There is nothing like the feeling of becoming empowered. I was reminded of this in May at our annual Technology and Resource Fair.
The Reno County election office had a booth which featured their accessible voting machine. Unaware it was available for use in the small town where I live and voted, this past November I voted the old inaccessible way. That meant that my husband and I shared a voting booth, he read the paper ballot to me, and marked my answers. After reading me mine, he silently and privately cast his vote.
Casting my own ballot, in total complete privacy, with absolutely no one but God and I knowing for sure whom I’d voted for, was always just a hope for the future. Well, the future has arrived at every voting location in Reno County. What’s more, the county election staff is excited about their new technology and want every registered voter to know it’s available and to be sure and use it.
That’s why they were at the Tech Fair…they wanted to show off their new equipment. I was thrilled to try it out. You should have been there. I was so excited—kind of like a kid in the candy store. All I had to do was put on earphones and put in a card, which told the machine that it needed to talk to me. It did talk to me. This nice little machine read me everything so I could vote on all the candidates and amendments on the ballot. What’s more, I could even do write-ins. It was so cool. They were laughing at my enthusiasm and sharing in my joy at being able to vote all by myself.
The down side is that a lot of people who work elections are not comfortable with this new fangled equipment and don’t tell us it’s available. That means we need to request it. They are trained in how to use them, and encouraged to inform voters about them, but it didn’t happen in Haven. It will at our next election. I will go in and ask to use the accessible voting machine. What’s more, I’ll probably do the happy dance all the way out the door afterwards!
If you want to try this out before the next election, go to the courthouse and ask to give it a test run. The nice folks who work there will show you what you need to know and let you cast your mock ballot. In case you are thinking you don’t need the machine to talk to you, it does a lot of other cool tricks making it accessible for anyone with a physical or sensory disability. It’s all in the card you put in the slot. Go check it out. Then ask to use it at your next election. If you do not live in Reno County, ask your election office for information on what’s available in your county. Join me in becoming empowered and voting in privacy at our next election. It’s awesome!
By Roger Frischenmeyer, ILS
The 9th Disability Caucus will be held August 8, 9, and 10 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Topeka. Working toward our future is the theme of this year’s caucus and many of the sessions will be focused on employment. The keynote speaker at this year’s caucus is Dale DiLio. “A widely sought-after speaker and consultant, and well known advocate for people with disabilities, Dale DiLeo has provided training throughout the US and in Canada and Europe on community inclusion for persons with disabilities. Dale has trained over 75,000 participants over the past 30 years, serving as the keynote for the European Union of Supported Employment in Oslo, Norway and presenting again in Barcelona, Spain. He has consulted with state and private agencies, universities, professional associations, and corporations. He is the Past President of the Board of the Association for Persons in Supported Employment (APSE), and is the lead author of that organization's highly respected Ethical Guidelines in Supported Employment. His latest book, Raymond's Room, focuses on ending the shameful segregation of people with disabilities in community life.
We also will spend time in regional sessions discussing what we feel are the issues that should be focused on legislatively over the next few years. Though the caucus is a lot about learning and working toward change, there will also be some fun as there will be a dance the first night. Also, for those of us who know Stephanie Sanford, she will be the M.C. during the awards banquet and we all know how entertaining that could be.
The caucus is 3 days where people with disabilities aren’t the minority, we are the majority. It is also 3 days that can change your life. If you want more information, call us here at the center and we will get it to you and I look forward to seeing you at the caucus.
The Voice Of PILR Page 2 of 8
This is a special thank you to all of the businesses and individuals who have given donations to support the mission of Prairie Independent Living Resource Center.
FUNDRAISING NOW IN PROGRESS!
Prairie Independent Living Resource Center is now accepting donations from individuals and businesses in our community who wish to support the mission of our center. We are currently in the process of planning many upcoming events. In addition to donations, you may include PILR in your will or estate planning.
