Disability Network Southwest Michigan is deeply appreciative to Kalamazoo Community Foundation and United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region for partnering during this pandemic to provide relief grants to local nonprofits. Through the generosity of this partnership, Disability Network was able to obtain Zoom video conferencing which allowed us to continue providing services to the disability community in Southwest Michigan during the COVID-enforced shutdown.
Video conferencing has allowed our agency to continue providing services we normally would provide in person and maintain the crucial element of connection both internally and externally. Following are some of the services we continue to provide remotely through video conferencing, made possible by the relief grant:
- We hold our regularly- scheduled peer support and advocacy team meetings, which connect people with disabilities in both social and productive ways.
- Information & Referral staff has continued to assist customers with connecting to services they need and are able to walk them through online application systems to apply for needed assistance.
- Staff have continued to connect with customers for employment training, self-advocacy skills training, benefits counseling, and much more.
- The Nursing Facility Transition team has continued to assist people with moving from nursing facilities into community-based, independent living, even while nursing facilities have been on strict lockdown.
- The Community Education team has moved from in person presentations to interactive webinars to educate people about disability-related topics. In fact, we have reached a broader audience by offering online webinars.
- The Community Education team partnered with the Kalamazoo Public Library for a book discussion event of Judy Heumann’s recently published book, “Being Heumann” and because it was an online event, the author was able to join the event from her home in New York.
- Our annual celebration of the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act was moved to an online event enjoyed by 80+ participants.
In addition to connecting with customers and continuing to provide all of our core services, Disability Network staff, Board, and committee members have continued to meet on a regular basis to ensure that operations are running smoothly and responsively to the challenges presented under these unique conditions.
Disability Network Southwest Michigan was in a good position to pivot to remote operations, with all staff already using networked laptops prior to COVID-19. The addition of full access to video conferencing allowed us to instantly move to remotely providing our customers and community partners with the same services we normally provide without skipping a beat. Thank you to the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region for making it possible for us to continue to be the first stop for people with disabilities and their families during these trying times.