Thanks to a generous donation from Connie and Mike Schingle and in honor of Connie's aunt Patricia (a former client of Progress for many years) 75 of the people we support and their staff enjoyed a day at the Nashville Zoo on May 8th! Everyone had a great time, and enjoyed seeing all kinds of creatures great and small. We are extremely grateful for this generous contribution that made such a special day for our folks!
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and Progress recognized the month with a "See Me for Me" campaign. We asked people we support to describe themselves in one word. See the results below!
We were pleased to be featured in a video by TNCO ACTS that will be used to recruit Direct Support Professionals throughout the state! The video follows Progress DSPs and people they support throughout their day. Filming took place during the summer of 2018, and the video will be shared with legislators, on social media, and through a variety of other formats. DSPs are truly heroes, and we hope the video encourages many more to join the field!
Kelly Fisher with The Ashland City Times wrote an article about the DSP Staffing Crisis, and how it has affected Cheatham County specifically. She spoke with longtime Progress live-in companion Chris Luallen and his challenges in supporting Jimmy when staffing is so difficult. Read the full story at:
Progress just received an additional $100,000 grant from the Frist Foundation toward the Capital Campaign, matching their previous lead contribution towards the project. Pete Bird, President and CEO of the Frist Foundation, said, “We believe in Progress and the important work that you do.” The foundation was one of Progress’ earliest supporters, in addition to being among the first donors to the Capital Campaign.
The Progress administrative currently houses twice the staff that it was intended to accommodate. With new programs, a growing staff, and the need for a larger conference and training area, space is at a premium. So a $1 million expansion was planned, never anticipating poor soil conditions and skyrocketing construction costs amid Nashville’s building boom.
The unhappy surprises boosted the project cost to $1.3 million, which prompted The Frist Foundation to come back with an additional gift. We now have $1,010,000 in case and pledges, but still need additional funds to reach our goal.
If you have already made a gift to the capital campaign, thank you. If you haven’t made a gift or would consider additional support, please consider this unique giving opportunity. All donors to the Capital Campaign will be listed on a permanent wall display in the new building. Additional naming opportunities are also available (see page 7), and all gifts, no matter the size, will be listed on a special wall display.
To make a lasting impact that will be celebrated for years to come, please consider helping us reach our goal. We cannot thank you enough.
To make a gift to the Capital Campaign, please contact Kelly O'Connor at 615-577-4726 or K.O'Connor@progress-inc.org.
First, we have raised more than $900,000 in cash and pledges towards our $1,000,000 goal and we actively continue to solicit donations and pledges.
Through the site preparations last fall, we learned that the soil that the building will be built upon is worse than expected (we are located on top of a former landfill so it is more complicated than normal bad soil) which have impacted construction costs. With the current state of construction costs in Nashville, coupled with the additional construction costs relative to the poor soil conditions, the cost of the project has gone up dramatically. At one point the project was estimated at 1.6 million dollars and Progress explored the option of reducing the size of the building. Unfortunately, the cost savings would be negligible and the smaller size would not serve organizational needs. Both the architect and the contractor have worked tirelessly with us, making further revisions and asking the sub-contractors for help in reducing our cost. With cuts and further cost-savings, the project came back to us at $1,302,790 and includes a contingency of 10% which we have been assured is more than sufficient given our soil and building conditions.
We are currently looking at a timeline of 9-12 months and we expect to see soil moving onsite within the next 60 days, permits allowing.
Again, thank you very much for your generosity and patience through this long process – we are so very grateful for your support. We will continue to keep you informed. Thank you again for all that you have done to support Progress.
Please know that through your generosity, you are improving the lives of seniors and people with disabilities. You provide compassionate supports so that people can live as independently as possible. You are changing lives and changing the world. Thank you – we are so very appreciative.
We are pleased to announce that ART CLASH, presented by Lightning 100 and held on Friday, June 15th at the Texas Troubadour Theater was a roaring success! Art Clash was Nashville’s first live upcycled art making competition (think "Iron Chef" for artists). Funds raised will support SmART! Supplies, the social enterprise of Progress that sells donated arts and crafts materials and employs people with disabilities.
During the competition, five teams created one-of-a-kind artwork out of upcycled materials in two hours. Teams were required to incorporate a selection of upcycled materials provided by SmART! Supplies, including wine corks and crayons, and were also permitted to bring their own materials from an approved list.
The event featured a panel of judges consisting of some of Nashville’s most notable artists and leaders in the art community. Judges included Beth Inglish, founder of Nashville Creative Group, Éva Boros of Nashville Walls Project, Brian Sexton of Nashville Creatives’ Day, Colin Pigott of Creative Mornings, Metro Council Member Jeff Syracuse, and critically-acclaimed artists Wayne Brezinka and Randy Purcell. The event was hosted by Torri Yates-Orr, CW58 Nashville multimedia host and actress.
