Late February 2018 ServiceNotes

posted by Andrew Drewnowski   [ updated ]

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RSVP to this year's Staff Appreciation Dinner by March 20th

posted Feb 20, 2018, 1:48 PM by Andrew Drewnowski

                                                  Click on the invitation below to RSVP

Early February 2018 ServiceNotes

posted Feb 9, 2018, 12:14 PM by Andrew Drewnowski


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2018 Paid Holidays

posted Nov 21, 2017, 9:40 AM by Andrew Drewnowski   [ updated Dec 4, 2017, 1:16 PM ]


 ServiceNet acknowledges and honors diversity.  Please be aware of holidays celebrated by staff for various religious and cultural traditions when scheduling meetings or events. 

NEW YEAR'S DAY                                                             MONDAY, JANUARY 1ST  

MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY                                            MONDAY, JANUARY 15TH

PRESIDENTS’ DAY                                                            MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19TH             

PATRIOTS’ DAY                                                                  MONDAY, APRIL 16TH

MEMORIAL DAY                                                                 MONDAY, MAY 28TH   

INDEPENDENCE DAY                                                       WEDNESDAY, JULY 4TH  

LABOR DAY                                                                        MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 3RD   

COLUMBUS DAY                                                                MONDAY, OCTOBER 8TH   

VETERANS’ DAY                                                                SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11TH 


THANKSGIVING DAY                                                      THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22ND   

DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING                                          FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 23RD   

CHRISTMAS DAY                                                             TUESDAY, DECEMBER 25th                                                        

*FLOATER DAY (1)                                                            Awarded 7/1/2018 (or date of hire) use by 6/30/2019                                 

*Holidays must be used within:   UAW/AFSCME 60 days         SEIU 30 days 

*Holiday’s noted in bold are paid at time and a half.

Early November 2017 ServiceNotes

posted Nov 1, 2017, 1:45 PM by Andrew Drewnowski   [ updated Nov 1, 2017, 1:46 PM ]


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Jenny Schreiber, Chief Financial Officer, was awarded the Excellence in Administration & Finance Award by ABH

posted Oct 27, 2017, 8:18 AM by Andrew Drewnowski   [ updated Oct 27, 2017, 8:19 AM ]

Jenny Schreiber has been with ServiceNet since 2003 as our Chief Financial Officer. She oversees the work of our Fiscal Services department, and assures that our financial house is in solid order. In fact, during Jenny’s 14-year tenure, we have had only one audit finding, which was a minor technicality at that. Our auditors commend us on this accomplishment every year, and comment on how extraordinary it is.

As a member of our senior team, Jenny brings her extensive knowledge and keen intelligence to our discussions—offering her expertise in financial analysis, her broad view of Massachusetts and federal funding agencies, and her personal commitment to ServiceNet’s mission and strategic goals. She sounds cautionary notes as needed, and always with her dry sense of humor well intact.

One of the things we especially appreciate about Jenny is her enthusiasm and passion for facilitating the smooth opening of new programs and community services. She makes it possible for us to be highly responsive to our funders, which is key to our success.

Jenny also educates our leaders and program managers throughout the organization on financial matters, through both her group presentations and 1-1 sessions.  Reaching people where they are on the financial curve, she helps them understand figures as an essential part of their program planning and program evaluation.  She helps financial information come alive for all of us, and supports our continuing growth as an agency with her own entrepreneurial energy. 

Early October 2017 ServiceNotes

posted Oct 4, 2017, 1:35 PM by Andrew Drewnowski   [ updated Oct 12, 2017, 11:31 AM ]

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Late September 2017 ServiceNotes

posted Sep 20, 2017, 12:52 PM by Andrew Drewnowski

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Early September 2017 ServiceNotes

posted Sep 6, 2017, 11:37 AM by Andrew Drewnowski   [ updated Sep 6, 2017, 11:38 AM ]

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New York Times Article about Prospect Meadow Farm Participant

posted Sep 6, 2017, 9:18 AM by Andrew Drewnowski   [ updated Sep 6, 2017, 9:22 AM ]




AUG. 31, 2017


How do you write about the happy life you hope for your child to have when you have a hard time picturing it yourself?

 For 18 years, I’ve dreaded the yearly ritual of writing a “vision statement” for an Individualized Education Plan, or I.E.P., for our son, Ethan. He has autism and, as any parent of a child with significant special needs knows, the yearly team meeting to develop the I.E.P. can be emotional and fraught. For us it has felt, at times, like an annual adjustment of expectations downward. In theory, the vision statement is a lovely idea — an opportunity for parents to articulate the optimistic future they envision for their child five years down the road. In reality, as Ethan grew up and his limitations — cognitive and behavioral — became clearer, I found it harder every year to write the short paragraph. We came to see he couldn’t live independently, get married, work in a job without support — but if those are the givens, what does a hopeful future look like?

