Monday, February 08, 2016
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Rejoicing Spirits Chili Cook-Off

Friday, Feb. 5, 2016Chili 250

Eat, drink, and Rejoice.

That would be a good theme for the Rejoicing Spirits Chili Cook-Off, held Jan. 16 at Grace Lutheran Church in Hockessin, Del. 

Attracting 77 people that included volunteers, more than 40 people served by Mosaic, and community guests, the chili cook-off featured eight different chilis ranging from mild to spicy hot.

“There was a chicken chili on the mild side and one with no beans also on the mild side.  There was a vegetarian chili that had medium heat and another that was slightly sweet. Little bowls just for tasting were ladled first by volunteers and then people returned and asked for a bowl of the chili they liked best.  There was also cornbread for tasting ranging from sweet to savory.  Each person was given a red ticket to vote for their favorite chili and a blue ticket to vote for their favorite cornbread as they came in,” according to volunteer Penny Matchen, of Grace Lutheran Church.

Cake 250When the votes were counted, the chicken chili made by Saretta Jones, an individual served by Mosaic won the chili contest and the Honey Bee Sweet cornbread made by Bill Mitchell, a Mosaic intern won the cornbread contest.

The cook-off was held from 2-4 p.m., followed by Rejoicing Spirits worship.  After worship, the group celebrated with cake, cookies and coffee.

“It was a wonderful afternoon of giving and sharing the love that God has so graciously given us,” Matchen wrote.

Thank you to Angi McCloskey for sharing this story.  In the photos, volunteers are ready and waiting to serve the chili and the cake quickly disappeared after worship.


Dr. King, Mrs. Shriver and the struggle for Justice

Monday, Jan. 18, 2016MKL thumb

When the December San Bernardino terrorist attack took place, in the early news reports there was uncertainty about whether people with disabilities had been targeted.  Given the warped thinking of terrorists, it was not beyond the realm of possible scenarios.
The truth is, people with disabilities have often been the victims of discrimination.  They’ve been targeted with ugly names and stereotypes, rejected with NIMBY-ism, overlooked for jobs, set apart from communities – the list could go on.
But, thanks to people who speak out, who stand with, who walk beside (or behind pushing wheelchairs), who are friends and advocates, things are changing.
Today our nation honors Martin Luther King, Jr., a man whose legacy is one of a courageous voice speaking out for African-Americans who were marginalized and discriminated against.  But the Rev. King was inclusive in his thought.
The following quote from the Rev. King is one of many engraved in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.
At the National Portrait Gallery, also in Washington, D.C., there is a section titled “The Struggle for Justice.”  It is dedicated to leaders who struggled to achieve civil rights for disenfranchised or marginalized groups.
schriver thumbOne of the portraits there is of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of the Special Olympics.  She stands with five people who were participants in Special Olympics.  The artist who painted it, David Lenz, noted the difference Shriver’s life work made to people with disabilities, people like his own son who has Down syndrome.
The painting uses light as a metaphor for her work of changing attitudes about people with disabilities from one of abuse and neglect to one of celebration and support.  
But the fight isn’t over.  There is more yet to be done.   
We’ve seen that moving people into communities isn’t the same as people becoming a part of the community.  Being a neighbor does not guarantee building a relationship.  Exposure to people who are different doesn’t automatically create acceptance, understanding, and welcome.  
It is fitting that the National Portrait Gallery placed the painting in “The Struggle for Justice” exhibit.  The struggle is not over, not for people with disabilities nor for other groups that are still marginalized as somehow different or less-than.
We need strong, courageous voices and people willing to act.  We need people like the Rev. King and Shriver, people willing to speak and do for others.  Our destiny is intimately tied together.

Credits: MLK Photo Credit - “Creative Commons 10.MLKNM.WestPotomacPark.WDC.23August2013” by Elvert Barnes is licensed under CC by 2.0.
Mrs. Shriver - Photo Credit: “Creative Commons Eunice Kennedy Shriver” by Ted Eytan is licensed under CC by  2.0.  Art Credit: Eunice Kennedy Shriver / David Lenz, 2009 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Commissioned as part of the First Prize, Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2006.

