We can't wait to see you in person!
But in the meantime, we’re still right here online.
One plus year of having our physical doors closed has not stopped us from providing programs and services. The staff has continually been able to work with people in our communities as we continue our passion and love for providing our programs and services for the Jackson, Lenawee, and Hillsdale County communities.

Virtually we maintain providing Independent Living, Employment Navigator, and Advocacy. The Pre-ETS program has continued virtually working with area high schools, even creating and providing a special spring break program early this month. Information and Referral are still operating taking calls and providing resources for those that reach out via the phone or Facebook. Nursing Facility Transitions continue to occur as well, helping people leave facilities and return to the community. The Loan Closet continues to be open on Tuesdays 9-4 along with Fix-dis on Wednesdays. Although, there may be times we feel it is unsafe to do so out of concern for the people we serve and the people we employ. We ask you please call AHEAD (517)782-6054 to check if they are open and to request equipment so we can make the process safe for all involved.

We look forward to the days of having all these services in person as more vaccinations occur. Until then, we plan to continue doing as much as we can to support people with disabilities to be as independent as possible and encourage people to reach out if there may be some way we can provide you with assistance or support. Stay Safe.
April Awareness Days

Move More Month - American Heart Association
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month
Parkinson's Awareness Month
Stress Awareness Month

2 - World Autism Awareness Day
5-11 Parkinson's Awareness Week
7 - World Health Day
10 - National Siblings Day
11 - World Parkinson's Day
12 - Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day
15 - Micro-volunteering Day
17 - World Hemophilia Day
24 - Scream Day
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April is Parkinson's Awareness Month
By: Brian Elliott

In recognition of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, I recently spoke with a long-time employee and recent retiree from disAbility Connections, Carole Briggs BSN, RN. Carole has a wealth of knowledge and experience with Parkinson’s disease (PD), gathered from her career as a nurse working in elder care facilities. Her husband was diagnosed with PD in 1993, and she has led the Jackson Parkinson’s Support Group for the past 20+ years. 
Following her husband’s diagnosis, they helped start the Jackson Parkinson’s Support Group. Providing educational speakers and offering a social opportunity to be around others in similar situations living with PD. At these monthly meetings - currently not being held as a COVID precaution - they have programming that includes speakers from various medical fields, legal experts, holiday pot luck and auction to raise funds for the Parkinson’s Foundation, and two times a year have sessions that were designed for the Parkinson persons and caregiver(s) to meet separately. These two meetings being especially important, providing temporary relief and a break from each other while allowing an extra opportunity to communicate between those in similar situations. As Carole told me, "there is more to a PERSON as a whole than simply another person with a shared characteristic of being a caregiver or having PD and these meetings are a chance to share resources, have fun, and socialize”.      
As a parting comment for anyone that is newly diagnosed and their families; Carole says “Get connected with Michigan’s Parkinson’s Foundation www.parkinsonsmi.org (248) 433-1011, for all of their beneficial resources and get connected with a support group in your area. They are all over the state. The lessons learned at a support group, being among others in similar situations, will be beyond helpful”.

For a local Jackson Parkinson Support Group, contact Carole Briggs at 517-783-6527. In-person meetings are expected to start up again soon.

We understand the unique challenges of being a caregiver for a family member with a disability or disease. Respite means relief. We view respite as a temporary therapeutic separation for both the caregiver and the family member. It eases the stress at home while providing the person with a disability/disease personalized attention by trained and skilled professionals. Our respite program began in 1995; since then we have been able to provide thousands of hours of respite care breaks for families. 
Our Respite Program provides 2 to 8-hour shifts with a total of 8 hours per month at a reasonable cost of $7-12 per hour determined on a sliding scale by household income. In instances where someone has a serious disability or develops a disease, family members often take on the role of their caregiver when they are no longer able to completely care for themselves. Especially when financial assets are limited. While this is done out of love, care can also become a lot of work and add strain to relationships by making it difficult to separate the roles as spouse/sibling/parent and caregiver. Ultimately, this dynamic may be harder on family than non-family.
Respite is an opportunity for the person with a disability/disease to be cared for by a trained and skilled professional while allowing the family member and person with a disability a separation. Longtime nurse and Respite program coordinator Carole Briggs encourages the caregiver(s) to get out of the house and to do something for themselves like going out to eat, get a haircut, or simply go for a walk. She also, acknowledged that respite time (depending on the amount of time allotted) may be the easiest to do the basic necessities of getting groceries, errands, or even get a haircut knowing they have safe care at home with their loved ones.

