A Publication of Disability Network Southwest Michigan
April 2012

 Changing Lives. Changing Communities.

Changing Lives, Changing Communities


People often ask us "What does Disability Network do?".  There are many ways to answer this question!  We might describe our programs and services.  We might talk about advocacy and how we work to create inclusive communities.  We also encourage people to tell their story about working with us:


My name is Pat Simmons and I am a brain injury survivor. My journey began in 2001 with an aneurysm. After 2 years filled with rehab, divorce and a failed attempt to return to work, I retired on disability. I felt lost and overwhelmed with the future. I had a volunteer job one morning a week but felt out of place with the world. My therapist told me about the brain injury survivors group at Disability Network. I began attending in May of 2005 and felt at home   immediately! I had found people who understood what I had been through! I knew I'd found a special place where I truly belonged. I felt connected again. The group is a very important part of my life. The weekly topics have helped me learn more about brain injury. And I've learned a few things about myself too. The group connected me to other services at Disability Network that I didn't know existed! It's also a social group. I'd never been to a Kings game and we go every summer. The group's social activities are varied and include an annual zoo trip, Kings Game, picnic and so much more! All these activities have enriched my life greatly. Plus, I've made new friends. Now I am an officer for the group. They trust me to handle their money! Sometimes, I sit back and wonder where I would be now if I hadn't found the brain injury group. It's been a real blessing in my life.


Note:  A similar version of Pat's story appeared in a 2010 issue of The Donor Connection, our newsletter for donors of Disability Network.  We felt Pat's story about how Disability Network impacted her life was just too compelling not to share with our entire readership.  

!Watch for our new Women with Developmental Disabilities support group starting this spring in Berrien County.  Call Cindy Gray at (269) 985-0111 for details.

Accessible Parking: Respect the Spot!


Accessible Parking SignDon't park in a designated accessible spot.

When you do, you are breaking the law, will get an expensive ticket

and you are disrespecting people with disabilities.


Not sure what to do in those frustrating moments when you see a car without disability plates or tags parked in an accessible spot?  We've created a flyer to put on windshields to let drivers know they've been spotted doing something illegal and disrespectful.


Stop by our offices in Kalamazoo or the City of St. Joseph to pick one up, or call us and we can mail one to you! We can be reached at (269) 345-1516 or (269) 985-0111. You may also call your local non-emergency police number and let them know someone is illegally parked. 




We are an application assistance site for the Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund program.  Assistive Technology is any device or item designed to help people with disabilities maintain or increase their independence.


Common items purchased by the Loan Fund are motorized scooters, hearing aids, ramps, accessible vans, and communication aids.  Call Lewis at (269) 345-1516 or go to to learn more. 




With support from First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo, Haven Reformed Church, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Greater Kalamazoo United Way, and The City of Kalamazoo - Community Development Block Grant, Disability Network may be able to help you create an accessible entrance to your home through our Ramp Up program.  To find out if you qualify, contact Karen at (269) 345-1516  x115. 

Ramp Up

 Member Spotlight


Disability Network Southwest Michigan is a membership organization. Hear what Sharon DeHaan has to say about being a member:


Sharon DeHaanMy name is Sharon DeHaan and I am a member of Disability Network Southwest Michigan because I feel dedicated to their mission. I have been volunteering at Disability Network as a receptionist for 18 years. I am a member of the Women with Disabilities Support Group, the Brain Injury Support Group and Crafty Ladies. I also work with other members and volunteers on Disability Network's advocacy groups - Transportation Advocacy Group, Access and Friends of Transit.


I know that the people at Disability Network are doing a lot of good work for people with disabilities and the community. I enjoy being involved and helping Disability Network in its mission.

Attend Michigan Rehabilitation Services Orientation Online!

Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) helps Michigan residents with disabilities achieve employment and self-sufficiency. If you have access to a computer, you now have the option of learning about Michigan Rehabilitation Services and participating in their customer orientation online!Woman using Computer


The MRS On-Line Orientation allows you to view videos explaining what MRS does and if they can assist you with obtaining employment.  The MRS On-Line Orientation is presented in 10 different sections:


Section 1 - Welcome to Michigan Rehabilitation Services

Section 2 - Six Steps to Vocational Rehabilitation
Section 3 - Determining Eligibility

Section 4 - Career Exploration

Section 5 - Creating Your Individualized Plan for Employment and Following Your Plan

Section 6 - Finding Employment

Section 7 - Closing your Case

Section 8 - Your Rights and Responsibilities

Section 9 - MRS Special Programs and Partners

Section 10 - Becoming an MRS Customer 


For more information, you can contact your local MRS office. To find you local office, call  1-800-605-6722 (voice) or 1-888-605-6722 (TTY). To go directly to the online orientation page, click here.


This information was taken directly from the MRS webpages. Disability Network is not responsible for inaccurate or out of date information. 



Attend a Disability Roundtable Discussion


May:  Politics are Personal

June: Movie & Discussion - "Monica and David"

July:  Disability Rights Movement


Roundtables meet in Battle Creek, Kalamazoo & St. Joseph.  Call (269) 982-7761 to find out more, or visit Everyone is welcome.



We've created lunch & learn event  designed for community professionals to:


  learn about Disability Network Southwest Michigan services

  learn when & how to refer your clients to us

  learn how we can assist your agency with disability-related questions


May 18, 2012 - Coldwater

May 24, 2012 - Cassopolis


Contact Michele at (269) 345-1516 for info.  

Membership at Disability Network Southwest Michigan


Did you know that Disability Network is a member-driven organization?  By becoming a member today, you join others in the disability rights movement who are changing lives and creating inclusive communities.  Some of the benefits of membership include:


 new Starting July 2012, a monthly subscription to our Disability Digest - a summary of the top disability-related news from around the state, country and world.  This publication is only available to members.


 Subscription to our newsletters, The Link and The Donor Connection


 A Disability Network Southwest Michigan reusable canvas bag


 The ability to vote during the annual election and special meetings of the membership


 Invitation to the Annual Meeting and other Disability Network events


 Exciting volunteer opportunities


 Donor impact updates


 The opportunity to serve on a committee that meets your unique interests, such as public policy, marketing, or advocacy


 The satisfaction of knowing that you are part of a dynamic organization that creates real change in Southwest Michigan


If you would like to become a member of Disability Network, download and print a copy of our Membership Brochure, detach the form, and mail it to our Kalamazoo Office at: 517 E. Crosstown Parkway, Kalamazoo, MI 49001.


BARRY Berrien Branch Calhoun Cass Kalamazoo ST. JOSEPH VAN BUREN



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