As we look back at 2023 and look forward to our goals for the year ahead, we would like to take some time to warmly thank the MYEP network. Our gratitude for the support, resilience, agility of this greater network is more abundant this year than ever. Thank you to the people we serve for being a continuing source of inspiration to keep getting better at what we do. Thank you to the people we employ for contributing your time and talents in such meaningful ways. Thank you to our Board of Directors for weathering all the storms with us and always rebuilding stronger. We enter 2024 with a rock-solid foundation and an unwavering focus on our mission.
A heartfelt wish for the very best to come in 2024. We look forward to embracing the opportunities and challenges of 2024 together.
Megan Gerber, Kari Wilken, Karen Scott, & Chris Campbell
This spring we transitioned from traditional to innovative leadership. MYEP’s Chief Executive Officer vacancy afforded an opportunity for a paradigm shift. Discussion and analysis eventually led to the decision to preserve the winning team we already had in place. On July 1, 2023 the MYEP Board of Directors unanimously formalized a new leadership structure, with Megan Gerber, Chris Campbell, Karen Scott and Kari Wilken serving as Co-Executive Directors.
This four-person Executive Team serves collectively as the top leadership within the organization. This was a natural fit as this team has worked together in senior roles for the past 10 years as impactful drivers of MYEP’s success. Their demonstrated leadership, shared values, and combination of complimentary specialty areas will continue to benefit MYEP in these roles in new and exciting ways. The future is bright under this new, yet time-tested leadership team.
Each team member has continued to fulfill the responsibilities of leading their individual departments while taking on new shared responsibilities. The overwhelmingly enthusiastic internal and external response to this decision was both humbling and energizing for the team. The team is ready to be entrusted with this responsibility. The shared success in these roles is already evident. While managing a major transition fairly seamlessly and learning new responsibilities the team has also led major technology upgrades, infrastructure improvements to support unplanned growth, and the 1st Annual MYEP Prom was the most beloved event in our history. Most notably, though, is the improvements made to culture and compensation for our Direct Support Professionals.
The MYEP Board of Directors is extremely confident this team is uniquely positioned to use their experience, knowledge, and talents to lead MYEP into the future. Look forward to seeing the highest levels of service quality, strong community connections, and a culture of overall greatness.
Our Jamie Lane duplex was long overdue for a refresh, and the timing couldn’t have been better to do it now. MYEP purchased the Jamie Lane duplex in August of 2010. Throughout the years the home has been occupied by a variety of individuals and it’s been an unplanned evolution of the environment to fit their variety of needs. MYEP commits to support living environments that not only meet the physical needs of the people we serve but also gives the autonomy to customize the space to their personality and preference. These customizations throughout the years led to quite the hodgepodge of colors and materials throughout these units. So that, coupled with the general wear in tear over the last thirteen years, it was time for a full remodel!
“While we’re at it…” is a common phrase heard during remodeling projects. We knew we wanted to make the space beautiful but while we were at it.. why don’t we make it fully accessible, knock down some walls, fix that sinking driveway and let’s replace all of the appliances and fixtures while we’re at it… and so it began! The demolition began in mid-August, and the first unit was completed in November. The second unit is set to be completed in early January. Timing is everything! Not only were we due for a refresh, but the timing also worked out perfectly. In 2022, Iowa announced they would be closing Glennwood Resource Center, an Institution where 152 adults with disabilities lived. Some, for most of their lives. So, with the accessibility upgrades underway at Jamie Lane, our Co-Executive Director, Megan Gerber and one of our Residential Service Coordinators, Lisa Love, headed to Glenwood to meet several individuals who were interested in moving into one of our service environments.
The coming weeks/months consisted of lots of meetings, planning and trips back and forth to ensure a successful transition for these people who are about to go through the biggest transition of their lives. Two people moved from Glenwood to the completed Jamie Lane unit on December 5th and we are looking forward to supporting two more individuals with a successful transition in the coming months.
The total cost of this project is estimated at $175,000. MYEP did apply for some available grant funds for this project but made the decision from the beginning that we were committed to completing the project regardless of the grant status. While we are still waiting to hear on the grant funding we are more convinced than ever that this project was worth every penny!
MYEP employees are known for their skills, talents, and knowledge. Technological savvy, however, has never been on the top of these lists. We recognized the necessity to take some steps to improve. This past year we challenged ourselves and prioritized meaningful growth in this area. We understood that the technological systems and tools going in place would someday create efficiencies and improvements. We also understood and accepted the learning curve would be steep and the growing pains would be real. THANK YOU! Thank you to all our awesome employees for hanging in there and helping implement all of these technology upgrades! We know change is hard and you guys were rockstars. You put in the work and have helped MYEP on our path of Continual Improvement.
The basis for all decision making comes back to building systems that first and foremost benefit the individuals we serve. Technology decisions are typically a few steps away from directly impacting service provision. That was not the case this year. Use of the Night Owl Support Systems is one of those exceptions. Night Owl is a technology-based remote support system designed to assist people with disabilities to have increased independence while still having built in access to support systems in case of any emergency or unexpected need. Two of our residential sites began use of the Night Owl system. At one home, use of this system has allowed an individual to make progress to meet his goal of increased alone time.
The second improvement directly impacting service provision is the change we made to the program used to document “progress notes.” We moved from the EDoc program we had used for 10 years to the new company, Setworks.
The next improvement is with a shift to electronically documenting the administration of medications. We moved from a paper and pen system of documentation to AccuFlo, an electronic documentation system. The goals of implementing this program include reducing the number of med passing errors, and increasing the access to medical information. Staff love the mobility and real-time tracking of this system. When a med is change that shows up instantly, you don’t have to deal with paper prescriptions or update a paper tracking sheet.