If you would like to make a tax -deductible donation, please clip out the coupon and mail it to us. You may personally deliver it as well. Thanks for your support!
Name:____________ ____________________________ _
City:__________________ __ State:______ Zip Code:_________
Area code and telephone:_______________ ____________
Tax Deductible Donation: (check one)
___$25.00 ___$50.00 ___$100 ___$200
Other amount: $________ _____I would like to include Prairie Independent Living Resource Center in my will or estate. Please contact me at:
Please mail/deliver to: Prairie Independent Living Resource Center
17 S. Main
Hutchinson, KS 67501
Attn: Chris Owens
Everyone at Prairie Independent Living Resource Center and the community would love to hear your success stories.
We would like to start a new column in the newsletter called Consumer Corner. This column will be for consumers and friends and family of consumers who would like to share how PILR has made a positive impact.
Please submit all articles to the Editor:
17 South Main
Hutchinson, Kansas 67501
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
7/4/2007 Independence Day – PILR is closed
7/6/2007 Personal Safety Workshop 10:00 AM-3:00PM at the Rice Park
7/23/2007 Annual ADA March & Rally 9:00AM at the Reno County
Courthouse located at 206 West 1st, Hutchinson, Kansas
7/26/2007 Civil Rights Vigil at 7:00PM at the Reno County Courthouse
located at 206 West 1st, Hutchinson, Kansas
8/8, 9, 10/2007 Disability Caucus in Topeka
9/3/2007 Labor Day – PILR is closed
10/2/2007 Dinner & Jazz at Avenue A Park
Job Club 2:30PM at the Chamber of Commerce every first and third Friday of the month located at 117 North Walnut, Hutchinson, Kansas
Job Club 1:00PM at the Pratt Office every third Thursday of the month located at 103 West 2nd, Pratt, Kansas
The Voice Of PILR Page 3 of 8
Everyone can give back
By Roger Frischenmeyer, ILS
I have learned over my time here at PILR that you just never know what the next project Chris will find for us to do, but recently she shocked even me when she came to my office and asked “what do you think about planting trees?” My answer was something like well I had never really thought about it before but I guess I could. She than told me about a grant that her daughter Jennifer found from the Bubel Aiken Foundation and we decided that planting trees might be in my future.
The grant was to fund a project which would take place during National and Global Youth make a difference day which is held in April of every year. The purpose of these projects is to show that youth of all abilities can give back to their community if they are given a chance. So anyway, we applied for this grant and I don’t think any of us thought we would get it but surprise, surprise, surprise, we did.
We then had another problem. We had money from the grant, but no youth to help make the project happen. This, however, was a short lived problem because students from Nickerson High school stepped up and volunteered to help.
The first planning meeting was held on February 19th and I questioned our sanity for deciding to do this project because only 4 people showed up to our meeting. But we started the planning process and our tree planting adventure began.
To say I knew nothing about planting trees would be an understatement but I did know enough to contact someone who did know something about this subject.
That person was Bob Hunter who works for the City of Hutchinson and to him I say thanks a lot for all you did to make this project a reality. He gave us all of the information we needed. He also helped us by picking up the trees after we purchased them and was there the day of the event to make sure the trees were planted correctly.
As I said before, this event was supposed to show that youth of all abilities could contribute to their communities, and we had a great bunch of youth on the planning committee. The youth members of the committee were, Brad Swaim, Devon Sons, Michael Stahl, Amanda Capps, Allen Reed, Matthew Hoover, and Tyrel Cregger. We also had Jim Hoover, a parent, and Chrisi Billinger a Nickerson High School teacher. This event would not have happened without the work of this committee and I want to thank them for all of their hard work.
We met every Monday night from the first week in March planning the event. We had to find speakers, plan a banner or poster, invite guests, and other small things to make sure the event took place.
