Press Room

UCP of Maine has been serving the community since 1954 and we take pride in what we do each day. We serve over 1500 children, teens, and adults in the state of Maine with disabilities. It’s easy to get involved and we are always welcoming the media to help distribute the good services we provide every day. If you are interested in helping out and becoming a part of our organization, please contact:

MEDIA CONTACT:

Mary Berube
Director of Operations
UCP of Maine
700 Mt. Hope Avenue Suite 320
Bangor, ME 04401
207.941.2952 Ex. 326
marianne.berube@ucpofmaine.org


Sesame Street Debuts Character With Autism

Sesame Street Debuts Character With Autism

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“Sesame Street” has always been the most inclusive place in town.

On Wednesday, the company launched “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children,” an online initiative that will provide resources for viewers on the spectrum, as well as educate the general public about autism. A big part of this is the introduction of Julia, an autistic character who Elmo meets in an online storybook, “We’re Amazing, 1,2,3.”

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In the last year, Sesame has held focus groups with special needs educators, parents of children with autism and parents of “typical” kids,” according to “Autism Daddy,” a popular parenting blogger who’s worked at Sesame since 1994 (and recently went public with his real identity.) From these sessions came the three goals of Sesame’s autism initiative.

The first is offering daily routine cards featuring Sesame characters performing everyday tasks like brushing their teeth, going to a restaurant, crossing the street and trying new foods.

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Step two is where we meet Julia, who goes on a playdate with Elmo and Abby and teaches them about autism. The storybook will hopefully act as a tool for children unfamiliar with autism but who may have a neighbor, classmate or friend on the spectrum. In one scene, Abby assumes Julia doesn’t like her because she doesn’t answer her right away.

“Elmo’s daddy told Elmo that Julia has autism,” Elmo explains. “So she does things a little differently.”

Other resources include an animated story from Exceptional Minds, a nonprofit school and working studio for young adults on the autism spectrum; and more videos for kids on the spectrum, their siblings and parents.

The third part of Sesame’s initiative focuses on parents — of kids on the spectrum and of neurotypical kids. Five videos featuring autism parents are now available, and all aimed at adults.

Comedians with Disabilities Come Together to Break Down Barriers

Twenty five years ago, before the passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there likely would have been physical barriers in clubs and theaters, challenges at airports and in hotels or other issues that would make it difficult, difficult if not impossible, for Michael Aronin, Shanon DeVido, Tim Grill, and Mike Murray to mount a full-fledged comedy tour.

In 2015, accessibility in public places has improved and with it the attitudes of many toward people with disabilities such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy, hearing impairment and spinal muscular atrophy. However, for many who don’t have a close friend or family member with a disability, there are still misconceptions and a lack of understanding. Employers can still be reluctant to hire people with disabilities, especially in the entertainment industry where there is a perception that audiences won’t respond well.

So, the comedians set out on a mission to bridge the gap with laughter. Wicked wit forged from a lifetime of dealing with adversity, No Comic Left Behind smashes stereotypes with every joke: people with disabilities are really no different from you and I. Set-ups on relationships, jobs, and family come with punch lines about wheelchairs and the underrated benefits of being deaf.

“Comedy is a great way to break down that barrier that people often have when they’re talking with people with disabilities,” said Shannon DeVido.

The comedians have long understood that laughter is the best medicine. Michael Aronin, who nearly died at birth and now has cerebral palsy, uses humor to coach audiences toward their career goals as a motivational speaker. And, Tim Grill was born with spina bifida, going through thirteen surgeries to enable him to walk. Rounded out by experienced performer and wheelchair user Shannon DeVido and Mike Murray, who was deaf until the age of 40 when Cochlear implants brought him into the hearing world, each comic is eager to raise awareness about disability.

Collectively, performing under the banner of No Comic Left Behind, the quartet is determined to follow their mission across the country in clubs, theaters and universities. Their ultimate goal is to expose as broad of an audience as possible through, raising awareness about the inherent abilities of people with disabilities. Once the audience is laughing, it becomes much easier to talk about the serious stuff and make people think about what they can do to better include people with disabilities in everyday life.

