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Tim Chervenak Named President of the CDSA

Tim Chervenak, director of Employment Services for Project Independence, a nonprofit organization located in Orange County, California that supports people with developmental disabilities, has been named president of the California Disability Services Association (CDSA).

As president of the organization that represents developmental disability service providers in California, his duties include speaking on behalf of the association to legislators, key staff and administration, along with funding and referral sources.  He is also responsible for reviewing the executive director, and collecting input from all board members and CDSA staff. He has served on the CDSA Board for the past six years.

A 20-year veteran of the disability services community, he has worked at Project Independence since 2003.  There he oversees the Supported Employment program, serving nearly 200 people employed in jobs throughout Orange County.  In addition, he manages the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance project, a cooperative agreement with the Social Security Administration.  The project gives beneficiaries the tools to make informed decisions about returning to work and achieving independence from government benefits.

As chair of its Habilitation subcommittee, Tim has served on the Regional Center of Orange County Vendor Advisory Committee for eight years.  He has taught political science at several community colleges in Orange County for more than a decade.

“We are pleased that Tim has been named president of CDSA and salute him for his advocacy for people with developmental disabilities,” said Project Independence CEO and President Debra Marsteller.

Project Independence is an award-winning one-stop provider of programs offering independent living services, supported employment services and behavioral support programs for people with developmental disabilities.

Today, the organization provides assistance to more than 700 adults who live in their own homes, work regular jobs and participate in community life. Project Independence also provides its clients with counseling service for Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA), a grant awarded by The Social Security Administration.

CDSA represents more than 100 community-based organizations employing more than 14,000 professionals whose common purpose is to improve the lives and opportunities for people with disabilities.

For more information, visit www.proindependence.org or call 714-549-3464 or 877-444-0144.

REVISED: 8-29-16

MEDIA CONTACT

Linda Blankenship

linda@lindablankenship.com

818.224.8221

 

A Heart for Service: Sue Hewitt Helps Orange County

Adults with Disabilities Live Independently

 

National Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week, September 11-17, 2016

Los Alamitos and Costa Mesa, CA (Sept. 2016) – Sue Hewitt has all she needs for a rewarding career as a direct support professional who helps adults with developmental disabilities to live independently.

“I absolutely love my job!” says Sue, the 2016 recipient of Regional Center of Orange County’s (RCOC) Direct Support Professional Spotlight Award. Celebrating ten years with Costa Mesa-based Project Independence’s Independent Living Services program, the Los Alamitos resident works with about a dozen people with developmental disabilities. She received the award for extraordinary dedication to those she serves, including one woman with disabilities who was homeless and without any family involvement when she first started receiving RCOC services.

With effective advocacy, Sue helped the woman to find a home and establish friendships and other relationships within her local community. Sue also helped her achieve a lifelong dream of enrolling in community college, to find employment with Project Independence, and participate in family-style activities. Most importantly, Sue helped fostered her confidence and security, knowing that she can be successful and that she does not have to live on the streets.

“National Direct Support Professional Recognition Week is a great opportunity to honor the service of people like Sue Hewitt who work so hard to help people with disabilities live independent, fulfilling lives in the community,” says Larry Landauer, RCOC’s Executive Director. “California’s regional center system of community care is a model for the nation, and it relies on people like Sue who have a heart for service.”

A Professional with a Heart for Service

Hewitt credits being the mother of six children (as well as grandmother of 12 and great-grandmother of five) for equipping her with the skills to succeed in this job, and believes it was a role she was meant to have: she tells the story of opening the newspaper one day and seeing an ad for a job coach position. That same day, she heard TV’s “Judge Judy” commending one of her show guests as a job coach, noting it as admirable work. Soon thereafter, she joined the team at Project Independence, a leading provider of independent and supporting living, supported employment, and other services – most of which are funded by Regional Center of Orange County.

A decade later, she still works with eight of the same people with disabilities, two of whom are married, in a variety of independent living skills, including grocery shopping, laundry, housekeeping, dealing with friends, living in a community, and stress management. Having worked with people ranging in age from 30 to 75, Sue has a philosophy and approach that works: “I just respect them as I would respect myself,” she says.

She focuses on listening and encouraging those she serves to express their feelings and views. Fostering that dynamic, Sue knows the moments when they are open to hearing new approaches to solving day-to-day challenges and becoming more independent.

