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A Neighborhood Gym Stretches Its Horizons

UCP’s supported employment program (Employment Solutions) assists people who experience developmental disabilities to find, secure, and keep employment. All jobs are competitive and pay fair wages.

Andrew is an intelligent, hard-working, and amiable young man. He and his mother are members of the Cascade Athletic Club, and Andrew has been volunteering there since January. Andrew has proven himself a valuable contributor. He cleaned and sanitized with impeccable attention to detail, and club members and employees alike enjoyed his presence. He even had a new nametag; it read Sir Andrew.

A couple months ago, Nicholas Von Pless (an Employment Specialist at UCP) started supporting Andrew. Andrew told him that one of his goals was to earn money at the club, so Nicholas met with Scott, the club manager, to see if Andrew could find a pathway to employment. Scott said that Andrew brought great value to the club, but that possible employment was still far off – maybe not even until the fall!

Luckily, Nicholas had ideas about how to ensure that Andrew was able to secure paid employment.  Nicholas reinforced Andrew’s training and expanded his responsibilities. Then Nicholas talked with Scott about Andrew’s increased productivity.

The next day, Scott offered a paid position to Andrew. Today, you can find Andrew on weekday mornings vacuuming, cleaning, doing equipment repairs, and greeting all the members.

Please support employers who value a diverse workplace. Visit Cascade Athletic Club’s website here.

    • Andrew

The 2012 Walk, Roll 'n' Run

Are you ready for this year's Walk, Roll 'n' Run?

This is our 8th annual Walk, Roll 'n' Run, and it will be held on Saturday, September 8, 2012.

Our fundraising goal is $80,000 and every penny raised will go towards funding our Family Support Department.  Family Support provides resources, support, respite and hope to families raising children with cerebral palsy.

Hundred of people come together to walk/roll around a  2.5 mile course around the Esplanade or to run a 5K or 8K run along the Springwater Corridor. Participants will be able to hang out with the Rose City Rollers and Cruze from 105.1 The Buzz. Lunch will be provided by Papa Murphy's and The Old Spaghetti Factory. 


Visit the event website to register, and watch the five minute video on the home page with photos of past events. You can start a team, join a team, sponsor a team, or make a general donation. Every bit helps! Also, please note that volunteers are always needed to make this event successful - go to the website to sign up.  


Be sure to buy your raffle tickets for your chance to win some really great prizes like a handmade quilt made of past year's event T-shirts and an autographed Portland Timbers soccer ball!  We also have a basket of hip knee high socks from Sock it to me along with an autographed Rose City Roller's t-shirt and tickets to a derby game!    

A Little Help From Some Friends

Over the past couple of months, we have been touched by the outreach we have received from individuals in the community.  We are always very appreciative of each and every donation , as every bit truly does count! We would like to take a moment to recognize two supporters who have really gone above and beyond.

Jeff Snell reached out to UCP as he was preparing to train for his second marathon, pushing his son Micah in a jogging stroller.  Micah is an adorable 2 year old who happens to have cerebral palsy.  Jeff and his wife Suzie decided that they would like to turn Jeff and Micah's training into a fundraiser for UCP.  In their words, "It's been a challenging first two years for Micah and we want to make sure that other kids get the same kind of support that has helped Micah do so well."  

Jeff and Suzie formed the website www.micahsmiles.org with the goal of raising $2620.00 ($10 for every mile in a marathon) for UCP.  As Jeff says, "I run because I can.  When I get tired, I remember those who can't run, what they would give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them.  I know they would do the same for me."  

On June 14th, Micah and Jeff completed the Vancouver Marathon and exceeded their fundraising goal!  Way to go Micah's Miles!

Another community member, Steven, called to inform us that he and his friend would be running in the Sherwood Mud Run, and would be collecting donations for UCP in honor of a friend's brother, Nicky, who had cerebral palsy and recently passed away. They wanted to support to Nicky's family and to honor his memory in a positive way.  We are pleased to report that "Team Nicky" raised $520 in donations. 

