Friday, August 18, 2017
Here at ILO, we organize and host regular updates and information sessions for members, community partners, and potential participating families. During these sessions, we share ILO’s progress as we work tirelessly to establish supported communities for adults with disabilities. These sessions also provide opportunities for ILO members to connect with community partners, network with other members and self-advocates, and to share ILO’s vision, mission, and goals with a new audience.
Our most recent information session, ILO Today: Where We Are, How to Get Involved, and Where We Are Going, was held July 20, 2017. As usual, we had lots to share – this has truly been a productive summer for ILO, filled with social events, fundraisers, training sessions, new family members and new self-advocates.
The session focused on a number of different aspects of our organization. Throughout the discussion, however, an overarching theme emerged: the community pod. The pod concept– a cornerstone of ILO’s supported community – was discussed in detail with the attendees. Participating family members of ILO self-advocates that live independently in the community pod at the Crossings, an apartment building in Gaithersburg, shared their experiences.
In keeping with the community pod theme, we would also like to take this opportunity to share with you the progress that organizers are making with another ILO Community Pod, in Bethesda, MD.
ILO Community Pods
The Community Pod is a cornerstone of ILO’s supported communities. Community pods are groups of self-advocates (as well as their family and personal networks) that live in close proximity. As self-advocates transition into independent living, teams of paid and unpaid individuals – facilitated by ILO – will support self-advocates as they build relationships, establish themselves in their own homes, and take control of their own lives. These community pods, as a part of larger supported communities, help ensure that self-advocates maintain their skills, develop new ones, and fully integrate into the wider community.
At ILO, we have designed the community pod concept to provide an additional means of support and assistance to those self-advocates that have moved out or are close to making that transition. Parents and members of the self-advocates’ personal support network meet to discuss expectations, challenges, and dreams. The goal is to also bring together self-advocates, so they can build relationships with each other, develop friendships, and grow their personal support networks.
Additional information about community pods can be found here.
The Crossings Parent Presentations
This past year, a number of ILO self-advocates transitioned successfully into independent living by moving into apartments in the Crossings, an apartment building in Gaithersburg, MD. Currently, five ILO self-advocates live in this community pod, supported by an ILO community builder. A community builder is an ILO staff person that works with self-advocates, participating family members, and members of the community to build strong ties within the pod and into the surrounding community.
Three participating families spoke at the July 20th presentation about their experiences with ILO and the journey to independent living. They also spoke about how their family members – self- advocates – have adjusted to living independently, and the steps that these individuals are taking to build lives for themselves. The families also described how ILO facilitates relationship building to create connections with other pod members, community partners, and other ILO community pods.
Thanks to Andrea Kline, Reda and Marc Sheinberg, and Ginny McDonald for speaking to attendees about your experiences as a participating family member to an ILO self-advocate – and congratulations to these self-advocates once again for transitioning into independent living. For those of you that weren’t able to attend this session but would still like some insight into the experiences of ILO participating families, please take a moment to check out our blog, Big Moves: ILO Self Advocates Achieve Independent Living.
Bethesda Pod Update
Leaders and volunteers for the Bethesda Community Pod have been hard at work over the last few months, meeting monthly to build and shape this pod for ILO self-advocates that have already – or will shortly – achieve independent living. Over the last few months, progress has been made and this pod is beginning to take off.
Important Developments: – Organizers discussed tentative time tables for self-advocates moving into the Bethesda pod. – Identified targets and goals that needed to be achieved for this to happen. – Discussed the needs of pod self-advocates, and planned for implementation of community builder. – Elected Jonathan Hudis as chairperson. – Created a clear vision of the Bethesda pod, and – Identified how community, supports and house will work together to form a cohesive unit.
One of the most important parts of each and every Bethesda pod meeting is the family share. During this time, each organizer/participating family member/self-advocate spends a few minutes sharing any important news, updates, progress, etc. that has happened in their lives since the last pod meeting. Through this monthly share, pod members are able to connect and catch up with other members, be inspired by obstacles overcome, offer advice as to challenges that self-advocates may be experiencing, and – overall – connect and form personal, long last relationships with each other.
For more information on the Bethesda community pod, please contact Maedi Tanham Carney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Would You Like More Information?
If you are interested in learning about ILO, or would like to become a member of our organization you certainly don’t need to wait for our next information session! Please contact us to set up a time to chat, or even email us with any questions you may have. We would love the opportunity to meet you and your family members with disabilities, and learn about your dreams for the future. If you would like to experience the ILO community, you may wish to join us at one of our fundraisers – these events are well attended by ILO board members, participating families, and self-advocates. Please follow this link for a tentative schedule of upcoming fundraisers. As well, please take a moment to subscribe to our blog – this is the most effective way to stay connected to the ILO community, and to be kept in the loop for upcoming training, ILO community events, social events, and fundraisers.