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Imagine That . . . June 2020

In This Issue
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Cindy and Malcolm!


Throwback to Karen attending an SC Warriors game!

Throwback to a party at the Kennedy house!

View from the Santa Cruz Wharf!

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9065 Soquel Drive
Aptos, Ca 95003

Dear Imagine friends and family,

As the COVID pandemic in California finishes its third month, we're taking stock of how grateful we are to the employees working to make sure that throughout the lockdown and in the face of plague, the people we serve are protected, respected  and entertained. At the request of two families, the Board of Directors voted to establish a Gratitude Fund. Imagine will match the gifts to the fund up to $15,000 and provide thank you gifts to the staff. Five families have already given $3,000.  There are more details below.

The COVID report from last month stands again this month. To date no employee of or individual served has tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus. The diligence of staff and adaptability of individuals deserve credit for that.  Imagine served one woman who was temporarily displaced from her home due to the implementation of shelter-in-place.  We set up a "surge" program to provide temporary care for others who would be displaced during a quarantined recovery and then we took it down gladly when it wasn't needed. One consequence of our surge program- Imagine's supply of disinfectants, sanitizers, air cleaners and personal protective equipment sits ready for future trouble.  I wouldn't want to be a euglena innocently crossing the threshold of 9065 Soquel Drive.

So far, the Imagine community has avoided any cases of COVID-19 among those we serve and our staff, although we have racked up a bunch of negative Coronavirus tests, seeking them as available and called for. 

It is important to recognize that cases in Santa Cruz County have been increasing recently and that the need to take care remains.  We aren't out of this yet.

While the public health crisis continues, the economic challenge has begun. To close the state budget amid a sharp drop in tax revenue and plenty of extra work to pay for, the Governor has proposed steep cuts to almost everything the state funds. Imagine faces a 7.5% drop in revenue if the legislature passes the revised budget. These cuts will be rescinded if the federal government provides at least $15 billion in funding to California. While we hope for that relief, we're preparing for the cuts to go through as proposed and to last for two years.

If you've read Imagine's annual reports, this column or most of our fundraising appeals, you are familiar with the following idea: We fundraise and balance our budgets so that our support survives the crises that will come throughout the lives of those we serve. 7.5% would be the steepest cuts Imagine has suffered.

We have begun planning for how to minimize losses while protecting the quality of our services. We believe that we can avoid the most damaging solutions, which are those that would materially impact the support our agency provides to our clients and direct care workers or our compliance with regulations. The budgetary solution that can get us through an extended period of reduced funding looks to be a combination of prudent cuts, planned growth and reliance on our cash reserves.                         

Thank you once more to all whose generosity built those reserves. The board will meet June 12 (see below) and the agenda will be dominated by a first revision to the budget passed in April. The meeting will be remote, of course, and you are welcome to participate or just keep a weather eye. Contact Lili for the link. There is more detail about the cuts and our plans for facing them below. We also plan to have community-wide conversations on the best ideas for protecting the quality of our care as well as our cash reserves. 

There are a pair of extra columns this month which both pertain to women I've worked with in the self-determination program. Sadly, we lost Cheryl Hewitt who was a local advocate for people and succumbed to an infection unrelated, as far as we know, to Coronavirus.  Imagine remembers her here. The second is a statement written by Tina, a pioneer of the self-determination pilot program since 2000 and one of the first people in California's statewide Self-Determination program.  Tina wrote this statement to address her regional center but it was so clarifying that I requested and received permission to include it here.

In the Human Resources column this month, Patty has updates on the coronavirus and our approach to keeping folks safe and healthy, and some updates on Coronavirus testing. If you work at Imagine, please do read her column.

The Human Race was impressive. The Volunteer Center and Imagine did very well under the circumstances. Imagine fundraisers brought in $20,000 and we're grateful for every dime. More  below .

In our Advocacy Corner, a review of the state budget proposal under consideration and our developing plans to address possible reduced funding.

