We are so grateful to MOMS Club Vancouver-South for their generous donation of $1,310 to Innovative’s programs & clients! MOMS Club (Moms Offering Moms Support) is a non-profit, service-oriented organization specifically for at-home moms. They recently held a preschool fair and voted that the proceeds should be donated to Innovative. Thank you for your support!
We’re proud to announce a $4,000 grant from the Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation for the Positive Behavior Support in Early Childhood Project. This project will provide Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services to children with developmental disabilities, especially those on the autism spectrum. The project will also provide ABA-related training to staff and parents of our Early Learning program to help children with extreme behaviors due to risk factors such as homelessness, disabilities, foster care or CPS involvement. The goal is to help children, especially those from low-income families and/or on Medicaid, improve their socially significant behaviors including academics, social skills, reading, communication, and adaptive living skills. Thank you, Umpqua Bank Charitable Foundation!
“This is a really big step for him,” said Rickie’s mom, Kimberly. Rickie started working for Innovative’s Janitorial Services program three months ago and already loves his new position, team, and new-found independence.
Rickie spent many of his teenage years struggling to feel accepted. When he was thirteen, he was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum that can cause affected individuals to have trouble with social skills. Unsure whether the world would ever accept him for who he was, Rickie attempted to take his own life. “He was having an extremely difficult time,” his mom, Kimberly, shared. “There was some really unsafe behavior like jumping out of windows and running into the highway. We ended up in the hospital with crisis support.”
Feeling desperate for a solution, Kimberly enrolled Rickie in a therapy program that utilized horses as animal therapy for youth with difficult behaviors. The program helped him find structure and learn respect and compassion for himself. It gave Kimberly hope that her son would one day be happy and independent. With time and dedication from Rickie and his family, “he completely turned around,” she said.
Once Rickie graduated from high school, he was excited at the prospect of getting a job. He jumped at the opportunity to apply for an open position in Innovative’s Janitorial Services program. “They accept people like me, even if they have autism,” he said. He started cleaning at a childcare center and took the initiative to ask for a second site only one month into his position. “He’s talking more to people, which he doesn’t normally do. It’s been great for him.” Kimberly said. He’s even purchased his first truck and he’s planning to move out on his own for the very first time.
Rickie is enjoying his new position, and sees the opportunity to excel, “I plan on just staying here, and continuing to clean. After a few years, maybe I could become a supervisor,” he smiled. “That’s my goal.”
Innovative Services NW Janitorial Services is a nonprofit that delivers a quality janitorial service while providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities or other challenges. We’ve offered a full range of services to private businesses and State, County, and City facilities for over 25 years. If you know someone who might be interested in our Janitorial Services, you can visit our website here.
A few of Innovative’s staff wanted to share the reasons they like coming to work every day. Would you like to use your skills and experience to make a lasting positive impact in your community? Innovative is looking for talented professionals to join our team. Check out our open positions at www.innovativeservicesnw.org/careers
The former Adult Day Health Center (ADHC) space has been transformed into a new learning space for 20 additional ECEAP students! The Early Learning program is excited to expand its ability to serve additional children and families in our area.
“The first two years of his life, he laid in a bouncer. His mom and dad were both on drugs, and that was his start,” Tommy’s grandma, Patty, explained. Tommy was two years old when she adopted him, and she’s been bringing him to therapy at Innovative Services NW ever since.
Tommy has a host of diagnoses, from cerebral palsy, to a duplicated kidney, to intellectual disabilities, and progressive hearing loss. He’s now thirteen years old, and continues coming to Innovative for physical therapy, intensive physical therapy, and speech therapy. His hearing loss has made learning to speak difficult because he has trouble hearing his own voice. Megan Knight, Tommy’s speech therapist, is helping Tommy program and learn how to use his new AAC device, which he acquired with the help of The Children’s Center at Legacy Salmon Creek (AAC stands for Augmentative & Alternative Communication). It’s an app on his iPad that displays a grid of icons that Tommy can tap to form sentences. The device serves as Tommy’s voice and allows him to communicate. “The first time he got it, he was going to every page, exploring every button, just to hear what it sounded like, and I just let him go,” Patty said.
Both Megan and Patty have seen a new side of Tommy ever since he started using the device. “His favorite thing to talk about is dinosaurs, so we spend a lot of time talking about T-Rexes,” Megan said. His grandma has programmed a portion of his device to include buttons about dinosaurs and what they like to eat and do, so Tommy’s device is very personalized to what he’s excited to talk about.
