The Arcadia Institute

Making it possible for people with disabilities to be welcomed, supported and respected in their community

Youth Success

The blog this week was written by Dalanna Hoskins, a Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute.

It is very hard for me to write blogs for the Arcadia Institute, because I enjoy doing the work of our mission and our goals without seeming like we are tooting our own horn. However it is rewarding to discuss the success of our youth and it is necessary for people to see and know what we have been doing.

So far I work with seven students and out of the seven students, five are currently volunteering or are in the process of starting to volunteer. Two of our students are with the Animal Rescue Project on Peekstock. Both of these young ladies have expressed that they enjoy working with animals. One of our young ladies has completed orientation and volunteers her time every Wednesday, walking dogs. The other student is in the process of applying for a volunteer opportunity, however we come in every Tuesday to spend time with cats that are waiting for adoption.

I work with another young lady who we finished having her MAP (Making Action Plans) completed. Through her MAP process and by me getting to know her, we have found that she enjoys working with children. After inquiring with three day cares in the city of Kalamazoo, we came across the Kalamazoo Drop in Child Care Center located on West Michigan Ave. Beth Walters who is currently the Volunteer Coordinator was so kind and knowledgeable and took my student right in. So far she comes in every Friday from 1:30 pm until they close at 3:30 pm and enjoys every minute of it.

I have a young man who is in the process of applying to volunteer at the Kalamazoo Nature Center and we will be working on getting him acclimated to using Metro County Connect as a way of providing transportation. His family is great to work with and does a great job working with me to do what we can to keep him connected to his community.

These are a few examples of minor success stories that touch only the tip of the ice burg. These organizations are creating great opportunities for our young people. I can sense that when they are volunteering their time, they are doing something that they enjoy and is a rewarding time in their day. This also gives them the skills for possible employment in the future, and familiarizes them to their surroundings, and give others the opportunity to get to know them. This creates the sense of inclusion and community that Arcadia Institute strives to create in Kalamazoo County.

The Sometimes Slow Boat To Employment Alternatives

The blog this week was written by Deborah Warfield, a Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute.

When I first met Greg during the early stages of our brokering process I found out that he was an artist but had not yet really begun to seriously promote himself. Over time he discovered that he wanted to focus his energies towards expanding his market. I’m excited to report that after a few years of identifying his larger community circle of team supports, honing his skills and gaining self-confidence, Greg will be conducting his first workshop on Saturday, April 25th at the Family Center for the Arts where Rebecca Achenbach is the owner located at 6136 S. Westnedge Avenue in Portage, Mi 49024 269-321-838. View the flier here: art class flyer

Greg has a gallery of his art works on display at that same location from April 13th through to May 13th. Community members are free to pop in and browse through his art and purchase from his collection of over 24 pieces to choose from. Greg specializes in oil pastels.

His workshop is open to any adult for the cost of $25 for the two hour instruction and immersion class. Supplies will be included. This will be the first time that Greg has actually conducted a public workshop. Rebecca Achenbach who is the owner of Family Center 4 The Arts helps to promote every artist as a way to offer opportunities for expanding their markets. There are several different forms of art classes and events that are also offered during the course of the weeks, seasons and the year for all ages and persons.

Rewinding back a bit……Greg was invited to participate in Kalamazoo Art Hop in October of last year. He had his artwork on display at the Water Street Cafe downtown Kalamazoo for the night. He was very successful and sold 23 of his 27 paintings that night.

Greg also took private lessons from artist Bette Carlson for a season two summers ago. She and Greg designed some apron patterns as Greg apparently has an awesome eye for color combinations and designs that also go very well with fabrics. Greg went on to complete a class at the Kalamazoo Institute for the Arts in the fall of this past year.

Greg also has visions of eventually expanding into fabric designs and perhaps calendars and stationery. Greg is in the process of constructing his website for more exposure but for now all of his prints are sold as originals.

Every event opens another door for yet another larger event. Greg has an artist bio, samples and business cards and has been sketching out a business plan so as to learn more about the nuts and bolts associated with developing a more sustainable business as an emerging artist. Greg has also dabbled in clothing and gun designs.

The sky is the limit as Greg continues to be approached by various doctors offices, dentist offices, schools and other businesses who seek to commission him for furnishing their places with his artworks.