It really is heartwarming to see what community can do.  Thanks to everyone who has generously given in honor and support of others through UCP.

A Big Trip

    • Brenda Smelling Sage Brush
    • Brenda in Central Oregon by Farm
    • Brenda at Ranger Station
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Editor’s Note:

UCP supports adult with disabilities so that they can live in their own houses and apartments. One of the things our staff do in this program is to support people to take trips and vacations.

Recently, a person we support (Brenda) and her Personal Assistant (Margaret) took an exciting trip.


Here is what Margaret has to say about their adventures:

It was around Mother’s Day that Brenda got the idea to take a trip to Central Oregon. She said she’d like to visit Madras, Bend, and Sisters. Maybe even Prineville.

In early June we loaded up the Suburu and headed east on Highway 26. We decided to listen to some 80’s music with lots of keyboards. “Keyboards, keyboards, keyboards!” Brenda exclaimed. (Brenda has been known to rock out on the keyboards pretty hard, given the opportunity.)

Our first stop was in Sandy, where we perused a thrift shop run by friendly older folks. Brenda purchased some videos. Then we went to the Chamber of Commerce, where Brenda gathered pamphlets and local newspapers, two things that Brenda loves to collect.  Next we stopped at the Ranger Station and took Brenda’s picture with Smokey.

Nearby, an Information Center beckoned. We found it to be full of maps and more pamphlets. We hit the road once more, crossing over Mt. Hood and into the rain shadow. Our next stop was Warm Springs. There, we happened upon a most intriguing thrift store. Brenda purchased some DVDs and we moved on.

We pressed on to Madras. Naturally, we stopped at the Visitors’ Center (more pamphlets!), and then did a walkabout, during which Brenda admired the local flora. She picked a couple of desert blooms, stopping to sniff them every so often for the rest of the walk.

An hour later we were in Bend, the bustling metropolis of the High Desert. It was beautiful, and also quite a bit colder than we had anticipated. We bundled up and walked around the downtown area, where Brenda chose to dine at the McMenamins Old St. Francis School. It was crowded and loud with the Friday night dinner rush, but Brenda seemed right at home there. Her many years spent working at another McMenamins, The Kennedy School, showed in the ease with which she navigated the space.

The time had come to return to our homeland in the west. We stopped to visit the cows, to pick sage, and to watch the sun setting behind the buttes before driving home.

Now we’re busying thinking about a trip to Sisters and Salem.

UCP Scores as One of the Best 100 Non-Profit Employers

We are pleased to announce that we have just been notified that, once again, UCP has been been named one of the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon by Oregon Business magazine. We won't know exactly where we rank on the list until late September.

The rankings for the 100 Best Nonprofits list were based on the confidential input of the employees of the participating organizations; these employees answered 35 questions about workplace satisfaction such as benefits, management, trust, work environment and career development.

We wish to thank all of our employees for truly making UCP a great place to work.


Tags: news

Meet Heather

We are pleased to introduce our newest Supported Living member, Heather. UCP began supporting Heather at the beginning of June and in just a few short weeks, Heather has experienced a new level of independence and pure joy.

Heather's entry into UCP's supported living program has been a HUGE team effort. First we worked with Heather to find an apartment, and then, on moving day, her church community moved her into her new living space. They were amazingly coordinated and efficient. Heather spent her first night in her new apartment with one of our Support Specialists, Maig, and since then has been working with several of our staff to help her make sure that her apartment and her new life are everything she wants and needs.

Heather recently hired a live-in caregiver (what UCP terms a “Roommate”) who will work weeknights and weekends. Heather also receives caseload management services from Assistant Team Leader Cora Olson, who ensures Heather’s overall health and safety.

So, welcome to Supported Living, Heather.

We hope you continue to enjoy living in your apartment and the supports you receive from UCP for many years to come!

The Case for Inclusion

The following article was provided by the UCP National Office, and illustrates how Oregon compares to other states in the types and amounts of services we provide and how they align with our mission and core values.

Tags: advocacy, news

Walk Roll 'n' Run 2012

Registration is now open for the 8th Annual Walk Roll 'n' Run for UCP!

