ILO Insights

July 8, 2020

A Summer Like No Other

Maedi Tanham Carney
Founder & Executive Director, ILO

But ILO Keeps Doing What ILO Does Best!

This summer may be quiet for some but not for ILO’s self-advocates!

Coaching for Work and for Life
ILO’s job and life coaches are working with a couple of our aspiring entrepreneurs, coaching a few looking for jobs, and helping some work on forging a career or helping expand life skills for adapting to independent living. Something all young adults could use!

Facilitating Meaningful Connections with Others
ILO’s Community Builders host weekly virtual POD check-in’s where self-advocates have a little fun, stretch their knowledge and skills, and share with each other what’s happening in their lives. It’s a great opportunity to discuss what’s happening right now, personally and in the world around us.

Offering Engaging Activities for Fun, Exercise, De-stressing, and Making Friends
Our weekly virtual safaris have been a hit as well as our virtual happy hours and free virtual physical fitness twice a week with yoga and strength-building. Bingo will be starting soon and we’re already looking for new and interesting activities. All provide great social interaction and networking for ILO self-advocates.

Helping Transition to Independent Living Every Step of the Way
We are also helping a couple of our self-advocates transition into their own homes.  We are with them every step of the way – from reviewing the lease agreement with them, to organizing their kitchen utensils, to helping them figure out their grocery shopping, transportation, and budget. We have photos documenting some of this further in the newsletter.

Building Supportive Communities – The Safety Net
Along with their families, we are an integral part of each self-advocate’s community. We are there when things seem a little lonely, or to help with some of the bumps in the road.

More importantly, they are there for each other! Once they have made the transition, it’s great for these young adults to be able to share their wins with each other and to help each other with the challenges they will face living independently.

Current FOCUS

Joseph’s Transition to Independent Living

Over the last few months ILO staff has been working with Joseph to prepare him for moving into the Crossings in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where several other ILO self-advocates currently live.

ILO’s Community Life Coordinator, Sherita Mason, met with Joseph and his team regularly in preparation for Joseph’s move. Sherita began the process using ILO’s working document called “Transition to Independent Living the ILO Way”. This document establishes a timeline and a budget to make this transition successful. ILO provides the supports for all self-advocates who move to independent living. This is the ILO model and without the supports there is a real chance for any individual with disabilities when moved to independent living are isolated, lonely and vulnerable and will fail in the process. ILO not only provides the supports for independent living skills (life coaches) but also the community builder who helps build peer to peer relationships and helps the self-advocate be integrated in the community. ILO also requires all self-advocates to go through the Full Life™ Skills Inventory assessment so the staff knows the abilities of the self-advocate and what independent living skills the self-advocate needs to work on to be as independent as possible.

In Joseph’s transition process, Sherita with Joseph and his team, scheduled apartment tours, and when the Crossings was chosen, Sherita assisted with completing the leasing application, worked with Plan-MD/DC and the Crossing’s leasing office to support Joseph  on a final move in date.  Once that was done, the team got together with Joseph to begin purchasing what he needs in his apartment. ILO provides the checklist of items going from room to room.

Working in coordination with Joseph, Joseph’s circle of supports, the ILO team and ILO Executive Director Maedi Tanham Carney, Sherita created a self-advocate binder where all the pertinent information is kept for all who are involved in Joseph’s independent life including a weekly schedule.

Joseph has everything he needs to succeed to live independently and be integrated in the community. Sandra, Joseph’s life coach will work with him daily on his independent living skills while Janet Bojan the Crossings Residential Community Builder will work with Joe to get to know the other self-advocates at the Crossings and activities in the community. Sandra says, “Joe is such a sweet person, ever smiling and eager to learn. He doesn’t hesitate to ask questions if he doesn’t understand something.” She said some of his first questions were about when he will be going to back to work – he has already mapped out his way to work using the bus before he even moved in. He also cannot wait to meet face-to-face with the other ILO self-advocates at the Crossings.

Behind this mask is a beaming face
ready for a new beginning!

Joseph chose the Crossings at Old Towne
in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

The Crossings is one of ILO’s residential placements for self-advocates and has a dedicated ILO Community Builder.

Joseph’s Team

  • Sherita Mason, ILO – Community Life Coordinator
  • Elynne Bunnag, Plan of MD-DC – Clinical Case Manager
  • Walter Alvarado, Help in the Home – Community Manager
  • Joseph, ILO – Self-Advocate
  • Sandra Chinoingira, ILO – Life Coach

The Small Print, The Big Print,
A Lot of Print!

 Joseph, Sandra, and Elynne review the lease terms making sure Joseph understands exactly what he is signing and what he is committing to.

What Happens Next?

Joseph and Sandra admire his new apartment after having just toured it.

They talked about next steps and map out plans for a daily schedule, picking out furniture, buying groceries and necessities, and settling in.

Over the next two weeks Joseph and Sandra will work together to help him unpack, work on cleaning, laundry and eventually cooking meals.

Joe was happy just holding his own apartment keys! He was beaming and smiling behind the mask.

Getting Organized

Whose house looks this organized?
Joseph’s House!

The Adventure Begins!

Janet Bojan, ILO’s Residential Community Builder for the Crossings meets with Joseph to talk about next steps.

