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Advisory Committee for the Blind of Pennsylvania Meeting Minutes

May 20, 2014

Wilkes-Barre BBVS Office
300 G. Laird Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA
Members Present
Joe Wassermann
Kathi Kappel
Rod Alcidonis
Arnold Bowser
David De Notaris
Joseph Drenth
Carlton Cook-Walker
Donna Reinaker
 
Public Attendees
Kelly Boylan-Luchau
Susan Neff
Connie Moonen
Carole Bowser
Shelly Faust-Jones
Doug Rand
Anna Walker
Karen Walsh-Emma
Mr. Horst
Stan Swaintek
Margy Durkin
Gage Long
Mrs. Long
Susan Phillips
Louise Cannon
Doug Yeager
 
Introduction: Steve Suroviec
 
Numbers have plateaued due in part to the following reasons:
  • Veteran staff retired
  • 42% turnover rate in counselor staff
  • Fiscal integrity measures put in place

Solution

  • Look at the definition of Most Significant Disability (MSD) and bring the change of this definition to the State Board
  • Consider opening SD as well, if finances permit
  • Have monthly/quarterly needs assessments
  • Establish on the job training to hire people with disabilities
  • Provide incentives for placement, leading to a greater chance for individuals to succeed in their jobs

Budget

  • Strong position in current state fiscal year
  • Jobs for all money is one million dollars.
    • Must pass the General Assembly
  • Revenue isn’t coming into the state as fast as we would hope.

New Division for Business Services established.

  • Headed by Ralph Roach
  • It will “hit the ground running” July 1, when budget passes.
  • The vision of the Business Services Division is that businesses will call us on all needs for disabilities, including job vacancies.
  • Increased staff capacity to have a successful Business Service Outreach division. This will allow counselors to do their jobs.
  • Goal: have the Business Service Division in all of the 15 OVR/BBVS offices

BEP performance Audit

  • We are committed to fixing the issues.
  • We have brought in resources.

Placements

  • 4,388 job placements in FFY
  • 450 categories
  • Some examples:
    • 214 cleaners/janitors
    • 172 customer service reps
    • Other categories include: cashiers, laborers, food prep, stock clerk, nurse assistance, tractor-trailer drivers and book-keeping/accounting.

Carlton

  • Impressed with the scope of jobs.
  • Shows we aren’t pushing individuals into certain jobs.

Kathi

  • Regarding Jobs for all: Any employer/business?

Steve

  • Yes. Non-profit and profit
  • We don’t want to deny individuals access to paid work experience: part-time, internships and seasonal.

Carlton

  • Self-employed?

Steve

  • Probably not with this initiative. This is a wage reimbursement initiative.

Alcidonis

  • 30 days?

Steve

  • Jobs for all will likely be more than 30 days.
SSP
 

David

  • Last time in Pittsburgh, ACBP wrote a letter in support of SSP.

Steve

  • Statewide Independent Living Council evaluated SSP services. Realized an underserved population existed.
  • We committed resources. We have money to spend for a two-year pilot program.
  • We held town meetings and issued a grant availability notice.

ACBP Business - Wassermann

  • Came to the committee 5 years ago to fulfill ominous mission.
  • We’ve made nice strides.
  • Moving meetings around to the 6 districts has worked well

Wassermann – Call for nominations

  • Joe Drenth – Chair
  • Brenda Loughrey – Vice Chair
  • Carlton Cook-Walker – Secretary

Wassermann

  • Call for nominations for chair

Carlton

  • Motion to close nominations

Wassermann

  • Joe Drenth is chair.

Wassermann

  • Call for nominations for vice chair

Kathi

  • Motion to close nominations

Wassermann

  • Loughrey is vice chair.

Wassermann

  • Call for nomination for secretary

Drenth

  • Motion to close nominations

Wasserman

  • Carlton is secretary.
Review of Procedures for Nominations
 

Steve

  • Bring nominations to Jim Kreider or David De Notaris and they will bring to the Secretary to approve.

David

  • Invites Kathi and Wassermann to continue to participate and share knowledge

Wassermann

  • Focus on one agency for each meeting
  • BEP will be the focus of the next meeting.
  • Turns the meeting over to Joe Drenth.
Handbook
 

Drenth

  • Feedback on handbook?

Kathi

  • Heroic effort. You are to be commended.

Alcidonis

  • I am an immediate beneficiary of book.

