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Imagine That . . . July  2017 Newsletter
In This Issue

Headline (just look right)
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Cindy and Hale catching some breeze and sun in Pleasure Point. 
Simone receiving her award for being the top Human Race fundraiser in all of SC county.
Sophie with Mom, Tanya, and her Human Race award.
Ron and his sweet new recliner.
Karen and a furry friend who looks almost as happy in the sun as she does.
Ryan couldn't be happier with his lead staff, Elizabeth. Here they're taking in the sights in Monterey.
9065 Soquel Drive
Aptos, Ca 95003

 Greetings, friends and family of Imagine.

Alongside the winter holidays, birthdays and Thanksgiving, certainly Fiscal Year End Eve is a time to focus on all we have to be grateful for.  We have a lot to cover in that regard so look for atypical articles below.  But if you're reading this, we probably owe you a thank you and don't mind giving out a few extras.  Thank you.

We're very excited about our friends at Shared Adventures putting on their Day On The Beach event July 8.  A lot of the Imagine family knows this event well.  It's an opportunity for people with almost any disability to be accommodated in beach sports that are not typically accessible.  As has become our tradition, Imagine will be operating the registration tables.  If you would like to volunteer with that aspect, please email me.  If you'd like to volunteer for a different aspect of the event, you can sign up here.

As our fiscal year closes, and the Human Race campaign ends, we're especially grateful for the support we've received. Having our budget in balance and our fundraising improving makes a big difference to the quality, scope and durability of our services. You can read more about this in Finances and Fundraising below.  We also can now publish our independent audit and tax submission from the fiscal year one year ago.  In the event that you clicked both those links, read both documents and have a hankering for a little bit of narrative context as well, you'll find it below.

Imagine has received notice of a grant from Monterey Peninsula Foundation, host of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the PURE Insurance Championship, to support our Person-Centered Services Incubator Project.  You can read more about the project below.  We're excited to have the support of our new partner for this project, which we intend will increase access to and decrease disparities in needed services. 

Last, but sure not least, the Human Race campaign ended in the award ceremonies.  It was a lot of fun, start to finish and congratulations to Simone and Sophie for placing first and third among all fundraisers in the County.  As an agency we did slightly better in fundraising and not quite as well as last year in participation.  Expect me to growl some for more people come February. Thank you to all who participated in the 2017 Santa Crus Human Race.  

As ever, if you have any questions, concerns or feedback, I'll be glad to hear from you.  You can write me here.

Warm regards,


Self-Determination Learning Community

The Self-Determination Learning Community will meet on Thursday, July 6 from noon until 1:15 at the office of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities in San Jose, 2580 First Street suite 240. 
While we bide our time watching the distant horizon for a federal waiver, we're working through development of a manual and a code of ethics for Independent Facilitators.  All are welcome.

-Submitted by Doug
Finances and Fundraising

Our fiscal year ended yesterday.  While it will take a little while to close the books on the year, we can confidently report that we have returned to surplus, that our fundraising has been the strongest we've known and that direct care wages and benefits rose substantially last year thanks in large measure to rate increases sought by the administration, advocated by the Person Centered Advocacy Partnership and supported by Imagine.  And we did some of the improvement ourselves, reducing overhead from a very reasonable level just under 13% to under 8% and improving our fundraising efforts which only three years ago cost more than half of unrestricted giving to manage and now costs less than a third.

After three consecutive years of deficits, this comes as a great relief.  But those three years help explain why our surplus and fundraising remain so important. Four years ago, the Imagine board of directors and previous leadership recognized threats from the future to the way we support people.  The threats identified include rising rents, scarce housing, stagnant rates and too much staff turnover. 

They chose to reorganize the organization to add the capacity for nimbler growth. They chose to purchase our offices rather than rent them. Importantly, in this context, they chose to invest funds set aside during the previous eleven years of Imagine's existence to fund the changes the times required.  

Unexpected events meant that the transition to our new, more secure structure reduced our cash reserves by a million dollars but left us readier for the future and helped see off the threats of four years ago.  Today, with the scarcer housing for low-income individuals, our FHA program has already served to temporarily relocate an SLS client until a new home could be found.  Staff turnover is down. We now know what our basic tenancy will cost for the next twenty-five years and that tenancy includes a bigger, better, greener and more mission-oriented space.  In short, the vision worked, the investments paid off and Imagine can look more confidently towards the future.

But other challenges- political, economic or social will continue to arise. In order to keep our promise of lifelong support to those who choose it, Imagine will have to change again. At the moment we don't know when or how.  To be as ready next time as we were four years ago, we target a surplus of not less than 2% of revenues and to maintain the quality of service in the present, not more than 5%. In 2016-2017 we believe we hit that target square with our fundraising and development earning about a third of that surplus, net of costs.  Most of the people we serve will live a long, long time from now and Imagine means to be there supporting them via hologram or on horseback.

Happily, for all of us, no part of this strategy requires me to pressure our volunteers and donors. It's enough for you to know that you are protecting services for the future and we're doing the same. We're glad to have once again established a model that prepares us for it's own future failure.

-Submitted by Doug

Services Incubator

Our Person-Centered Services Incubator Project has been a program of Imagine's for almost two years, but thanks to a grant from Monterey Peninsula Foundation, host of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the PURE Insurance Championship, we will soon start promoting the project in areas where the need is greatest.

The principle behind this project is to improve access to needed services by sharing resources and mentoring people to start their own agencies or programs. The state has noted substantial disparities in service usage among people with developmental disabilities, especially along ethnic, language and geographical lines.  Our goal is to help individuals, families and groups who know what they need, but can't find it, to confidently pass the barriers to establishing their own services.