Finally, it was April 21st and all of our work would pay off as we would be planting trees in Harsha Park. We would be planting 5 trees, 2 redbuds, 2 flowering crab apples, and a river birch. We would also be listening to an awesome motivational speech by Carlota Ponds and than celebrating our accomplishments with a reception afterward. The only one who tried to throw a wrinkle in our plan was Mother Nature as it was unbelievably windy but even that couldn’t keep us from succeeding with our tree planting.
Looking back it was a lot of fun for me to be involved in this project. I had a great group to work with, and we showed that people of all abilities can work to make their community a better place.
Make a Difference Day
By Amanda Capps, Michael Stahl,
and Brad Swaim
We helped the community by planting 5 trees at Harsha Park on Saturday, April 21st at 11:00 am as part of the Global Youth Make a Difference Day. The project was funded by the Clay Aiken Foundation. We had speakers from the community talk about getting involved in the community. We participated in this event to get involved in the community, to improve it, and make it beautiful. It was also a lot of fun. It was cool working with PILR planning the project and making decisions. It was a learning experience going to and speaking at the city and county meetings to accept proclamations. It was also nice to get T-shirts, posters, and a plaque made with our chosen quote and the names of the planning committee on them. We look forward to working on more projects like this in the future.
My pity animal
By Roger Frischenmeyer, ILS
I was sitting in the Ramada Inn in Topeka trying to figure out how to kill a Friday night when a friend of mine convinced me that it would be fun to go to a carnival. She wanted to ride the ferris wheel and eat a funnel cake and having nothing else to do I figured what the heck it could be fun.
Well we get to the carnival and my nephew who was driving for us is telling us what games and things he sees as we are walking in and he mentions that there is a game where you try to pop balloons with darts. Now of course, I am definitely not one to brag but living here in Hutchinson, and going to the state fair every year as a kid I became pretty darn good at that throwing dart thing. Ok, not really, but I did like to play the game. So I told them we had to add one more thing to our carnival agenda. Now it would be the ferris wheel, a funnel cake and darts.
So we get to the ferris wheel and it is going too fast so we scratch that idea and head to get the funnel cake. We devour that and then it is time for the darts.
At some point during our walk around the carnival grounds, I told Anthony, my nephew, that my friend and I would end up with a prize even if we weren’t good at the game because that is how things like that work. He, of course didn’t believe me but we would see if his mind changed before the end of the night.
Anyway, we get to the game and I let him go first and immediately he wins a shirt. Than, it is my turn and I hit my first balloon and than it is downhill from there and I win nothing. My friend tries to outshine me and she fails too as she couldn’t hit 3 balloons either. We of course don’t give up and again try to hit 3 balloons, but again we fail. I know at this point that the carnival guy is thinking those poor blind people have to end up with a prize and so he tells us if we hit the next balloon we win our choice. My friend does, I had to throw 2 but eventually we both got an animal. Hers was a gorilla, mine a frog.
My nephew was shocked because he didn’t believe that we would get a prize. Of course I knew we would because many times I had gotten the pity animal. I had hoped that we had come far enough that it wouldn’t happen but alas we haven’t. So I took the frog, the one I won, and gave it to Frog, the receptionist and it now has a place under his desk. So next time you’re here at PILR just ask Frog and you can see the pity animal.
The Voice Of PILR Page 4 of 8
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Martin Luther King Jr.
TEN THINGS YOU CAN DO TO END SEXUAL AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
(Reprinted by permission from Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence newsletter, Summer 2006)
Talk to youth about healthy relationships and model the behavior you want them to adopt.
Speak up when others make sexist comments or engage in victim blaming.
Contact your legislators to encourage them to support intervention and prevention services.
Become involved in prevention and intervention efforts in your community.
Encourage your employer to offer training on sexual and domestic violence in the workplace.
Approach your faith leader about starting a sexual and domestic violence program within your faith community.
Educate young people to be informed consumers of the mass media so they can recognize negative messages about relationships.