Because the ILO’s Self-Advocates at the Crossings reside so closely to each other they have a pretty tight bond and enjoy spending time together.

With ILO’s support, Janet will help facilitate those relationships – building a supportive community for Joseph.

Congratulations Joseph!


FREE Virtual Yoga & Full Body Conditioning All Summer

Thanks to our amazing DONORS we are offering ALL ILO self-advocates* FREE access to:

Virtual Yoga

Who:                Create Calm Instructors

When:              Every Sunday through August 30th

What Time:    1:30-2:15 pm

How:                 Zoom (See the Calendar for more information)

Full Body Conditioning
(Includes activities like: Simon Says, Jumping Jacks, Sit-ups and Low Impact Cardio)

Who:               Root Strong Fitness by Dean

When:            Every Thursday through August 27th

What Time:    3:00-4:00 pm

How:               Zoom (See the Calendar for more information)

*Participating self-advocates, or their families, must be members of the ILO Community Group and must sign a waiver before participation.

Go to: for more info or to join the ILO Community Group.

August 30th – Save the Date!
Join Maedi Tanham Carney & Vijay D’Souza for
ILO’s Family 50 mile Biking Fundraiser

  • Watch for details in an upcoming ILO email announcement.

  • Ride

  • Volunteer at Aid Stations

  • Cheer Riders On

  • Sponsor the Event

COVID-19: We will not have any activities until it is safe to do so, and that may be quite a while, but in the meantime, we will continue to maintain our many digital activities, trainings, and emotional and personal support of ILO self-advocates and their families.

 Take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with the disease:


  • Stay home if possible

  • Wash your hands often.

  • Social distance yourself from others (stay 6 feet away – about two arm lengths).

  • Keep away from people who are sick.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

  • Call your doctor if you have concerns or if you are sick.

POD Recent Activities

Weekly Check-In Sessions

Areas we need to work on:

Showing appreciation for others

Being flexible when talking

Listening intentionally to what others have to say with an open mind.

Things we learned are important in building healthy relationships:


Accepting our flaws

Completing our bucket list

Relationships take work

Sharing is important

1 Thing great about ourselves:

I like to be healthy

I make people laugh

I am kind to everybody

I am helpful

Our bucket lists:

Visit the beach

Visit Williamsburg

Visit Hawaii




SA Training Sessions

Self-Advocates continued discussions about building healthy relationships.

In the Know

ILO’s Initiatives to Support CDC Guidelines for the Disabled during Social Integration

NO Contact Rule

ILO will require any staff person who has tested positive for COVID-19 to negatively pass two (2) COVID-19 tests before contact with any ILO participant, family member, or other staff person. If a staff member has been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for
COVID-19, they must self-quarantine for 14 days.

Social Distancing and Masks

ILO staff will ensure that participants at any self-advocate gathering maintain social distancing of 6’ and that each person wears a mask.

Hand Washing Hygiene

ILO will encourage activity participants (staff, self-advocates, family, and guests) to wash their hands frequently (before, during, and after any event) and to carry hand sanitizer with them.

Disinfecting Where Possible

At any ILO gathering ILO staff will wipe down doorknobs, tabletops, and other surfaces with disinfectant wipes before and throughout the event or activity to the extent possible.

Safety and Wellness Training

ILO has spent the last two months training self-advocates about safety issues including: emergency preparedness, having an emergency contact list, how to ask for help, calling 911, putting together a first aid and emergency kit, and dealing with emergencies. ILO will continue to review and reinforce this training on a regular basis.

Immediate Mediation if Symptomatic

ILO staff will contact family and/or caregivers immediately about any self-advocate who exhibits symptoms on COVID-19 and will help that self-advocate seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

The COVID-19 outbreak is a dynamic and unpredictable situation. ILO will adapt as needed.

Additional Information on COVID-19


Disability alone may not be related to higher risk for getting COVID-19 or having severe illness. Most people with disabilities are not inherently at higher risk for becoming infected with or having severe illness from COVID-19. However, some people with disabilities might be at a higher risk of infection or severe illness because of their underlying medical conditions.

About COVID-19

• Coronavirus disease is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is also possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.

For more information go to CDC’s Fact Sheet- What you need to know about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

• Risk of infection with COVID-19 is higher for people who are in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19, such as healthcare workers, direct support providers, and household members. Other people at higher risk for infection are those who live or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.

Prevention and Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to take everyday preventative actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick and washing your hands often. There is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19. People with COVID-19 can seek medical care to help relieve symptoms.

Can We Assist YOU?

During this ‘new normal’ ILO is here to help YOUR family and SELF-ADVOCATE in every way possible.

  • Overwhelmed and don’t know where to go for assistance?
  • Lost your support (day programs, etc.), and need alternatives?
  • Running out of ideas for dealing with social isolation?

ILO is here to help! Please reach out to me directly: Maedi Tanham Carney, ILO Executive Director at

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You may opt out at any time.

We Need Your Help Now! Will You Help Support ILO?

The services that we provide to our self-advocates are largely funded by fundraising events, and by donations. During this time we are not able to hold these events. Please consider a donation to help us continue providing support!

The CARE Act permits eligible individual taxpayers who do not itemize deductions to take an above-the-line deduction of up to $300 for qualified charitable contributions made during such taxable year, except for contributions to a
non-operating private foundation or to a donor advised fund.

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