The next improvement was huge! Over the past few years our IT support team has been encouraging us to transition our entire network from a physical server-based network, SharePoint. We had to make a decision this year as Microsoft was discontinuing support of our current on-premise server. Our options were to make a huge financial investment in a new server or invest the man hours to create a cloud based solution. It was a no-brainer, SharePoint is more cost efficient, more mobile, and most importantly, more secure than on-premise. Our team worked together for months to create the SharePoint site and migrate nearly half a million files from our on-premise server.
We have been fully cloud based since November 14th. When talking with staff, they’ve said they enjoy many of the new features, especially the collaboration aspect of being able to have multiple people working on the same document at the same time.
MYEP was far overdue for an upgraded website! We knew that, and people told us that, often. We finally took the plunge this year and sought the help of a professional. Aelieve Digital Marketing knocked it out of the park! We wanted to join the modern times with a sleek and professional website, but it was important to us to maintain MYEP’s voice. Our team worked with Aelieve for several months on design, content planning, fine tuning our verbiage and even had a few fun days, recording content and taking headshots. Our new website went live on September 1st, we think it’s pretty great! Check it out for yourself at www.myep.us.
We dipped our toes back into social gatherings after a long cautious break.
Cookouts: We got together four times for cookouts. We had so much fun spending time together, enjoying food, music games and lots of laughs. Our final cookout of the year turned into a spirited tailgate for the Iowa vs. Iowa State rivalry game. Everyone showed up in their black and gold (and a few red and gold) “Back in Black” was playing on repeat and we had a blast!
Block Party/Open House: August 19th, we hosted our first Block Party! There were guided tours to finally show off our remodeled Day Program and offices, we enjoyed snow cones, music, games and a photobooth.
Oh What a Night!: May 20th was a night for the memory books. 100 or so of us got all dressed up and danced the night away at MYEP’s 1st Annual Adult Prom. The night was magical. We need to give a lot of credit for the event’s success to our prom committee: Kathleen Brookhart, Mahmoud Yousif, Seth Worby, Nicole Lovestinsky, Sydney Shively, Becca Nolan, Brianna Becicka, Christine Fachman, and Deana Alston. Thank you- all of the planning and preparation paid off.
Special thanks to Susan Spalj of Shakespeare’s Pub And Grill, for sponsoring our awesome Star Entertainment DJ! Guess what? We are already at it again. Stay tuned for big, upcoming announcements on the time and place of MYEP’s 2024 Adult Prom.
Garth is a collector. He loves everything about the lifestyle; the thrill of the hunt, the love of well-preserved old classics, the comfort of multiples, and the security of being surrounded by the stuff you love. He loves to tell anyone willing to listen all about his vintage Coca-Cola products and he has no shortage of information on vintage cars.
While Garth’s passion for his belongings brings him joy, comfort, and purpose, the reality is his belongings also bring him stress. Space can be a resulting stressor. Garth shares a 1,200 square foot home with two roommates. Simply put, it is not possible for Garth to store his belongings in a way that is safe or in a way that maintains happy roommates. Organization can be another resulting stressor. Garth has so much stuff he doesn’t always know where it is.
This becomes stressful because this makes him feel like it’s missing, which makes an in-depth search through everything feel necessary. This cycle can feel mentally exhausting to him. Relationships are perhaps the most disruptive resulting stressor for Garth. It can create conflict with some of the most important people in his life. He admits he doesn’t always understand or value why people are so concerned about his stuff.
He takes pride in spending a lot of time managing it and having a lot of knowledge about it. Maintaining control, oversight, and ownership of it is very important. He understands the concerns about maintaining a safe and sanitary home but doesn’t always agree with where that threshold is.
This past October, Garth learned that his landlord had plans to replace the flooring in his home. Garth and his roommates were sent a letter outlining the timing and instructions for preparing their home for the project.
The assignment was to assure all rooms were completely clear by a certain date. This included Garth’s bedroom. Garth immediately recognized that accomplishing this assignment was going to be technically difficult as well as emotionally difficult. Garth has past experiences of some important possessions being taken away from him against his will. Facing this fear again was a big deal in his life.
Garth and his support network could not be prouder to share the wildly successful outcome of Garth’s response to this curveball. Garth faced this challenge with maturity, bravery, and a commitment to doing the needed work. Garth got to work. He enlisted two of his most trusted supporters, Guylia and Samantha, to help him through. They took it one step at a time.
First, he needed to process the information and consider possible strategies. Garth decided on a plan of attack that felt manageable to him. First, he wanted to itemize and document his belongings. He knew he didn’t want to risk getting rid of anything without careful consideration.
While itemizing he also took the opportunity to categorize and more intentionally pack a lot of the items. While it didn’t come easy, throughout this process Garth was able to self-identify limited items he was willing to donate or toss. This was a huge win for Garth. Garth was also wise enough to be sure to document these decisions so in the future he can remember why and when he decided to let those items go.
Once everything was more organized the full volume of the remaining items needing space became more evident. Garth immediately enjoyed the benefits of a clearer, cleaner living space and he committed to keeping the momentum going. Garth became motivated to rent a small storage unit so he could still accomplish the goals needed for the flooring project while preserving the ability to enjoy his possessions while continuing to organize.
Garth not only met the required timelines and instructions, but he also exceeded all expectations. He took a difficult and potentially triggering situation and came out of it with more confidence in himself. Garth proved to himself and everyone else his resilience, maturity, and ability to do hard things successfully. Garth has continued to keep his room and overall home less cluttered. He has also been enjoying regular visits to his storage unit where he can go and peacefully spend time with his beloved collections.
Get ready for new and exciting things coming in 2024. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for our MYEP family.