Let businesses know when they offend you with sexist promotions and advertising campaigns.
Offer support to persons you believe may be experiencing domestic or sexual violence.
Work with community officials to encourage them to adopt sexual and domestic violence prevention programs in your community.
[For more information, contact your local sexual assault/domestic violence organization or visit www.kcsdv.org. If you need immediate assistance, the Kansas Crisis Hotline is a toll-free, statewide hotline that can be reached by dialing 1-888-363-2287.]
My Life As a Driver
By Jennifer Owens
For over a year I was a driver for my mom, Chris Owens. Later, I also drove for Roger Frischenmeyer. During this time I traveled to many far-off and exotic locals, all within Kansas. From Colby to Chanute, I found that Kansas is filled with surprises. But possibly the most important thing I learned while driving was: always remember to fill up your gas tank before heading to Topeka.
I’ll begin my mini-memoir with the small towns of western Kansas. Some might disagree, but I find western Kansas quite charming. On two separate occasions, Liberal and Colby were our destinations.
True, Liberal is famous for its rather smelly beef industry, but it’s an otherwise nice little town. We stayed at a new hotel and shopped at the local Wal-Mart—all the amenities of home! The land around Liberal is mostly treeless, but the drive was not without interesting sights. In fact, we passed through other small towns such as Meade, briefly famous for its resident who flew a gay rainbow Pride flag from The Lakeway Inn.
However much I enjoyed Liberal, it was Colby I came to appreciate more than any other town in Kansas. Located in the far northwest corner of our great state, Colby is marketed as “The Oasis on the Plains.” I heartily agree with this description. As a driver, I was always looking for cheap and entertaining ways to pass the time. Colby boasts an impressive museum called The Prairie Museum of Art and History, which is both cheap and entertaining. The museum houses many historical artifacts of prairie life, such as toys from the past, decorative glass, and even wedding dresses of the Midwest from the 1880s to the 1980s. But the best part about the museum are the old buildings on its grounds. Namely, The Cooper Barn, one of the largest barns in Kansas (but don’t go upstairs—it’s creepy!); a country church; a sod house, complete with furniture and clothing; a one-room school; and a 1930s farmstead with windmill and barn. If it hadn’t been so hot when I visited the museum, I could have spent the afternoon just hanging out at the farmstead!
Before I continue to the other towns of Kansas, I must note the barrage of billboards we encountered on our way to Colby. The billboards read: “Live! 6-legged Steer”, “Pet the Baby Pigs”, and even “8,000 lb Prairie Dog”. Had we decided to pull over in Oakley, Kansas and visit what is called The Prairie Dog Town—an apparent collection of animal oddities—I’m not sure what we would have found. Perhaps on your next trip to Colby, you’ll pull over and find out.
As for eastern Kansas, Chanute is a town worth mentioning. Downtown there is a nice little museum called The Martin and Osa Johnson Safari museum. Martin and Osa Johnson were explorers from Kansas who traveled all over the world in the first half of the 20th century, and they were from Chanute. However, if you decide to visit the museum, you might want to bring a map with you. Chanute’s a difficult town to find, and in my opinion road signs in the area don’t do much to help out lost or confused motorists.
Finally, we come to Topeka. I’m sure you’ve all been to Topeka before, but for the sake of any drivers who are reading this article, I’ll make note of my favorite way to pass time in the city: Petland pet store. The store has dogs, cats, birds, fish, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, and more. And, as one of the girls working in the store told me, “You can do anything to the rabbits!” So, if you’re ever in Topeka, go to Petland and feel free to manhandle your share of rabbits, cockatiels, and maybe a poodle or two. But before you get in your car and head down the turnpike, remember to fill up with a tank of gas. Otherwise, you might find yourself making an unplanned visit to a gas station in Osage City.
If you’re ever lucky enough to have the opportunity to be a driver, I hope you visit all these great sites of Kansas and more. After all, I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than by hanging out in Liberal, Colby, or even Chanute.