A brief statement on the Strategic Plan.

This month, in our  Person Centered Evolution  column, a plan was done!.

Very brief update on the  Self-Determination Program.

The  Transparency column includes information about board openings, the date of our next board (tele-)meeting and information about how to participate, 

The appreciations this month are for     KiAna and   Karen.

As ever, if you have any questions, feedback or concerns, please don't hesitate to get in touch.  You can write me here.

Gratefully yours,


HR Corner- Coronavirus Edition 3

Hello Imagine Family, 

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. As the summer months approach and we are all becoming accustomed to life in a pandemic, it is tempting to want to follow through with normal summer plans: Visiting family and friends, BBQs, Summer Vacations etc. 

As months go by it might feel like things are safer now, and to the extent that we now know more about what transmits the coronavirus, they are. However, even in the Santa Cruz County, that was previously noted as one of the counties in California with the least amount of community transmission, we are now seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases. 

We want to remind you that all of the protocols we are setting are to do with your safety and the safety of our clients. Direct care staff have been amazing during this crisis and we want to make sure you feel safe and cared for everyday while having to go in to work. 

Although the Shelter-in-Place protocols that have recently been shared with the agency may seem strict, we are asking you to stick with us while we navigate this uncertain time. I hope everyone read the document that was shared with you earlier this week. 

I magine Supported Living Services expects all employees to comply with the Shelter -in-Place order. In order to protect the people we serve during the Coronavirus pandemic, employees who need to travel are expected to consult with their facilitator and receive approval prior to travel.

This does not mean that you are not allowed to take vacation time as usual. What this means is that we want to see everyone at Imagine using their best judgement when making travel plans this  summer. 

Additionally, you may see new policies regarding regular testing coming up soon. We would like to encourage everyone to get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible. Santa Cruz County and Monterey County both have testing sites that are free to community members. You do not have to have symptoms to get tested. 

In fact, all of the new protocols we are putting in to place have been driven by research and announcements from the CDC regarding "silent spreaders of COVID-19." Those who have the virus and do not have any symptoms. 

We know that social distancing has been difficult for many and that we all feel ready to return to normalcy. We ask you to join Imagine through this tough time as we all look forward to the future of typical summers, Bonfires and Gatherings. For now, we can all be together virtually and in spirit. 

If you are having a hard time with social distancing and sheltering in place because of home difficulties or mental health struggles, please remember we have an Employee Assistance Program available to all Imagine employees. I am also available for anyone that needs to talk. 

If you would like to be tested for the novel Coronavirus, you can now get an appointment without a referral.  Find the information here.


Patty Lopez 
HR Coordinator 
Imagine Supported Living Services 

The Gratitude Fund

Two families of people Imagine serves expressed how grateful they are to the staff of Imagine who have taken such good care of their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic and asked if there was a way they could contribute to a gift from Imagine to our employees. The board of directors met in special session to establish a "Gratitude Fund" with which we will reward key staff who contributed to everyone's safety during this period.  

Imagine will match up to $15,000 in gifts and guarantee the fund to equal of exceed $20,000 total.  As of this writing, the fund stands at $3,000 plus Imagine's equal match.  Thank you to those who have already given.  If you would like to add to the Gratitude Fund, you can send a check to Imagine at 9065 Soquel Drive Aptos, CA 95003 or contribute online here.  To make sure your funds are used as you intend, we appreciate your leaving a note on your check or in your contribution that it is for the Gratitude Fund but, as long as we have valid contact information, we'll check in if we have questions.

The gratitude fund will close for donations on June 30 so that we can distribute your gifts in July. 
The Human Race 2020

It's tough to envision a tougher environment for a great grassroots collaboration raising money for charity through a crowded event. We're really proud of our partners at the Volunteer Center for making this event make sense, inspire joy and elicit generosity in 2020.  Following their theme, "Keeping The Lights on For My Community" Aisha in her first year and her team-mates did a spectacular job. 