The event will take place on September 8, 2012 along the beautiful Portland Eastbank Esplanade!

Join us for our biggest special event of the year. It will be a day of fun and fundraising for UCP's Family Support Department.  Get those teams formed and have family and friends join you!  We will again be having a wonderful lunch provided by Papa Murphy's and The Old Spaghetti Factory while we enjoy the marimba music of the Sellwood Middle School Marimba Band!  The Rose City Roller's will be joining us again as well to roll along with us and Cruze from 105.1 The Buzz will be MC!

There are many ways to participate find out more here.

Visit the event website: here. Or contact Kerry Pinney, Development Coordinator, at 503-777-4166 x353 or by .

UCP Connections Keeps Growing

UCP Connections (UCP's support services brokerage) continues to grow and change. Barely a year old, Connections already enrolled 160 customers (their ultimate goal is to enroll 180 customers).  As the Brokerage Director, Sarah Knight, says, “It is a wonderful process getting to know each new person and working with them towards making and reaching their life’s goals.”

Recently, Paul Moffatt joined the team as a Personal Agent. Paul grew up in Chicago, Illinois and has been living on the west coast for the past 10 years or so.

Paul’s values, approach, and experience make him a perfect fit for our team. His background in working with people who experience homelessness, addiction, and mental health conditions will be a great resource for his customers. Welcome, Paul!

To learn more about the brokerage, click here.

A New Video

Do you want to learn more about UCP? Then you should watch our brand new video (click here)!

To make the video, UCP partnered with Creative Cares, a local non-profit that serves as a "matchmaking service" between non-profits and creative professionals who want to do work on a pro bono basis for non-profits. Creative's professionals can assist with social media strategy, photojournalism, web design, event planning, and more.

Creative Cares connected UCP with Polara Studio, who came to UCP to meet our staff and the people we support. The resulting video is fantastic, thanks to all the had work of  videographer Jeremy Dunham.

Thanks, Polara and Creative Cares!


Tags: news

A Little Respite

Parents who are raising children with disabilities tell us their most important need is RESPITE - - a little time away from their daily responsibilities.

In response to their need, UCP provides an Overnight "Respitality" program. We offer a free night's stay in a hotel room to all eligible parents in our Family Support Program.  Rooms are generously donated by hotels, motels and inns around the state. UCP's Family Support Assistant, Jan Shellenberger, coordinates the program.  In 2011, she was able to secure 85 hotel rooms. Great job, Jan! Unfortunately, though, we aren't able to find hotel rooms in all areas, so if you would like to help, see the "CAN YOU HELP" section at the end of this page.  

We also offer the parents a small fund to cover part of the cost of childcare for that night.  However, most families are able to arrange for family or friends to watch their kids at no cost. 

Parents who feel that they can't be away for an entire night are offered our  "Date Night" program.  In this program, parents receive a gift certificate from a restaurant and/or gift certificates for fun activities like movies, theaters, etc.

Both programs make a world of difference, as you will see below.

Quotes From Parents


“Thank you for supporting the continuing blessing of the Respitality Program.  Our family has so appreciated the opportunity to have a relaxing, stress-free night away in beautiful hotels to focus on just our relationship and not to be just the mom or the dad.”—Jolie


“As parents of a special needs child we rarely get time to ourselves or have time just for each other, so Overnight Respitality and Date Nights mean a great deal to us. Our daughter’s needs are also financially straining and we know if it weren’t for UCP we could never afford a night away like we had at The Marriott Waterfront.”—Carly


“Our family is very grateful to you for the much needed wonderful night out.  Our son was anxious about our leaving him behind but, in the end he had a very good time too. We felt he was proud of himself for doing a good job without us.  Usually we take him with us either because of a lack of a companion for him or the cost of doing both. The gift card and caregiver allotment made for a real date!  Tommy O’s Restaurant was relaxing and full of Aloha spirit. We enjoyed the food so much and the service was outstanding!  We appreciate your generosity and thank you for including us in the Date Night Program.”  —Cheryl





If you have a connection with a hotel, motel, restaurant, or fun activity site, please let us know! We are always looking for fun new venues anywhere in Oregon and SW Washington! Contact Jan at 503-777-4166, ext. 343 or by . Thank you for your help!