“I don’t expect them to always adhere to what I say,” she adds. “Part of being independent is making choices and experiencing consequences.”

Debra Marstellar, Executive Director of Project Independence, appreciates the attention that Direct Support Professional Recognition Week brings to those who work for her agency and the 1,600 or so other service providers that receive funding from RCOC: “Like teachers and nurses, our people do incredibly rewarding and important work that merits our respect and this week gives them some well-deserved recognition.”

 

About Regional Center of Orange County

Regional Center of Orange County is the private, nonprofit organization contracted by the State of California to coordinate life-long services and supports to more than 19,000 Orange County residents with developmental disabilities and their families. Developmental disabilities include intellectual disabilities, autism, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Learn more at www.rcocdd.com.

About Direct Support Professional Recognition Week

Direct Support Professional Recognition Week is part of an American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) national advocacy campaign. Celebrated annually across the country, it honors the tens of thousands of workers who enable people with developmental and other significant disabilities and their families to live healthy lives in their communities.

 

CONTACT: Dan Pittman

714.282.9994

dan@pittmanpr.com

SEVENTH ANNUAL PROJECT INDEPENDENCE WALKATHON AND HEALTH FAIR TOPS $30,000 IN DONATIONS FOR COSTA MESA NONPROFIT  

Event enables organization to build a community one step at a time

Costa Mesa, California, Nov. 7, 2016 – Supporters, friends and clients of Costa Mesa, California-based Project Independence, a nonprofit organization with programs and services that enrich the lives of people with developmental disabilities, recently participated in the 2016 edition of the Walk for Independence and Healthy Fair. The fundraising event took place on Sept. 24 at Tewinkle Park in Costa Mesa.

The event raised more than $30,000. Over 65 people volunteered, including from The Cornerstone Church, Cal State Fullerton, Kiwanis and Paul Mitchell School of Costa Mesa, and15 exhibitors were registered, including magician Randy Gastreich of the Magic Castle and Project Independence’s Extra Mile Award recipient, Home Depot, which staged a workshop.

A bounty of prizes from the local business community was awarded, including from Angels Baseball, Disneyland, Ralphs, Surfside, and more. Tanaka Farms, Smith Farms and Penjoyan Produce provided delicious produce selections.

Sponsors for next year’s walk set for September 9 are now being sought. Interested parties can contact Todd Eckert at Todd@Proindependence.org or 714-549-3464 or 877-444-0144.

“We were delighted that more than 200 people joined together for food, fun, games, dancing, t-shirts, health fair and a wonderful farmers market,” said Project Independence CEO and President Debra Marsteller. “Proceeds go to Project Independence to help people live and work as valued members of our community.”

“We heartily appreciate community support for our Walk for Independence and Health Fair from our many friends and business associates who understand the importance of the work Project Independence does for people with developmental disabilities,” said Board Chair Judy Cole.

For additional information, please visit www.proindependence.org

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CONTACT: Dan Pittman

714.282.9994

dan@pittmanpr.com

 

 

 

SEVENTH ANNUAL WALKATHON AND HEALTH FAIR ENABLES NONPROFIT PROJECT INDEPENDENCE TO BUILD A COMMUNITY ONE STEP AT A TIME

Costa Mesa, California, Sept. 16, 2016  – Supporters, friends and clients of Costa Mesa, California-based Project Independence, a nonprofit organization with programs and services that enrich the lives of people with developmental disabilities, will again don their walking shoes, apply sunscreen, grab their water bottles and participate in the 2016 edition of the Walk for Independence and Healthy Living program on Sarturday, September 24.

 

The fundraising event will take place at Tewinkle Park at 970 Arlington Drive in Costa Mesa from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Registration opens at 7:30.

 

Sponsors are now being sought. Interested parties can contact Todd Eckert at Todd@Proindependence.org or 714-549-3464 or 877-444-0144.

 

“Please come and join us for food, fun, games, dancing, t-shirts, health fair and a wonderful farmers market,” said Project Independence CEO and President Debra Marsteller. “Proceeds go to Project Independence to help people live and work as valued members of our community. It will be a tremendous day of prizes, fun and camaraderie.”

 

“We hope to receive wide community support for our Walk for Independence and Health Fair from our many friends and business associates who appreciate the importance of the work Project Independence does for people with developmental disabilities,” said Board Chair Judy Cole. “We’re looking forward to a great turnout on September 24.”