This year, as Ethan turned 21 and completed his final year in the school system, he shocked us by writing his own vision statement. Reading his words made me realize how wrong I’d been for years, trying to articulate what my son’s future should look like.

While Ethan was still in elementary school, our vision statements included the same wish list I imagine every parent of a child with autism probably has: better communication, fewer meltdowns, more independence. When he was 12, I got more pragmatic, “We wonder if Ethan’s love of farm machinery might one day become an employment opportunity.” At 13, after a successful stint in the middle school chorus, I wrote, “Ethan would like a future in music, perhaps as a professional singer?” At that point Ethan was still working on using a Kleenex to blow his nose. A future as a singer was far-fetched, I knew, but I wrote it as a way of saying: Ethan does have abilities. We’re serious about developing them.

This is the great challenge parents face in these yearly meetings: You’re fighting for teachers to help your child work toward a future that, with every year, feels as if it’s growing narrower and bleaker. When it’s clear he’ll never understand money well enough to make change, you cross off the possibility of working in any retail job. When he can’t stop rubbing his nose or touching his mouth at work, all food service opportunities dissolve as well. When his self-talk disturbs the nursing home residents where he genuinely likes volunteering, another door closes.

 Even as Ethan bombed out at one job after another, he stayed true to his passions: music, farm equipment, collecting business cards. Oblivious to what looked to us like a frightening and empty future, he was fairly cheerful on a day-to-day basis. If anything, one of his problems on job sites was his failed attempts at jokes and “too much silliness.”

 In desperation, we signed Ethan up to work at a local farm that specializes in employing young adults with disabilities assuming it would go the way the others have. He’d be interested at first, then bored, and then — because he was bored — silly and unsafe around the equipment in a way that would get him removed from the program. It was his pattern and if there’s anything we’ve learned, autistic kids love repeating their patterns.

What we wrote for his vision statement that year reflects our rock-bottom expectations: “We hope that Ethan can remain with this program for the year.”

Then he surprised us. He worked there for a month and we got no phone calls.

After six months, we got a jolly report. “He’s fun! And a pretty good worker for about one to two hours a day.” After a year, we were told he’d made it onto a landscaping crew. “What do you do on the crew?” we asked.

“Stuff,” Ethan said and listed a few machines we assumed he was watching other people operate. He could mow a lawn, we knew, but he couldn’t use a leaf blower. Or a weed whacker. We’ve lived with Ethan for 21 years. We know his limitations.

 At our last I.E.P. meeting a representative from the farm came and read a report from Ethan’s “Crew Captain.” We heard that, indeed, Ethan was operating those machines, safely and effectively, along with this final line: “Ethan makes us laugh every day.”

I could hardly believe it. I stole a look at his dad and smiled.

This meeting fell at a particularly demanding time in my life and I’d arrived without writing a vision statement ahead of time. When I started to apologize, the vocational coordinator — a young woman who’d struggled for four years to find a job placement for Ethan — held up her hand. “It’s fine. Ethan wrote his own this year.” https://static01.nyt.com/images/2017/08/30/well/family/well-family-ethan2/well-family-ethan2-master675.jpgApparently he’d dictated it to her on a recent visit to the farm. A few minutes later, he read it aloud:

“After I graduate from high school I plan to work at Prospect Meadow Farm until I retire and live at home with my family as long as I can. I’d like to keep taking classes at Berkshire Hills Music Academy. For fun, I want to play Special Olympics basketball, go to our cabin in Vermont and the shore in New Jersey, mow lawns, and collect business cards. My goals for the future are to take the PVTA bus into town to make purchases, and someday learn how to drive a zero-turn lawn mower.”

For a full five seconds after he finished, no one said anything. I looked across the table at his speech therapist who had known him since he was 14 years old. She had tears in her eyes. I did, too.

Not simply because Ethan had articulated his own entirely reasonable vision statement, but because it incorporated every aspect of his present life that brings him joy. After years of fabricating visions for a future we never honestly thought possible, Ethan was offering one that was both optimistic and breathtakingly simple: I want my life to keep looking the way it does now.

I wish I could tell other parents at the start of their journey what it’s taken me two decades to learn. First, that your child may continue to grow and change and, even at the age of 21, may surprise you by doing things you never thought possible. Second, that in the end, success won’t be measured by academic performance or job placement. It will have more to do with accumulating small pleasures and filling your life with those. I don’t know why it never occurred to me: Your future should look like the best parts of your present.

Cammie McGovern is the author of four books for children and young adults, all of which feature characters with disabilities.

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