UCP's Garden

Did you know that UCP recently started a new garden plot at Hazelwood Community Gardens? Lots of staff and people we support are involved, but this is the especial favorite of Jace Sakamoto (a person supported in UCP's Choices Program) and Clair Prichard (a Choices Support Specialist).

At the moment, Jace and Claire report that everyone is busy weeding, piling rocks and digging holes. Want to help? We'd love to see you there. Or maybe you have plants, seeds or tools to donate. Either way, please contact Kerry Pinney by or at 503-777-4166 ext. 353.

Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you there!


UCP Is Hiring!

Are you looking for a weekend job with benefits? Do you want to make a difference, and gain more experience in the health field? Then United Cerebral Palsy might have the perfect job for you.


We are currently hiring a Weekend Personal Assistant who will work one-on-one with a young adult woman who experiences developmental disabilities, assisting her in her apartment and out in the community as she does the fun activities of her choice.


Find out more here.

Tags: jobs, news

Happy Anniversary!

UCP's supported employment program (Employment Solutions) helps people with disabilities find, secure, and keep great jobs.

Two of our job seekers are celebrating on-the-job anniversaries this month.

April marks Renea's one year anniversary at Supportland. Renea works from home folding rewards cards for this amazing mom and pop small business! (Find out more about Supportland-- a rewards program for local businesses here).

April also marks Sam's three month anniversary of successful employment at Roots Toddler Community. Sam monitors the children while they sleep and alerts the teacher when they wake up. He also engages with them as they tell stories, play, and sing songs. At the end of the day, he assist them to get ready to go home. (Visit Roots Toddler Community's Facebook page here).

Congratulations to Sam and Renea!

    • Sam Enjoying a Story
    • Renea Delivering Supplies
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Running a Marathon For UCP

Micah is a young boy who experiences cerebral palsy. He's an amazing little guy who inspires everyone who meets him. Right now, he is working very hard in his therapy to learn how to sit and roll on his own. And this June, he will be participating (from the comfort of his stroller) in his second marathon. His dad will be running and pushing the the stroller.

As the pair train this spring, they have decided to try to raise money for United Cerebral Palsy of Oregon. As Micah's dad says, "It's been a challenging first two years for Micah and we want to make sure that other kids get the same kind of support that has helped Micah do so well." Their goal is to raise $2620.00 ($100 for each mile they will run in the marathon).

To follow Micah's journey, visit their Facebook page or their website. We hope you will be inspired to give and to get out there and run or walk too!

Supported Employment in Oregon: An Update

Did you know that there are more than 10,000 individuals who experience developmental disabilities in Oregon?  Many of them want to have meaningful work, but according to recent estimates:

  • only 7% of them are employed in competitive, meaningful jobs,
  • and only 25% are involved in ANY type of work or work alternative.


To ensure that adults with disabilities are able to find meaningful employment, the State of Oregon began an Employment First initiative in 2010. Find out more about the initiative here.

UCP is proud to support Employment First. The tenants of this initiative are as follows:

  • Everyone can work and there is a job for everyone. Our job is to be creative and tenacious in providing support.
  • Not working should be the exception. All individuals, schools, families and businesses must raise their expectations.
  • People will be hired because of their ability not because they have a disability.
  • Communities embrace people who contribute.
  • Everyone has something to contribute and needs to contribute.
  • People are healthier, safer and happiest with meaningful work.
  • True employment is not a social service.
  • Employment is a win/win for everybody.


These goals mesh nicely with the goal of UCP's supported employment program (Employment Solutions), which is to support adults with developmental disabilities to identify, obtain and retain meaningful and competitive employment from community businesses.

Employment Solutions staff provide as little or as much support as is needed, including skills assessments, assistance writing resumes and cover letters, mock interviews, finding job shadowing and volunteer experiences, providing on-the-job coaching, and assistance negotiating for promotions.

