The Road to Success
The Rehabilitation Services Bureau
Iowa Rehabilitation Association Fall Conference
This year the Iowa Rehabilitation Association Conference organizers developed a quality program that provided a wealth of information and motivation to the participants. Motivation was abounding at the Eagle’s View Pavilion as Lois Staff, Anna Antons, Marcia Gracey, and a few others performed their rendition of the Hokey Pokey while others remained seated singing along (and some even did the dance sitting down! We have a talented bunch of folks.) President Lois Staff recruited a few folks to do the Limbo Rock and the partnership of Curt Jones and Susie Paulson really took it to town while Denise Hubert and her Limbo dance partner no doubt had an aching back the next day. Of course all of the dancing and singing happened because John Lee Egan and Frank Strong shared their musical talents with the crowd who just couldn’t seem to get enough.
One of the highlights of the event was the awards luncheon. Ellen Sokolowski announced that Lois Staff of the Dubuque Area Office received a National Citation of Outstanding Quality of Achievement by the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association. We should all feel very proud of the work that Lois demonstrated in order to receive this award and we offer her our heartiest congratulations and appreciation for her work with Iowan’s with disabilities.
Of course the workshops were excellent providing a wealth of information and opportunities to discuss important issues. Mark Towers, a delightful motivational speaker, provided laughter and poignant comments as he shared “How to Remain Buoyant in a Sea of Change” while dazzling the crowd with his magic. He shared with participants that there is value in order and advantage in chaos and explained that his favorite saying by Joseph Campbell is “sacrifice is a form of rebirth.” Ultimately he ended this session quoting Ghandi, “You must become the change you wish to see in the world.”
Mark’s subsequent workshop “Exceeding People’s Expectations: The Pathway to Becoming Indispensable” shared the various concepts of being indispensable: talent, motivation, and self talk. He explained that indispensable people realize “that the opposite of being negative is not, being positive. It is being grateful to be able to serve. And they do not let other people’s behavior determine their own. They do not let people live rent free in their head.” It would seem that the principles he shared during the conference were concepts that will enhance our work and elevate our organization to achieve.
Participants also reported that Frank Potter, Dubuque Area Office Counselor, provided a very informative session on ADHD and provided resources to identify individuals who may have this disability. For more information on resources feel free to contact Frank Potter. Dr. Vilia Tarvydas, University of Iowa, challenged participants to consider the ethical ramifications of various scenarios ranging from delaying a decision on eligibility through socializing with a client. All of the workshops, too numerous to mention, were reported as being highly effective and informative and well worth the time and cost of the conference. For more information on what was presented contact Marcia Gracey, Lois Staff or Ellen Sokolowski.
IRA Achievement Award 2005, Written and Presented by John Lee Egan
I am pleased to present the 2005 Iowa Rehabilitation Association Achievement Award to Koki Nakagawa. Koki was born in Japan and moved to the United States at 4 months old. He earned his US citizenship in 2001. I first met Koki on July 29, 1997 when he applied for Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services when he was a junior at the Ames High School. During that initial interview, Koki had virtually no eye contact and he spoke very little. He was 18 years old with no paid work background and only two non-paid work experiences. In March 1998 he participated in a vocational evaluation at the Juliet Saxton Center in Des Moines. The recommendation of the evaluation was that he considers the job of General Office Helper. He graduated from high school in May, 1998. That fall he attended the Des Moines Area Community College through the STRIVE program. His office work internship took place with Mainstream Living during the summer of 2000. He completed the accounting program in the fall of 2000. While attending DMACC, Koki began working part-time at McDonald’s in West Ames on weekends.
Prior to graduating from DMACC, I referred him to the Story County Community Life Program for job placement assistance and Barb Elkin was assigned as his job coach. He had difficulty finding a job as an accounting clerk. He completed two community based work site assessments. The first was at the Red Cross during 2001. The second was at the Iowa State University Credit Union in 2002. Both assessments provided useful vocational information about Koki, but neither led to job placement for him.
After two years of contacting employers in attempts to find a job as a bookkeeper/accounting clerk, the decision was made to broaden his job search. On October 4, 2004, Koki was hired as a sales floor associate by Wal-Mart in Ames working 16 hours per week. Barb Elkin was instrumental in helping Koki in obtaining this job. He was working in the seasonal department until recently when he signed up and was chosen for the remodeling crew, which is a full-time position. He will be working with that crew at Wal-Mart until the work is completed later this year. He will then return to the seasonal department. This is the department that handles products related to the seasons and holidays during the year. Koki is a hard worker and is an asset to Wal-Mart. His friendliness and outgoing personality make him a natural for his customer intensive job. Koki’s supervisor, Gail Collins, told me that she knew she had hired a good worker and later learned that she had hired a good friend. The Wal-Mart letter of support was signed by more than 40 of Koki’s co-workers.