Speaking up and speaking out

Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016 2016 01 05   GRAIN self advocates
On December 7-8, several people served and staff represented Mosaic at the 2015 Indiana Governor’s Conference for People with Disabilities in Indianapolis.   
Self-advocates Laura McDowell and Rachel Gates, from Mosaic in Northern Indiana, and Geneva Brune and Charles Williams, from Mosaic in Terre Haute, attended along with Rachael Hooker, Direct Support Specialist, Brenda Tryon, Community Relations Manager, and Elizabeth Goldman, Quality Assurance Coordinator.
The two-day conference celebrated the 25th anniversary of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by examining the historical progression of the disability rights movement.  It also encouraged attendees to further explore solutions that will advance the cause of inclusion and employment for people with disabilities.
The first day’s agenda was full with keynote speakers and breakout workshops with topics that ranged from advocacy initiatives to policy matters.  That evening, attendees enjoyed a Hollywood-themed reception (see photo).   
On the second day, participants attended two townhall meetings where they offered feedback to help shape the five-year strategic plan for the office of the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities.  Focus areas included accessible housing, integrated competitive employment, education, transportation and community inclusion.   
In the photo, Brenda Tryon (top left), Charles Williams, Rachel Hooker, Geneva Brune, Laura McDowell (bottom left), Elizabeth Goldman, and Rachael Gates enjoy the Hollywood-themed evening reception.
Thank you to Elizabeth Goldman for submitted this story.

Friends, colleagues and mentors

Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016JB&B flashback small

Retirement is just a handful of years away for Jill Turner, a Direct Support Manager at Mosaic in Delaware.  Good for her.  Not so good for Mosaic.

Jill has been with Mosaic for more than 30 years.  She loves her job, loves the people she serves, loves the mission.  The problem is that Jill says when she retires, two of her Mosaic colleagues and good friends, Bill Jenkins and Bill Brown, are both retiring too.

The three share a common traJB&B today smallit that bonds them.  They know they are called to serve and respect the people Mosaic supports.  

“We are here for the people,” Jill says.  “They are not here for us.”

Together Jill, Bill, and Bill have more than 90 years of experience serving people with disabilities.  They deserve to retire and relax a bit (or play, or do whatever they have planned).  But that inevitable day will be a tangible loss for Mosaic and the people they serve.

“They’re my employer,” Bill B. says.  “This is not my home, this is their home.”

From her youngest days, Jill remembers wanting to serve.  As a child, she wanted to be a nun, until she learned she’d have to be Catholic (which she wasn’t!).  Bill J. said he knows serving others is what he is called to do.

“I like the interaction,” he says, “watching them grow. It’s a joy to me. … Even if I’m down, coming here makes me forget about my life. … They help me while I help them.”

The mutuality is bigger than just the people served, Jill said.  Through the years, her Mosaic “family” has helped her through the personal tragedies of losing her husband, a house fire, and now, cancer.  

“Mosaic saw me through,” she says.

Like Jill, Bill B. is a Direct Support Manager.  Bill J. was a manager, but realized he didn’t enjoy it so moved back to the role of Direct Support Specialist, where he feels he belongs.

“Everybody is equal,” Bill J. says, “all on the same plain. I don’t see them with a disability. I see them as needing to learn.”

With their experience, the three have the ability to quickly know whether a new employee will stay on the job and whether the person has the stuff to be a good direct support staff member.

“You will not be successful on this job unless you show respect,” Bill B. says. “You can’t fool them.”

For Bill J., that means being authentic.

“Don’t tell them what to do if you’re not willing to do it yourself,” he says.   

Plus, be prepared to have bad days.

“Learn from your mistakes,” he says. “Everybody is going to make them.”

Jill, Bill, and Bill have probably made a few, but with 90 years combined service, they are probably few and far between these days.

Then-and-now photos show (from left) Bill Jenkins, Jill Turner, and Bill Brown, good friends and co-workers for many years.

Happy New Year 2016!

New Year art

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