We would be happy to discuss the Respite Program for your family. If you are a Jackson County resident, contact us to find out if you qualify for respite care services at
517-782-6054. All caregivers need a break!
New COVID Vaccine Guidelines
Governor Gretchen Whitmore announced the expansion of Michigan's COVID vaccine eligibility.
  • Michigander's ages 16 and older with disabilities or medical conditions that put them at high risk of negative COVID-19 can currently get the vaccine.
  • Beginning next Monday, April 5th, all Michiganders age 16 and up who were not previously eligible will be eligible to receive a vaccine.

If you are eligible to receive a vaccine:
  • Check the website of your local health department or hospital to find out their process or for registration forms.
  • Check additional vaccination sites, such as local pharmacies like Meijer, Rite Aid, Kroger, or Cardinal Health (U.P. residents); or
  • Tell those who don’t have access to the internet or who need assistance navigating the vaccine scheduling process to call the COVID-19 Hotline at 888-535-6136 (press 1) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
group of people standing beside a ramp they built for a house to make it wheelchair accessible
Jackson Ramp Program
Our slots filled up quickly following the open application process at the beginning of March. Thank you to those that helped in sharing the word about the program. For any that applied but were not selected for this year's build list, we are sorry to not be able to assist at this time. We know there is a large demand. Unfortunately, the high cost of materials along with limited funding restricts the number of people we are able to help at this time. If you are interested in volunteering to help build or would like to make a donation towards the cost of ramp materials contact Lora Bigcraft at lora@disabilityconnect.org or call 517-782-6054 ext 236.
cartoon image with green hilltops and a few trees there is a walking-biking path going over the hills
Getting Out and Getting Moving

As mentioned at the top of the newsletter, April is Move More Month with the American Heart Association, IBS Awareness Month, Parkinson's Awareness Month, and Stress Awareness Month. Exercise is something that can be beneficial to people impacted by those conditions.

We are fortunate in one aspect that we have great outdoor areas around us in our tri-county area. We have great county and city parks, trails nearby to walk or bike, downtowns to explore, even just going around the block or up and down the driveway while getting some fresh air and the body moving can be beneficial on many levels.

In reality, most of us aren't exercise enthusiasts and following strict diets going for the perfect bodies that we see in media. That's OK! We can still strive for healthy lifestyles and enjoy ourselves. It starts with simple commitments to doing some little things throughout the week and establishing goals. Get your family, friends, neighbors, or even your pets involved with you. Developing a buddy system makes it easier to stick to a program and motivate each other to keep going. PLUS, you also have someone to share the rewards when you treat yourself for work well done! They can get their own donuts though, I'm not sharing mine.

Stay tuned for an announcement and a chance to participate with disAbility Connections as we run, walk, or roll to achieve our goal.

*Consult a medical professional before starting a new exercise or diet program.

Don't forget to check out our free Access For All app and website as more people begin getting vaccinated and venturing out again and stores provide services. Access For All is available for free download on Android and iPhone.

Access For All provides information about parking, entrance, seating, and restroom accessibility features at area businesses and county parks allowing you to "Know Before You Go".

To have a business evaluated and potentially included in Access For All, contact review@disabilityconnect.org.

Lastly, THANK YOU to all of the supporters that read our newsletter, blog posts, and follow us on social media to stay updated on our services and disability-related issues. We appreciate your support through volunteering (when possible), donations, social media interactions, and via word of mouth whenever someone you encounter may benefit from our services. We value your input, please consider taking this short 10 question anonymous survey below if you have not taken it before.