 

Walkers can register at www.projectindependencewalk.org, at Project Independence’s Costa Mesa office (3505 Cadillac, Suite O-103), or at the event. Goodie bags, snacks and event t-shirts are included in the registration fee.

 

For additional information, please visit www.proindependence.org

 

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CONTACT: Dan Pittman

714.282.9994

dan@pittmanpr.com

 

PROJECT INDEPENDENCE RECENTLY AWARDED

WEINGART FOUNDATION GRANT FOR $175,000

 

COSTA MESA, California, January 17, 2017 – Project Independence, a nonprofit organization located in Orange County, California that supports people with developmental disabilities, was recently awarded an Unrestricted Operating Support (UOS) Grant for $175,000 from the Weingart Foundation headquartered in Los Angeles. The grant will be funded over two years.

The Foundation previously funded the merger of Project Independence and Vantage Foundation in 2007, as well as the nonprofit’s development and IT expansion in 2012.

The new unrestricted funding will enable Project Independence to carry out its mission by strengthening organizational capacity and effectiveness, and can be used to underwrite administrative infrastructure and/or to maintain core programs.

In addition to meeting normal screening requirements for the funds, Project Independence was evaluated against the following criteria:

Operate quality programs that provide greater access, resources and opportunities to low-income individuals and under-resourced communities;

Have developed specific and realistic short and long-term strategies for addressing identified organizational needs;

Demonstrate how a UOS grant could have a measurable impact on organizational and programmatic capacity and effectiveness;

Provide the opportunity to build upon prior Weingart Foundation grants.

 

“Our goals for this generous grant center on staff training, fund development and technology,” said Project Independence CEO and President Debra Marsteller. “These are all aspects of our organization that will increase our capacity to serve individuals with developmental disabilities through days services, independent living and supported employment. We heartily thank Weingart for their continuing confidence in our organization.”

Founded in 1977, Project Independence provides programs and services that enrich the lives of people with developmental disabilities throughout Orange County.

For additional information, please visit www.proindependence.org.

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CONTACT: Dan Pittman

714.282.9994

dan@pittmanpr.com

 

PROJECT INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATES 15 YEARS SERVING CITY OF IRVINE

COSTA MESA, California, December 27, 2016 – Two thousand sixteen marks the 15th year of a unique partnership between the City of Irvine and nonprofit Project Independence to provide meaningful employment for people with developmental disabilities who help to make sure that the city’s busy mail department runs efficiently.

As a licensed contractor to the city, Project Independence maintains two enthusiastic teams to assist in the organization; a morning group from the nonprofit’s Day Program and another in the afternoon from its Supported Employment Program. The teams work with two city employees who are the liaisons to all other city departments.

Debbie Tracy, a liaison and municipal records administrator for the city, said, “You could not ask for a better collection of employees. Both teams arrive on time, excited about the responsibilities of the day and take such great pride in being an integral part in the smooth operation of the city.”

Tim Chervenak, Project Independence’s director of Employment Services, said, “This is everything we hope for in our community partnerships; inclusion, responsibility, adding value and a strong sense of purpose. We have more than 130 job sites throughout Orange County with work placements for 155 employees. Every single employer celebrates these additions to their teams. They realize the effect it has on their entire staff, their customers and their community.”

Founded in 1977, Project Independence provides programs and services that enrich the lives of people with developmental disabilities throughout Orange County.

For additional information, please visit www.proindependence.org.

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CONTACT: Dan Pittman

714.282.9994

dan@pittmanpr.com

 

PAUL MITCHELL THE SCHOOL COSTA MESA SUPPORTS NONPROFIT

PROJECT INDEPENDENCE WITH $1,000 DONATION

 

Costa Mesa, California, Nov. 7, 2016  – Paul Mitchell the School Costa Mesa has recently donated $1,000 to its neighbor Project Independence, a nonprofit organization with programs and services that enrich the lives of people with developmental disabilities.

”We are so excited to be partnering with Project Independence in support of people with developmental disabilities. Paul Mitchell has a long history of supporting the communities where we live, work and play. We could not be prouder supporting the mission of this tremendous community resource called Project Independence,” said Lucy Acevedo, the school’s admissions and social networking leader.

“We are delighted to receive this generous donation and look forward to building a relationship with the school,” said Project Independence CEO and President Debra Marsteller. “This donation will help us fulfill our mission to promote civil rights for people with developmental disabilities through services which expand independence and choice.”

