Hi! I’m UCP Oregon’s Family Support Director, Katherine Ball.
Did you know that my department supports approximately 845 families?
During an average month, I directly work with 100 families. I am available to them via email, phone, social media, and in person as needed.
I often speak with parents who are dealing with a new diagnosis of cerebral palsy. I send them a “Welcome Packet” with self-care tips, books and resources. I remain in contact with parents, providing resources, information, and a shoulder to lean on as needed.
FROM THE DESK OF SUZANNAH NEWMAN, HR DIRECTOR, UCP OREGON
Happy almost spring!
Before we move into a new season, we want to make sure to catch up on all the “winter” news from UCP.
First up: a giant shout-out to UCP’s Recruiting and Employment Strategies Manager, Kristin Heying! Kristin single-handedly secured a grant from Office of Developmental Disabilities Services (ODDS). The grant allowed us to fund retention bonuses for UCP’s direct support staff.
Bonuses were issued at the end of December, 2021. Thanks to everyone who helped make the bonuses happen, including our Finance Department (Janet Fromdahl and Esther Large), and, of course, our direct support employees themselves, who have been working so hard during challenging times.
This year, we are applying for additional grants, and are continuing to lobby at a state level, with the goal of ensuring that all direct care staff in Oregon are receiving fair and equitable compensation.
From the Desk of Sarah Noack, Brokerage Director, UCP Oregon
As I reflect on the past year, there were beautiful highlights and certainly many difficult lowlights.
In the spring of 2021, I could not have imagined how I would be catapulted out of my home office and into a massive undertaking—establishing a second brokerage (“UCP Mentors”) in order to take on the customers from another brokerage (“Mentor”) that was closing.
In some ways, taking on 600+ customers and starting a second brokerage was completely unfathomable to consider amidst a pandemic.
In other ways, it provided the perfect opportunity to shift focus onto something fresh and energizing.
I knew that I wanted to be a part of a safety net that could catch Mentor’s customers and employees. And I knew UCP had the organizational values and foundation to do right by folks.
What I didn’t know was how powerfully the community would come together to make that happen.
All of UCP’s existing (and new!) brokerage employees gave so much—their skills, gifts, and efforts—to make absolutely certain we were ready for our new customers.
Every single need was met with “here is what I can do.”
People stayed focused and positive even when we were overwhelmed. Problems were met with curiosity and tenacity.
And through those months, the team of former Mentor employees stepped bravely forward, responding with heart and grit and hope and determination.
When UCP Mentors opened on September 1, I felt like we had successfully landed the Millennium Falcon! I am so grateful for everyone, whether they served as Chewie, Yoda, Han, or members of the band that plays the funky music in the cantina.
Here we are four months later.
The dust is settling. And we see what lies ahead--more rebuilding, more growth, some healing, and lots more work.
But for now, I want to pause for a moment and say “three cheers” to everyone who was involved. Hooray for us all! Here is to collaboration, community, and customers! Happy New Year!
--Sarah Noack, Brokerage Director
From the Desk of Ann Coffey, Executive Director, UCP Oregon
A few days ago, I shared a New Year’s post.
But, today, I have more to share.
Sometimes someone’s words seem to grab at my heart and my head.
Pat A. Fleming wrote a poem called “What Life Should Be”.
It’s beautiful and simple, and it speaks to me of UCP Oregon, of our dedication, kindness, and vision.
It speaks to me—especially—of the hearts and hands and minds of our employees—of how they managed to bring their very best, even in the midst of a pandemic.
Below are a few excerpts.
Thank you to UCP’s employees. You truly stand up with courage, every day.
Well, that's a wrap! The 2021 UCP Family Support Annual Toy Giveaway was AWESOME!
We served 69 families and gave away over 200 toys. Woo hoo!
We'd like to send a gigantic thank you to UCP's Family Support Director, Katherine Ball. Katherine ran the entire event, start to finish--soliciting for toys, picking up toys, setting up the booth, and working both days.
Alas, due to some unforeseen events, Katherine had fewer volunteers than expected. She even had to put the gigantic UCP pop-up tent by herself; as she says, "I wish I had a video of it. It would have been a hilarious elf moment!"
Thank you so much for all your hard work, Katherine!
PS: All of the toys that couldn't be picked up at the Toy Giveaway were mailed out in time for them to arrive by Christmas Eve.