The Voice Of PILR Page 5 of 8
By Chris Owens, Executive Director
On May 3, 2007 Roger Frischenmeyer graduated from Leadership Reno County. Although he was reluctant to be a part of the LRC class, he admits he enjoyed it a lot and found it to be a rewarding experience. Three years ago Roger attended my LRC graduation so I thought it would be good to attend his as well. Besides, their graduations are fun and there’s lots of good food, too.
The class is divided into project groups who develop some kind of service or event to improve Reno County. Roger’s group sponsored a career fair for students at Obee school. They want students to have high expectations and to follow their dreams.
At graduation, the groups are to present their projects, but they cannot just stand up in front of the audience and talk. Lynette and Kris want them to be creative. The 2007 class did not let them down. Roger’s group sang (I guess you could call it singing) this song. Not only did they perform it, but they also wrote it and gave permission for us to publish it in our newsletter. They may have looked and sounded a little silly, but the message is powerful. I only wish you could have been there for it’s debut performance.
(sung to the tune of Elvis Presley – You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog)
So he wants to be Tom Cruise, now
And she dreams of Hollywood
While her friend drops out of high school
As if that’s simply understood
Well, they can’t amount to nothing
If they don’t believe in themselves.
So let’s show them some careers now
* Picture of two musical notes on each side of the song
Leadership Reno county,
What a ride
By Roger Frischenmeyer, ILS
I was selected to participate in the 2007 spring class of Leadership Reno County. What I really mean by selected is shamed relentlessly by Chris until I said I would apply. Then though I called on divine beings to intervene on my behalf to make sure I wasn’t selected as a participant it was a call that went unanswered as I was selected for the class. I still believed that strep throat or appendicitis or some other disease would be preferable to attending that class but bright and early on January 18, I arrived at the Cosmosphere to meet my leadership classmates.
The first part of our leadership journey would be a 2 day retreat in Hesston. Not exactly the Big Apple I guess but it did give us a chance to begin getting to know each other. We drove to Hesston in groups of 4 or 5 and Lynette and Kris gave us a list of questions that we were supposed to discuss on our way. Though I truthfully don’t even remember the questions now, what I do remember is that there were two of us in our car who had a family member that family legend says were named after a goat. I also don’t remember how we came to this realization but interestingly enough we did.
We spent a lot of time those first two days talking about our learning styles and how to make Reno County a better place to live. We also began learning things about each other and before we knew it our retreat was over but our journey had just begun.
We would be spending 8 more sessions together. These sessions would be held at different places around the city of Hutchinson. We would also take tours of different businesses after each session. One of the highlights for me of the tours was when we got to tour the salt museum. It was something that I had always said I had no desire to do, but now that I have gone on that tour I will definitely go again and encourage everyone to go at least once. Not only did we tour businesses and visit different sites for our meetings we also covered different topics to make us better leaders and more aware of both strengths and weaknesses of Reno county.
We also were divided into different groups and each group had to develop a project that in some way would help Reno County. The group that I was in decided to do a career fair at Obee Elementary School which was held on Monday May 7th. We had several people with different careers talk to the 3rd through 6th grade students about their career and the importance in believing in oneself.
On May 3rd with much fanfare the spring class of Leadership Reno County ended our time together as our graduation ceremony was held at The Highlands. At our graduation we were each given a cardboard car to represent our leadership journey. This is a journey that I would never have taken had it not been for Chris relentlessly shaming me in to applying for this class. For that I owe you a big thanks. It taught me so much about this community and even some things about myself. If you get a chance to go on this leadership journey, I would tell you to go for it. It is definitely a ride worth taking.
The Voice Of PILR Page 6 of 8
PERSONAL SAFETY WORKSHOP
identity to planning for our personal safety, this workshop will look at
several issues important in our lives and in our
Speakers from: First National Bank/Hutchinson, Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Prairie Independent Living Resource Center
Sponsored by Prairie Independent Living Resource Center...call 620-663-3989 for more information.
