Due to fiscal constraints beyond our control, we regret to announce that MDS will be closing LifeArt Community Resource Center at the end of April. Up until that time, hours will be reduced and some programs will be discontinued immediately.

LifeArt currently employs one full-time and six part-time staff. MDS will work with those staff people to identify other employment opportunities within the agency if possible. We are counting on service coordinators, program managers, and provider agencies to seek out alternative community activities for the dozens of individuals who are part of the LifeArt community.

In this difficult budget season, increasing fiscal constraints have resulted in a significant decrease in flexible funds for the agency. MDS has used these flexible dollars to support many unfunded programs and has had to take a hard look at those to determine if they can still be supported. A good portion of these funds have paid for LifeArt. These funds are no longer available to support its operations; thus management has made the difficult decision to close LifeArt.

More than 15 years of rich history resides with LifeArt - community suppers, craft classes, volunteerism, action groups, Friday Fun Nights, and so much more. The concept of bringing people together in a common space was devised by a group of people with and without disabilities. Throughout the years it has provided a warm and welcoming space for many people, not only in times of need, but as a regular part of their daily life.

We deeply appreciate the efforts of so many for their support and dedication to MDS and LifeArt. MDS continues to have a strong commitment to the concepts that LifeArt espouses. We look forward to having conversation during our upcoming strategic planning process as we work toward a new chapter of community participation.

The latest issue of the Clipboard is available for you as a pdf file. This edition includes a budget update, Alan Greene's article about a proposed alternative to Managed Care, news about staff, friends, families and our community, training updates and more. Click here to access this newsletter.

MaxMax Goddard, a young man enrolled in the Partners in Health program at MDS, has received a Leadership Award from the Council for Children and Adolescents with Chronic Health Conditions. Senator Jeff Woodburn, Executive Director of the organization, and Senator Molly Kelly presented the award to Max at a special ceremony on Monday, March 4 at HCS in Keene.

Family, friends and others who have been touched by Max’s example and leadership were on hand at this award ceremony to honor him. Max told the group that he was just doing what he’d been raised to do, “Help people who need help.”

Max received this Leadership Award for his inspirational mentoring and advocacy for young people with chronic health issues. An upbeat 20-year-old who lives in Sullivan with his mother and grandmother, Max has lived with severe hemophilia for all of his life. In spite of his serious medical condition, Max has served for a number of years as a camp counselor at the New England Hemophilia Association (NEHA) Family Camp, this past year as lead counselor. He has also served as counselor-in-training at Paul Newman’s Hole in the Woods camp.

Max has attended several national leadership building events, and every year travels to Washington, D.C. where he advocates for blood safety and healthcare with the National Hemophilia Foundation. Max has made a difference in many people’s lives, from the younger kids he mentors.

During the event, Senator Kelly, a member of the Health, Educaton & Human Services Committee, spoke to the group about some of the health care issues facing New Hampshire, including:

  • Medicaid expansion/Managed Care: “I say we can’t afford not to do it.”

  • Restoring money for the DD waitlist.

  • Getting money back to hospitals, citing Keene and Vision 2020.

  • Restoring funding for respite care.

  • A proposed companion to the patient’s bill of rights that addresses rights for home care providers.

Sen. Kelly encouraged all present to talk with their representatives in Concord about their concerns and to make sure their voices are heard.

The latest Bureau of Developmental Services (BDS) Employment Data Report has been released. The December 2012 report shows an upward trend in the number of people employed since last reporting period, with overall improvement in employment outcomes for individuals supported by the developmental services system in New Hampshire.

Among the 10 Area Agencies, Monadnock Developmental Services ranked third in three of four areas, and well above state averages.

                                                                        MDS                Rank                Statewide

% of Individuals Employed                              45.6%              3rd                    39.1%

Avg hours worked per week                             10.45               3rd                     8.99                

Avg hourly wage per job                                  $7.91               4th                     $8.36

Avg weekly earnings                                         $83                  3rd                    $70

Overall, employment outcomes are improving. However, even with this good news, there is still room for improvement. The average number of hours worked has remained steady at nine hours per week, with the greatest number of people working five hours or less per week.

Click here to read the full report, which is filled with valuable information for those interested in employment for people with disabilities.

