By Sarah Meek, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy
Last week, Cedar Lake hosted 30+ Lutheran Services in America Disability Network (LSA-DN) members at their corporate headquarters in Louisville, KY for the LSA-DN 2016 Summer Meeting. In an effort to better understand each other's organizations, we decided to forgo holding our summer meeting in a hotel, as we have in past years, so that we could take a deeper look at a member organization. And to my surprise, everyone preferred meeting in a member conference room with meals brought in by Panera and snacks from the grocery store as opposed to the carefully curated environment of a hotel! LSA-DN members were able to better grasp how the host organization, Cedar Lake, was delivering long-term services and supports to people with disabilities and how they might be able to partner with, learn from, or help grow Cedar Lake.
Prior to the meeting, several LSA-DN members participated in a tour of Cedar Lake programs and met directly with Cedar Lake staff and people supported. LSA-DN members toured Cedar Lake's evolving day and employment center and were treated to the sounds from music appreciation day. Then, they toured Cedar Lake's brand new four bed ICF home that is soon to be occupied by current residents of their larger ICF settings. To end the day, we were invited into the home of three women who have been supported for many years by Cedar Lake. For many, I think the tour was the highlight of the meeting. While many of the service delivery challenges are the same from member to member, seeing Cedar Lake's programming in person allowed LSA-DN members to better understand the nuances of their service delivery solutions. Also, Cedar Lake staff, at many levels, were exposed to a whole network of like organizations who are ready and willing to work together.
During the meeting, direct support professional recruitment, retention, and engagement continued to be a major focus. At this meeting, Cedar Lake staff led a deep dive on the implementation and impact of their Brand New Day initiative. Don't forget to check out the LSA-DN Facebook and Twitter for "groovy" pictures and videos. Dancing and costumes are involved! DN members also learned from key representatives of Tennessee's Medicaid and Department of ID/DD about the approval of their HCBS transition plan, the first state.
On behalf of all members of LSA-DN, I want to whole-heartedly thank Julie Swanson from Lutheran Family Services of Virginia and Rita Wiersma from Community Involvement Programs for leading the network for the past two years. Their leadership has spurred our network to the next level. And on a personal level, they have both been impactful mentors to me. We now welcome the network's new leadership, Nancy Rosemore from Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota and Bill Kallestad from Lutheran Services in Iowa. I'm looking forward to the next two years with them!