Imagine received $20,000 in contributions this year in our Human Race campaign.  More than half of that was raised by Simone, who was the first five-digit fundraiser in my memory.  Simone was joined by fellow mainstays of the Human Race, Eliot and Sophie and the three of them made more lemonade than anybody since Country Time. Imagine is grateful to our Big Three and to all of you who supported them in their campaign.  Also to those of you who donated in hope of supporting them but got lost in the pull-down menu.

Thank you to Lili and Drea for managing and cheerleading the campaign. In the middle of a pandemic and a depression, that was an impressive achievement.

15% of the funds raised will support next year's Human Race which should take place in a more salutary environment.  The rest adds to our ability to stay focused on the people we serve alongside deep funding cuts.
Person-Centered Evolution

One person served by Imagine had a thorough process creating a person-centered plan in preparation for self-determination. It was well-guided and used a lot of validated tools to clarify opportunities as well as needs. The plan was very well organized and there were a lot of people who had input into it.  Thank you, Kishan.

It makes a person look forward to/pine for a day when this will be a standard part of life for people with developmental disabilities receiving support.

By the way, Imagine employees are forbidden from facilitating person-centered plans for Imagine clients, however, we do have some trained and ready person-centered plan facilitators available for people not served by Imagine. Please email me if you would like a reference.

-Submitted by Doug

Strategic Plan Update

The Strategic Plan continues to progress even during the COVID-19. Obviously, most of our work is fairly focused on the present and planning for the immediate future, but we are using Person-Centered tools in our planning for the epidemic, doing an unusual amount of training and education. Many of the main goals of our plan have become intrinsic enough to move forward even in the presence of an explosive surprise. You can view the updated Strategic Plan here

-Submitted by Doug

Self-Determination: Tina's Narrative

What Self-Determination Means to Me
A Narrative by Tina Ewing-Wilson
  • ♦   It means  I AM  a person
  • ♦   It means  I AM  a citizen of the United States of America and I have rights and responsibilities
  • ♦   It means  can determine for  MYSELF  what  I WANT , what  I NEED , what  I BELIEVE , and how  I FEEL
  • ♦   It means I DO NOT have to do this alone
  • ♦   It means I get to choose a team of people who care about me and want what is best for me. A team of people  I TRUST  to advise me.  MY TEAM  is a group of people who will listen to me and guide me through these decisions without choosing  FOR  me, and without forcing their opinions or beliefs  ON ME .
  • ♦   It means that  MY TEAM  will give me honest input that is tailored to  MY  level of understanding, and then allow  ME  to determine,  FOR MYSELF , what to do based on  MY OWN  feelings and personal experiences.
  • ♦   It  DOES NOT  mean I will always do what my team recommends or wants, though, I will consider it
  • It means  I HAVE THE RIGHT  to make mistakes. I will learn as much, if not more from my mistakes as I will my successes.
  • ♦   It  DOES NOT  mean I will be abandoned if my team does not agree with me.
  • ♦   It also means  I UNDERSTAND  there are sometimes consequences for my choices.
  • ♦   This means that if I make a choice that goes wrong, I may need help to fix it. Most people do make mistakes and then need help to fix it. Otherwise there would be no need for lawyers in the world.
  • ♦   It means I have a  RESPONSIBILITY  to manage my budget carefully and with restraint
  • ♦   It means  I CHOOSE  to be a productive member of society as much as I am able
  • ♦   It means  I WILL MAKE CHOICES  that do not add undue strain to already overburdened system of care. It means I will try to keep my financial footprint as low as possible, without compromising my health, safety or quality of life. I do this by utilizing generic resources when they are available and choosing less expensive options when I can.
  • ♦   It means  MY TEAM  is expected to keep me informed of what options are available to me and what the possible effects of my choices might be. I have a  RIGHT  to make  INFORMED CHOICES
  • ♦   It means if there is a choice that makes sense and lowers my cost of care without compromising my health and safety,  I WILL  make that  CHOICE
  • ♦   Being in Self-Determination means my team  AND  I have a lot of work to do. We have deadlines, lots of meetings, and lots of paperwork to do.
  • ♦   It means  MAKING  a lot of  CHOICES CHOICES  that are  NOT  always fun or easy
    My choices make me who I am. I choose to be the best  ME  I can be. Self- Determination means I get to choose  WHO I AM , just like other people do. Self Determination means I have a team to  SUPPORT  me in my fight against disabilities and the world.
    Those of us with developmental disabilities must fight harder for our choices. Society has a history of denying freedom of choice to those people it  views as "lesser people". Society is confused, because there are  NO  "lesser people".  PEOPLE ARE ALL PEOPLE EQUALLY . We are  EQUAL  and  ALL  imperfect.
    Being in Self-  Determination and working with a team doesn't mean I get to  stop fighting. It just means I have a fighting chance now.