The Social Security Administration has made changes that may cause distributions from a special needs trust to be counted as income. This could cause individuals to lose their state (Medicaid) and/or federal benefits.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the attorney who developed your trust for further explanation of those changes.

Governor Maggie Hassan presented her proposed state budget to the Legislature on February 14. This second phase is part of a nearly yearlong five-step process:

1. DHHS Phase – Aug-Oct 2012

2. Governor’s Phase – Nov 2012-Feb 2013

3. House Phase – Feb-Apr 2013

4. Senate Phase – Apr-May 2013

5. Committee of Conference – Jun 2013

CSNI has provided an overview and preliminary analysis of the Governor’s budget, which is her recommendation to the Legislature. The Legislature will likely change the budget, and Gov. Hassan said to the Legislature in her budget address: “I am ready to work with you to develop a final budget plan.”

What do the budget numbers really mean to people and programs? It is critical to keep in mind that the specific impacts of any changes to the State budget may not be fully known for months.

When are the public hearings? House Bill 1 (HB 1) is like any other piece of legislation in NH: it MUST have a public hearing. The House Finance committee will conduct public hearings in the following communities over the next several weeks: Whitefield, Nashua, Rochester, Claremont and Concord. The exact dates and times are unknown as of this printing.

What is House Bill 2? HB 2 is the “trailer bill” and it contains the policy changes implementing the state budget. This bill has not been released.

What about Medicaid Managed Care? The Governor said she recommends the state continue to implement Medicaid Managed Care. However, there was no mention specifically of Step 2, which includes DD services and other long-term care. In addition, Gov. Hassan said she will soon name a Commission to review the entire program.

What about Medicaid expansion? The Governor’s budget assumes Medicaid expansion will move forward in NH in January 2014.

Based on CSNI’s preliminary reading of the Governor’s Budget, it appears that the following items are included in Governor Hassan’s Budget:

  • Current Services: All currently funded services are continued.

  • Rate Increase for Developmental

  • Services: The Governor did not include the DHHS recommended rate increases.

  • DD/ABD Waitlists: Both of these adult waiver waitlists are funded in the Governor’s budget at a 90% level (as

  • mentioned in “From the Desk of Alan Greene”). Gov. Hassan said: “This budget fully funds the waitlists for services for people with acquired brain disorders and developmental disabilities.”

  • In-Home Support Waiver: There is an increase in funding from current levels and it appears the cuts of the previous two years are reversed.

  • Family Support: There is an increase in funding from current levels; it appears the cuts of the previous two years are reversed.

  • Other Programs: We are continuing to examine Early Supports & Services and other BDS programs.

This update provided by CSNI – csni.org.

Shelley Viles and Beth Provost, both of Keene, have recently joined the MDS Board of Directors. At its annual meeting, the Board re-elected James Craiglow to serve as President, James Schofield as Vice-President, Michael Forrest as Treasurer and Donald Hayes as Secretary. Other MDS Board members who continue to serve in 2012 are Terry Manahan, Judith Reed, Sand Seligman, and Manfredo Torelli.

Local chapters of ABLE NH are hosting a series of Community Meetings in April in several towns in the Monadnock region in the wake of budget cuts being considered in Concord. We have invited our legislators to meet with constituents for a public meeting to discuss next steps in the budget process. This is a chance for community members to come together to discuss how the budget will affect voters in the Monadnock region.

Individuals, families, and other constituents who will be affected by the NH budget cuts to Health and Human Services are encouraged to attend the Rally to Restore Budget Cuts at the NH State House in Concord on Thursday, March 31 at noon. The Rally is sponsored by NH CARES and other advocacy groups that include constituents affected by the proposed cuts to Health and Human Services and other important State services.

How might the budget cuts affect you? Click here to find out...

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Monadnock Developmental Services announces that, following the graduation of its current class in May, it will discontinue First Course, the culinary job training program founded four years ago to provide employment skills for people in disadvantaged circumstances.
Read article in Keene Sentinel 3-13-2011
Read OpEd Piece in Keene Sentinel 3-20-2011

Alan Greene, Executive Director of MDS, reports: “It is with deep regret that we make this decision. But in this current economic climate, we need to stop funding a project that was intended to become self-sustaining but which hasn’t.”

