Specially Adapted Resource Clubs (SPARC) is extremely grateful for the funds received this past year to purchase two (2) laptops to use in our club. The SPARC club is designed to uniquely support young adults with life-long disAbilities after high school graduation. It is a place where our young adults self-direct their continued learning and continue building vocational skills through entrepreneurial projects and community service learning.
One area of special interest for our club members is learning new computer skills. Our young adults benefit tremendously by having their own laptop computers. Laptops are more accessible to individuals with physical disAbilities and we are able to load special software to enhance their independence. We have been working on learning graphic design as well as corresponding with deployed soldiers. Our programming is enriched because of our ability to customize computer activities for our young adults. The SPARC club is very appreciative of the opportunities you have given us.
The Fairfax County Long Term Care Coordinating Council and CareFaxLTC (now Life Circle Alliances), hosted "Closing the Gap in Serving Seniors," an Interfaith Summit on June 11, 2008 to raise awareness of assets available to better serve the needs of older adults. Over 250 members of the Faith Community attended this unprecedented gathering to learn about the importance of interfaith collaboration and building faith-based ministries for older adults. A call to action for the local faith communities, this event was a resounding success.
The organizers of the Summit approached the event with the objective of identifying the benefits of developing older adult ministries within their faith-based community. To support this, Summit sessions sought to identify examples of successful older adult ministries offered by faith-based communities and to recognize effective strategies for developing faith-based ministries for older adults. Discussions helped participants to recognize the challenges and rewards of a faith-based collaborative approach to developing older adult ministries and to learn about new resources available to help faith-based communities better facilitate services for older adults.
Keynote speaker Abigail Rian Evans, M.Div., Ph.D., L.H.D, professor of Practical Theology and coordinator of the Older Adult Ministry and Aging Initiative at Princeton Theological Seminary, addressed the importance of interfaith collaboration, and how religious beliefs and practices and spiritual resources facilitate good health outcomes for seniors.
The summit was a collaborative effort of the Fairfax Long Term Care Coordinating Council, CareFaxLTC, the Fairfax County Health Department, the Fairfax Department of Family Service’s Fairfax Area Agency on Aging, Faith Communities in Action, AARP and the Helen A. Kellar Institute for disAbilities at George Mason University. It was sponsored by AARP, Bankers Life and Casualty Company, Coldwell Banker, Office Depot, Home Instead, Sunrise Assisted Living and Coordinated Service Management.
Fairfax County’s Long Term Care Coordinating Council supported the Central Senior’s Center’s and GRACE Ministry’s application to the Fairfax Incentive Fund and Life Circle AlliancesSM funding to establish Personal Care Aide Training for members of various ethnic groups including members of the Korean, Hispanic, and Muslims communities. These recent immigrants are motivated to learn skills to support their families but struggle with English skills.
This funding was critical in developing the health care workforce necessary to care for those with need of long-term care, both at home and in group setting: 1. the funding made it possible for the PCA certificate program to be duplicated in the Hispanic and the Muslim communities. 2. The funding made it possible to incorporate vocational ESL into the certificate program. 3. The funding helped certified PCA graduates to access paid job coordinators who connect them to the hiring agencies or provide information relating to job openings. Both organizations are certified by the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services and offer 40-hour programs plus occupational ESOL classes twice each year.
Over the past five years, some 600 PCA’s have been trained.
M. K. was a fifty year old woman and had never worked in her life and lost her husband to a massive stroke. She had three children at that time ranging from 16 to 20 years old. She was overwhelmed trying to manage the small business owned by her late husband and did not know what to do to support her family. She suffered from bouts of severe depressions for two years. Finally she enrolled in the certificate program to become a Personal Care Aide (PCA).
After completion of the certificate of PCA, the Central Senior Center Job Coordinator, provided by the grants, helped her get a job at the Sunrise Senior Service. She worked long hours and completed on-the-job training to become a medical technician, to increase her family’s income. She finished her Certified Nurse Aide classes in June 2010 and is preparing to take the exam to become a Board Certified Nurse Aide.
The PCA certification was just beginning for her achievements in the health care field. She mentioned that she wants to continue to study and gain further certification. She has gained confidence and her self esteem has improved significantly. Today she supports herself and helps her children. She is very grateful for the training she received.