To learn more about Employment Solutions, click here.

Family Support Secures $5,000 in New Funding

UCP's Family Support department currently supports over 800 families of children who experience cerebral palsy, or a closely-related disability.

We are excited to announce that Family Support has recently secured $5,000 (in partnership with the Arc of Multnomah) to provide a series of 6 trainings for families whose children experience disabilities. 

Our Family Support Director has met with families from around the area to identify topics of interest, and has already begun to secure speakers.  More information about the first training is available here.

Upcoming Trainings in This Series:

  • March 22, 2012 - Employment First (more info here)
  • April 18th – Transition – Sandy
  • April 30th – Communication – Molalla
  • May 17th – Behavior – Wilsonville
  • May 24th – Caregiver Hiring – Clackamas
  • June 6th – Guardianships/Wills/Special Needs Trusts – Lake Oswego

UCP Is Growing!

Thanks to a grant from Meyer Memorial Trust, UCP will be hiring a fourth full-time Employment Specialist.

Meyer Memorial Trust invests in people, ideas and efforts that deliver significant social benefit to Oregon and Clark County, Washington.

If you'd like to learn more about the position--and to possibly apply--please click here.

UCP Secures $150,000 In New Funding

In June of 2011, UCP submitted a proposal to Meyer Memorial Trust, which was created by the late Fred G. Meyer. The Trust invests in people, ideas and efforts that deliver significant social benefit to Oregon and Clark County, Washington.

In our proposal, we requested $150,000 ($50,000 per year for 3 years) to increase the capacity of our supported employment program, which is known as Employment Solutions. Employment Solutions assists adults with developmental disabilities to identify, obtain and retain competitive employment from community businesses.

We are pleased to announce that our efforts were successful, and that we have been awarded the $150,000! We will use this funding to hire three new Job Developers (one per year), which will allow us to support far more people in our program.

Employment is such an important part of life. As we stated in our proposal to Meyer Memorial Trust, “A job can dramatically change the dynamics of an individual's life—providing a structure to the day, a paycheck…, an identity as a contributing member of the community, an increase in personal self-esteem, expanded choices, and opportunities to develop…relationships. Employment is an avenue to a richer and fuller life.”


The History of UCP’s Supported Employment Program


UCP first began providing supported employment in 2007, when we received a grant from the United Way. Since then, we have supported hundreds of adults as they progressed towards employment.

Key features of UCP’s supported employment program are: 

  1. Real work: Work that would be performed by someone without a disability.
  2. Real wages: Pay that is commensurate to wages paid for comparable work performed by someone without a disability.
  3. Integrated work environment: Most coworkers are people without disabilities who work in close proximity and regularly interact with employees with disabilities.
  4. Ongoing support: Supported employment assumes that people with developmental disabilities will need some support ongoing over time, and that support can come from a variety of sources, including coworkers.

Special Thanks

The funding from Meyer Memorial Trust will allow us to double the capacity of our program. We are very excited to get started on this project.

We wish to give a special thanks to everyone at Meyer Memorial Trust, especially Kim Thomas. We also wish to thank the UCP Board members and UCP employees who were involved in completion and presentation of the proposal. And, of course, we wish to thank Jamie Snider, who contracted with us to write the grant, for doing such an excellent job presenting UCP’s history and culture, and, of course, our goals for the project.

Local High Schooler Speaks About Inclusion

For those of you who missed it, below is the text from a presentation by local Canby High School student, Carleigh Dewald, made at our Family Support Department’s movie screening of "Including Samuel" on February 11, 2012.

Carleigh spoke about how inclusion has worked for her, her role in the world of wheelchair racing, and her involvement in the Pan American games.  Carleigh is currently working hard with the goal of making the team for the 2012 Paralympic games, which will be held in London.


Hi there,  my name is Carleigh.  When Susan approached me about sharing my story, I was excited.  And a little nervous about what to say so I thought I would start at the beginning. 

