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Imagine That...July 2023

In Loving Memory of Dean Wilson and Dana Hackett
Help support Imagine!

Eliot and Blue living well

Tiffany Dowling and Becky Sheen!

Sophie at the Park!

Nate and Kristin at a local ceramics artist display!

Nate and Kristin exploring more artwork!

Ian's birthday party!

Eliot and Chloe!

Ian and Jai playing a jeopardy game that Jai made for him! (I'll take Giants' Players for 1000)

Jake and Santi at Imagine's office!


Nate and Kai (his cat)

Alina and Chris!

Kenia, David, and Alexa at the beach!

Party Time

Dear Imagine friends and family,

If you are an Imagine employee, you should have received word that we extended the July 4 holiday to include Monday, July 3. If you are not an employee, you might be wondering why this newsletter, which comes out the first business day of each month was not out on Monday, in which case ask an employee.

Put this in the category of news that's big but I am not real sure what to say about it: After three years of financial operating losses and struggles to fill calendars, Imagine has made our largest caregiver raises, improved our recruiting results and run surpluses through the first half of the year. This gifts us a bunch of brand new, luxury challenges.

One is that Imagine runs surpluses when we can for the purpose of sustainability. There's no "bigger the better" attitude towards unspent funds. We do try, when able to put 2-5% of our funding aside to support us through future challenges (E.g. The State of California having to do something about its deficits to our expense, a pandemic, other unlikelinesses.) We do not try to maximize our surplus, but, instead, to invest whatever we sustainably can in ways that durably improve the lives of our clients and the satisfaction of our caregivers.

You would think that after years of scraping we'd have a big list of wishes to fund. You'd sure be right, too. You might think that after three years of wearing everyone out just to fill shifts, we'd have a whole bunch of ideas of ways to perform better. Right again!

The new challenge we're struggling with this year will be to prioritize the good ideas at a rate that we can succeed with them. We welcome you to add to the chore and I invite you to write or call me. The golden problem of 2023 is how to do well at being better.

I hope this explains why change at Imagine this year is slow but steady. Please be patient with us as we have been with life, and also feel invited to share the challenge. The process is pretty fun. We know where we're headed, though, towards person-centered services, enriched lives for our consumers provided with the help of well-supported caregivers.

Shared Adventures' Day On The Beach is coming up on Saturday, July 15. If you haven't yet registered, it is probably too late for the space-limited events, but it is never to late to come, enjoy the celebration, have lunch, enjoy the dancing and other accessible events. It is an epic event that brings people from around the country to Santa Cruz County. If you'd like to join Imagine's team (we do registration at the event) you can sign up here or write to either me or Stephanie.

The Gathering of Extraordinary People is coming August 18, as usual in Harvey West Park. Imagine has had a lot of support from partner agencies and other friends in making the Gathering happen. If you would like to help out that day or during the preparation, please email Norma.

For those of you who are new to our community: The Day On The Beach (DoTB) is an annual event put on by Shared Adventures at Cowell's Beach, next to the Santa Cruz wharf. Each year, a wheelchair is built out along the beach down to the tide line leading to a dance floor and several stations where a Hoyer lift and volunteers from the Santa Cruz Carpenters' Local are available to make kayaking, outrigger canoeing, surfing, diving and other water sports accessible to people in any body. There is a free lunch provided and a concert. Imagine has been supporting this event for a long time with volunteers and assistance organizing. I have met visitors from other states who came to Santa Cruz for the opportunity to enjoy activities that aren't otherwise accessible. We are very proud this event happens here.

The Gathering of Extraordinary People is another local marquee event and takes place in Harvey West Park. The community of people with developmental disabilities from throughout the County are welcome. A typical gathering offers food, musical and artistic activities, sports and a talent show. We make this happen in partnership with other agencies and friends. Please reach out to Norma if you'd like to help us stage this event.

Further down, this month's newsletter includes the following:.

Jake's Favorite Animals column was hijacked this month by his housemate, Alan but don't you worry, Jake and his animals are still here with a humor article he wrote in elementary school. You will see that his sense of humor is 4th grade appropriate and his love of animals already present. Myrissa's column is back!

Patty Lopez, Imagine's Assistant Director of Human Resources introduces Imagine's new Employee Handbook with some new benefits included.

In The Service Sector, Heather shares about ongoing initiatives to increase person-centered thinking, improve communication and support Facilitators in organization.

In Community Connections, Susan yawns and takes a month off because she can. (No column this month and I promised to give her a hard time about it.)

Our usual stuff in the columns around advocacy, self-determination, the Imagine Endowment and Transparency.

The Person-Centered Evolution this month talks about client sexuality and a safe workspace.

This month we have spotlights on Scott L and Alexa and Kenia, to which I'd add what an extraordinary thing it is for two caregivers to show so much initiative that they submit their own appreciation.

