 1pm - 3pm
Money and You presented by Dan Florea of Guidewell Financial Services. To register, request accommodations or for more information contact Rochelle Harrod at 240-898-2184

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Employment & Educational Seminar

Monday, February 8 - 1pm - 3pm
Learn about the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how it applies to your rights, and the importance of interpersonal skills on the job. You will also receive information about accommodations for college courses and services available for student with disabilities. For accommodation requests contact Kelvin at 240-638-0068.

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No COLAs for the Weary

Every October, like clock-work, Social Security announces that the benefits they pay to individuals across the country will increase by a little bit. It is usually not much, but it is something. For somebody who is trying hard to stretch their limited income across ever-increasing expenses, it can be a welcome addition.

This year, however, the news was unexpected by most people. For the first time since 2011, there will be no Cost of Living Adjustment for Social Security benefits. Social Security has no control over this. They are following the law and using the Consumer Price Index to determine if there has been inflation to warrant an increase. This comes as a shock to many who are wondering where their money is going.

The only bright spot for some is that they won't lose money either. For those who have Medicare, their premiums for part B will not go up. Medicare Advantage Plans (part C) and prescription drug plans (part D) are always variable and can be adjusted each year by the insurance agencies providing the coverage. For those who enroll in Medicare from January forward, however, the premiums for part B will go up to $121.80 a month.

If any of this makes you wonder if you should get a job to help you make ends meet, give us a call at Maryland Work Incentives Network. We can't help you find a job, but we can show you how to manage your disability benefits when you do get a job. Our number is 1-888-838-1776.

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Consumer Annual Holiday Event

The 2015 Annual Holiday Event was December 15th at St. Margaret Catholic Church in Capital Heights, MD.  This year, Independence Now centered this event in recognition of the 25th year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and 20 years of Independence Now serving and empowering people with disabilities. The day included the documentary "Lives Worth Living" about the history of the Independent Living movement, information about the ADA, lunch, door prizes and recognition of consumers in the following categories.

  • Longest two consumers with IN - Karen Diggs and Jacqueline Littleford
  • Newest consumer - Patricia Davis
  • Most Goals Achieved - Virginia Cumberledge
  • Most Valued Volunteer - Rhonda Austin

Drawings were held for those in attendance for husband and wife, consumer and Personal Care Attendant and the consumer who had children between ages of 0 – 17.  Other recognition included the first two consumers who RSVP'd for the Holiday Event.

The event was enjoyed by all 40 attendees.  Independence Now congratulates all consumers in goal achievements, making life choices, taking control of everyday life, moving forward in their independence, and moving from isolation and exclusion to freedom and inclusion.

We are so VERY grateful for all our donors and supporters of this annual event.

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