I have been working at Inland Regional Center for 7 years and I continue to be moved and inspired by the work our team does to support the IRC Community. Recently, I was privileged to attend the Exceptional Families Conference. Watching our staff, community, partners, families, and clients come together for a day of information, empowerment, and advocacy was truly inspiring. It reminded me of the strong community we have all built in support of one another.
The conference was presented in two sessions: an English session in the morning followed by a Spanish session in the afternoon. The morning session was kicked off by Executive Director Lavinia Johnson and Associate Executive Director Kevin Urtz. Afternoon session attendees were welcomed by Director of Children’s Services Felipe Garcia.
The highlight of the day was a keynote address by Beth Foraker. Beth is a faculty member at the UC Davis School of Education and founder/director of the National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion. She is also a mom of four kids, including her son Patrick who has Down Syndrome. Beth lovingly shared stories about her family, particularly Patrick, and how important it was for him to thrive through connection, inclusion, and the chance to “get lost.” Her message very much resonated with our families!
Breakout sessions presented by IRC staffers were also a big hit with attendees. Our Employment Specialists Andrew Burdick and Beth Crane spoke about transition services and employment opportunities for IRC clients. They also gave guidance on how to have a successful transition from high school to employment.
Laura Miller, Saray Sy, and Hazel Harmon of our Revenue department talked about benefits such as SSI, SSA, Medicare, and Medi-cal. They talked about how working affects benefits and dispelled many myths about disability and employment.
Attendees then had the opportunity to learn about additional resources in our exhibitor area. Representatives were on hand to discuss a variety of services for our transition age clients, ranging from transportation to financial management to supported living! Attendees also had a chance to have their IRC-specific questions asked at our Inland Regional Center, Master Trust, and Consumer Advisory Committee Booths.
Inland Regional Center would like to thank the planning committee which included:
- IRC staff: Felipe Garcia, Marie Harris, Daisy Quiroz, Lilliana Garnica, and Gregory Harrison
- In-Roads Creative Programs staff: Sharon Barton-Maggio and Karen Van Zitteren
- Parent partners: Alejandra Rivera, Enrique Camacho, Indy Hernandez, Maria Elena Hernandez, Mario Rodrigues, and Dimpna Rodriguez
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