“Think about it,” said Tim Grill. “We can win over 100 or more people with each show just by being funny – which is something we do on daily basis anyway. Then those 100 people go back out into the world feeling a lot less uncomfortable around people with disabilities and help spread the love. They’ll be more likely to think about accessibility and inclusion and more likely to have some understanding of the next person with a disability that they meet.”

 

For more information about No Comic Left Behind, check out their website!

You can also watch a short video featuring the comics of No Comic Left Behind on UCP’s Youtube Channel!


Elizabeth Levinson Center receives in-memorium from Jonesport-Beals 2015 Graduating Class

UCP of Maine’s Elizabeth Levinson Center staff was pleased to be visited by five members of the 2015 graduating class from Jonesport-Beals High School to make a $1,000 donation in the memory of former ELC resident and their classmate Elizabeth “Lizzie” Smith. Lizzie would have graduated with their class.

The class held a basket raffle fundraiser for their Senior Class Trip. After expenses they had $1,000 remaining which they asked to go toward ELC’s Children’s Activity Fund in memory of Lizzie. While visiting, they had an opportunity to meet and greet ELC staff who worked with Lizzie. Some of the staff remembered the class members who they frequently visited Lizzie, including her cousin, CJ Carver.

In a handwritten note accompanying the wonderful donation:

As president of the Senior Class I am very grateful we were able to make this donation in Lizzie’s honor. Elizabeth was a bright light in all of our lives, and we are so fortunate to have known such sunshine. This gift is in honor to the ELC and all you do for bright lights just like our Lizzie. All of our love, Kali E. Alley, Kirby Kellogg, Tristan Alley, Heather Farren, Meagan Alley and CJ Carver

Jonesport-Beals 2015 Graduating Class Representatives: CJ Carver, Kali Alley,Tristan Alley, Meagan Alley and Heather Farren
Jonesport-Beals 2015 Graduating Class Representatives: CJ Carver, Kali Alley,Tristan Alley, Meagan Alley and Heather Farren

The Elizabeth Levinson Center is home for medically-fragile children and young adults who have intellectual and physical disabilities. Residents benefit from individualized plans promoting independence, community integration, and enrichment programs. Residents range in age from 2-31; eight are age 20 or younger. This center is one of only two of its kind in the greater Bangor area. The residents served at ELC are characterized as having severe disabilities and are admitted to the facility as their disabilities make it impossible for them to live with their families.

Jonesport-Beals Class of 2015 representatives with some of the ELC Staff
Jonesport-Beals Class of 2015 representatives with some of the ELC Staff

For more information on the Elizabeth Levinson Center or any of UCP of Maine’s services, please visit www.ucpofmaine.org or contact Marc Inman, Business Development and Marketing Manager at 207-941-2952 x 233.


Embracing diversity stressed at Maine Child Welfare Conference

Posted June 18, 2015, at 3:25 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — The keynote speaker at the 21st annual Maine Child Welfare Conference told the story of how well-meaning and loving relatives didn’t accept that her child, who is half black and half white, needed to be treated differently when it came to her hair care.

“They were treating Nicky as if she were white,” said Judith Josiah-Martin, Office of Multicultural Programs director at the University of Maine and a doctoral student at the Smith College School of Social Work, recalling her daughter’s first camping trip decades ago with her white in-laws. “They washed her hair every day. It frizzed. It frizzed every day.”

The solution her in-laws came up with to manage the frizzy hair was to cover her daughter’s head with a bandana. When the camping trip was over, however, “it was uncombable” and her daughter’s hair needed to be cut off, Josiah-Martin said.

By ignoring her daughter’s diversity, her in-laws “failed to encompass the whole person.” The same thing can happen with those who provide services to children, she stressed to conference attendees Wednesday at the University of Maine.

“Engagement suffers,” Josiah-Martin said to the more than 200 nurses, child protection caseworkers, social workers, law enforcement personnel, students and mental health and educational professionals. “And as a result, we fail to meet the needs of the diverse child and family.”

Diversity matters because it affects how people seek health care services, she said.

Josiah-Martin has more than 25 years of experience working as a clinical social worker and is a former director of clinical services at substance abuse and mental health programs in Antigua.

Diversity, whether it be race, sexuality, social or economic factors, should be embraced in order to provide the best care, she said.

Pat Phillips, a licensed clinical social worker at Penobscot Pediatrics in Bangor, said those who work with children often are just “trying to be nice” by ignoring differences.