Katherine would like to say "thank you" to the following folks:
As you may know, UCP Oregon has been offering brokerage services since 2010, under the name “UCP Connections.”
Effective September 1st, we added a second brokerage (“UCP Mentors”), in order to serve brokerage customers that had been previously served by The Mentor Network.
This is a big change; we’re now supporting 600 additional brokerage customers!
At the heart of this transition are the employees. We were able to bring over an amazing team from The Mentor Network. We also promoted several folks internally, and hired several talented, passionate new team members from outside UCP.
We also made changes at the management level. We created a new “Director of Brokerage Services” position, which will be held by UCP’s former Brokerage Director, Sarah Noack.
Tara Coen was promoted to serve as Brokerage Director for UCP Connections; Sasha Vidales (a former employee of The Mentor Network and founder of Creative Goal Solutions) was hired to serve as Brokerage Director for UCP Mentors!
UCP is growing! We’re opening a second brokerage (more info coming soon), which means that we have several exciting openings.
First up: we're hiring for two "Brokerage" Directors. One will be the Director of our long-standing Brokerage (UCP Connections), and the other will be the Director our new Brokerage (UCP Mentors).
Brokerage Directors take the lead on strategic planning, community-building, contracts, and engagement with State and local partners.
They are responsible for the effective operation of an In-Home Support Services Brokerage, including case management services, daily operations, community partnerships, financial oversight, team cohesion, and organizational structure.
These positions close on July 21st, 2021 at 5pm.
FROM THE DESK OF ANN COFFEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
It’s March of 2021. This means that COVID-19 has been with us for a year.
What a year it’s been; exhausting, terrifying, and traumatic come to mind.
It's also been a time full of gratitude. The UCP community has come together and stood strong in our resiliency.
It’s been a time for growth and streamlining, as we seek new ways to complete our work; new ways to connect; new ways to find balance and purpose.
The COVID-19 vaccine is here, although not all of us are currently eligible or will choose to receive it. Scheduling has proven difficult. Inequity has been highlighted. Nevertheless, there is a light at the end of this tunnel … and I can finally say … the light is not coming from a train. It’s sunlight.
Change—good change—is on the horizon. We’re starting to envision a new future.
Folks are wondering when we’ll reopen the UCP Oregon office. I don’t have firm dates yet, or any concrete answers.
But I can tell you that we’ll base our decision (s) on:
Whew! That’s a lot to consider. We are committed to maintaining the health and safety of UCP customers and employees, to the very best of our ability.
So, I suppose I am saying: hang on. Clarity is forming. Mask up. Remain socially distanced. Assist customers to gain vaccinations if they choose to. Stay healthy and safe—we’re not at the finish line yet.
Thank you to everyone involved in keeping UCP safe. We will look back on this and feel proud. Proud to rise to the occasion among all the variables that have made this a most complex and unique year.
As you may already know, our Executive Director (Ann Coffey) contributes to statewide disability projects all the time.
What you might not know is that Ann was on the steering committee for a national policy project.
The 2021 “Case For Inclusion” was created through a partnership between the national UCP organization, and ANCOR (The American Network of Community Options and Resources).
The report details some of the extreme difficulties faced by groups like UCP Oregon, as they dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report also lists specific actions that the White House and Congress can take to ensure the sustainability of community-based supports.
Way to go, Ann and everyone else who worked on the project!
It is with a heavy heart that we announce changes to UCP Oregon’s Supported Employment Department (“Employment Solutions”).
Employment Solutions supports adults who experience disabilities to find and keep fulfilling jobs in the community. As you might imagine, COVID-19 has had a huge effect on this department.
In March of 2020, most of the department’s employed customers lost their jobs due to COVID-19 restrictions, with very few able to be rehired in a contracting economy.
Over the intervening months, we have attempted to keep the department as whole as possible. We applied for (and received) COVID-19 relief grants. But three layoffs were necessary in July, and we are now forced to restructure again.
Department changes include:
These changes will have a tremendous impact on UCP Oregon’s community. We are saying goodbye to some of our best and brightest, including our Employment Solutions Director, Melissa Miller. Read more about Melissa, and her contributions, here.
Affected customers and employees have been informed, but if you have questions or need support, please don’t hesitate to contact us.