He has been active in the local and state community. He served as the treasurer for the Story County Community Life Consumer Council from 2001 to 2005. He volunteered at the American Red Cross in Ames for many years and was recently hired as their building manager. As building manager his job duties are to make sure things are working well within the building, which houses several businesses and organizations. He is Vice President and Membership Committee Chair for People First of Iowa since 2004. The People First of Iowa Mission is: To be a self-advocacy and support for people with disabilities who will learn how to speak for themselves and teach each others about their rights and responsibilities as individuals with disabilities. He is currently serving on the Story County Management Advisory Committee, which provides input on our county’s Managed Care Plan for persons with disabilities. He is a self advocate member for The Arc of Story County. He won the Bill Sackter Citizenship Award in 2002 from ARC. Bill Sackter was institutionalized for the mentally ill for 50 years in Minnesota prior to moving to Iowa City with the help of Barry Morrow who was hired by the School of Social Work at the University of Iowa. Bill was put in charge of a coffee shop that is called Wild Bill’s. There were two television movies made about Bill with Mickey Rooney playing the part of Bill.
He takes care of most of his personal daily living needs while he lives with his parents. His eventual goal is to live on his own.
Koki has grown from a young man who seldom looked up and said very little to a man who is engaged in his community to reach his life’s goals. In an Ames Tribune newspaper article written about Koki in July, 2002, he stated “I want to keep helping people and working for the community. I like to be part of a team.”
In addition to the award, Koki will be receiving a $100 savings bond. It is my honor to present the 2005 Iowa Rehabilitation Association Achievement Award to Koki.
The Latest News on Interpreters and Other Similar Issues from RCDHH
by Lee Ann Russo
Kathryn Baumann-Reese, Director of Deaf Services Commission of Iowa (DSCI), provided information on the Interpreter Licensure law which took effect July 1, 2005, at the most recent Rehabilitation Counselors for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Committee. This law requires ALL individuals serving as Sign Language Interpreters to apply for licensure through Iowa’s Dept. of Public Health. Almost 275 of those who have applied received a permanent or temporary license and were issued a “certificate.” A wallet-size copy of a license is provided as well as information that can be downloaded from the Public Health website on those who have registered as interpreters. DSCI hopes to obtain a copy of the list of interpreters to include on the DSCI website. Kathryn noted that standard rates of pay cannot be set for interpreters and licensure does not always mean the interpreter will meet a client’s/VR’s needs. Complaints about interpreters should go to Public Health, not DSCI.
Kathryn talked about needs identified a few years ago through Deaf Forums – one of which addressed “culturally appropriate” medical care/services. Funding was obtained through a Wellmark mini-grant to create an electronic version for “end of life pain control” in ASL/CD-Rom. A “Cultural Advocate” available within a hospital and community setting was also discussed as part of a Health Access Program (HAP) objective. Kathryn agreed to provide a list of TIPS/helpful hints, etc. when using interpreters to the RCDHH. She’s requested that the committee clarify when VR stops paying for interpreters in work settings, as well as suggested ways for dealing with this issue with employers (who are at times unaware or ill-informed about their responsibilities to cover ongoing interpreter costs.)
RCDHH would like to avoid developing pay scales for interpreters and realizes it may be illegal to pay for interpreter services if the individual does not hold a temporary or permanent license (despite client’s choice.) Interpreters can be licensed until 2007 and may be able to extend licenses for 2 years beyond that according to Kathryn.
Also discussed were issues related to interpreter payment for public and private entities. Ralph noted that VR recently reached agreement with Iowa’s Regent’s universities who have come to recognize their responsibilities in providing interpreters to individuals requiring that service. The universities are in the process of building that into their budgeting process. While no official consensus was reached, further discussion will occur through Quality Assurance Advisory Leadership Board discussions related to sharing interpreter costs with public institutions but not private ones.
TAX credit information was discussed briefly and available online at: http://www.irs.gov/prod/help/newmail/user.html. I VRS’ website also has links. The Small Business Tax Credit (IR Code Section 44, Disabled Access Credit) allows small businesses (those with earnings under $1 million or having 30 or fewer full-time employees) to take an annual tax credit for making their businesses accessible to persons with disabilities (i.e. paying interpreters.) The credit is 50% of expenditures over $250, but not to exceed $10,250 for a maximum benefit of $5,000.
Marketing and Evidence Based Decision Making Training
Club 26, the Quality Assurance Advisory and Leadership Board, and the RSB Management Team participated in a training by Chris Lewis. Chris had been the Director of Marketing for AT&T; she has worked with a number of Fortune 500 companies on marketing, and has worked with a number of state VR programs using evidenced based decision making to impact their outcomes. Steve Faulkner mentioned to me after the training that it was one of the best trainings he had ever had and really appreciated the information. He already had plans on how to apply the information when he returned home.
Of significance was Chris’s statement that what business needs first and foremost is for us to listen to what it is they want. She stated that there isn’t anyone more qualified or better skilled to listen to a customer than a counselor. Counselors have the training and skills to listen well, ask the questions that lead to the next right answer, and have a pool of resources around the state to tap to solve the problem.
Some Counselors uncomfortable with business consulting voiced their concerns with marketing and shared that they understood they were at a crossroads in their life. One person commented that at the age of 50 it was clear that the agency is moving in this direction and moving forward with full conviction. He said that meant he needed to make a decision about joining the direction or finding something else to do. I have great respect for this person for sharing his comments and at the end of the training he did mention to me that he realized that Counselors are perhaps the most highly skilled listeners that a business partner could find.
Every business in the world does some form of marketing or sales. Mental Health must sell their form of counseling to the customer. Retail outlets must sell their brand. The difference is in listening to what our customers want and delivering on a promise. I can’t think of anyone better trained to deliver that.