When I first began working at Community Connections Inc., in 2001, I found myself in some confusing conversations with community members before realizing many residents mistook Community Connections with community corrections, a branch of the criminal justice system that has nothing to do with services to individuals with disabilities.
Though it has been several years since I have encountered this confusion, I still find frequent instances where the scope and nature of our services are misunderstood.
This situation is understandable, for as with most large service organizations, we are a complex agency that provides more than one person usually encounters. For the record, here is an overview of our organization and the people that we serve.
Community Connections is a private, nonprofit organization that operates through a contract with the state of Colorado to function as a community-centered board for developmental-disabilities services. There are 21 such boards across the state providing alternatives to institutionalization for individuals with developmental disabilities. CCI serves five counties in Southwest Colorado and has won numerous awards for its work with individuals with disabilities, including the Daniel B. Davidson Award for Inclusion 2008 and Durango Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit of the Year 2008.
Community Connections provides all its own services, including residential services, job support, community activities and support for independent living for adults; early intervention services for young children birth to 3 years old with special needs; and family support resources and services for families that care for an individual with developmental disabilities in their home.
For each of these programs, CCI has chosen to provide the least restrictive and most community-based options available through the Colorado system.
In the 24 years that CCI has provided services in Southwest Colorado, the agency has served more than 1,000 individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Currently, the agency has more than 200 individuals actively enrolled in services. Because of the budgetary restraints at the state level and the extent of need in our community, CCI also maintains a waiting list for adult and family services. It has been a commitment of the agency not to delay intervention services for eligible infants and toddlers.
Over the next few months, I would like to introduce you to some of the young children, families and adults who participate in services with CCI, as well as introduce you to some of their caregivers. These are the faces and the stories that truly bring to life the nature of Community Connections and what we wish to achieve in our communities of Southwest Colorado.
I imagine that you may already know some of the individuals in these stories, but here you will have the chance to learn about their struggles and successes. If you have questions about the agency, our mission or our services, call 259-2464 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tara Kiene is the director of case management for Community Connections, Inc.