The school recently participated at Project Independence’s Annual Walk for Independence, Sept. 26.

For additional information, please visit www.proindependence.org.

 

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CONTACT: Dan Pittman

714.282.9994

dan@pittmanpr.com

 

Kathy Grunwald of Nonprofit Project Independence Re-elected

President of Cambridge Park Association Board

 

COSTA MESA, Calif., May 26, 2016 – Kathy Grunwald, controller with Project Independence, a nonprofit organization that supports people with developmental disabilities, has been re-elected President of the Cambridge Park Association Board in Costa Mesa.  The organization owns a building in the complex.

During her first term with the Board, Grunwald in collaboration with Arthur Holland of J.D. Property, spearheaded an effort to make the business park more compatible for Project Independence clients coming into the building, including providing wheelchair accessibility and adding a speed bump to help protect clients and staff from speeding vehicles while walking to and from their cars.

“We are proud of Kathy and her accomplishments as president of the Association for everyone who works or visits the complex including people with disabilities,” said Project Independence CEO and President Debra Marsteller.

Project Independence is an award-winning one-stop provider of programs offering independent living services, supported employment services and behavioral support programs for people with developmental disabilities.

Today, the organization provides assistance to more than 700 adults who live in their own homes, work regular jobs and participate in community life. Project Independence also provides its clients with counseling services for Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA), a grant awarded by The Social Security Administration.

For more information, visit www.proindependence.org or call 714-549-3464 or 877-444-0144.

 

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CONTACT: Dan Pittman

714.282.9994

dan@pittmanpr.com

 

Diane Pritchett Joins Project Independence Board of Directors

 

COSTA MESA, Calif., September XX, 2016 – Diane Pritchett, executive director of the South Coast Metro Alliance, has joined the Board of Directors of nonprofit Project Independence of Costa Mesa, California. She is also a member of the Board of the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce.

The South Coast Metro Alliance is a business organization that unites developers, property owners and key corporate leaders who are focused on nurturing business relationships while responding to issues that impact economic vitality and growth.

For more than a quarter-century, the Alliance has implemented and coordinated programs that focus on regional marketing, infrastructure development, business attraction, expansion, and retention.

As the organization’s chief executive, she also works closely with the Costa Mesa and Santa Ana Police and Fire Departments on educational programs for area businesses and property owners.

Prior to her leadership role with the Alliance, Diane was the national sales manager at The Westin South Coast Plaza. Her other work experience includes serving as sales manager of Char Tours of San Francisco and as a public relations professional with Fredrick Chusid & Company, an international consulting firm.

She previously served on the Boards of the Girl Scout Council of Orange County, Girls Inc., South Coast Symphony, YMCA of Orange County and the Southland Economic Development Corporation. She was the Costa Mesa Woman of the Year in 1989.

Diane has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Ohio State University and holds a California Real Estate License.

“We are delighted to add Diane to our Board and know her experience and communications skills will be an asset for us,” said Project Independence CEO and President Debra Marsteller.  For more, please visit www.proindependence.org.

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CONTACT: Dan Pittman

714.282.9994

dan@pittmanpr.com

 

Project Independence Promotes Debra Marsteller to President and CEO

 

COSTA MESA, Calif., February 3, 2016 – Project Independence, a nonprofit organization located in Orange County, California that supports people with developmental disabilities, has promoted Debra Marsteller to president and CEO.

Marsteller has led the organization since 1982, having spearheaded a merger with sister agency Vantage Foundation in 2007. The merger successfully created a stronger organization capable of serving a broader range of disabled adults in Orange County.

“We are delighted to recognize Debbie for her outstanding leadership in pursuit of our mission to promote civil rights for people with developmental disabilities through services which expand independence and choice,” said Project Independence Board Chair Judy Cole.

Marsteller holds a master’s degree from San Diego State University. She is a member of the California Disability Services Association and serves on the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Project Independence is an award-winning one-stop provider of programs offering independent living services, supported employment services and behavioral support programs for developmentally disabled adults.

Today, the organization provides assistance to more than 700 adults who live in their own homes, work regular jobs and participate in community life. Project Independence also provides its clients with counseling service for Work Incentive Planning and Assistance (WIPA), a grant awarded by The Social Security Administration.

For more information, visit www.proindependence.org of call 714.549.3464.

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