April 2014 
Vol. 4
Table of Contents
Matt Dietz standing in front of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN noteA note from Matt....
By: Matthew Dietz 

 

The first one hundred days of operation of DIG has left us breathless with so much to do, and so much that has been accomplished.

 

Our litigation team has handled, or is handling 58 matters, and over 65 people have called DIG's intake line for litigation assistance. The matters that we are currently working on range from a fair housing case with a man with Down Syndrome who the housing provider attempted to evict, to a person who is HIV positive being denied an operation.   The highest proportion of cases accepted are cases involving the deaf, with 22 cases, followed by eight cases involving issues relating to assistance animals.  The types of clients we represent from persons with visual impairments, pregnancy, mobility impairments, MS, learning disabilities, PTSD, other mental disabilities, and many, many others.  From the matters that we are handling, we currently have 19 cases pending in court, 11 cases in administrative proceedings, ten cases in pre-suit status, and nine cases on appeal.  We have also settled six matters in the past three months. 

 

Our efforts at education and outreach have also been phenomenal.  We won the first "Leave a Legacy, Philanthropy Miami Shark Tank" competition for our joint effort with the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities and the Coral Gables Police Department for our "Wallet Cards- Let's Save A Life" project, you can read more about this project in the story below.

 

Our organization has had a running start, but this is only the first hundred feet of a marathon.  We have only started, and we have a long ways to go.  We invite everyone to take this journey with us.

 

 

Jodi Engelberg, Diane Adreon, Debbie Dietz, and Lt. Barta holding a check sharktankPhilanthropy Miami 2014
Shark Tank Competition 

 

We WON!

          The LEAVE A LEGACY´┐Ż Philanthropy Miami 2014 Shark Tank competition finals were held on April 16, 2014. Five finalists presented "Shark Tank" style to five community leaders. The competition started with 50 teams that submitted a written proposal on how a unique partnership could solve a community wide problem. Our project is called: Wallet Cards: Let's Save a Life! We partnered with the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities and the Coral Gables Police Department.

          Please click here to see the five finalists.

         Please click here to see the five judges.

         Please click here to read our proposal.

          We are now going take the money we won and create a short training video that explains how persons with an autism spectrum disorder can successfully interact with police and first responders. The video will contain real life scenarios with the Coral Gables Police Department.   After watching the video, people will also be able to get their own customized wallet card for free.

 

crusadersKids Crusaders Corner  Kids Crusaders Logo

Matthew is Julie's 16 year old son and he wanted to share his thoughts this month.

 

My name is Matthew and I am 16 years old. My brother's name is Nick and he is 23 years old. Nick was born with Cerebral Palsy and I've had the honor to call him my brother. Living with a brother who has special needs has taught me a lot of life lessons. From the memories of us laughing and having fun at the park, to the memories of the trips to the hospital, living with Nick has been a joy ride with lots of ups and downs.

Being the only other son besides Nick in the family, I've had to take on the role of the "older brother" (despite actually being the youngest child). I've taken a lot of responsibility not just for Nick but also for around the house in general. I get Nick off his dayhab van, some nights I tuck him in bed. We sometimes just like to lay in the living room and watch movies together. I help my mom a lot around the house since we always have way more laundry than average families. My mom and dad both work and I can see how hard it is for them to do everything plus take care of Nick. Sometimes they need a break and I feel bad that they don't get one. (click here to read more)

 

 Nick and Matthew 
Matthew and Nick

                                                               

      Ask Julie a question 

 

Chris Stein and his dog Morgan
artArt and More
 

 

There you lie in cold inertness. Your lifeless luminance is dimmed under a warm synthetic glow of cakey rouge while I stare off into your nothingness shivering in the brisk breeze blowing around the room darkening the surrounding spirit. We rode this breeze here together; we're still riding this breeze together on the inertia of that ostentatious beast.

Coated smoothly in her signature red, the beast was heritage of fine lines of Italian design gleaming to be seen in speed. Whimsically whisking us around curves and up and down hills knifing us through the wintery air, the beast growled in capricious giddiness fighting physics at every shift. I was at her controls as the beast was at ours. The beast controlled our inertia sucking us into her gullet as she brightened our surrounding spirit removing the friction between us and the outside world to where her rubber met the road until her rubber met the road no more. (click here to read more)

 

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Truck visits our office.  Ben & Jerry's Visit


On April 16th, we had a surprise visit from the Ben and Jerry's Truck.

  

Animal Partners Logo

         Join our animal partners Facebook page at:

 

        https://www.facebook.com/animalpartners 

 

Logo for Nationwide Interpreter Resources, Inc. Thank you to NIR

 

For donating interpreting services at the Shark Tank Competition.