“It’s the elephant in the living room,” she said during a break in the daylong conference, held at Wells Conference Center on campus.

That is why it’s so important to gather and educate providers to make changes, said Phillips, who admitted to “messing up” and making remarks without thinking in the past. She now considers what she says before she speaks.

“We all play a role in this,” the social worker said. “We have to examine ourselves, be self-aware and self-monitor.”

Former Bangor police Chief Ron Gastia said he was really impressed with the two youngsters with mixed racial backgrounds who spoke during the first panel of the day about surviving foster care without their diversity recognized.

Bonny Dodson, clinical director of United Cerebral Palsy of Maine, said what she took away from the young panelists is that better records need to be kept for children in foster care to learn about their backgrounds.

“That is a key issue,” Dodson said.

Without records, children in foster care don’t know about their biological background or their family’s medical history, and therefore can’t recognize or celebrate their cultural diversity, she said. Oftentimes records are kept from children to “protect them” from the realities of why they were removed from their families, but “they know,” Phillips said.

UCP of Maine announces new addition to speech therapy

UCP of Maine is pleased to announce a new addition to our speech department within our Bridges – Early Intervention program.

Geraldine (Gerry) Gross will be joining the UCP of Maine – Bridges staff on June 29, 2015. She comes to us from the Newport School system, where she worked with children in grades K-8 in a life skills program. She also provided speech therapy services for children who attended the Bridges program several years ago while working for the Warren Center.

Ms. Gerry remembers the experience and dedication that UCP of Maine staff brought to their work every day and looks forward to joining our team.

For further information on UCP of Maine, contact Marc Inman, Business Development and Marketing Manager at 207.941.2952 x 233 or marc.inman@ucpofmaine.org.

Geraldine (Gerry) Gross
Geraldine (Gerry) Gross


Knights of Columbus check presentation for Elizabeth Levinson Center (ELC)

KofC check presentation


UCP of Maine Appoints New Chief Executive Officer

Oct 1, 2014

 

After a thorough nationwide search, UCP of Maine’s Board of Directors is pleased to appoint Scott Tash as new Chief Executive Officer.

Scott comes to the CEO role with several years of leadership experience, most recently serving as interim CEO for UCP of Maine since January 2014 and previously serving as UCP’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer since 2012. Scott has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is also Six Sigma certified, a certification that will assist UCP in continuing to provide excellent client services while looking for process improvement opportunities.

“We went about this search to secure the best person to lead UCP of Maine into the future. We were able to attract many highly qualified applicants from Maine and nationally which provided the search team with a great opportunity to select the best person for the job.” said Mark Schmelz, UCP of Maine Board Member and Search Committee Chairman.

“Moving into our 60th year, we are confident that with the excellent leadership, management and employees that we now have in place, UCP of Maine will continue to grow and progress in meeting our mission, well into our future.”, declared Erica Engelmann, Chair of UCP of Maine’s Board of Directors.

Scott Tash, CEO
Scott Tash, CEO

When asked about his goals for UCP of Maine, Scott shared “UCP has a well-known reputation for providing excellent services for individuals with intellectual disabilities and behavioral health needs and my goal is to ensure that the organization is able to continue to provide high quality services to the clients we serve now and will serve in the future.”

UCP of Maine’s children services include: Home and Community Treatment (HCT), Early Childhood Services (Bridges), Rehabilitative and Community Supports (RCS), Behavioral Health Homes (BHH) and Outpatient Therapy. Adult services include Mental Health Outpatient, Adult Residential and TeleHealth. For both children and adults we offer Case Management and our Elizabeth Levinson Center (ELC) which is a 14-bed Intermediate Care Facility (ICF-IID).

Established in 1954, UCP of Maine is a private, non-profit organization which is committed to advancing the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities who have multiple needs. UCP of Maine serves children and adults in the Penobscot, Waldo, Piscataquis, Southern Aroostook, Washington and Northeastern Somerset Counties. For more information please visit www.ucpofmaine.org. Referrals can be faxed to 207-941-2955 or mailed to UCP of Maine, 700 Mount Hope Ave, Suite 320, Bangor, ME 04401.