Carlton

  • Great effort
2015 BLAST
 

David

  • Overview of BLAST
  • 2007 we highlighted the importance of Braille.
  • May or June
  • Held at capitol

Wassermann

  • Toughest aspect is to get legislators to come.

Carlton

  • To have legislators come, we must get constituents to come.

David

  • Involve the office of legislative affairs

Steve

  • Hold event during a session day
  • Try to hold it in capitol somewhere
  • Reserve rooms with capitol
  • 3rd party reception

David

  • We need speakers.

Drenth

  • Proposes monthly conference calls in addition to meetings.

Alcidonis

  • Work of committee is of great importance.
  • Concern is that quarterly meetings don’t allow enough time for participation/action. Don’t want to just sit here and listen to reports.

Wassermann

  • Meetings should be a place for brainstorming.

Carlton

  • Sunshine law with public meetings?
  • No problem with working sessions.

Drenth

  • We loose momentum between meetings.

Bowser

  • Would prefer conference call over email.
Reports
 

David

  • Thanks to the Wilkes-Barre office and Karen Walsh-Emma
  • Introduces Doug Rand, the new ADA
  • Nothing great ever happens without enthusiasm. This office exemplifies that
  • We have a new children’s brochure. Dr. Boltz gave us the suggestion for this and the prescription pad.
  • Shelly, Susan and Carlton did a tremendous job in March with a presentation on assisting IEP process.
Summer Academy 2014
  • April 10th press conference
  • PSU is excited to help us.
  • We are sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Development and the Department of Education.
  • July 31st is career day.
ILOB Group Instructions/Jump Start
 

Susan Neff

  • Jump Start feedback is very overwhelmingly positive.
  • Individuals were able to advocate for themselves.
BEP
 

Kelly Boylan-Luchau

  • BEP program audit and areas for improvement will be discussed at the June 24th meeting.
  • Large turnover in BEP due to retirement
  • We would like to recruit younger vendors.
  • Program is not as well known as we would like it to be.
  • We are developing signs for feedback in cafeterias.

David

  • August meeting will be held in Pittsburgh
  • November meeting will be held in Philadelphia

Awards given to Kathi Kappel and Joseph Wassermann in recognition of their dedication and service to the Advisory Committee for the Blind of Pennsylvania.

 

Wassermann

  • Applauds the work of Wilkes-Barre. The Wilkes-Barre district office is a model to other districts.
Program Success Stories
David
No Public Comment
 
Adjourn Meeting
  • Introduction to Children’s Services
    Margy Durkin – Social Worker
    • Role of social worker with children is to bring hope.
    • Our job changes stereotypes/perspective.
    • We open up the line of communication with parents, teachers and other agencies.
    • 1989 the Children’s program started in the Wilkes-Barre district office.
    • We had to figure out where the gaps of service were.
    • Birth to 3 years old services were non-existent.
    • Advocacy is a major role we have.
    • Goal: prepare children to be successful.
  • Success Story - Children’s Services
    Gage Long and Mrs. Long
    • Because of BBVS, Gage is six years old and going into second grade. He is able to use his iPad for homework.
    • Mrs. Long thanked BBVS for their support. BBVS gave them hope.
  • Success Story – BEP
    Louise Cannon
    • Operated a snack stand at Scranton State Hospital.
    • BBVS assisted her in obtaining a “pebble,” a digital magnifier, and in training on daily living skills, such as labeling, etc.
  • Success Story – O&M
    Doug Yeager
    • Learned with BBVS, the importance of developing a positive rapport and respect. Also learned the importance of having meaningful conversations with customers about advocacy, etc.
    • One lady was reluctant to receive vision services and hesitant about using a white cane. She participated in a support group led by Marcia Wazeter.
    • This helped her to chose to take O&M services.
    • Taught the importance of conversations and that you have to be there with the customer, be there for them.
    • This customer hadn’t ridden the bus in 5-10 years. Through lessons that boosted her confidence, she was able to travel the bus alone.
  • Success Story - VR
    Doug Rand
    • Every customer of our agency is a success.
    • Opened a particular case of an individual when the individual was a child.
    • As a youth, the individual wanted to be a bakery/pastry chef and needed an internship.
    • We advocated for the individual for a job with a pastry company. If we don’t have a job/internship, we create one.
    • Closing remarks
    • Thank you to Wilkes-Barre