As ever, if you have any questions, feedback or concerns, please don't hesitate to get in touch. You can write me here. I look forward to hearing from you.

Gratefully yours,


The Imagine Endowment

We have an endowment to support Imagine's future. Imagine will receive regular payments of the returns from these funds. Initially, we expect the impact to be small but as the endowment grows, it holds the promise of helping Imagine help others through hard times to come.

If you are considering a gift to the endowment, either right now or as part of a giving plan or bequest, we have information available here. And thank you.

To make direct contributions please make checks payable to; The Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County.  Designate the "Imagine Supported Living Services Fund". Mail to;   Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County, 7807 Soquel Dr., Aptos, Ca.  95003. 

-Submitted by Doug

Myrissa's Column

I'm Myrissa.

Submitted by Myrissa

[Ed. Note] In this case, she's Myrissa, Jake and Veronica.

The Redwood Chronicles

I went to a camp in Long Beach last week with friends from Milal, a church group for people with special needs. I went for 2 nights and 3 days. I went to a beach and had dance parties and fun group activities. I love many friends and volunteers. I had fun!

-Submitted by Alan

The fable of the Eagle, the Hippo and the gaseous Yak

Hippo and elephant are in the zoo when yak farts! Then eagle says, farts? And then eagle falls on his head. And his feet stick up in the air and he farts.

-Submitted by Jake

Editor's note: I feel like Jake's story needs a moral so I am offering this one: Nothing is really ridiculous until you've done it upside down.

Human Resources Corner

Hello all, 

Our new handbook will roll out on July 1, 2023. Our new handbook includes all the same policies included in previous versions with a few benefits added, and a few existing protocols clearly stated in order to provide guidance.

One new benefit that we have added is a companywide phone use reimbursement. If you are a Full Time employee you will be reimbursed $10 monthly for the use of your phone during company hours (for example, for clocking in and out of Caresmartz). If you are a Part Time employee, you will receive a $5 monthly reimbursement for use of your phone. Lead Staff, who use their phones often for work will continue to receive $30 for use of the phone but no longer need to submit a request.

There have been three additions in the category of Leaves of Absence. Our Bereavement leave has been extended from 3 days to 5 days. We have added 3 consecutive days paid time off for Victims of Crime, Stalking and Domestic Abuse. And finally, we have added 3 consecutive days paid time off for Natural Disaster Displacement. 

One of our main goals at Imagine is to ensure that we are employer of choice. We are committed to creating a safe, healthy environment for employees. Especially when our direct care providers are the driving force in providing a good quality of life for the clients at Imagine. Several caregivers have been through hard times lately and we've learned how important it is to help one another. The policies added were all created with this goal in mind. 

Please look out for our new Employee Handbook which will be emailed to active employees via Viventium. 

As always please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns. 

In Good Health, 

Patty Lopez

Assistant Director of Human Resources

Imagine Supported Living Services

Office: 831-464-8355 ext. 112

Cell: (831) 325-7760

Fax: (831) 612-6384

The Service Sector


We’re out of the June gloom and onto Sun’s out July! 

This month we continue to work on auditing consumer files and supporting our Facilitators with organizational tools. Another thing we’re supporting the Facilitator’s with is the monthly Lead Staff meeting. These meetings are designed to get all the Leads and Facilitators together to discuss crisis, support, and general information about our consumers and Imagine. Stephanie reports that the last two meetings have been successful and she has received feedback from our Facilitators, Leads, and CCRs that these meetings have been helpful and supportive. 

Better organized paperwork and more meetings might sound bureaucratic, but we have observed over the last years that preventable client crises, staff turnover and extra draining facilitator workloads are often the result of disorganization, tardy record-keeping and missing communication. Our goal with the new support for Facilitators and lead staff is that work loads will be both streamlined and better managed so that more think-time can be dedicated to the needs of our clients.



Heather Miller 


Self-Determination is now available for any regional center client who chooses it but it sure ain't running smooth. Tentatively, I think it is getting a little better but boy howdy, is there room for improvement to continue.

If I can be of any help, please feel free to contact me. I'm pleased that there are a few current and recent Imagine employees who are developing Independent Facilitation practices and I'll be glad to connect them with those looking.

This month, the Independent Facilitator Roundtable will be today at 11AM. The Zoom link is right here.

For people interested in Self-determination, there is also a monthly zoom event to introduce individuals and families to Independent Facilitators.It's the third Friday of each month and the time is supposed to rotate but we seem stuck on 2:30-4. Let me know if you're interested and I'll send the link and confirmation of the time.

The Independent Facilitator Network, a confederation of professionals working self-determination (which started at Imagine!) has a Slack Channel you can join by clicking here. Individuals receiving services and family members are welcome and it's a great place to have your SDP questions answered by sad, wise experts.