For further information on UCP of Maine, contact Marc Inman, Business Development and Marketing Manager at 207-941-2952 x 233 or Marianne Berube, Director of Human Resources x326.


UCP of Maine awarded up to a $70,000 Maine State Innovation Testing Grant: Behavioral Health Information Technology (HIT) Reimbursement Initiative

UCP of Maine is proud to announce the awarding of up to $70,000 Maine State Innovation Testing Model Grant: Behavioral Health Information Technology (HIT) Reimbursement Initiative.  As milestones are achieved, UCP of Maine has the ability to receive up to $70,000 dollars through the initiative to advance electronic medical records and information sharing capabilities as well as initiating staff training and education.

This grant presents an opportunity for UCP of Maine to drive integration of care by including behavioral health data in the statewide Health Information Exchange (HIE).  This will allow licensed mental health providers and facilities to share patient information through the HIE.  According to Sadel Davis, Director of Behavior Health Homes, “Participating in this initiative will help to advance UCP of Maine into the secure information sharing world and utilize this access to better service and treat our clients.”

In order to participate with the HIE, optimization is needed in UCP of Maine’s health information technology capabilities.  This will help UCP of Maine support and strengthen alignments between primary care and public health, behavioral health, and long-term care as well as data across providers.

This award will support the following enhancements in UCP of Maine’s health care infrastructure: public reporting and secure information sharing; quality improvement support, training, and collaborative learning to achieve accountable care; patient training and tools for shared health care decision-making.

UCP of Maine’s children services include: Home and Community Treatment (HCT), Early Childhood Services (Bridges), Rehabilitative and Community Supports (RCS), Outpatient Therapy and a dental program though our Washington County division.  Adult services include Mental Health Outpatient, Adult Residential, TeleHealth and Other Related Conditions (ORC).  For both children and adults we offer Case Management and our Elizabeth Levinson Center (ELC) which is a 14-bed Intermediate Care Facility (ICF-IID).

Established in 1954, UCP of Maine is a private, non-profit organization which is committed to advancing the independence, productivity and full citizenship of people with disabilities who have multiple needs.   UCP of Maine serves children and adults in the Penobscot, Waldo, Piscataquis, Southern Aroostook, Washington and Northeastern Somerset Counties.  For more information please visit www.ucpofmaine.org.

For further information on UCP of Maine, contact Marc Inman, Business Development and Marketing Manager at 941-2952 extension 233.


Hadley Davis, 1 of 11 2013 Bellows Fellows Award Recipients

The Davis family had this to say about their appreciation on nominating Hadley to receive this award:

Dear UCP,

Thank you so much for selecting Hadley to be a recipient of the Bellows Fund. We used the funds to purchase an iPad.

Hadley is five years old and has Down Syndrome. The iPad has already allowed her access to many helpful educational and “special needs” applications. She is learning and having fun!

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The use of her iPad has cut out the frustration of trying to use a computer and mouse and needing someone to complete tasks for her. The touch screen has afforded her a new way to communicate, learn, and gain independence. The opportunity to learn using “new” technology will help her to advance and also find a common ground with those around her.

We are grateful to your organization for considering Hadley for such a wonderful gift. Thank you again, not only for the assistance you provided for her, but for the assist

ance you provide to so many others. Your service is invaluable.

-Shawn, Charlsey, and Hadley Davis

UCP Board Member Honored by Fellow Prestigious Disability Advocate

UCP Board Member Honored by Fellow Prestigious Disability Advocate

Since 1992, the University of Maine’s Center for Inclusion and Disability Studies (CCIDS) has worked to enhance the quality of life for individuals and their families in our community and beyond – a mission very similar to our own here at UCP of Maine.

In celebration of their 20th anniversary, CCIDS held a special awards ceremony honoring four individuals who have dedicated themselves to significantly improving the lives of people with disabilities in Maine. We are very proud to announce that our own Board Member Avery Olmstead was chosen as one of those four! Avery was honored with the CCIDS Dare to Dream Social Change Award for his advocacy efforts, vision and leadership in promoting social change to advance the rights of people with disabilities. Avery has spent many years sharing his story and raising awareness around disabilities in our community, and we are thrilled to work alongside him as he continues this legacy. Please join us in congratulating Avery on this well-deserved honor!

You can view Avery’s acceptance speech here.