Heisung Lee, Executive Director
Central Senior Center
J. Lee, a woman with disfigured face, came to me and asked whether she could find a job as a PCA with her handicap. I told her that the sick and very frail elderly need your care, not your face. Caring is coming from your heart which transfers to your hands. She was in the second class of the certificate program and was hired by the Sunrise Senior Services and is working now as a CNA.
She was in her early 50's and was in a bad car accident and lost her whole jaw bone which required intensive restorative surgeries. Her husband abandoned her in the middle of recovery from her second surgery and at the same time she was notified that her insurance coverage would not provide for her surgery in the future. She told me that she could not eat well due as her teeth were also damaged. She stayed at her sister’s home for long time and failed to get a job. She concluded that no one would hire her with her disfigured face. She told me that she really wanted to die.
Today, she working long hours and has saved money to advance her education and is studying to become a certified nurse aide. She is saving money for more cosmetic surgery. Since her graduation from the PCA program, she has had two surgeries. While her face has improved, she still needs a few more surgeries to restore the normal functioning of her mouth and to further improve her facial features.
Given her own painful experience, she really understands the struggles faced by people with disabilities and is very compassionate. Elderly residents in the nursing home love her and request her as their aide. She has found a way to live independently and has become a caring care provider.
Heisung Lee, Executive Director
Central Senior Center
A young man in his 30’s and came to the certificate class in order to learn basic care giving skills for his father who was very sick. His mother died a few years ago in an accident. During the classes he was very attentive. When he lost his father, he returned to finish the certificate program and now in the body message therapy class. He tells classmates that the PCA class inspired him to work in the health care field. He is grateful to the program which gave him a purpose in life: to serve the sick.
Heisung Lee, Executive Director
Central Senior Center
Submitted by Nancy Mercer, Executive Director
The ARC of Northern Virginia
Two years ago a young woman, who identifies herself as being on the spectrum, in addition to growing up with autistic brothers, accompanied her mother to a focus group addressing unmet needs for young adults with autism. The focus group was one of a series of groups that was conducted by the Young Adult's Sub-Committee of Fairfax County’s Long Term Care Coordinating Council. The purpose of the focus group was to explore options for people who are affected but do not fit stringent criteria for waiver services and have no other options for accessing support services.
It was an early Saturday morning and everyone was tired and sticking close to their parents. At nine o’clock am we broke into two groups, one for parents and one for young adults, for two hours we brainstormed ideas for building communities that would be welcoming. Christina, was shy at first, this is a young lady who was timid to order her own food at McDonalds, but Christina found her voice and began creating a community that we all would benefit from ..."careers that pay a living wage, affordable housing with supports, a way to get around, a social life, staying connected with my family, but not living with them 24/7!" Christina's words resonated with the rest of the group, that typically stays silent or is identified as not very social, and soon everyone was presenting his/her ideas of what supports would be needed to access an independent life the community. The group was summed up by one of the young participants in the following way, "It's not a problem to be a square peg in a world of round holes. All you have to do is make the round holes bigger!"
Christina has been spending the last two years making the "round holes bigger"! Christina found her voice that day and became an advocate, speaking at a local budget hearing the following week, taking on a position at the Autism Society of Northern Virginia through the Life Circle Alliances EMPLOY ME OVERCOMING OBSTACLES grant, sitting on state task forces, presenting her story at national conventions, meeting one-on-one with legislators in which she personally advocated for her little brother.
In her personal life, Christina participated in the Metro Travel Training program, and learned how to get from Burke, Virginia to anywhere in the area, including a solo AMTRAK train trip to New Jersey one summer. Christina has been attending the Pulley career center for the past two years obtaining business and culinary skills and she has now been accepted into the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center’s Vocational Program. She is now working to create a transition plan from school to adulthood that would address all of her dreams - a rewarding career, a home of her own, possibly learning to drive or even going to college someday...Christina now identifies herself a "GAP" student-someone who doesn't fit into traditional waiver services, keeps falling through the cracks and what is so sad is the fact that it would not take a lot to give Christina the support she needs to reach her dreams!
Christina is our Life Circle AllianceSM Star because she is a wonderful example of a young woman who has taken every opportunity offered to her- despite overwhelming barriers. She works tirelessly to get rid of the gaps and to build a community where everyone plays a role.