I came into this world at a whopping 4 pounds 3 ounces.  I wasn't diagnosed with CP until I reached about 9 months old.  Just as Samuel's parents had worries about his future, I'm sure my parents had some of the same concerns. 

To be honest, before I watched the trailer to the movie I wasn't sure what inclusion meant.  I soon realized that I was fortunate to have a support group and school system that had inclusion in place for me.  I didn't grow up secluded from the public or my peers.  My parents, teachers, friends, and coaches all share a big part in my social growth and independence.

I actually enjoy public school.  I have found lasting relationships, received a world class education, and felt the relief that comes from acceptance.  My father tells me the story of how my kindergarten teacher put his mind at ease.  He asked, “How are the other kids reacting to Carleigh?”  Mrs. Ruwitch replied, “They are becoming better people because of her.” 

Don't get me wrong, I am still the kid in the wheelchair to most.  You see, people are initially recognized by appearance.  Perhaps their hair color or their height.  Wheels are simply easier to remember.  But, if you have the courage to approach me and introduce yourself, you will soon get to know me as Carleigh.

To give you an idea of my high school experience, you should know that I am a Junior and hold a GPA of 3.85.  I am currently enrolled in two college courses and a member of the National Honor Society.  I even did a two year stint in the marching band, if you can believe that.

I started playing sports at a fairly young age.  Challenger Baseball gave me some much needed confidence.  About four years ago, I got involved in an organization called Oregon Disability Sports.  ODS offers many different opportunities for athletes, young and old.  I have enjoyed playing basketball on the weekends  for the Portland Wheel Blazer's junior team.  We are a young team and always looking for new recruits.

About that same time I also got involved with another organization out of Eugene called World Wheelchair Sports.  As soon as Kevin Hansen fitted me for a racing wheelchair I was hooked.  I started participating in eighth grade track.  Coach Huggins, who happened to be my fourth grade teacher, welcomed me with a big smile.  I'm sure he was more nervous than I was.   

Now at the high school level I have made some big improvements with each new track season.  Sure, I made a few rookie moves.  Like that freshman year incident with the hurdle.  As I was about to flip over I actually muttered the phrase, “ Oops, didn't see that one coming.”  Coach still has fun with that one.

Last season while competing at the Oregon Relays, I pushed a personal best and broke the American Record for the women's 400 meter race in my classification. 

This got the Olympic Committees attention.  By the summer of 2011, I was on my way to compete at the Track and Field Nationals in Miramar Florida.  While there, I met some amazing athletes and made some good friends.

Shortly after returning home, I received a call from the Olympic Committee.  I had qualified to be a member of the 2011 Parapan American track and field team that would compete in Guadalajara Mexico in November.

In preparation for the Parapan games, I traveled to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista,  California.  After a couple of weeks of rigorous training I was ready for Parapan.

When it came to race day.  I was ready.  I had been down there for about a week.  I was training in the morning and cheering my team on in the afternoon.  It was my turn for glory.  I would be racing against my two roommates and two other ladies from Canada.  They were all in their mid- twenties and here I was just sixteen years old.  I got off the line first.  I had the lead for the first 100 meters.  Near the end of the race my teammate, Kristen Messer passed me to win the gold.  I finished second with a silver medal in my first international event.  As you can imagine, I was surprised by my performance.

The Mexico event was one of the most amazing experiences of my life thus far.  I met people from all over the world.  While we spoke different languages, came from different cultures, and expressed ourselves differently, we were all Olympic athletes with one goal in mind.  To simply do our best.

Looking back.  I would have to give thanks to the Olympic Committee for making the athletes feel included in this International event.  From the adapted housing to the awards podium, I felt proud to be part of our national team.

Well, now I have my sights set on the Paralympic Summer Games at London, England this coming  September.  To get an invitation to be on the London team, I will need to shave at least one second off my best time.  I have been working out each day, eating right, and getting mentally prepared for achieving my goal.  I recently got an invitation to compete in the BT World Cup at Manchester, England this coming May.  I hope to do well there and secure my place on the London Team.





    • Carleigh Ready to Compete