Connections Case Manager, LaVada Brooks, has a client, Isaiah, who makes an annual Christmas donation to Norton Children’s Hospital in the amount that coincide with his age each year. His mother, Felicia, described to LaVada how this annual tradition got started. “Isaiah was supposed to be a Thanksgiving day Turkey baby. Well plans changed. Isaiah ended up coming early via emergency c-section. He had to be resuscitated three times. Isaiah weighted 2 lbs. 5 oz and was 15 1/2 inches long. He was full of fight. Soon after checking they discovered he had a moderately large VSD in his heart. One day when I was with him he stopped breathing in my arms. When I could not wake him I pulled his call cord and the nurse came in. She proceeded to try and do it herself. When she could not wake him she called a code. Five nurses came in and started trying to bring him back. When Isaiah started to cry, as soon as I took a breath I broke down. This is the moment through everything where I promised to God that if Isaiah made it out of there happy, healthy, and alive we would give back to them. Isaiah had a damaged kidney and would have to have open heart surgery before he could go home. The nurses in the NICU walked us through a difficult path. There were literally life and death days. Then there were days when Isaiah drinking 1 oz out of a bottle was the most amazing thing ever! There is magic there in the form of miracles. They take care of not only the patients but the families there going through it, too. Isaiah now has a NICU granny Jennifer Turner who stayed on as his primary nurse his whole time there. They have saved Isaiah's life more than a few times. So we will forever be thankful for all that they have given us in our son Isaiah. We are teaching him to be thankful and giving. He is growing to be an amazing little man and we thank God for him every day. We have donated items to the NICU that they are in need of. Last year we donated 4 Mamaroo chairs. This year Isaiah donated 2 crib mobiles and 3 specialty mats that they needed for some of the older babies that have to stay longer.” Isaiah is 5 years old this year! What an awesome story, thanks for the inspiration and for sharing!
Meet Noah and Adriana! Emily Smith, Connections CM shared that Noah and Adriana will be presenting these books that they helped write and will be leading a lecture on autism at the Good Journeys Expo- Holistic Health and Psychic Fair on 12/5 at 2pm. Noah and Adriana are VERY passionate about helping others! You can purchase the books on Amazon.
Connections Case Manager, Jenn Priser, stated that MacKenzie's mother sent her this picture of Makenzie holding the trophy from her track team winning sectionals. She started track this year and was extremely nervous about it, but it has been an awesome experience for her. Way to go MacKenzie!!
Case Manager Amber Mellott shared that one of her individuals recently wrote a song about her with her Music Therapist. Amber stated it made her teary eyed. "Moments like today, remind me of why I love working in this field. I am extremely proud of Laura for composing and singing this song, especially for me.
Meet Matthew! Case Manager, Chrissie Lamar, shared with us that her individual, Matthew was featured in Special Needs Living Magazine this month. He shared about his small business he has started making pottery. He sells his pottery through Matthew's Hands Down Pottery. He is an amazing artist! #connectionsrockstar
Check out the article: https://issuu.com/.../december_2021-special_needs_living...
View his artwork for sale: https://www.facebook.com/groups/204024358183944/
Meet Andrew! His case manager, Jolie Capps, shared that Andrew recently received his Technical Certificate in Software Development from Ivy Tech Community College. He is currently working towards his Associates Degree. Andrew is a valued employee at his local grocery store, active in Special Olympics, and recently received his learner's permit to work toward getting his driver's license. He is a wonderful friend and advocate for others. He does a great job of balancing his very full schedule.
Meet Tim! Supervisor, Kelie Killu shared that Tim is an amazing guy who would help anyone, anytime without question. He loves doing work outdoors, especially mowing lawns and clearing snow for others using his snowblower. Recently, he helped an older gentleman clear his driveway when his blower stopped working. A veteran posted on the Nextdoor app in his neighborhood asking for help clearing his driveway and Tim and his mom reached out immediately to offer help! Although someone got there before they did, Tim was ready, willing and able to do the job! Mom also shared another story of Tim climbing a tree at an apple orchard to help a friend when there together. These pictures show just how much Tim truly cares for others and gives of himself all the time! Thanks Tim for being such a great guy!
Meet David! Case Manager, Kathryn Welder, shared that an individual she works with made a music video! His music therapist shared that "David has been working on creating his own rap and filming a music video during music therapy sessions. David helped in creating/playing all the melodies and beats heard as well as came up with most of the lyrics by himself. He has done such a great job with this and wanted to share it with everyone!"
