Mental-Health Related Disabilities and Reasonable Accommodations

Picture 6May is National Mental Health Month. Given that AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Learn & Serve programs have service members with non-apparent disabilities, including members with mental health related disabilities, information and suggestions for providing reasonable accommodations are shared provided below.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health “an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older—about one in four adults—suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.”

Mental health related disabilities “refer collectively to all diagnosable mental [conditions]…[which] are characterized by Continue reading

Inclusive Interviewing for National and Community Service Programs

Via magnusfranklin's Flickr photostream

Via magnusfranklin's Flickr photostream

As applications to join your service program increase, and the interview process continues, this is the perfect time to brush-up on information regarding inclusive interviewing.

As a result of feedback from the field, the National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP) will be providing an informative and interactive discussion to guide you in conducting inclusive interviews.

What are questions that you can and can’t ask? What if someone discloses a disability on their application or during an interview? What are strategies to ensure that all applicants know your agency provides reasonable accommodations?

Please be a part of this presentation and discussion about conducting inclusive interviews both in-person and at a distance.

Join us on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 from 3 PM – 4 PM EST (2 PM Central, 1 PM Mountain, 12 PM Pacific).

Our presenters this month are both from the National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP) (see their biographies, below): Continue reading

Engaging Service Members of All Ages and Abilities in Service

Living today for a better tomorrow

May has been declared Older Americans Month, by the Administration on Aging (AoA) out of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the AoA: “This year’s theme ‘Living Today for a Better Tomorrow’ reflects AoA’s continued focus on prevention efforts and programs throughout the country that are helping older adults have better health as they age.” Many seniors of all abilities are “living today for a better tomorrow” by committing themselves to national and community service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn & Serve programs.

In May 2007, the Corporation for National and Community Service released “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research” (PDF). The study “documents major findings from more than 30 rigorous and longitudinal studies that reviewed the relationship between health and volunteering. The study, which were controlled for other factors, found that volunteering leads to improved physical and mental health.”

Key findings include:

  • Older adults are more likely to receive greater health benefits from volunteering; including improved physical and Continue reading

Emergency Preparedness and People with Disabilities

Photo of Bobbie Singletary at work, helping someone on the computer.Many AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America programs focus on emergency preparedness. Service members who serve in these programs inform and educate the public about the need for emergency preparedness, including emergency preparedness for individuals with disabilities, and respond when emergencies happen.

Bobbie Singletary is an AmeriCorps  VISTA who has been serving at Life of South Mississippi from 2006, focusing specifically on emergency preparedness for people with disabilities.

Bobbie, who is of short stature, was volunteering at Life of South Mississippi when she was asked to become their VISTA. “Life [of South Mississippi] helped my family, so I wanted to give of my time.”

In her service, she focuses on providing disaster preparedness trainings to the public and especially to persons with disabilities. She gets the word out to first responders and other emergency managers so that they are best able to assist everyone regardless Continue reading

New Podcast: Volunteer, National Service, and Nonprofit Resources on the Resource Center

Resource Center logoThe newest Idealist podcast features the Resource Center.

The Resource Center, a website of the Corporation for National and Community Service, is the repository of over 8,000 nodes of training tools, publications, and effective practices to support volunteer programs, nonprofits, and people involved with the AmeriCorps family of programs. The Resource Center–free and accessible to all audience–boasts a 3,000-item lending library as well as a calendar of events of interest to national service programs and nonprofits.

The guests on The New Service podcast are Laura Norvig, the Resource Center’s librarian, and Jason Scott, the Training Officer and eLearning Specialist at the Corporation for National and Community Service. Listen to the podcast. Continue reading

Celebrating People in Action for National Volunteer Week (April 19-25)

National Volunteer Week 2009 is April 19-25. This year’s theme is “Celebrating People in Action.” Below are three new stories of service members or volunteers with disabilities in action, “honoring the individuals who dedicate themselves to taking action and solving problems in their communities.”

People First logoTiffany Hunter, AmeriCorps VISTA
People First of Nevada-Carson City Chapter, 2006-present
Quadriplegia and TBI

“The Carson City Chapter of People First [of Nevada], began with 10 people. In three years, we’ve doubled,” says Tiffany. Meeting monthly, she tracks and facilitates PFN-CC meetings and encourages those in attendance to determine the thrust of the chapter. The experience of working as a VISTA has also allowed Tiffany to increase the network of partners connected to PFN-CC. “We had a barbecue social, but we didn’thave very much money to hold the event. I looked around for donations, but wasn’t having much luck until I talked to the manager at the local grocery chain where I shop. She originally offered to donate $20, but when I went back to the store to pick up the donation, she had increased the donation to $50. With that I was able to buy everything I Continue reading

Webchats to Help Prepare for AmeriCorps Week 2009

AmeriCorps Week LogoAmeriCorps Week organizers invite the AmeriCorps community to participate in a series of webinars to answer your questions and give you the tools to make AmeriCorps Week 2009 successful.

Participation is free, but you must register separately for each conversation and download the WebEx application (for free) in order to participate.

Each with its own theme, five “web chats” — conference calls that also involve following an online presentation —  will take place at the following dates and times.

Continue reading