“Art Clash has proven that a live, upcycled art making competition has a strong place in Nashville’s art scene. The event raised important awareness for SmART! Supplies. We brought something entirely new to the community, participants and spectators had a blast, and we are thrilled with the results,” shared Kyle Graden, Marketing and Outreach Manager for SmART! Supplies.
Teams included Post Future (1st Place), Minds Unchained (2nd Place), Trash Mob (3rd Place), Team Blend and the Weary Easel. More than 50 attendees viewed the live competition, and winners received comprehensive prize packages.
Planning for Art Clash 2019 is underway, visit www.artclashnashville.com for details about this year’s event.
Progress is pleased to announce a new event in support of SmART! Supplies!
ART CLASH, presented by Lightning 100, is a completely new, exciting, LIVE art making competition happening on Friday, June 15th at 7:00 p.m. at the Texas Troubadour Theater (2416 Music Valley Drive, Nashville TN 37214). During the competition, teams will have two hours to create a piece of artwork out of upcycled materials. The event will feature a panel of judges consisting of some of Nashville’s most notable artists and leaders in the art community. Judges include Beth Inglish, founder of Nashville Creative Group, Éva Boros of Nashville Walls Project, Brian Sexton of Nashville Creatives’ Day, Colin Pigott of Creative Mornings, Metro Council Member Jeff Syracuse, and critically-acclaimed artists Wayne Brezinka and Randy Purcell.*
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the competition will occur from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m., with winners announced at 9:30. Tickets are $10, and a cash bar will be available. Winning teams will be determined by the judges, with first, second and third place winners receiving comprehensive prize packages. Attendees will vote on a People’s Choice winner. Proceeds from the event will support SmART! Supplies, Progress' social enterprise that sells upcycled arts and crafts materials while employing people with disabilities.
“We are thrilled to bring such a unique event to the community, and can’t wait to see the range of art that teams create in two hours.” Kyle Graden, Outreach and Marketing Manager shared. “This event will help us raise important awareness about upcycled art, but more importantly about the work that we do to help people with intellectual disabilities live as independently as possible.”
Tyrone, an employee at SmART! Supplies shared that he “loves working at SmART!” and would “like to work here forever!” Tyrone has an intellectual disability and has worked at SmART! Supplies since opening in 2014.
In addition, during the competition SmART! Supplies (located next door to the Texas Troubadour Theater) will be open to attendees, and will feature a gallery of work available for purchase from artist judges Beth Inglish, Wayne Brezinka and Randy Purcell. Full details about the competition, ticket info and sponsorship opportunities can be found at www.ArtClashNashville.com.
Being inspired to stay healthy is a challenge for most of us. With busy schedules, work commitments, family responsibilities, stress, and a whole host of other distractions, health often falls to the bottom of the list. We all know that we’ll feel better by eating healthy and exercising, but making a plan and sticking to it is sometimes easier said than done.
Sheena and Shirley know this challenge first hand and serve as a testament to the incredible difference a few lifestyle changes can make. Sheena has been with Progress for many years, and due to a few staffing changes in the past year, Shirley became her new live-in companion. Sometimes it just takes the right person to motivate change.
“In high school I weighed 223 pounds, had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and was gaining weight. I had terrible headaches that were related to high blood pressure,” Shirley explained. She made big lifestyle changes back then and lost the weight, incorporating exercise and healthy eating in her daily routine. “I love helping people feel better about themselves.”
Before coming to Nashville, Shirley lived in Houston and provided care for another woman with disabilities. The individual she supported in Houston had low self-esteem, and felt like nobody listened to her. “She felt like nobody cared, so she didn’t care about herself. You have to love yourself.” Shirley made it her mission to improve the person’s self-confidence and self-worth, and succeeded.
When Shirley moved to Nashville to be closer to her daughter, she brought that same desire to help people better themselves to her role at Progress. In her new role, Shirley would be supporting Sheena, and was advised of the challenges that lay ahead. In the past, Sheena experienced difficulty connecting with other staff and had developed a bit of a reputation. Confrontations with providers were a regular occurrence, but things changed practically overnight when Shirley came into the picture. “I tell everyone, don’t go by what people tell you, you have to get to know people first,” Shirley explained. That mindset paid off in a big way, and Sheena has made major improvements over the past year, both physically and mentally. Sheena is happier, friendlier, more outgoing, and seems to have a new outlook on life.
When Shirley and Sheena started living together, they made small tweaks to their routine. On the weekends, they began to incorporate walking as a part of errands, like going to Dollar Tree, Walmart and Sam’s Club to get extra steps. After walking became a bigger part of their lifestyle, Shirley encouraged Sheena to give the community gym a try. “Sheena had never done anything like that before, so we started small.” Before long, visiting the gym became a regular occurrence, and Sheena started to look forward to riding the stationary bike and walking on the treadmill. “We tried walking a little further each time. I am a healthy eater, so Sheena learned to enjoy eating healthy food that I cook. We have our treats, and if we overindulge, we just walk a little extra.”