-Tina Ewing-Wilson has spent 20 years learning and growing through the Kern Regional Center's Self-Determination Pilot  and  last September, became one of the first individuals served through the statewide program. Since 2003, a small part of her self-determination program included support from me (Doug.) When I received this narrative, I requested and received permission to include it here. 

Self-Determination Learning Community

The Self-Determination Independent Facilitator Network (formerly the Self-Determination Learning Community) will meet June 3 by teleconference, of course.  If you would like to participate: email David Grady for information.

There remains a need for person-centered planners to assist individuals with developmental disabilities, although the community has responded and this will help many in the traditional program to find facilitators for their own person-centered plans. At least one Imagine team member is trained and available as an independent contractor for person-centered planning. Please email me if you are looking for support.

Some self-determination families report a slow-down in the process during this epidemic. That is understandable but also frustrating given the need for innovative and un-vendored support for people during shelter-in-place.  

-Submitted by Doug
Transparency At Imagine

Our next board meeting will be held June 12, at 11:30. This is our annual meeting and will take place remotely. The agenda will include revisions to our 2020-2021 budget, passed in April.

We are still recruiting board members.  We are working to diversify the board and to add a GAAP-trained treasurer.  An attorney wouldn't be bad either. .

Our 2018-2019 fiscal year audit remains about where it was at the starts of February and January.  Have mercy.

-Submitted by Doug
Advocacy Corner

The Governor released the "May Revised" budget and, as we expected, it is very different from the original budget released in January with substantial proposed cuts throughout the state budget including to health, education, public health, prisons and other programs.. The State Senate has rejected the Governor's cuts, opting instead to more quickly drain the state's rainy day fund and reserves without federal aid. We do not at this point know the outcome or which version is best for the long-term needs of those we serve, but Imagine is revising its budget to survive the Governor's proposal.

Some cuts to the Developmental Services' budget (from which Imagine receives nearly all of our funding) are proposed to be unconditional and to continue through the year regardless of events. None of these cuts impact Imagine's budget directly, although they do impact friends and partners of Imagine including programs those we serve also use.    

The largest category of budget changes are labelled as "trigger" cuts. Most notably in this category, payment reductions will impact funding for all of Imagine's regional-center funded programs by 7.5%.  Imagine projects that our funding will decrease by about $380,000 due to the payment reductions if they are in effect throughout the year. Our passed budget projected about $190,000 in surplus so to balance our budget for the year will require about $190,000 in new revenue or reduced spending. We believe that by a combination of planned growth (~$80,000), delaying raises and enhancements to current benefits (~$65,000) and relying on our reserves (~$45,000), we can survive the two-three years of bad budgets the Governor has projected." Should the state receive $15B or more from the federal government in flexible funding, the trigger cuts should not come to pass.

We are giving you our thoughts now because we do not want members of the Imagine family to fear for their services, their loved ones or their jobs as the bad news comes out. There will be trade offs. We would prefer to give the raises and benefit enhancements to our staff who merit more. We know that growth risks the quality of care we're committed to. Growth also stresses Imagine's working culture, especially with stasis in our administrative team. 

