Volume 3 Issue 12

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State Updates:

ASPIRE Arizona welcomes Michelle Frias in her new role as Case Manager Lead! Michelle has been with ASPIRE as a Case Manager since July of 2014. She brings immense knowledge and resources, and we are excited to have her in this new position.

During this thankful time of year, families have expressed gratitude for some of the ASPIRE Arizona Case Managers.

“My son and I love that Aaron talks with my son about college and has even offered to set up college visits for my son. Aaron has opened my son’s mind up to think about what he wants to do after high school… I wanted to go back to work and he helped me get in to VR, and now I'm working a full time job.” “Ken has been such a great mentor to Angel. He truly seems to care about my son and his future…he always makes a positive impact on Angel by giving him information about volunteering, job fairs and other events that can help Angel out…He's been helping Angel with job searches and career choices and college scholarship information. Angel always has positive things to say about Ken and always comes home with so much useful information.”

“Ms. Lynn is amazing as Case Manager and human being as well. She is helping Michael to get information and how to improve his skills to get a job. In addition, she is helping us with a lot of valuable information that will help us when Michael turns 18. So, we would like to say THANKS Ms. Lynn! And thanks ASPIRE program because it’s been very helpful for us.”

“Michelle has connected Savannah with groups that give her a sense of accomplishment, and increased her confidence and drive. Prior to Michelle in our lives we had no general direction. The thought of graduating was terrifying to Savannah. When we would talk about it she would literally tear up and be fearful. Michelle has assisted Savannah to see a promising future and making plans toward it. Savannah still has a long way to go to get to a place where she is independent but with the assistance of Michelle and helping her with the increase in self-confidence, I have seen more growth in Savannah than ever before! I feel more confident that she will have a bright future ahead! All I can say is Thank You!”

This story comes from Jody Dettmer-Johnson in our Fort Collins office.

Julie’s Success Story – A Work in Progress!

Parents of ASPIRE youth also benefit from working with ASPIRE. Julie’s story is just one example of how ASPIRE is working with not only a youth, but their parents and families as well.

Julie is in her early 50’s and has been diagnosed with ADHD, Bipolar disorder and most recently a hoarding disorder. She is the single parent of an adult son with Asperger’s and ADHD. Julie has developed a strong network of service providers for both she and her son but struggled with coordinating that care and following through with proposed treatment plans. This is where ASPIRE has impacted their lives. As Case Manager, Jody Dettmer-Johnson worked hard to coordinate with and streamline her service providers. One recent example of that is in Julie’s effort to work through her hoarding behavior.

Less than a month ago, Julie called Jody, crying and upset, because she had had a surprise inspection from the Housing Authority. She had less than 3 weeks to clear all the clutter from windows, doors and hallways in her apartment or possibly lose her housing. Jody contacted Julie’s therapist of over 10 years. It became clear that a connection was needed with Julie’s Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor about possibly hiring a vendor to help Julie clean out the clutter. Several calls, emails and meetings later, Julie’s DVR counselor determined that the hoarding was seriously impacting her goal to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. So the VR counselor authorized funding to help Julie with the cleaning process.

Next came the coordinating meeting with all the parties: Julie, her therapist, the vendor hired by VR, her DVR counselor and myself to come up with a three tiered action plan. The final and long term goal was to address her hoarding issue at a therapeutic level. First, Julie was able pass her housing inspection. We are in phase 2 (purging items from the home with the help of the vendor) and it is going very well! The final phase will be increasing her skills to maintain her home without the hoarding habits.

We are also completing the intake process with the local DDID (Developmental Disability/ Intellectual Disability) to determine if she is eligible for ongoing support in maintaining her home. All members of this growing team are communicating to continue to work on the action plan. The therapist often ends her emails by saying she is so grateful ASPIRE is a part of the team. Jody reports that breaking down silos between care providers has been one of the most rewarding aspects of her work as a Case Manager for ASPIRE!

Montana Volunteers Fun things are happening in Montana! Recently ASPIRE youth participated in some great volunteer activities. At ASPIRE, we feel like it is important to show the world that having a disability and being young does not mean one cannot contribute to society.

In Kalispell, we had a number of youth volunteer at the local food bank by packaging rice and oats for the local elders. The youth worked hard measuring and packaging for two hours. They did a fantastic job and had a lot of fun while helping others in their community! One youth said of the experience, “It is very satisfying to know I am helping someone else”.

A big Thank You to Zach, Xavier, Candace, Skyla, Kyle, Jamie, and Lizzy who helped to make this volunteer experience a super fun time. Don’t forget to add this volunteer work to your resumes!

North Dakota
ASPIRE North Dakota Case Managers have been completing ASPIRE check-in forms with their families. It has been insightful to youth, parents and Case Managers to see that many goals have been accomplished since enrolling in ASPIRE! Families are able to reflect on the impact that ASPIRE has had on their lives and consider new goals they wish to pursue.

Youth who were juniors in high school, when they enrolled in ASPIRE, are now attending college and living independently. A youth who had no interest in working two years ago has progressed from filling out job applications, developing his resume, and completing interest inventories, to now having a part time job. An ASPIRE family of five recently signed up all four children for 529 Savings Plans; the state of North Dakota will match funds up to $900 for each child who has a 529 Saving Plans. An ASPIRE youth who set the goal of applying for many college scholarships and has already accumulated over $5000 to attend college in the fall of 2018. A parent who had previously set a goal of getting his GED has decided to pursue this goal again. Once he accomplishes his goal of getting his GED, his employer will pay for him to attend mechanical training so he can become a supervisor.