Connections Case Management Operations Director, Heather Groves, shared this success story with us. "Shoutout to Casey who has been an employee with TJ Maxx for 5 years! She is proudly displaying her 5 year pin that represents all the hard work she’s put in over the years. And on top of 5 years of service, she’s NEVER missed a day of work! Way to go Casey! Connections is proud of you!"
Ned recently helped out with a training for the Bureau of Quality Improvement Services to share with others about what his good life looks like and the things that are important to him and for others to know! Ned very much values self-advocacy and chooses to do things that HE WANTS to do each day. Ned has a positive outlook on life that he loves to share with others and share his knowledge of how we can choose to live and drive our own life.
Check out his interview: https://youtu.be/NEXwxREWpYU
Meet Kurt! Emily Smith, Case Manager for Kurt, shared this great story with us.Kurt, known as "The Blind Pianist", performed in the Traditional Christmas Show at Paramount Theater in Anderson this month. Kurt was one of the four performers and played multiple songs on the piano. Kurt is very talented and also plays the organ and guitar. Emily reported she got the pleasure of attending the show and seeing Kurt perform!
Supervisor, Angie Higgins, shared that Christopher is very talented with building things and mechanical/electrical tasks. His mom recently stated that she needed a thing to hold her ribbons in her craft room. Christopher asked her to describe it and then told her the things he would need to build it for her. She bought the items, and he built her the ribbon holder! Christopher enjoys helping his dad re-wire electrical outlets and things like wiring and installing their dishwasher. He is really great with tasks like this. He was recently on the prop crew of a play at school building props! Way to go Christopher!
Meet Matthew! Matthew recently showcased at Books and Brews sharing some of his comedy to the crowd as well as selling autographed copies of his joke book on January 27. Matthew has published 3 books so far! Matthew loves to write jokes, bake and be with his family. Check out some of his work!
Check out a clip of him with his stand-up routine: https://youtu.be/Hyj7wJeCMTQ
Link to his book: https://www.lulu.com/.../paperback/product-ney8g2.html
Case Manager Rebecca Pysh shared with us that Morgan currently works at the YMCA in Warsaw, where she increased her hours from only a couple hours a few days to just about every weekday recently. She was awarded Employee of the Month for the month of December 2021! In talking with Morgan, she loves working with her coworkers and interacting with so many different people while working at the Y!
Connections Supervisor, Amanda Sparks, shared this success story with us. "Andrew was let go from both of his jobs at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Andrew is very hardworking and loves to work, so this was tough for him. Andrew has a love for dogs and animals. Over the past year, Andrew and his family have been in touch with 4Paws Lodge in Fishers, IN, consistently checking in to see if they were hiring before they had their grand opening. Andrew was officially hired on at the end of this March and has been doing such a great job and has been working without a job coach or assistance. 4 Paws is so pleased with his work and dedication that they are wanting to add in more hours to his work schedule each week. Awesome work Andrew, we are so happy for you!"
Emery is a sweet and spunky 4 year old. Her Case Manager, Allison Judge, states she loves music, animals, food, family and being outside! She was recently featured on the Global Down Syndrome Foundation Facebook page for World Down Syndrome day this year! www.globaldownsyndrome.org/rocks
Case Manager, Sydney Kruse, shared with us that Joe's family planned a trip to Disney World. This trip consisted of 12 family members and lifelong family friends who gathered from all over the United States to spend 4 days at Disney with Joe! Joe set personal goals to increase his strength and endurance to prepare for the trip by walking laps in the therapy pool daily. Joe was thrilled to meet Mickey, Ariel and King Triton. His favorite ride was the Rock N Roll Rollercoaster at Hollywood Studios. Joe’s favorite activity was dinner and a live Polka band at The Biergarten at Epcot. There, Joe danced and sang the night away while enjoying a dinner show and traditional German eats while celebrating his family’s heritage. We are trilled Joe was able to fulfill one his is dreams!
Meet Gabe! Gabe's Case Manager, Supervisor Amanda Sparks, shared with us that Gabe has been working at Chick-Fil-A for over 5 years and he recently received a promotion and was excited to share! His new title is Executive Chicken Ambassador. Congratulations on your promotion Gabe! We are so happy for you!
Connections Case Managers get the opportunity to work with many individuals whose stories show off their abilities and successes. We want to share their stories and successes with all of you.
Meet Tommy! Connections Supervisor, Kera Sutherland, let us know that one of her individuals will be the Grand Marshall for the Down Syndrome Association of Northeast Indiana Buddy Walk in Fort Wayne on September 9, 2021. He got to meet the Mayor last week!