Greene explains: “We started First Course when the economy was booming, when jobs in the hospitality industry were hard to fill. We’re now in a protracted recession. Given that, and with budget crises in both Concord and Washington, our responsibility to the people we serve is even more critical. We’re in good financial shape, and we want to stay that way. Unfortunately, First Course has not been able to become self-sustaining, as we originally envisioned, which has led us to make this tough decision.”

First Course was founded in 2007 as a collaboration among four local nonprofit agencies – MDS, the Keene Housing Authority, Monadnock Family Services, and Southwestern Community Services. The four partners contributed startup funding and service support, but as lead partner and fiscal agent, MDS has carried the burden of financial and operational responsibility in recent years.

The fifteenth and final class of trainees will graduate in May, bringing the total number of First Course graduates to 48.  Of those graduating, more than 85% have found employment in the food services field.

In addition to its unique training program for individuals, First Course has provided daily cafeteria services at Timken, and nutritious meals for Keene Head Start, the Monadnock Adult Care Center and Brantwood Camp. These activities, along with First Course catering, were intended to create revenue to offset expenses while providing services to a population in need. MDS will continue to provide Head Start and senior meals until appropriate arrangements are made.

For more information, please contact Alan Greene, 603-352-1304 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 

The House Finance Committee will conduct its public hearing on the State Budget (HB1 and HB2) on Thursday, March 10, 2011 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The hearing is being held in the Representative's Hall in the State House in Concord.  For updated information check the Advocacy page.

wirclogoThe Work Incentives Resources Center (WIRC), a new website developed by the UNH Institute on Disability in collaboration with Granite State Independent Living, is helping individuals with disabilities to navigate the benefits planning process with the goal of making gainful employment a reality.

koonsimage
Eleven local artists come together to display their work at the MDS Spring Art Show on Friday, April 9th from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Monadnock Developmental Services, 121 Railroad Street in Keene. Refreshments will be served, and those who attend will have an opportunity to meet the artists and experience their creative work.

The Art Show, sponsored by MDS, includes the work of eleven artists who live in the Monadnock region. Painters Abbey Toegel, Robert Gallant Sue LaFreniere, Wally Dufield and Theodore May will exhibit selections of their work; Bill Koons, photographer, presents nature and local landscape photographs. Laura Zimmerli brings handcrafted origami boxes; Anya Schwabe shows her collection of hand-crafted jewelry and ornaments; Cathy Smith presents jewelry; and Jean Ferguson has an array of crafts. Many of the items are available to purchase.

For more information on the MDS Art Show, call 603-352-1304.



marcus_soutra
Marcus Soutra, National Program Director of Project Eye-To-Eye, learning disabilities activist and Keene State College graduate, comes to Keene on Thursday, April 1st from 5:00-6:30 p.m. at Keene State College, Rhodes Hall, Room N118. Speaking on “Empowering the Lives of Children with Learning Differences,” Marcus will share his story and discuss his work with Project Eye-to-Eye, with a special focus on Camp Vision.

Marcus was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD at a young age and spent most of his childhood feeling stupid, misunderstood, and ashamed of his learning disability. Over time Marcus grew to understand that his learning disability was not going to determine his fate and after finding success in school, he chose to devote his life to paving the path for all students to find success in their education.

Marcus is a graduate of Keene State College and the founder of the Project Eye-To-Eye chapter at Keene State College. Project Eye-To-Eye is a national mentoring program that matches college and high school students with LD/ADHD. Acting as tutors, role models and mentors, with elementary, middle, and high school students with LD/ADHD, their purpose is to empower these students and help them find success.

Now the National Program Director of Project Eye-To-Eye, Marcus is responsible for managing and cultivating Project Eye-To-Eye chapters nationwide. In addition, he is the co-founder of Project Eye-To-Eye's Camp Vision. All of Marcus's work is done with the goal to ensure that students labeled with learning disabilities are able to celebrate their differences, and through that celebration, are given the abilities to find their own success.

Families, educators, professionals, and students are invited to hear Marcus’s story. There is no cost to attend this event but registration is required. Please contact Molly McNeill, MCST Project Coordinator, at 603-352-1304 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..