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Big change ahead for Community Connections

We all evolve and grow. This is true both for people and organizations.

The evolution of an organization is complicated. By their very nature, organizations tend toward inertia. Major changes take a concerted effort from staff, volunteers, customers, members and any leadership of the organization. Sometimes evolution results from external pressures. Sometimes it comes from within. Often it is a mix of both.

This is the case at Community Connections, where a major evolution is underway. Our changes result from a combination of regulatory changes and commitment to improving services and supports to people with disabilities.

Over the next eight months, Community Connections will be dividing into two organizations. The legacy organization, continuing with the name Community Connections, will continue to provide early intervention for young children experiencing delays, family support for people with disabilities living in their family homes, and case management for people with disabilities and older adults who access long term care in their home and/or the community.

The new organization, Our Own Lives, will be spinning off from Community Connections starting July 1. This organization will be providing most of the direct services you might be familiar with: employment support, activities of daily living, community access, host homes, day programs, respite care, etc.

Our Own Lives also reflects an evolution in our approach to intellectual disability services. Historically, disability services have often been developed for people with disabilities by nondisabled professionals. Inherent in Our Own Lives’ mission and development is the recognition that the organization belongs to the people it serves. It isn’t the professionals. It isn’t the buildings or the logo or a catchy tagline. It is the people.

The mission of Our Own Lives is to provide quality support on our own terms, for us to be free to be ourselves. We center the disabled community to be heard, and we build each other up to change our world. We are all experts in our own lives.

As we create Our Own Lives, our goal is to live up to this mission in all aspects of the organization.

Currently, Our Own Lives is in the process of hiring new leadership. As we find a new CEO, I will pass the torch along to them to continue and complete the creation of the new entity. I will stay at Community Connections, leading our journey into a new world as a case management agency for Southwest Colorado.

As of July 1, current Community Connections clients who are receiving direct services can choose to move with many of our staff members to Our Own Lives. They can also choose another provider. Their case manager at Community Connections will continue to serve them and support them through the process of the change.

This is a major evolution for our agency after 38 years of service to Southwest Colorado. We’ll continue to update everyone on the progress. In the meantime, check our FAQs at www.communityconnectionsco.org or follow us on Facebook @CommunityConnectionsCOInc.

Tara Kiene is president/CEO of Community Connections Inc.