Each event yields another level of learning how to become more efficient. This may be a slow boat to an employment alternative but it matches both Greg’s vision and abilities.

A Community of Belonging

The blog this week was written by Kathy Jennings, Managing Editor of Second Wave Media.

After months of planning it was just hours before people were to begin to arrive for the 2015 Community of Belonging Forum, the sixth annual get-together of people who are working to make Kalamazoo a place where all are included.

Vacuums were whirring. Chairs were being arranged. It was all coming together.

Then people were coming in the doors, then dividing up into our groups named for famous artists, in keeping with the theme for the day that would culminate in a community art project.

We learned about the successes of groups like the Boys and Girls Club, which learned that activities that helped those with disabilities often helped the rest of those in the club.

A Commitment to Inclusion for organizations and businesses who are interested in determining just how inclusive they are aimed at helping them determine what steps they should take to become more inclusive was introduced.

In our small groups we talked about the work being done across the community. In my group, a Sherman Lake Camp representative talked about their inclusion staff, how they encourage counselors to embrace inclusive activities, and when it appears someone needs assistance of an inclusion staff member that staffer might respond by taking aside the other children while the counselor works directly with the child who needs a some extra attention. Building relationships in this way, rather than relying upon inclusion staff, helps in the long run they have found.

Another member of the group suggested that it is easier for organizations that promote leisure pursuits, like camps, to be inclusive. The real work that needs to be done is for organizations that are trying to find jobs for those with disabilities, she emphasized.

Soon it was time to start creating our art project. Simon Borst gave a quick explanation of the portrait and guided us as we turned small faces into larger faces, pieces of faces into a whole.

As groups finished their piece of the artwork they helped others groups with the pieces of the puzzle they needed. “I need a nine, I need a three,” could be heard. “I have a three,” someone would offer, handing over the right side of the head from a portrait.

Collaborations took place until the letters were all in finished. In the end, they spelled

B E L O N G.

And everyone in the room knew that they had a part in creating what we were all there to build: A community of belonging.

Building a Community of Belonging 2015

On Thursday, March 26th, we gathered at Vanguard Church for the 2015 Building a Community of Belonging Forum. It was a great day where we discussed expanding the Connect Kalamazoo Network into the community more and made a community art project. Simon Borst lead us in the art project and here is how he closed:

“We are all here today to celebrate and to connect; to continue to build a community of belonging. One in which people with disabilities make their own choices, safely navigating an ever-shifting community landscape, with opportunities to contribute, experience, and grow.

In this way, we are building, describing, drawing, a portrait of a community of belonging. “BELONG” is both an invitation and a claiming of your and our identity.”

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Passing the baton

The blog this week was written by Judy Huth, Board President of The Arcadia Institute.

The conversations that started the Arcadia Institute in 1994 sprang from the passion and commitment of George Martin. George had a vision that he was able to articulate in a way that others could understand and support. Those of you that know George are aware that his passion is expressed less through sound and fury, and more through quiet determination and persistent persuasion. He has a national reputation as a thought leader in the field of inclusion for those with developmental disabilities. He has not only ensured the success of the Institute, but has developed an amazing staff who share his passion and vision.

And now, more than 20 years of successful leadership later, he’s ready to retire and pass the baton to the next generation. And fortunately for the Arcadia Institute, Allison Hammond is the perfect person to receive that baton. Allison has been the Program Director at the Arcadia Institute since 2008 and will assume the role of Executive Director on April 1st. In addition to her experience at the Institute, Allison has an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from WMU and has worked as a School Readiness Coordinator and with the Special Olympics. She is also an active community volunteer, serving organizations including Housing Resources, Inc., Junior League of Kalamazoo, United Way and the Kalamazoo Drop-In Child Care Center.

Please join the Board of the Arcadia Institute in thanking George Martin for his immeasurable contributions to this organization and the field at large. We truly owe our existence to his foresight and leadership. And due to his mentoring skills, the board had the perfect candidate available when he decided to retire. We congratulate Allison on her new role as the leader of the Institute. Building on the organization’s legacy, we look forward to her plans for growth and innovation. Under her guidance, the future looks bright indeed.