“Shopping is my favorite exercise.” Sheena added.
The change in Sheena is like night and day. She’s lost over 50 pounds and no longer needs a CPAP machine to sleep. Sheena is more confident now, and is proud of her accomplishments. “Exercising was harder than healthy eating at first, but I feel good now.” Sheena gets along great with her roommate, is very easy to work with, and has confidence to do more to take care of herself. “She cleans, washes and folds her clothes, she’s more open now,” Shirley explained, “She can make eggs in the microwave, and we’re taking more baby steps in the kitchen.”
Sheena and Shirley have no intentions of slowing down anytime soon. The healthy changes introduced into the household are there to stay, and exercise and healthy eating are practically second nature now.
“Shirley makes really good food,” Sheena said with a smile.
“I know how hard it is to suffer with weight.” Shirley added, “But health is a big part of our lives now.”
Shirley’s patience and understanding has helped Sheena stay the course. “I love my ladies, I enjoy my job. If I feel bad, they’ll say, Miss Shirley, you need to go take a bath. We take care of each other.”
When asked what she would say to anyone considering working with people with disabilities, Shirley’s response was, “Give it a chance. Just try it. One day you’ll need someone to take care of you. If you love to help people, this is a great job.”
Lily Wojcik, PR/Events Manager Progress
When Monisha talks about Billy and Robert, it’s clear she knows just about everything about them. She knows their idiosyncrasies, their strengths and their quirks. She knows who will usually offer a traffic report in the morning, and she knows who’s keeping tabs on the latest sports teams. She knows their histories and families, their work history, but most importantly she knows them.
“They’re like my brothers,” she explained one evening. What started out as a typical companion/roommate setup grew into a beautiful friendship, full of nurture and support from all parties. “They give me so much joy and have helped me through difficult times, in the same way I try to help them.”
Companions are the lifeblood of what Progress does. The people supported through Progress rely on companions to help them live as independently as possible. Companions cook meals, provide transportation to appointments, manage household maintenance, ensure the safety of each resident, and complete many other countless tasks on a daily basis. What is arguably most inspirational however, is the support system companions provide through life’s ups and downs. Companions are there every single day. On good days households may be bursting with laughter, and on other days, companions may be consoling their residents through difficult experiences or helping them navigate challenging behaviors. What is often unexpected though, is the ability for companions to feel that same familial support returned to them from the people they’re caring for.
Monisha was the first to acknowledge that she and the guys have had a rough year. Their house has had its share of difficult times recently. Earlier in the year Monisha’s sister passed away, Billy’s sister passed away unexpectedly, then Monisha’s mother became sick, and her son was diagnosed with a disability.
One day Billy caught Monisha crying, and told her everything would be alright. “They’ll come in and tell jokes,” Monisha explained with a smile.
“Laughing is better than crying.” Billy chimed in.
“When my son was diagnosed with a disability, at first I cried because I didn’t know how to handle it. These guys were a huge support for me, though.” Monisha’s son and husband live close by, and they visit the house regularly. Billy and Robert have an especially close relationship with Monisha’s son. “Robert is like a big brother and makes sure my son’s homework gets done. Billy likes to teach my son about the bible, as he’s attending a Christian academy. They’ll watch tv together.” The support Monisha received from Billy and Robert was a surprise that she never expected from the people she was responsible for caring for.
“I look at it as a big family.” Billy added.
“I take pride in what I do. A lot of people see it as a job. It is my life.” Monisha added that caring for her autistic brother while growing up played a big factor in her desire to help others today.
Like many companion homes, theirs operates like a well-oiled machine, with everyone playing a part in the day-to-day household responsibilities. Monisha explained that both of the guys assist with lots of things. Billy dusts, Robert does laundry. When Monisha takes the garbage out, Billy has often changed the bag before she’s back inside. Over the last year the guys have become even more independent & take extra pride in their home.
“We are like a family. We cook together and eat together. I cook for them, and do for them like I do at home. My husband cooks for them too, he loves them. If I’ve been out of town for a few days, I’m so happy to be back and I’ll say, ‘Honeys I’m home!’ and hug them.”
Billy and Robert agreed that Monisha is a “good lady, a good cook, a good mother, and a great person to talk to.”
“We’ve been through it all, but these guys keep me strong.”
The friendship that Monisha, Billy and Robert share is a powerful example of the types of relationships that can develop between companions and individuals. The bonds that form are often able to elevate all parties during life’s challenges. Monisha, Billy and Robert serve as an example of the fact that meaningful connections sometimes grow in unexpected places, and that support is never a one-way street.
Lily Wojcik, PR/Events Manager Progress
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