We remain hopeful that the federal government will realize its responsibility to the nation by providing state and local governments with emergency funding to maintain essential services and that these contingency plans will ultimately be unnecessary.

A final note, though, is to express a great gratitude to all the members of the Imagine community who have made this organization so resilient. We could be having a conversation along the lines of "if these cuts go through, Imagine will not be able to continue" and I fear that conversation is happening now at many good organizations around the state, maybe even in our County.  We could be having a conversation about drastic cuts which would severely impair the efficiency of our administration and the quality of our services. The austerity to come will not be pleasant and I hate to think that life will get more difficult for the hard-working people at Imagine who already deserve better than they get. But it is some extraordinary grace to be able to face a 7.5% funding cut without fear of closing or drastic changes in personnel. Through whatever comes, I hope you can share my gratitude for everyone who got us here.

-Submitted by Doug
In Memoriam, Cheryl Hewitt

Cheryl Hewitt passed away suddenly on Monday, May 18.  Cheryl was a forceful advocate for people with disabilities and a good friend. 

Cheryl moved to San Jose from Michigan where she had received services through that state's self-determination program. She was the Vice Board President of the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center and has been chair of the local Self-Determination Advisory Committee since the office was created. She was previously a member of the State Council on Developmental Disabilities' local area advisory committee.

After years spent advocating for self-determination, Cheryl was not selected to participate in the first round.  Nonetheless, she was determined to have a person-centered plan even with no funding, and it was my honor to facilitate that plan.  Chosen in the second round, at the time of her death, she had submitted her person-centered plan and was negotiating her budget.

Although she had had some health issues in recent months, her passing was unexpected, the result of an infection that had gone septic. She leaves behind her sisters and their children but far more friends and admirers.

-Submitted by Doug
Appreciating KiAna .... 

KiAna is a great employee for so many reasons but overall her brightness and easy going attitude always makes it a great day for those around her. Whenever things get tough KiAna never gets bogged down and always keeps chugging with a smile on her face. KiAna not only uplifts the client but her coworkers as well. She is incredibly reliable and always willing to help out and go above and beyond.

-Submitted by Cailin

Spotlight on Karen ... 

We have all been feeling the consequences of sheltering in our residences, but Karen has been trying to make the most of it by keeping herself busy by doing what she loves most. Karen has been pampering herself with relaxing baths and routinely paints her nails her favorite nail polish color - red! Karen has been avoiding retail and grocery stores by shopping online and ordering grocery delivery services to keep her and her team safer during these times. Karen has been maximizing her outdoor space by spending time on her back deck. She eats her meals outside when possible and lounges in the shade on her awesome bench swing. She has been tending to her garden and has been making flower arrangements cut from her very own landscaping. Even when Karen carves out time to take personal space away from her staff and housemates, she is not alone. She enjoys the company of her newly adopted kitty, Finx. Karen has been amused by Finx's young and spunky energy - a big adjustment from her former senior fur baby of 12+ years. Karen fills her days by listening to music, singing on her iPad, and watching an abundance of new and old movies provided by her various cable and TV apps. Karen has been helping keep her local restaurants alive, and recently indulged in a pizza and salad delivery from her neighboring pizza parlor as a treat to herself during Memorial Day weekend. Hope you all are able to keep yourselves busy and content at home like Karen has! Stay safe and stay sane, everyone!

-Submitted by Cherice 


Birthdays & Anniversaries


Staff Birthdays














Staff Anniversaries


Patrick -- 3 Years!

Olympia -- 1 Year!

Teddy -- 4 Years!

John D. -- 1 Year!

Dani -- 1 Year!

Daisy R. -- 1 Year!

Heather -- 8 Years!

Rebecca N. -- 5 Years!

Michael -- 4 Years!

Derek -- 8 Years!

Dave -- 3 Years!

Cissi -- 4 Years! 







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