We’d like to share some great “behind-the-scenes” news.
UCP applied for—and received—funds via the federal government’s Employee Retention Credit (ERC).
After we received the funds, we asked all of our departments to create a “wish list” of wants and needs.
Below are some of the items from those wishlists that we’ll be funding in the coming months:
We’d like to thank Esther Large (UCP’s Finance Director) and John Hancock (a long-term member of UCP’s Board of Directors), for their work related to the ERC funds!
We’d also like to thank the entire UCP Board of Directors for their ongoing commitment to supporting UCP’s workforce and our delivery of quality services.
April is Autism Acceptance Month. In honor of this month, UCP Oregon would like to share a piece written by Andrew Haynes.
Andrew is the Brokerage Administrative Assistant for UCP Connections, and is a person with Asperger’s. Andrew would like to thank Silas Bird (Operations Coordinator for UCP Connections) for assistance in creating this piece.
By Andrew Haynes, Brokerage Administrative Assistant, with assistance from Silas Bird, Operations Coordinator
Autism Acceptance Month is a time to celebrate and embrace the unique qualities of individuals on the autism spectrum. It's no longer enough to simply raise awareness about autism; we must shift our focus towards acceptance and inclusion.
We must advocate for policies that prioritize inclusion, education, employment opportunities, healthcare access, and social support for autistic individuals.
The article "Autism Speaks doesn’t speak for Autism" by Isabelle Ouyang provides a compelling argument against the popular organization Autism Speaks.
The author argues that Autism Speaks perpetuates harmful stereotypes and stigmatizes individuals with autism rather than helping them. Ouyang points out that Autism Speaks' advertising campaigns often portray autism as a tragedy, which can lead to negative attitudes towards those with the condition.
Additionally, the organization's focus on finding a cure for autism implies that people with autism need to be fixed or cured rather than accepted and supported.
The author also critiques the lack of representation of autistic individuals in leadership positions within the organization, which can lead to a disconnect between those making decisions and those directly affected by them.
Many individuals with autism have spoken out against Autism Speaks, stating that they do not accurately represent their experiences or perspectives.
The Puzzle Piece Symbol
The puzzle piece has been a symbol of autism awareness for decades, but it is time to retire this outdated symbol. The puzzle piece implies that individuals with autism are incomplete or missing something, which is not only inaccurate but also offensive. Autism is not a puzzle to be solved or fixed; it is a neurological difference that should be accepted and celebrated.
Furthermore, the puzzle piece does not accurately represent the diversity within the autistic community. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that individuals with autism have varying abilities and challenges. Using one symbol to represent such a diverse group of people oversimplifies their experiences and perpetuates stereotypes.
Instead of using the puzzle piece, we should listen to and amplify the voices of autistic individuals themselves. They can tell us what symbols or language they prefer and what truly represents them as unique individuals. It's time to move away from outdated symbols like the puzzle piece and towards more inclusive representations of autism.
It is crucial for organizations working with marginalized communities to prioritize listening to and uplifting their voices rather than speaking for them without their input or consent.
As you may know, April is Autism Acceptance Month.
Two employees of UCP Connections, Stephanie (Lead Personal Agent) and Glenna (Advocacy & Outreach Coordinator), compiled several great resources and quotes.
“Acceptance is an action. This means that autism acceptance is an active process that requires both a shift in thinking and in action.”
– Autistic Self Advocacy Network
“Autism awareness isn’t really necessary anymore. Sometimes neurotypical advocacy efforts end up being viewed by the Autistic community as parents looking to wear a badge for knowing someone with autism. Most people already know Autism exists. Autism Acceptance…now that’s something to advocate for. That’s what #RedInstead represents.”
We are excited to share UCP Oregon’s newest Annual Report, which covers the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
The theme of this report is “Change.”
As our Executive Director, Ann Coffey, states in the report, “There has been so much change... But, through it all, the UCP community stood strong and resilient. We stood together. We sought new ways to complete our work. We found new ways to connect. We discovered new ways to find balance and purpose.”
A gigantic thank you to everyone who contributed, as a writer, photographer, and/or editor!
YEAR-END UPDATE, FROM THE DESK OF JOHN GOFF, COMMUNITY SERVICES DIRECTOR
Hello, UCP Family!