He spends hours a day exploring new words and forming new sentences; He’s completely enthralled with the technology. Not only is it giving him a voice and ability to communicate, he’s simultaneously learning to read, and is even using his own voice to repeat what he’s heard the device say. Patty shared the first moment when she heard him utter a phrase on his own, “He came over and patted me because I was crying, he thought he did something wrong, and I said, ‘No, that was great, that was great!’” she laughed.
Tommy is thriving in therapy, and is excited to use his device to communicate with the world. “He’s just an amazing kid. When I first got him, you could look in his eyes, and nobody was there. It was just a blank stare,” Patty shared. “Now you can look into his eyes, and there’s excitement, you can see he’s trying. But without the speech therapist helping and getting us lined up with this technology, where would he be today?”
Innovative’s Pediatric Therapy program provides an array of services including Speech, Occupational, Physical, and Specialty Therapies. We offer services to children who have developmental delays or disabilities as well as other diagnosed conditions. Click here to learn more.
We are incredibly thankful to FREE GEEK who granted Innovative 50 refurbished PCs (count them, 50!). We received delivery of the units on Tuesday, November 28th and we are very excited to have replacements for many of the computers in our building that are 10+ years old. The new hardware will allow us to speed up our processes and make us more efficient. Thank you FREE GEEK!
Andrea has been a participant in Innovative’s Employment Services program for almost six years, volunteering at several businesses here in Vancouver to gain on-the-job experience during her time with the program. She has cerebral palsy and paraplegia, limiting her mobility and independence. At one time Andrea had a power chair, but over time and daily use it broke down. The cost of a new chair was high, so Andrea switched to a manual wheelchair that she had been using since she started with Innovative. Her Job Coach, Nicole, shared, “It negatively impacted her pathway to employment because it often made working at her volunteer sites more difficult; she required my assistance with many of her tasks.” Because the manual chair limited the experience that Andrea gained, Nicole, and Christy, another Employment Services Job Coach, successfully advocated through the Developmental Disabilities Administration to provide Andrea with a new power chair, which she started using just one month ago.
Andrea and the Employment Services team are excited at the possibilities that this new power chair has afforded her.“It’s had a huge impact on Andrea’s confidence and self-esteem. People often forget that successful employment is easier to obtain when you feel confident in your abilities,” Nicole shared. Andrea is soon adding new tasks to her volunteer position at Habitat for Humanity and will be learning how to navigate the sales floor in her new power chair. She hopes to take on more responsibilities with her new-found independence, and eventually, transition to paid employment.
Everett started utilizing Innovative’s Pediatric Therapy Program for Early Intervention services at at age 2 1/2. He was challenged with sensory issues, which contributed to speech and adaptive skill delays. He received services from Innovative for two and a half years. His Occupational Therapist, Julie, shared, “Everett seemed to take the therapy and run with it, and he made amazing gains over time. His family was very supportive and helped implement therapy in the home each day.”
Everett distinctly remembers the first time a teacher complimented him for being a good student. Now, he’s a senior in high school and is a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist. The award is given to the nation’s top 1% of high school students based on standardized test scores. He has returned to Innovative, but this time, he’s here to volunteer. He hopes to support the program that he says has helped make him so successful. “My goal for my senior project is to give back in any way that I can to the Center. Innovative, and specifically its therapists, has done so much for me in equipping me for success in my younger years, in the present time, and in years to come.”
Everett is volunteering weekly, aiding wherever he can during therapy sessions or with administrative work. We’re truly grateful for his partnership and dedication to our mission!
“Three years ago when we came to the United States, I had just finished my Master’s Degree in Education Psychology. When we got here, I wanted to volunteer somewhere related to my studies. It was absolutely my luck that I found Innovative.”
Arezoo started as a volunteer in our Early Learning program over two years ago. She’s now a full time employee, and works as an Assistant Teacher in the program. Last September, she enrolled her daughter, Kajal, in Innovative’s free preschool program for eligible children and their families, ECEAP*. Kajal has really improved in her ability to speak the English language since coming to Innovative, taking her mom by surprise when she uttered three sentences, in English, without hesitation — something she had never done before. Her teacher, Lynn, and the staff focus on each child’s individual needs and have also worked with Kajal on improving her patience and advancing her math skills. Arezoo shared, “It’s a great team, they work very hard with kids in all aspects of their education.”
Arezoo knows that her daughter is getting the most out of her education at Innovative, “They are great, specifically Lynn, her teacher, who has 20 years of experience. I’m very happy that Kajal is in good hands,” Arezoo said.
Kajal seems to love coming to school every day. When we asked her what her favorite part of preschool is, she giggled and replied,“All of the parts!”