March, 2020
Message from the President

Just a few weeks ago I couldn’t have dreamt how our world could change so swiftly. With businesses shuttered all across the nation people’s lives are being redefined. While the economic impact hasn’t even begun to sink in, we all know that in the short term we will challenged.
 
While all of our programs are vital, we also recognize that we must act to reduce the risk of transmission of this terrible virus. As a result, ASPIRO has closed both its prevocational and day services programs. To support our community we continue to provide scaled down, essential-only services in our early intervention, positive parenting, residential, Project SEARCH, respite and employment services programs and most of these interactions are contactless via phone or virtually.   We are also continuing to run our production facility. ASPIRO has been deemed as an essential producer because of the work we do for the Navy as well as our packaging of medical supplies that are used by EMTs and clinics. We are also fielding calls almost daily asking if we can produce personal protective equipment. We are examining every request and are sending samples of our Tyvek coveralls, sleeve protectors and shoe covers to anyone who thinks they may be of use in this crisis. Even with our increased production, the reductions in other services will result in a significant drop in our revenues beginning in March.
 
We recognize that our people are the heartbeat of our company. This includes both the people we support as well as those who support them. Our staff are the reason many of you choose ASPIRO. We have offered many of them the opportunity to work in production. A large number have agreed. I’m thankful for their willingness. Even with that, over the next few days and weeks we will need to institute layoffs in the areas we have closed or downsized.  In an effort to blunt the impact on our employees, we have created a two-week COVID 19 pay bucket that many of them are currently utilizing. We created this new and unprecedented benefit because we knew that federal legislation is pending but not yet implemented. Once the new laws take effect, they will create new benefits that will assist our employees and their families. This two weeks of pay is being extended to all our full and part time employees including our dedicated client workers. 

The coming weeks and months will challenge us all and we want to stay connected. We just have to find new ways of doing it. Every week at ASPIRO we recognize birthdays on the hallway monitor. Since that is no longer possible we will be sharing birthdays on WIXX radio each morning at 6:45am. Our client and staff milestones will be published in the Press Gazette and we will be making phone calls, sending out emails and posting videos on a regular basis. We want to be certain that our friends and families don’t feel isolated, despite the need to social distance.

As the coming weeks unfold I’m certain there will be many new challenges and opportunities. Even with all the change one constant has always been our supporters and donors. Without you, the work we do wouldn’t be possible. I know you are struggling alongside us. If there is anything we can do to support you during this difficult time please reach out.

Lincoln Burr
President
Positive Parenting
Delivering Essential Supplies
Family support in the Positive Parenting Program continues via phone including Facetime. In addition, ASPIRO is delivering diapers, formula or other necessities to the doorsteps of families who need them.
We didn't forget your birthday!
On a typical day when you come to ASPIRO you'll see our client birthdays on the lobby TV. With our day programming on pause, we still want to wish our clients a happy birthday. Thanks to our friends at WIXX we still can. Listen each morning at 6:45 am to to hear who is celebrating a birthday at ASPIRO.
* Note: For privacy, only first names only were submitted.
Cares Act – Social Security and SSI Payments
Everyone is eligible for the full rebate payments as long as they have an SSN and their household income is not too high. This includes Social Security beneficiaries (retirement, disability, survivor) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients. Click on the link below for more information provided by the ADRC. For questions, contact the ADRC at 920-448-4300.
April 8, 2020
3:30 pm - 4:00 pm
On Wednesday, April 8 from 3:30 pm - 4:00 pm a group of ASPIRO staff will be outside our two buildings (safely 6 feet apart from each other) to wave to our clients who drive by. So if you need to get out of the house, get some fresh air and have some human interaction please get in the car and drive your client past ASPIRO. We'll be ready to put a smile on their face!
Staying social while social distancing
We miss our clients! Follow our Facebook and Instagram pages (links below) for video messages like this one from our staff to our clients. We can't wait until to see them again in person, but until then we'll be social from a distance.
Ways You Can Help From Home
Purchase Scrip
We have made some modifications so you can still purchase and receive scrip in a contactless way.
Send Us Your Receipts
You can support ASPIRO with your grocery and gas receipts!
Sign Up for AmazonSmile
Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to ASPIRO. Once you link your account you can start supporting ASPIRO immediately!
Disability Provider Funding Requests to Legislators
The residential and non-residential provider network (places like ASPIRO and the group homes where our clients live) supporting individuals with disabilities is rapidly approaching a crisis. COVID-19 has resulted in non-residential disability providers \ community programs being forced to close, resulting in millions of dollars lost revenue. These closures shift the full responsibility of supporting these individuals to residential providers. Homes previously unstaffed during day program hours now need to add additional unfunded staff to meet the health and safety needs of the residents during the day. Prior to COVID-19, residential providers were already understaffed due to the direct care workforce shortage. The current environment has exacerbated the crisis. As with acute health care providers, residential staff are on the frontline supporting people with disabilities, risking their own health and safety, and that of their families, to care for individuals in their homes. Providers are experiencing loss of staff for a multitude of reasons; program closures/layoffs, staff applying for unemployment, taking better paying jobs outside of the direct care field with fewer health risks, unmet childcare needs due to school closures, and fear of contracting COVID-19. And the need for caregivers is only going to intensify in the coming weeks as the state continues to see spread of the virus, both in individuals needing support as well as their caregivers.

It is crucial that a statewide network of both residential and non-residential disability providers and caregivers experienced in direct support of individuals with disabilities be maintained to provide needed services through this crisis and assure that there is a network of providers available to meet the need and allow choice of services after the crisis subsides.

You can help. Please reach out to the following state legislators:

John Nygren: rep.nygren@legis.wisconsin.gov
Alberta Darling: sen.darling@legis.wisconsin.gov
Robin Vos: rep.vos@legis.wisconsin.gov
Scott Fitzgerald: sen.fitzgerald@legis.wisconsin.gov

And your legislator: Click here to find out who is your state legislator.

Click here for text to copy and paste into your message.

Special thanks to our Disability Service Provider Network for championing these efforts.