December, 2019 Newsletter

Supporting Persons with Different Abilities through the Holidays
The holiday season is here! Holidays, however, often signal a time of stress for the developmentally disabled. Anticipation and small changes create anxiety. For example, seeing Christmas lights each day for weeks makes waiting for Christmas day difficult and confusing. Individuals with developmental disabilities often communicate with behavior changes, and the message may be stress or anxiety over holiday changes, schedule changes, and family contacts.
You can help individuals with developmental disabilities safely participate in holiday activities, which also increases their independence. Here are some ideas to create a positive time of celebration for each family member.
  • Many times, extended families may not really understand the individual with the disability. Educate them.
  • Prepare in advance a way that your family member can participate in holiday traditions. Find pictures of last year’s celebration.
  • Put together a schedule of events for your party. Whether in words or pictures, let the person know the planned order. Give that individual a job to do.
  • Designate a safe zone. Show the family member this quiet and designated space.
  • Crafting is a great way for disabled adults to engage with the holiday season without being overloaded by busy holiday events.
  • Playing holiday music when the season arises is one way to get disabled adults involved with the holidays and feel like they are celebrating together.
  • Don’t over-schedule, and try to keep to a normal routine.

On that note, HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Greater Opportunities.
Advocate for individuals with different abilities- #KeepthePromise
  • Your efforts are influencing change.
  • Your voice is helping to reverse a decade history of underfunding the needs of those with developmental disabilities.


#Keepthepromise #ProtectOurCare #DisabilityRights #StopTheInjustice #InclusionforAll #AcceptRespectInclude #WeCare #CaliforniansWhoCare
Department Highlights:
Independent Living Services
Old Friends from Camp MayMac

Edward Stage has been a part of Greater Opportunities ILS program for about twenty years now. His quick wit and boisterous laugh makes him a delight to work with. Upon meeting Ed, he shared fond memories about his time at CityTeam’s Camp MayMac. He started off as a volunteer Dish Washer and was eventually appointed as the Assistant Head Counselor because they saw potential in him. He worked with troubled youth, who he saw to be not so different from himself and would unabashedly remind them, “The only difference between me and you is that you got caught.”
At Camp MayMac, Ed made many unforgettable friends. One friend in particular he yearned to reconnect with, is Alan. Ed asked his ILS staff to look up his old friend, Alan, whom he knew had become a professor at James Madison University. After searching through the University’s website, Ed's ILS staff found his email and sent Ed’s phone number to Alan. In their conversations, Alan
connected Ed to another Camp MayMac friend – coincidentally also named Ed. Alan shared with Ed about his plans to be in the Bay Area for Thanksgiving which led to a reunion after 30 years, these men were finally able to meet up once again and pick up where they left off.
Supported Living Services
From Stress to Success this Holidays!

For many SLS Staff that provides care and support to our individuals in the program during the holiday season, especially those who reside with the individuals they provide support to; the holidays tend to give rise to stress, frustration and anger, instead of peace and good will. Some SLS Staff may feel resentful towards other Staff or even the individual’s family members who they feel have not offered enough assistance. Managing care for someone who has a developmental disability may leave staff feeling that they will not be able to participate as fully as they would like in holiday gatherings. Already feeling overwhelmed with care-giving tasks, stressed-out staff may view traditional holiday preparations as more of a drain of precious energy than a joy. Following are some suggestions that may help make the holidays more enjoyable for SLS Staff and the individual you support. Keep in mind that the holidays can, in fact, provide unique opportunities to seek better communication, connection and support from family and friends.

  • Opportunity for communication: It is understandable to have reservations about discussing your individual’s impairments, however, an honest communication about the realities of the care-giving situation offers others the opportunity to respond with assistance. Sharing the truths of your situation may help reduce some of the feelings of isolation and lack of appreciation common in all professions that provides care and support to other individuals with developmental disability.

  • Be clear about your energy level: Don’t get overwhelmed by feeling like you have to take on all holiday preparations for your individual. Be honest. Let family members and/or your immediate supervisor know that your care- giving duties are keeping you very busy and that you only have so much energy for holiday preparation and hosting duties.

  • Adapt. Adapt. Adapt: SLS Staff often have to adapt to their traditional role or experience of the holidays. This may mean allowing another Staff and/or family member to host more time-intensive festivities. Some SLS Staff may need to modify the amount of time away from home to match the comfort level of your individual. Some SLS Staff may also have to assist their individual in choosing which events to attend based on which would be the simplest, least exhausting and most enjoyable for the person for whom you provide care—and for you.

  • Reflect on the Rewards: Reflecting on the rewards of care-giving can help maintain your self-esteem. It may feel very rewarding to know that you are fulfilling your responsibilities as an SLS Staff, and even going above and beyond. Your care-giving may be an expression of living up to your personal ideals or religious beliefs. You may also be experiencing a great deal of growth as you learn new skills and meet challenges in ways you never imagined possible.
Day Support Services
Overcoming fears
Eric Brion started Greater Opportunities on October 1st 2014. He initially presented as a shy and quiet person but after five years with Greater Opportunities, Eric accomplished a lot to improve his life and overcome his fears.
Eric can now sing in front of crowds and has obtained and kept his same employment at BJ's restaurant for the last 3 years. Eric also discovered his talent for interior decoration and expresses his talent at the day program with holiday themes throughout the year.
Eric was soft spoken when he first arrived at Greater Opportunities Day Program but over time with a lot of encouragement by staff and his peers, Eric overcame his shyness by getting up in front of his friends and singing to them. His peers were amazed to hear such a loud and clear voice when he sang.
Fun Facts-Singing helps Eric express his emotions.

Eric’s favorite holiday is Halloween as he uses his decorative skill alongside spooky decorations to transform the Day Program. He also created and designed a haunted house inside one of the rooms.
Lastly, Eric donates more of his time to a Halloween dance party for him and his friends and provides all the equipment necessary for a dance party including DJing the party which everyone looks forward to every year.
In conclusion, Eric has bettered his life in many ways. Through music/art and a consistent dedication to his job. Managers at BJ’s restaurant are very pleased with his work. Eric definitely has a heart of gold.
This world needs more of Eric Brion.
Greater Opportunities celebrates one of our manager Renee Brose as she received the LANTERMAN AWARD at the just concluded San Andreas Regional Center 21st annual Service above self-award.

We are happy that her service to individuals with different abilities got the recognition it deserved.
This award was a great highlight as Renee concludes her 6 year run with Greater Opportunities.
She came to the agency at a time when the day program was growing; with hard-work, dedication and an infectious bubbly personality, she grew the program from 30 to 61 participants. She will be missed by her colleagues, staff and most of all her participants at the Day Center.
She has undoubtedly left huge shoes to be filled.
It is with great joy and appreciation that we wish Renee a life filled with fun, love and laughter as she travels the world.
The Joys of Giving Back
Happiness makes for a better person, which helps make a better family, which makes a better community, which makes for a better world. The cyclical nature of spreading joy makes it all the more important to give back any way you can. If you’re happy helping others in need to become happier themselves, there’s no end to the impact you can have. Giving back is truly a way for people to have a global impact when it comes to making the world a better place. It’s easier than ever to make a difference, and the old adage that every little bit counts is always true, so find a way to be charitable and give back to those who need it most.  
Make an investment in the joy, dignity and independence for people with developmental disabilities at Greater Opportunities today!
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Use this link every time you shop for holiday gifts and all other purchases and Amazon donates to Greater Opportunities every time, all year long.
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Thank you for your support!
For further information please feel free to contact our main office