ILO Insights

June 25, 2020

Even a Pandemic Can’t Hold Us Back

Maedi Tanham Carney
Founder & CEO, ILO

ILO Continues to Grow – Why That Matters!

Who would have thought sitting down to eat a meal in a restaurant would be so treasured, or getting together face-to-face with friends would be such a luxury?

But our staff, families, and self-advocates have shown their resilience and we have all gotten in the groove of connecting with each other virtually. Everyone seems to have a greater appreciation for how important we are to each other.

Although we are looking forward to reconnecting personally, it’s important to note that for now we will continue social distancing and will move cautiously into the next phases of social integration later this summer and fall. We have received such positive feedback about our virtual activities that we do plan to continue some of them going forward, even after things start reopening. We will keep you posted.

Even with all the restrictions on all of us, ILO continues to grow. It’s amazing! In the last several months:

  • Five new ILO families have joined ILO and are preparing for their training in the fall.
  • We have added two new incredible staff people to our team (see their profiles below).
  • Eight new families have joined ILO’s Community Group.
  • Most importantly, we are in the process of helping several self-advocates transition to independent living.

The vision for ILO has always been to build supportive communities to help self-advocates successfully transition to independent living.  Those supportive communities are finally becoming a reality.

With family encouragement and ILO’s support, self-advocates are pro-actively building relationships with each other on their own; they are reaching out to support each other; and, they are looking out for one another. We could not ask for better results. Building on this will only make us stronger and more sustainable.

Thank you for your ongoing encouragement and support! 

Current FOCUS

Let’s Talk About It

Earlier in the year, we had been exploring relationship building in our POD meetings. We steered to a different topic for a while to discuss COVID-19 safety, isolation, and daily physical and mental balance; then we changed course again to focus on Black Lives Matter, discrimination and inclusiveness.

We will continue discussing all of these topics many times, in many ways, as they touch us all. This week we are going to focus again on relationship building in talking about what makes healthy relationships.

There are many types of relationships: family, friends and romantic. But, they all of have few things in common: Respect, Sharing, Caring, Compromise, Self-Esteem, and Open Communication. This week ILO Community Builders will be discussing these aspects of relationships and talking specifically about maintaining healthy relationships.

This week’s discussion focus:

Healthy relationships should bring out

the best in you and make you

feel good about yourself!


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 the Zoom link)

Full Body Conditioning

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 the Zoom link)

*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.


Meet Janet Bojan

Community Builder


Janet Bojan is the community builder for the Crossings in Gaithersburg MD. She has been working with people with disabilities for over 35 years. Janet was a group home counselor for over 10 years and then became a Group Home Manager for about 7 years. In addition, Janet has been a job coach with individuals with disabilities out in community.

For over 20 years now, Janet has been a Personal Support Counselor and In-Home Support/Apartment Counselor with an agency in Montgomery County. Janet truly enjoys her work and loves building strong relationships with the people she serves and their families. Janet especially enjoys helping people gain their independence and become part of their community.

In Janet’s spare time, she likes to travel and spend time with family and friends. Janet looks forward to sharing her passion with ILO team.

Meet Sandra Chinoingira

Life Coach


Sandra Chinoingira is a life coach for ILO working one on one with the self-advocates to further their independent living skills. Sandra began her career in Senior Care in 2012 working as a Private Aide/Caregiver.

She has worked with individuals with different disabilities and in the process acquired extensive knowledge and continues to this day.

She enjoys and loves helping people to the best of her ability. Sandra is a mother to an amazing son who has taught her that life is very colorful just like crayons and tries to use every color to color her rainbow every day.

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

3 Virtues we do well:

Generosity, Truthfulness, and Sense of Humor.
Sense of Humor, Friendliness, and Generosity.
Self-Control, Respect, and Friendliness.

3 Virtues we could do better:

More Courage, and to be more Respectful to my mother.
More Self-Control, and to be more Respectful to her parents.
Truthfulness, Self-Satisfaction, and to be more Respectful at work.

3 Virtues we think would help America right now:

Fairness, Respect, and Self-Control.
Fairness, Respect, and Self-Control.

Candy bars we think best align with our traits or virtues:

Twix, it makes people happy.

Butterfinger, it makes people feel good.

Almond Joy,  for friendliness.




SA Training Sessions

In this week’s group check-in, the SA’s discussed the importance of Juneteenth. The SA’s watched a video on the history of the widely celebrated holiday and its significance. During the meeting, the SA’s were able to express their feelings toward the protest, riots & police brutality.

Virtual Safari

Full Body Conditioning with Dean

 Every Thursday at 3:00 pm
(Check the ILO Calendar)

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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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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