-Submitted by Doug

Community Connections


July 2023



August 6th Sunday 2-4pm

Susan will host a parent gathering

Come share comradery and support, refreshments and resources

260 High St. Santa Cruz

Please RSVP



Good Shepherd Fund will be giving a Zoom presentation about their services for Imagine families, date TBA in next newsletter. “Whether you’re considering care management services, financial oversight, decision-making, or advocacy, we can help you shape the future for you and your loved ones.” Check them out at:


Susan Douglass, Imagine parent    

(831) 818-2501

Transparency At Imagine

Thank you to everyone who joined us at our annual meeting on June 14 at Common Roots Farms. It was great having so many of us together. We gratefully received a report from Imagine Dad Rod Williams on possibilities for restructuring our processes and the follow-up on that report is ongoing.

Our next board meeting is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, August 16 at 11AM although it might be postponed for a week. Watch this space next month for the final date. After three years of spending from our reserves, Imagine has been running a financial surplus since January. Our intention is that with every board meeting for the rest of 2023, the board will consider investments, primarily towards the material wellbeing of direct care staff, at each meeting. Just to set expectations fairly, the largest of these investments will have been the tenure-based raises we gave caregivers as of March 1. But we also have no intention to stuff windfalls into couch cushions, and nobody is content with caregiver wages as they now exist.

We are still recruiting board members. We are working to diversify the board and to add a GAAP-trained treasurer. An attorney wouldn't be bad either. Neither would you. We're pleased that Raul Rekow, Jr. of Santa Cruz Supported Living is in the process of considering membership on the board. If you know someone with a passion for our mission who might like to volunteer, please write to me.

-Submitted by Doug

Advocacy Corner

The State budget has been passed and, as expected, it is a fine one for Imagine and our clients. It is also one with a multi-tens-of-billion dollars deficit so we are looking with caution towards the future. Our hope is to build on the recent substantial direct care raises with more targeted increases in compensation with the goal of maximizing the financial welfare of our direct care staff in a way that will remain sustainable in the face of future temporary rate reductions.

As always, thanks to Marty Omoto of CDCAN for amplifying the transparency and circularity of information between the community and policy-makers. If you would like to receive CDCAN's extensive reporting, write to Marty. CDCAN's work is entirely funded by the donations of those of us who benefit. Write to me or to Marty if you'd like to kick in.

-Submitted by Doug

Person-Centered Evolution

One very challenging part of providing person-centered services can be supporting people with matters related to their sexuality. Sometimes at the preference of the individual but often as a failure of support, the lives of the people we serve can be isolated and isolating. Sometimes personal history can also provide a challenge. People with special needs have often been spared the awkward conversations that for many others of us were the foundation of our romantic futures.

When a person lacks for social contact and potential partners, the people in their homes the most can become the objects of other affections. The need to maintain a safe space for our clients to experience their natural lives and a safe space for workers requires as much art as science and we have tried to mind that difference. A section in our new handbook is part of our effort to keep our caregivers safe while not interfering with the wholeness of our clients. The new recommendations are attached.

-Submitted by Doug

Global Spotlight on Alexa and Kenia

Oh, you wish you had the dream team. The end.

-Submitted by Kenia

Client Spotlight on Scott L

I probably shouldn't do this but I'm going to share the secret of excellence in our field. Great clients with supportive, involved families keep great staff happy in their roles. Then sneaky Executives take credit and voila, a premiere SLS agency is born.

In Scott's case, that is literally how it happened. Scott's history with Imagine is our origin story. By the time I got here, his staffing was stable and familial, populated by a cast of characters who knew him well and loved him deeply.

Scott stays busy, except when he's idle, and quiet, apart from when he's loud. He's gentle, mostly, and kind and engaging always. His team isn't our oldest- unlike several Imagine clients, he has nobody serving him now who was with him when I arrived almost a decade ago. But his team loves him enough to train one another and give the business to management when they think Scott isn't being well enough considered. It's a team that nearly never needs to ask for coverage.

Like many of us, his adventures were limited by the pandemic and, since, his adventuresomeness has sometimes been hard to rediscover. But he, his family and his staff are all working together looking for it and the long road out of COVID still takes him to other shores.

-Submitted by Doug


Birthdays & Anniversaries

Staff and Client Birthdays:

Jimena A.

Brittany B.

John B.

Zachary D.

Agustin G.

Joann H.

Bertha L.

Lacie L.

Pedro L.

Vanessa M.

Tlayeli N.

Raquel P.

Kenia P.

Favi R.

Maribel R.

KiAna R.

Jai S.

Linda T.

Alex T.

Isaac T.

Pamela V.

Cynthia V.

Staff Anniversaries:

Cynthia H. - 7 Years!!

KiAna R. - 4 Years!!

Favi R. - 4 Years!!

Yuliza M. - 1 Year!!

Alina P. - 1 Year!!

Thank you for your commitment!

Imagine Supported Living Services
9065 Soquel Drive
Aptos, Ca 95003
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