March 2020
 Click here to download a text only version of this newsletter in Microsoft Word format.

A community of nearly 240 supporters came out Saturday, February 15, for our fourth annual Feathers and Fedoras fundraiser. The event, hosted at the Great Hall Banquet and Convention Center by honorary chairs Sara and Tony Stamas, included immersive "Roaring Twenties" art-deco décor, heavy hors d'oeuvres, casino games, live and silent auctions, a raffle, gigglewaters, and, of course, dancing the Foxtrot and Charleston to the tunes of The Motor City Beat jazz ensemble.

Proceeds from the event benefited DNMM programs that assist young people with disabilities in building the necessary skills to live independently, individuals in rural areas in gaining access to disability resources, and people living in nursing homes in gaining knowledge and support to move back to their communities where they can live self-determined lives.  This year's fundraising efforts are all the more vital due to an unanticipated $165,000 reduction in State funding, which has placed considerable strain on those programs.

"We're gathered here tonight to celebrate access and inclusion," said DNMM Executive Director Kelly PeLong. "We're here to share the stories of people with disabilities and the overwhelmingly positive impact greater independence has on their lives. And we're here to thank you,  our corporate sponsors and champions, our passionate Board, staff, and volunteers,  because none of these stories could be told without your support and your generosity. With your continued support, now more than ever, we can provide those needed services, we can reach out to the under-served, we can help people with disabilities find their own voice, and we can make those voices heard."

"We are honored to be a part of this special night recognizing the great value people with disabilities bring to the workplace, the classroom, and the community. "
Honorary Event Chairs
Tony and Sara Stamas

tony and sara stamas

2020 Feather & Fedoras HIGHLIGHTS
2020 Feather & Fedoras HIGHLIGHTS

Thank you to our corporate sponsors:

Dow Logo
McLaren Bay Region
Great Lakes Loons logo
Chalgian and Tripp Law Offices PLLC logo
QRP beyond print logo
BHS insurance logo field of light blue
Warner Norcross Judd logo
Swift Wall Solutions
Garber Automotive Group
Gavin and Associates LLC logo
Members First Credit Union find your happy logo
Horizon Bank in green with yellow line
Pioneer Big Chief Michigan Sugar logo in red white and blue
Cowboy hat on top of Furlo Auction Service logo
Downtown Restaurant Investments Bay City logo
Fabiano Brothers logo
Ware Smith Woolever Funeral Directors logo
G and M in white with green background for Gambrell Milster logo
great hall
Cintas Ready For the Workday logo
ESPN 100.9 FM logo
Midland Daily News logo
Nightlife Entertainment logo
Myron Greene for Sheriff

Transitions At Any Age

Most people think of nursing homes as a place for senior citizens. But many of the people Disability Network transitions out of nursing facilities back into community-based living are between twenty and forty years old. A recent example of a younger person benefiting from the transition program is Chris from Harrison.

Chris is a 22-year-old college student who had been residing in a nursing facility since early 2019. Chris was in his third year of college, pursing a degree in Human Services and he was living on his own. Then he had a serious slip-and-fall accident. Due to the severity of his injury, Chris needed surgery and rehabilitation services. He was transferred to a nursing facility in Midland for the duration of his rehabilitation. 

Chris expressed his desire to return to independent living and to finish his college education once his rehabilitation was complete. The social worker at the nursing facility was able to connect Chris with Sarah, a nursing facility transition navigator at Disability Network. Through working with Sarah, Chris was able to get an affordable apartment in Bay City in an area he desired to reside. Sarah was able to purchase groceries, clothing, furniture, and household items to help Chris get back on his feet. Chris is now looking forward to meeting new friends in the area and going back to finish his college education. He's learned the transportation system and is thriving. 

"Without the help of the NFT program and Sarah in particular, I'd probably still be stuck in the nursing home," said Chris. "I'm sure I wouldn't be able to live independently or move forward with my education. Thanks to Sarah and Disability Network of Mid-Michigan, I am living on my own and have plans for attending college this summer. I plan on finishing my degree."

"More importantly, I feel I've been given a great gift, a fresh start," added Chris. "I want to pay it forward by helping someone else. That means sharing my story so that other's can learn about this program and how it helps people of all ages and types of disability." Chris also expressed his gratefulness to be able to get back out into the community, explore all Bay City has to offer, and to make new friends.

