The end of the calendar year is three months after the end of our fiscal year, which means, as a hopeless procrastinator, I am up to my eyeballs in end of year program reports. Every year between Christmas and New Year’s, I spend time in a mostly empty office reviewing statistics and stories of the hard work done by our advocates during the previous year. This year is no exception. I have been reminded of many triumphs large and small, and been humbled with appreciation of the many dedicated actions that are taken to advocate for our clients. It is clear from the case notes that our staff treat clients as people first and foremost, going above and beyond to instill their work with the human touch. Thanks to their daily efforts, we have made life better for many Mississippians with disabilities. Our reports may not win prizes, but I will do my best to paint the human stories behind the numbers for anyone who reads them. Stay tuned for some such stories in future blog entries….
We had a welcome surprise on December 22nd, when we learned that the US Department of Justice had issued a findings letter to the State of Mississippi, concluding that major changes are required in its service systems for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities. DRMS looks forward to working with federal and state authorities to ensure that changes are prompt, appropriate, and comprehensive. We are excited about the opportunity to help transform this state’s system of service delivery. For a copy of the letter, go to www.ada.gov/olmstead/documents/miss_findings_letter.doc It will also be posted on our website shortly.
Other exciting projects which will continue into the new year are the launching of Medicaid’s Bridge 2 Independence program, which will provide extra Medicaid services for one full year to people transitioning from facilities to the community, and the Mississippi Partnerships for Employment Project (MSPE), which will improve competitive employment outcomes for youth and young adults with development disabilities, including intellectual disabilities. Mississippi was one of only six states that received funding for the MSPE project. DRMS is a managing partner of the project along with our DD network partners the Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Institute for Disability Studies.
DRMS plans to stay involved and engaged, working collaboratively whenever possible and assertively when required to advance and protect the human and legal rights of individuals with disabilities in Mississippi. We have met and worked with many fine people throughout the state in the past year, and look forward to continued efforts to insure their integration into home, work, community, employment and education.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
The Holiday Open House at DRMS’s Gulfport location on Tuesday December 6th was a great success. Visitors from other non-profits within the Knight Center, where DRMS’s office is located, along with new and old friends from other disability advocacy agencies, stopped by to visit, eat, and network. The food, courtesy of DRMS staff Amelia Puffer and Shirley Walker, was great. Also featured were some wonderful prizes which were awarded via a drawing at the end of the event. The winners received some great gifts, and the purchase of chances to win helped provide support for DRMS’s many activities. Today, the Jackson office is enjoying some of the leftover food, so the party atmosphere has spread. Most importantly, we met and shared information with a lot of people who can refer clients to us or offer services to our clients!
In my mail today were several end of year appeals for donations to support various worthy causes. I hesitate to add an appeal for DRMS to the onslaught other generous folks are no doubt also receiving. But, that’s part of my job! Our federal funding continues to shrink and its future levels are uncertain, but the advocacy needs of people with disabilities in Mississippi continue to grow with the bad economy. Gifts from community supporters help us maintain services. If you are looking for a non-profit agency to support as part of your holiday or end of year giving, please consider Disability Rights Mississippi. See our website http://www.drms.ms to donate via paypal. For more information about how we use donations, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
DRMS staff always choose a holiday service project in lieu of major gift giving among themselves during the holiday season. This year, we will support two different Service Animal non-profits in Mississippi — Service Animals of Mississippi (SAM) and Gallant Hearts Guide Dogs. Both help train and provide service animals to individuals with disabilities in our state. We are proud to support their efforts.
Welcome to Disability Writes Mississippi!
As the Executive Director of Disability Rights Mississippi, the protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities in the state, I am excited to have a new forum to share information and ideas. As a companion to our updated website, this blog will include frequent notes about issues, activities, and events that may be of interest to our staff, clients, and supporters. I love to write, and this venue will allow a bit more detail than our facebook page, which I also encourage you to check out.
It is one more way to stay in touch with everyone is this busy world.
Comments are welcome. Let’s talk soon!
Ann Maclaine,Executive Director, DRMS
Today in the elevator going up, my fellow passenger remarked that this was truly a Monday! It was gray and rainy outside, she was carrying a lot of stuff and she, like me, was probably getting in to work a little later than planned.
One staff member here at DRMS always responds to Monday morning greetings with a retort reminding me that it is, after all, Monday, so things can’t be too good even if they are okay.
Well the day has gotten grayer, with heavy clouds and apparently cooler temperatures, if the frigid air in my office is any indication. Nevertheless, it has been a pretty great day here at DRMS! Sue got a client returned to school, some long awaited website changes are being made, I started this blog, and we had a small but relaxed and cozy managers’ meeting where those of us present shared ideas and candid reactions to those ideas, and generally talked about ways to make the agency even better for staff and clients.
So I’m ending this day feeling good about the week ahead. I look forward to visiting the Coast office for our holiday open house tomorrow afternoon. There are so many talented and involved people in that region, including three new board members, and it will be an honor to spend some time with them face to face in their home territory for a change.
If nothing else, Monday is a good launching post for the rest of the week, and I wish you all a happy Tuesday!