 

Michael Carter Williams, Rachel, Skylar, Angelica, & Stephanie The Miami Heat Game

By: Matt Dietz 

DIG staff attorneys, Rachel Goldstein and Stephanie Woodward, along with local attorneys, Skyler Hill and Angelica Gentile, attended the Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers game and had the opportunity to meet Syracuse Alumni and player for the 76ers, Michael Carter Williams, after the game.

  
scales of justice

internshipDIG Internship Progam

by: Sharon Langer

 

DIG has established a successful internship program for both undergraduate students and law students at our local universities. This past semester we hosted two interns. Tiffany Blackmon, from FIU College of Law, assisted with federal litigation, helped us establish our ADA Mediation Project. We file complaints on behalf of persons with disabilities who have been discriminated against with the Department of Justice. These complaints are sent to a mediator who attempts to resolve the case without litigation. This is an exciting new project for DIG and we will be expanding it this summer with our new class of summer interns. Our second intern was Samantha Belabin from the University of Miami, School of Education. She was a tremendous asset to us this spring semester and worked on many projects, with a particular interest in the area of autism. This summer 19 law students have applied to our summer internship project and we will be selecting three to work with us this summer on a variety of issues. They will be researching new legislation both State and Federal that pertains to the rights of person with disabilities, create a white paper on emergency preparedness and how persons with disabilities can best access those services and identify gaps or barriers that may exist. They will also work on several significant cases that DIG is litigating. Interns bring not only talent to our program but also expertise we may not have, hands on assistance in many areas and they are a lot of fun to have around the office. We thank Tiffany and Samantha for all they have done for the folks we serve and look forward to welcoming our new interns this May.

Matt Dietz standing with Tiffany Blackmon, our intern this spring.       Samantha Belabin and Debbie Dietz

 

 
 volunteersVolunteers
If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at Sharon@justdigit.org
wheelchairfl

Ms. Wheelchair FL Update

by: Stephanie Woodward

    

On April 4th and 5th I had the pleasure of participating in the Ms. Wheelchair Florida competition. Ms. Wheelchair Florida, Inc. advocates for all people with disabilities and strives to bring awareness to all people with disabilities and the importance of inclusion in communities, employment, education, and housing. I decided to compete because I felt their mission and goals aligned well with the mission and goals of Disability Independence Group and my own passion for advocating for accessibility and integration of people with disabilities. (click here to read more)

Chelsie Hill (Push Girls) and Stephanie Woodward    Group picture of the Ms. Wheelchair Florida Competition 2014.

 

 

 

Visit our website

Rachel Goldstein

rachel2014 Disability Policy Seminar

By: Rachel Goldstein

 

On April 7-9, 2014, I had the privilege to attend the 2014 Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. and participate in advocacy efforts to make an impact on disability policy. The Disability Policy Seminar is an event that brings together advocates for individuals with disabilities with public policy experts and focuses on major federal issues and pending legislation that affect the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. The seminar provided me the opportunity to network with other advocates from around the country and share experiences about barriers that people with disabilities are facing throughout the country, as well as collaborate on ideas for solutions. Through the in-depth sessions, I learned about the federal policies, provisions, and pending legislation important to people with disabilities, including proposals related to Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and SSI that may have effects on federal disability funding, housing, community living, education and employment, and services for individuals with disabilities. (click here to read more)    

 

 

OPC Lake Point Tower   
litigationLitigation: Soloar v. OPC Lake Point Tower

    After more than three years, and a jury trial, Mrs. Carollee Solodar will finally receive the parking spot she deserves (and requires)! Carollee and her husband Donald Solodar live in a lanai in North Palm Beach and have been allowed to park in a service area by their home for many years. Following Mrs. Solodar suffering a heart attack, she was upset that she was blocked in and complained to the management. As a result of her complaint, the Board of Governors of the Condominium decided to bar all vehicles from the parking area and insisted that Mrs. Solodar park in the garage down seventeen steps and three times the distance from her home.  

 

    Seeing as Mrs. Solodar's condition was exponentially worsened when she exerted too much energy, such as walking from her allotted parking spot to her front door, she, along with her husband and her doctor, deemed it necessary that she park closer to her destination. The Solodars therefore requested a reasonable accommodation for Mrs. Solodar to be able to park in the service area, as she had always done. (click here to read more)  

  

 

For more information about DIG and to find out how you can be involved, please call or email our executive director, Debbie Dietz at 305-669-2822 or debbie@justdigit.org.

Disability Independence Group, Inc.
Expanding Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.

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