Friday, November 29, 2013

Poem for a Lucky cat

Lucky and Grandpa
My 15-year-old cat Lucky had to be put to sleep today. She was a fine old cat and a constant, if needy, friend. This is an ancient Irish poem written by a 9th century Irish monk about his cat. Lucky was just like Pangur Ban except Lucky was a "she" and not a "he", she was not Irish although she had the luck of the Irish, and she did not chase mice but had a preference for chipmunks. I am not a monk and I am too tired to sit all night hunting words. But I like the poem, especially the line "In our arts we find our bliss, I have mine, and he has his."

Pangur Ban

I and Pangur Ban, my cat,
'Tis a like task we are at;
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
'Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will;
He, too, plies his simple skill.

'Tis a merry thing to see
At our task how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
Into the hero Pangur's way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

'Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den.
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine, and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade ;
I get wisdom day and night,
Turning Darkness into light.'

Lucy the dog and Lucky the cat: BFFs

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Steep cuts to Detroit area mental health budgets

This if from the DDadvocates Newsletter, November 2013, by Ed Diegel:

Welcome the Detroit Wayne County Mental Health Authority 

Lobby Against unprecedented Cuts to Mental Health Budgets in the Tri County Area

We have been slow to acknowledge the new Detroit Wayne County Mental Health Authority and to welcome its new leader, Tom Watkins. We should all do this as birth of the new Authority represents a first step away from complaints of bad politics and county mismanagement of the old Detroit Wayne County Mental Health Agency.

The new organization is barely on board and the State has announced steep cuts to the Wayne, Macomb and Oakland Mental Health Budgets for the 2014 Fiscal Year which began October 1, 2013.

For Wayne County the cuts are $15.0 million. So much for the State commitment to one of the most impoverished areas in the country. Macomb and Oakland cuts will be 11% and 7% respectively. The cuts effective October 1, 2013 were not announced until September 27, 2013! This timing comes from an administration that wants to run the state like a business. No successful business does such poor planning that it announces policy shifts and budget
actions of this magnitude 3 days before a budget cycle. The rationale for the cuts is that Wayne, Oakland and Macomb receive a disproportionate share of the state’s Medicaid dollars and therefore these reductions followed by incremental 5% reductions each year over time were put in place. There is no attempt here to measure the disproportionate concentration or severity of persons served, or differences in cost of living or other factors that a reasonable party might use. Furthermore according to one analysis, there is within the plan also disproportionate reduction of funding for persons with Developmental Disabilities.

To my knowledge, this is not a legislative action—the State Department of Mental Health led by Mr. James Haveman is responsible for this action. Furthermore, it is of such significant importance that the Directors of Mental Health in the three counties sent a joint letter of protest to Lansing—hopefully this is a sign of a new era of cooperation flowing from the new Authority.

What to do?

Please do this today—

  1. Go to the new DWMHA web site  Go to the Contact Us page and send a message to Tom Watkins welcoming him and encouraging him and his staff in the new organization. Take the time to mention any gaps or unmet needs you are aware of in
    service delivery to persons with developmental disabilities.
  2. Go to the DWMHA Home Page and find the link to your legislators
  3. Use the link to send a note to your Representative and your Senator and inform them that the so-called Mental Health rebasing action will further dismantle services in the most needy counties of the state, is ill conceived and will create yet further economic burden in the tri county area. 
  4.  Ask each of them to tell you what they will do to intercede. Don’t assume your legislator will support you in this. Remember, most Wayne County legislators voted AGAINST the creation on the newAuthority!
Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!!

Ed Diegel,
Advocates for Persons with Developmental Disabilities in Wayne County.
and now at

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ann Arbor paper recognizes a local hero

This is from Ann Arbor Family, a free local advertising paper that features stories about people and events in the Ann Arbor area. Stephanie is one of my own personal local heroes from Just Us Club, a non-profit organization that provides after school care, an adult activity program, and respite care  for  children and adults with moderate to severe disabilities.

 Special needs Helping Heroes by Nan Bauer:

Stephanie Swain 
Program Director for the Just Us Club

Coming from an Ypsilanti family of 11 kids, Stephanie Swain realized early on that she had a heart for childcare. A Special Ed teacher by day at the High Point School in Ann Arbor, Stephanie’s the program director for the Just Us Club, an after school option open to any students with disabilities who can function in a group setting. “We have a huge range of kids here: cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome, autism spectrum,” she says. “We have a pretty unstructured program, because the kids want to relax after a day at school, so we play games, do art, and we have music therapy once a week.” She also offers respite care, giving parents some precious free time while she hangs out with the kids. Even with her jam-packed schedule, she’s found time to continue her education and is on the verge of receiving her master’s degree and gearing up for a PhD. “I’m super passionate about helping parents understand their kids’ behaviors,” she says. “If I can help alleviate some of the anxiety that parents can feel when their child has a meltdown or just acts up in an extreme way, the environment gets better for the whole family.”

Learn more about the  Just Us Club at