March is Women's History Month: Celebrating Women with Disabilities

model jillian mercado using a wheelchair
Jillian Mercado is one of the first-ever signed models with a physical disability. When she started to consider modeling as her chosen career, she tried to find other models who used wheelchairs but had no luck. Unfortunately, models with physical disabilities are a rarity.

About four years ago, Mercado went to an open casting call that ended up changing her life and the modeling industry. She got hired for a Diesel Jeans ad campaign and was signed by IMG Models a year later. Since then, she has appeared in Beyoncé's merchandise campaign for her Formation tour and starred in Target commercials.

picture of stella young and her wheelchair
Stella Young took over the media trying to normalize disability - she wrote articles, edited an online magazine, had her own comedy show and hosted Australia's first disability culture TV show, No Limits. She even did a TEDx talk in 2014 called "I'm Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much." 

With her TEDx talk, she opened up millions of people's eyes and introduced the concept of "inspiration porn." It's when people see others with disabilities as "living, breathing feel-good memes" and as weird as it sounds, it's not uncommon for someone with a disability to be told they're an inspiration while they're doing their daily routine.

claudia goron in front of american flag
Claudia Gordon is making changes in Washington, D.C., and is working with former President Obama to solve national disability issues. She has advocated for the deaf and disability communities through all her work; Gordon has worked at the National Council on Disability, the National Coalition for Disability Rights and Homeland Security (where she worked on making sure the government has emergency preparedness plans in place for people with disabilities.) Most importantly, she is the first black deaf lawyer in America and the first deaf student to graduate from American University's law school.

judy heumann wearing red
When Judy Heumann was sent home for being a "fire hazard" in elementary school, she realized how unfair the world can be and knew she needed to make a change. She ended up becoming the first wheelchair user to teach in New York City after the board of education initially denied her license. Heumann sued for discrimination when she found out she was only denied because of doubts she could help a student in an emergency or go to the bathroom by herself - she won and went on to teach for three years.
She became the U.S. assistant secretary of education for special education and rehabilitative services after teaching and now works for the State Department as a special advisor for international disability rights.

dr. maya angelou
r. Maya Angelou.  You may know her name, but what you probably didn't know is that she grew up with a disability. That's right! Dr. Maya Angelou , the author all of your favorite poems, had a hidden disability. 

When she was a child, she was abused and sexually assaulted by her mother's boyfriend. When she told someone about it, he was convicted, released and found dead. The trauma of being raped and thinking she caused her abuser's death after she spoke up caused her to develop selective mutism (an anxiety disorder that causes a child to barely speak in certain situations.) For Angelou, this meant being completely silent for five years.  She was one of the most influential black women in history and turned her struggles into powerful life lessons.

Here are some other interesting articles about women with disabilities who've made significant impacts over the years.

It's Census Time! Be Counted 2020! 

Every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a census to count the number of people living in the United States. Starting in March, census invitations will be mailed to households, and now, more than ever before, the Census Bureau is encouraging people to fill out the census electronically (i.e. online).


The census count has consequences we will live with for the next decade, if not longer. This makes the stakes even higher.
Michigan stands to lose millions of dollars in federal support for programs that use census data. These include Medicaid, nutrition assistance, highway construction and planning, Title I and Special Education Grants, Foster Care and Child Care Grants, K-12 education, Section 8 Vouchers, and Head Start/Early Start - for which Michigan received more than $14 billion in 2015.

The Census Bureau has identified people with disabilities as a hard-to-count population, which means they are at a greater risk of being under-counted in the census. The reasons for this include accessibility challenges and wider systemic inequalities. People with disabilities are also over-represented among other groups that are considered hard-to-count, such as people of color, people with low incomes, and people experiencing homelessness.

Census 2020 Video Ad: Michigan (Confidentiality)
Census 2020 Video Ad: Michigan (Confidentiality)


The Census Bureau's online response option represents both an opportunity and challenge to the disability community. For many, the option will be more convenient than responding by mail. This is, in part, due to the greater availability and increased effectiveness of screen readers, electronic magnifiers, and other assistive technology tools. However, a significant digital divide exists between people with and without disabilities: people with disabilities are about 20 percentage points less likely to own a computer, tablet, or smartphone or subscribe to home broadband. Without reliable internet access, people with disabilities may encounter difficulties completing the online form.