It is always an honor to share the successes and stories of the Community Services (CS) Department, but not without first recognizing the collective energy of all UCP customers, employees, Board members, and partners. When I think of the past year, I am reminded of the familiar phrase that it truly “Takes a Village,” and I must say that I am grateful to have been a part of this one for close to 10 years!
So, what of the year 2022? I wish I had space to list every situation and scenario navigated, but I can say with certainty and admiration that everyone in the department showed up in a very big way to support one another.
In no order of priority, the CS Department:
I am very proud of all the accomplishments and work from the Community Services Department, and I look forward to another great year in 2023 filled with opportunity, continued advocacy, and growth.
We are pleased to announce that Nicole Vivanco has been promoted to the position of Employment Services Director, which oversees UCP's Supported Employment Department.
Prior to this advancement, Nicole was acting as the Employment Services Manager. Nicole took on the Manager position during a very difficult time in the early months of the pandemic.
Thanks to Nicole’s dedication, the Employment Solutions team is thriving, with customers working across the Portland area. Nicole participated in agency-wide strategic planning and implementation. She also fostered productive collaboration with community partners such as mental health and developmental disabilities agencies, area Brokerages, Vocational Rehabilitation, Oregon Commission for the Blind, families, advocates, Board members, etc.
Nicole brings 9 years of experience in the field of supported employment.
Nicole says, “I am so happy to accept this new role within our department, and I am excited to continue to support our customers, employers, and the employment professionals at UCP to find success and meet their career goals.”
She adds, “I’d like to thank our community partners for their collaboration and support. Seeing a person shine—in a job that is a great match for them and their employer—is the biggest motivator for me. Supported employment is so powerful for everyone involved.”
Thank you, Nicole, for everything you’ve done and continue to do. We are excited to begin this new chapter with you.
Join UCP Oregon in celebrating “Direct Support Professionals” Recognition Week! We’re celebrating all week long (September 11-17, 2022).
Currently, UCP employs 93 Direct Support Professionals—also known as DSP’s.
UCP’s Direct Support Professionals work one-on-one with our customers. They assist customers wherever needed—at home, on the job, and out in the community—ensuring that our customers have independent and fulfilling lives.
So, the next time you see a Direct Support Professional, make sure to tell them how awesome they are!
Hello! If you're a customer of UCP, a family member of a UCP customer, or a UCP employee, we'd love to hear from you. We'd also love to share YOUR story with the world.
You can share almost anything:
UCP Oregon is excited to announce the winners of the "2021 Employee Recognition Awards!"
These awards were given to employees who provide direct care to our customers, folks who have titles such as Personal Assistant, Support Specialist, Support Coordinator, Personal Coordinator, Assistant Team Leader, Substitute Support Professional, Children's Support Professional, Job Coach, and Employment Specialist.
All direct care staff were eligible to vote for the winners. Each winner received a $100 Visa Gift Card and an award certificate!
If you happen to see one of these employees, please make sure to congratulate them.
PS: there were two winners in every category. We don't have permission to share the names of ALL the winners, so a few folks will not be listed below.
THE 2021 Employee Recognition Award WINNERS
EDITOR’S NOTE: Lena is a “Personal Assistant” in our Supported Living Department, which means that she works one-on-one a customer (Anita), helping Anita live independently in her own home. Recently, we asked our staff to share stories of their everyday work lives, and Lena wrote the following. Thanks, Lena!
By Lena Ruminski, Personal Assistant
Though I have worked for UCP for almost four years, I never knew the kind of joy I could bring someone until this last September when I started working with Anita.
While Anita is a woman of few words (unless asked questions), there is one sure way to know that she is enjoying herself: her eyes. The first time I experienced her unique expression of joy was when I introduced her to one of the best things about fall: Starbucks’ seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte.
While Anita is a mocha gal herself, I convinced her to try the PSL and upon first sip, she was sold. She looked up at me after her first taste—and her blue eyes were two huge saucers as she exclaimed, “That’s good!”
And for the rest of her beverage, after every sip, her wide eyes returned.
After we finished up, we started our walk back to her apartment. I started walking fast (and pushing her wheelchair quickly, too) because I was getting chilly. I heard her say “This is fun!” So, I picked up the pace to give her a bit more of a thrill.
As I prepared to get her back inside her house, I stopped and turned to her. I saw those wide eyes again as she said, “Can we do that again?!?”
Needless to say, we have been regulars at the Starbucks every Saturday shift for our weekly PSL fix.