If you know of anyone who is not receiving needed supports or not receiving the support they need in a fully inclusive manner, and who might want to take the initiative, please forward them this newsletter or invite them to write to me at

Submitted by Doug

Advocacy Corner

In June about half of the office staff, myself included, attended a professional training on Person Centered Thinking. We found our trainers through the  TLCPCP network. During this two-day training we learned some new tools and terminology, as well as met peers in from throughout the greater Bay Area. Attendance included professionals working in a variety of areas throughout the greater field of care work for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The concepts, practices, and ideals those tools and terms embodied, I am proud to say, have been central to Imagine's work for at least as long as the five years I have been working here. In fact, how Imagine's person-centeredness was articulated online and by friends working here was what made Imagine really stand out to me among similar organizations in the area. I look forward to the effects of having more shared language with colleagues employing these practices.

The training offered some excellent tools for communication between the many diverse participants in a client's life. We do already have some similar tools, but it's great to have more. These tools and the terminology they use can open up channels for navigating how we each bring to the table different expertise, backgrounds, and points of connection, as well as how there are things each of us can't see from our own perspective. Good tools for communicating through all these differences are key in making sure our clients stay at the center of any of our many meetings, correspondences, etc. 

By the end of the training, I was most struck by just how uncommon person-centered thinking and practices were for most of the attendees - despite genuine investment in the work and sometimes years of experience. What this tells me is that there is tremendous room for growth in Imagine's role as leader and model in this field. Imagine's Incubator project won't only be increasing access to needed supports, but it will be doing so while also spreading a methodology that can be uniquely empowering to folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as the communities that support them.

-Submitted by  Alexis
Imagine's Film Festival - Save the Date!

Imagine will be hosting our 6th annual Film Festival on Thursday, October 5th. We will be accepting short films to consider for this festival. We will consider all films that are by, about, or feature individuals with developmental disabilities living in our community, telling their story.

This year, we are especially interested in films that explore solidarity among socially vulnerable people. Each of us and our communities live at intersections of vulnerability and strength. Examples of potential sources of social vulnerability (or strength) include but are not limited to religion, immigration status, race, financial status, sexuality, and other non-developmental forms of disability. There are many more, and any of these may overlap. We would like our program to include several examples of people with developmental disabilities finding, generating, or needing support with others who are also vulnerable and strong in their own ways.

All films must be submitted to Imagine by August 15, 2016.

Please feel free to forward this information to anyone that might be interested in submitting a film. If you have any questions, please email  Patty or call her at 831-464-8355 ext. 2

We have room for more sponsors, too.  If you or someone you know would like to be partnered with Imagine in this project, please write to Doug or Patty. Basic information about supporting and sponsoring our film festival is here.

-Submitted by  Patty & Alexis
Transparency at Imagine

The board of Directors for Imagine is in the process of setting their meeting dates for the new fiscal year.  We will post the dates once they are set.

Our IRS filing (Form 990) for the fiscal year that ended June of last year is now available on our website. You can also read the independent auditor's report for the same year.  

Some key findings.  For the third year in a row, we ran a deficit in that fiscal year, although a much smaller one than in the two preceding years. While we were in deficit, our General and Administrative overhead costs fell below 8% of total spending. The ratio of fundraising costs to revenue has fallen to 1/3.  Although the books are not yet closed on the fiscal year that ended yesterday, we anticipate the deficit to be the only one of those trends to reverse. We are confident that fundraising costs declined, General & Administrative costs fell as a portion of spending, and that the just ended fiscal year produced a surplus right in the 2-5% of revenue range we target.

We're thankful for the independent staff, faithful clients, and supportive friends and families that made navigating our path the last few years do-able.  

-Submitted by  Doug
Spotlight on Sophie!

Sophie enjoying a few of her favorite things...

Sophie has been in the Imagine Family since 2014! Sophie's favorite activities are walking in downtown Santa Cruz, strolling through Nisene Marks, swimming with her mum Sheila, and eating crunchy snacks! She is also a skilled swimmer and horseback rider. If you've ever worked with Soph, you would agree that she is an absolute delight. 

-Submitted by Heather
Staff Corner:
Dafne PiƱa-Castro

Dafne has worked for Imagine several months now and has proven to be an amazing employee. She always has a cheerful and passionate attitude and goes out of her way to offer help. She is a valuable team member and a caring and devoted caregiver. Dafne was an integral part of Dana and Stephanie's recent housing transitions with packing, moving, unpacking, and most importantly making sure both clients were comfortable during the process. Dafne now works with Stephanie in her new home, and is very adamant about spending almost every day of the week with her! When I walk up to Stephanie's house I can always hear them singing and laughing together from the pathway. It is obvious that Stephanie really enjoys and appreciates her. Dafne's dedication and enthusiasm earned her a Lead Staff position on Stephanie's team. Congratulations Dafne, you're awesome!

-Submitted by Cherice
Birthdays & Anniversaries

Staff anniversaries
Thank you all for your important work and commitment!

Dulce Pardo - 1 year!
Sophia Serriteno - 1 year!
Angela Reithknecht - 2 years!
Carlos Lopez - 2 years!
Willow Roberge - 2 years!
Lizet Robles - 2 years!
Robert Dunbar - 2 years!
Nick Apodaca - 3 years!!
Peggy Siegel - 5 years!!!

Staff birthdays
Best wishes folks - we hope your whole month is awesome!!

Julie Ross
Crystal Tapia
Sergio Ibarra
Willow Roberge
Cynthia Velasquez-Gomez
John Brookes
Ian Harrison
Carla Gonzalez
Craig Arnold
Julie Cook
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