Connections Case Manager, Courtney Glasson, shared with us a great success story of an individual he serves. “Ariel began planning her wedding in 2019 and her plans came to fruition in July of 2020. Due to COVID, there was some question as to whether they would be able to make it happen but, in the end, they were able to have the wedding as planned. Her family has supported her every step of the way and continue to support her as she strives toward greater levels of independence. She recently moved out of her parents' home and into her own apartment, another first for her. Her recent marriage and move are not the only causes for celebration. To say that this young woman is inspirational would be an understatement. When she is not working at her community job or working on improving her independent living skills, she can be found volunteering, learning how to play the guitar, or taking cooking lessons. I am very proud to be a part of her team and look forward to having the opportunity to support her, cheer her on, and celebrate all of her future accomplishments!!!” Congratulations on achieving your dream Ariel!
Connections Case Manager Tara Bowlen shared that Steven and his Bloomington South High School Track and Field team just won their first ever Unified Track and Field sectional championship. Steven won in the long jump competition. He and his teammate were awarded the Captain Award by their coaches based on sportsmanship, integrity and leadership. Steven and his team were featured in The Herald-Times. Way to go Steven!!
Connections Supervisor, Rick Harden, would like to introduce you to one of Connections Rockstars, Easton. Easton was born very small, weighing around four pounds; with a rare chromosomal micro-deletion. He was discharged from the hospital on hospice at six months of age with a feeding tube and low oxygen levels. Easton has overcome some major deficits to be where he is at today and Connections Case Management would like to spot light Easton and congratulate him on the cusp of his fifth birthday! You are an amazing young man, Easton, keep up the amazing progress and continue to defy the odds!!!!
Connections Case Manager, Allison Judge shared that Tiffany and Joy just recently moved in together. They are using remote supports as needed and they are both working in the community. Tiffany just moved from a house where residential services were provided 24 hours a day and Joy just moved out of her parents home. Hello independence! They are changing the world!
Meet Garrett! Garrett is passionate about art and graphic design. He designed the background art for the two signs he is standing with and designed the art on the shoes he is wearing. Garrett is looking for further opportunities to develop his art and create. He would like to be a graphic designer.
Connections Supervisor, Kelie Killu, shared this success story with us. Jessica is a young woman on the autism spectrum who learned to do beading during her Project Search internship her last year of high school. The Project Search team received a Creative Classroom grant from Lawrence Township Education Foundation to make Meditation Beads for Community Hospital North. Out of all the Project Search interns at the time, she was chosen to work on this project. During the internship, over 180 bracelets were given to patients at Community Hospital North Cancer Center. The project was then expanded, and bracelets were given to all Lawrence Township bus drivers and transportation staff following the tragic death of Amy Beverland Elementary principal, Mrs. Susan Jordan. At the end of the internship, Jess and her instructor created her own Etsy Page as a way for her to continue what she had learned. Jess has continued making bracelets at home and has added lots of new items to her collection such as earrings, rosary beads, keychains, bookmarks and even facemask lanyards! She loves coming up with new designs and posting them before the next holiday is coming, so that her customers can show off her designs in spirited fashion! Jessica is very proud of her work and appreciates all of the support that has been shown to her! Please “like” Designer Beads by Jess on Facebook and Instagram and check out her Etsy shop for more information on her amazing talents!
Meet Blake! Case Manager, LaVada Brooks shared with us that Blake got a new job as a ticket taker at his local movie theater. He has wanted to work at a movie theater so he asked his staff to take him to complete an application. He completed the application and got a call back for an interview and was hired on the spot! He was excited that he was able to do this completely on his own and is ready to work! Congratulations Blake!
Meet Harmony! Case Manager Lori Brittenham shared that she was recently awarded Student of the Term. Harmony has been through a lot this year with several staff changes at her school. Harmony continues to work hard and push through the hard times. Harmony’s mother, Melissa, is so proud of her little girl and her perseverance to get through the many challenges that Harmony has gone through. Way to go, Harmony!
Meet Terrell! Case Manager Aubrey Quinn shared that he is an amazing advocate for himself and others, and serves on the Gigi's Indy Board of Directors with full voting rights. He is friends with everyone at Gigi's Playhouse, and they call him Uncle T. Gigi's is opening a new Playhouse in Ohio in March, and Terrell has been asked to speak at their gala! Watch Terrell with an individual he mentors at Gigi's: https://vimeo.com/677386201/f9a530108c
Case Manager Aubrey Quinn shared with us that Elliot just recently celebrated their 15th birthday and attended prom! Their birthday weekend was filled with celebrating with their family and friends. Great pictures Elliot! Thanks for sharing with us!