There is NO CHARGE for the workshop…
Lunch is provided
The Voice Of PILR Page 7 of 8
Challenging Everyone to Fly
By Christine Pechstein, Employment Specialist
As the call for newsletter articles came, I had a brainstorm. For those who work with me, they know this can be a scary moment. I sent myself an email containing "notes to myself", so I wouldn't lose my train of thought, which happens-just ask the PILR staff! I planned on writing an article on the Three E's of employment. Empower, Esteem, and Employment. Those are the three E's I thought related to employment. I ran off to job club and came back so full of energy and enthusiasm, even more than I had before I left. I was afraid there would be a fire extinguisher outside my cubicle Monday morning, in case I ever spontaneously combusted from my excitement at work. I realized as I left job club, that there are four E's. The forth being Engagement. That was a WOW moment for me, and I literally skipped back into the office with a huge smile on my face.
What keeps me engaged and on the many missions to pave the way for employment for individuals with disabilities? For me, it's my engagement, my being involved and active. I had just returned to the office from job club, and thought to myself how much I love it. How awesome it is to encourage and teach, and watch individuals succeed in their employment efforts. How every time I am there, it rejuvenates my spirit. It keeps me excited. I love going to work! Why? I realized that I am engaged. I made a mad dash to my desk to add that note to my email, so I could write this article without forgetting what the fourth E was. I usually trip on the carpet several times a day, or walk into Christi's cubicle wall when I am in a hurry like I did today, but thankfully, I made it to my computer to add that note without sustaining any injury.
So, what makes an individual successful in their employment activities? The Engagement, Esteem, Empowerment, or Employment? And, which comes first? Does an individual become full of self esteem, then find engagement to become involved, then feel empowerment, and finally succeed in employment? Or, is it gaining employment first, then find the esteem, and empowerment to become involved and make changes, and finally the engagement? At which point does an individual become involved, stay active, and succeed? It's a lot for a mind to wonder. That explains why I may someday be locked in the supply closet. A quarter till five on a Friday, is not the time to ask tired staff questions like this for their input! If I am ever locked in the supply closet, please bring snacks and give me my cell phone. I can still be engaged from in there!
The 9th Annual Disability Caucus is August 8-10th in Topeka. The focus this year will be on employment. I will be there for sure, and I'm sure not leaving my passion for employment at home. I don't know how the order the E's appear or even if there is a proper order. Choose the order of the E's that work for you. I challenge each of you to attend the Caucus. Whatever E you will gain by being involved and attending, I urge you to go and find out. I can advocate alone for you, but I will need you there to back me up. You need to be seen and heard. They need to see you, hear your voices, and take notice of each of you. Think of your participation like feathers on a bird. One feather cannot fly alone as there is not enough ESTEEM in one. But all the feathers combined can ENGAGE to make up the wing. With wings, we can soar to new heights and EMPOWER ourselves. For those who believe in the EMPLOYMENT of individuals with disabilities, I hope to see you there carrying a feather. I'll provide feathers for those attending. I'm willing to fly. Are you?
*Word Art Text of the words Esteem, Engage, Empower, and Employment at bottom of article with the picture of a feather in the bottom corners of the page
Prairie Independent Living Resource Center
17 South Main
Hutchinson, Kansas 67501
Prairie Independent Living Resource Center
103 West 2nd
Pratt, Kansas 67124
Letters to the editor are welcome.
Please mail them to Chris Owens at:
17 South Main
Hutchinson, Kansas 67501
The editor reserves the right to edit or omit letters. Views stated in this column are not necessarily the views of PILR. PILR receives funding from Rehabilitation Services Administration, U.S. Department of Education, grants, contracts, and fees for services. Private donations are welcomed. PILR is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Service Provider.