We want to make sure Michigan gets as accurate a count of its residents as possible. You can help by sharing this article with your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Click on the images below to download some helpful questions and answers about the census.


cars parallel parked in downtown midland
"Public Comments"
Through Wednesday, March 11
OR call 989-837-3304

Health Fair Flyer
"The Doctor is In"
Saturday, March 14th
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Horizons Conference Center
6200 State Street - Saginaw

Free health screenings and lots of information from area non-profits, health providers, and more.

Monday, March 14th
Doors Open 5:30pm, Pageant Starts 6:00pm
Bay City Central High School Auditorium
Cost is $6.00  -  There is a 50/50 Raffle and a Silent Auction

Wednesday, March 25th

Disability Network staff, board members, and consumers will be gathering at the Capitol Building to meet with Legislators.  This is your chance to make your voice heard. Tell your story!

We will be leaving at approximately 8:30am and will return around 5:30pm.  If you want to participate, please  contact Terri Robbins at  989-835-4041 ext. 226.

Virtual Peer Groups

DNMM is pleased to announce the formation of two "Virtual" Peer Groups. We will be utilizing Microsoft Teams technology to conduct peer group meetings that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home.

silhouette of twelve women holding hands with brilliant blue sky above
March 12 and March 26
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

An empowering virtual peer group for women with disabilities.  
This event will be held using the Microsoft Teams app on your mobile device or home computer. The group meets every two weeks.

clipart image of two people one in red shaking hands with another in a computer screen
"O.C.T - Our Chat Time"
March 12
1:00 - 2:00 pm

This virtual peer group meets once a month. Each month will feature a new topic. The topic for March is: "Feeling Good About Yourself and How Others See You."


"Butterflies In Bloom"
Monday, March 9th
10:15 am - 1:30 pm
Dow Gardens - Midland

dnmm peers meet in the conference room
"Butterflies In Bloom"
Monday, March 16th
10:30 am - 1:30 pm
Dow Gardens - Midland

"Butterflies In Bloom"
Monday, March 23rd
10:30 - 1:30 pm
Dow Gardens Conservatory

dow gardens logo
Our thanks to our friends at Dow Gardens for having "Accessibility Days" to help ensure everyone has access to this remarkable interactive exhibit.


Whether you're seeking full-time employment or just a few hours of part-time work: 

YOU can make a difference in someone's life! YOU can help a person with a disability live independently!

women playing cards
two women grocery shopping
reading a book

As part of our Bay County Independent Living Assistance program, you  provide personalized support to individuals who need assistance accessing support in their communities.  You work directly with the consumer to help them meet their goals and create the lifestyle they choose.


WAGES: $10 - $10.50 PER HOUR 

Must have a valid Michigan Driver License, with a good driving record, and dependable and insured transportation. Must be able to pass a criminal background check. Training will be provided.

If you want to make a difference, please call 989-895-2363.

To learn about additional employment opportunities at DNMM, please click here to visit the Employment section of our website.

At Disability Network of Mid-Michigan, inclusion is a universal human right for all people, regardless of race, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or any other discernible quality. To be inclusive is to promote a sense of belonging, respect, and value for who you are as a person. It is about equal access and opportunities for everyone. Inclusion is an integral part of our Independent Living philosophy and of our agency's vision of "Accessible and Inclusive communities that provide opportunities for individual choice."

In the twelve counties we serve in Mid-Michigan, Disability Network offices have been, and continue to be, places of solace, understanding, and information for all.  We are committed to promoting and protecting diversity and inclusion, within our offices, among our community partners, and throughout the 15 Centers for Independent Living in Michigan.

Pride. Access. Inclusion on rainbow flag with disability logo
DNMM advocates for the removal of barriers to independence and full inclusion of people with disabilities throughout the Mid-Michigan area. DNMM pledges to ensure accessibility. Each year, DNMM conducts a review of its own architectural, environmental, attitudinal, employment, communication, transportation, and other barriers that may exist which prohibit full access to our services.  
If you have any issues of concern regarding the accessibility of DNMM services and facilities, we encourage you to share that information with us.  
Please send your concerns or suggestions to:
        Executive Director
        Disability Network of Mid-Michigan
        1705 S. Saginaw Road
        Midland, MI 48640
Disability Network of Mid-Michigan | 989-835-4041 | Email Us |