Through the ASPIRE check-in process, revisiting past goals that were completed gives families and youth a sense of accomplishment. Reviewing goals that were not achieved reminds families of why they set them in the first place, and gives them renewed excitement to accomplish their goals and even set new goals.

South Dakota
Jaylin Jaylin turned 16 at the end of summer and was super excited to begin Project Skills so he could get a job! Jaylin is currently a freshman in high school and recently started working at Black Tie Boutique where he cleans rental shoes, helps change the displays. He was even in charge of turning back all the clocks for daylight savings time. Jaylin loves his job! Though he tires easily he goes to work full of energy and is doing a great job! When he got his first paycheck, he waited to cash it because he wanted to show his ASPIRE Case Manager!

In addition to working, Jay also loves to volunteer! He currently volunteers at his church for youth night on Wednesdays, and he volunteers at his little sister's preschool. He loves children so he would like to volunteer at a daycare in the near future.

Jaylin has set some additional goals for himself. His favorite song is the National Anthem and he has a goal to sing the National Anthem at a Special Olympic event. He is gaining independence at home and at school, and has started doing more chores at home. He recently made an Oreo dessert almost entirely by himself that he shared with his youth group.

Jaylin does everything with a smile on his face and he is such a joy to be around!

Parents face many challenges as teens grow up and become adults. There’s nothing simple about being an adult!! They worry about the choices their adult children will make and who will look out for them. Guardianship is one way that young adults can have help to make decisions! And guardianship issues may feel daunting and a bit scary. Learn how one ASPIRE Utah parent took on this challenge and is ready to move ahead.

Ehuti was worried that the guardianship process would be too expensive. She and the ASPIRE Case Manager, Misty Fielding took time to investigate the process. They learned all they could. Ehuti and Misty found a way to do the application for only $35! The application and supporting paperwork are all ready now! Ehuti will be submitting the paperwork to the courts very soon.

Ehuti frequently expresses her thanks to all who have assisted throughout her experience with ASPIRE. She and her daughter have attended many ASPIRE workshops and classes, always commenting that she learned something new to help her daughter and her family.

To learn more about guardianship, just ask your ASPIRE case manager. They are always happy to walk with you through the many challenges of becoming an adult!

December 15, 2017

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

North Dakota
South Dakota

ASPIRE Website

Follow ASPIRE on Facebook

"Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!"

ASPIRE Partners

Contact Us

The Director's Corner

December can be one of the most celebratory times of the year. We gather together with families and friends and connect with many we’ve not seen in some time. It can also be a frustrating and scary time. Family relationships may be strained. Budgets can get stretched thin. It can be overwhelming with things to do, people to see, places to go, meals to cook and gifts to buy.

It’s also the time of year when we think about the past and plan for the future. Some people make New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never had much luck with resolutions. I prefer to set goals. There are many goals I didn’t accomplish this past year – have a better relationship with my cousin, lose some weight, do more exercising. But I did achieve some. I am volunteering once a month with an elder-care group. I’m cooking at home more than eating out. I actually put aside most (not all) $5 bills I got this past year. (And that came in very handy for tight budget times.)

Have you considered what you’ve done in the past year? What have you accomplished? Like me, do you need to set new goals? Or maybe just improve some past ones? Don’t wait til New Year’s Resolution time. Set goals now. Go back and check yourself to see how you’re doing. The easiest goal for me to achieve was the one I could see every time I looked in my wallet. Did I have a $5? Then I remembered to set it aside that night (mostly).

I wish each and every one in ASPIRE a wondrous holiday season and challenge you to set a goal or two of what you want to do, not just in the new year, but every day!

Happy Holidays! Carol

Carol Ruddell
ASPIRE Project Director


Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!

Do you connect with youth and their families through a newsletter, or know of an agency that does? Let us know if you would like some information about ASPIRE or PROMISE to include in your newsletter. We will gladly provide you with a brief article and additional information. Simply email us at
aspire@aspirewest.org or call 1-844-880-9712.



ASPIRE Website - www.aspirewest.org

The ASPIRE website is a great place to find resources for youth and their families in your area, as well as contact information for all six of the ASPIRE states, and information about ASPIRE and the PROMISE Initiative. If you received this newsletter from a friend or colleague and would like to be on our mailing list, click on the "Subscribe" link to sign up for our newsletter.

You can also view ASPIRE related events in your state by going to your state page, then clicking on the upcoming events link on the menu.

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ASPIRE Partners

ASPIRE is excited to partner with the following agencies:

ASPIRE Partners: Utah State Office of Rehabilitation, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, and the Office of Public Instruction, Colorado Office of Community Access and Independence, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, South Dakota Black Hills Special Services Cooperative, North Dakota Center for persons with Disabilities at Minot State University, Arizona Governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families

Be a part of the ASPIRE Newsletter

If you would like to be included in our next newsletter, email us at aspire@aspirewest.org or call 1-844-880-9172.