News

Grant from Washington Foundation, MT Rail Link supports LIFTT

Grant from Washington Foundation, MT Rail Link supports LIFTT

Living Independently for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT) is pleased to announce a grant received from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation in conjunction with Montana Rail Link, in the amount of $10,000 to support LIFTT’s general operations.

LIFTT is a Montana 501(c)(3) Corporation organized as a Center for Independent Living (CIL). As part of a nationwide network of CILs, LIFTT provides people with disabilities with Independent Living (IL) services in the geographical area formed by eighteen Montana counties: Big Horn, Carbon, Carter, Custer, Dawson, Fallon, Garfield, Golden Valley, McCone, Musselshell, Prairie, Powder River, Richland, Rosebud, Stillwater, Treasure, Wibaux, and Yellowstone.

According to Carlos Ramalho, LIFTT’s Executive Director, “LIFTT plans to use the grant to supplement the resources usually used to pay for its daily expenses. The high inflation rates have had a negative impact on our budget. This grant makes it possible for LIFTT to continue to provide services to the persons with disabilities living in Southeast Montana.”

“LIFTT would like to thank the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and Montana Rail Link for this generous grant; we hope many others will acknowledge the importance of what LIFTT does and help,” Ramalho said.

If you are interested in donating to LIFTT you can do that by going to: liftt.org/get-involved/donate-support/ or by contacting Executive Director Carlos Ramalho at (406) 294-5190 or carlosr@liftt.org. 

If you are a person with disabilities, you can receive LIFTT services free of charge. Please consider getting involved with LIFTT not only by becoming a consumer but by becoming a peer mentor, attending the peer mentor meetings, and volunteering. you can start your journey by visiting our website at liftt.org or by calling (406) 259-5181.

LIFTT announces creation of Jackie Kimbrough Emergency Fund

Living Independently for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT) is pleased to announce a grant received from the Oro y Plata Foundation in the amount of $30,000. to create the “Jackie Kimbrough Emergency Fund,” to assist LIFTT consumers in financial distress.

Named in honor of a former employee of the agency who passed in 2021, LIFTT plans to use the Emergency Fund to help people with disabilities meet unanticipated expenses. To qualify for assistance, consumers cannot receive assistance from any other available federal and state program funding. The expenses that can be paid for with funds from the emergency fund vary from significant home repairs to replacing appliances.

LIFTT is a Montana 501(c)(3) Corporation organized as a Center for Independent Living (CIL). As part of a nationwide network of CILs, LIFTT provides people with disabilities with Independent Living (IL) services in the geographical area formed by the eighteen counties: Big Horn, Carbon, Carter, Custer, Dawson, Fallon, Garfield, Golden Valley, McCone, Musselshell, Prairie, Powder River, Richland, Rosebud, Stillwater, Treasure, Wibaux, and Yellowstone.

According to Carlos Ramalho, LIFTT’s Executive Director, the creation of this emergency fund is, “an effort to help our consumers – persons with disabilities – stay in their homes, live independently, be able to participate in their communities, and avoid institutionalization. LIFTT would like to thank the Oro y Plata Foundation for this generous grant to get the fund started; we hope many others will help make it grow over time through their contributions.”

If you are a person with disabilities, you can receive LIFTT services free of charge. Please consider getting involved not only by becoming a consumer but by becoming a peer mentor, attending the peer mentor meetings, and volunteering. You can start your journey by visiting our website at liftt.org or by calling (406) 259-5181.

If you are interested in donating to LIFTT for the Kimbrough Memorial Fund or one of our other projects https://liftt.org/get-involved/donate-support/or contact Executive Director Carlos Ramalho at (406) 294-5190 or carlosr@liftt.org.

 

Resources for June 2022 Montana Floods

At the left a flooded river washes out a road on the right side of the image

Flooding is taking out roads, and property and causing evacuations in the areas surrounding Yellowstone National Park (Photo by National Park Service/AP)

The recent flooding across southern Montana has unfortunately caused much damage in several communities and necessitated the activation of emergency measures such as evacuations and sheltering. Below you can find links to reliable resources of information about the flooding situation in Southern Montana and the emergency services being provided. We will try to update this post as needed.

 

We need your help to improve COVID-19 vaccine access in Montana!

 

Improving COVID-19 vaccine access is the goal of Project ALIVE, (Acessible Life-saving Integrated Vaccine Equity) brought to you by the Assoication of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL), The Partnership for Inclusive DIsaster Strategies, Summit Independent Living and Living Independently for Today & Tomorrow (LIFTT)

Living Independently for Today & Tomorrow (LIFTT) is currently working with The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, The Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living, and Summit Independent Living on Project ALIVE (Accessible Life-Saving Integrated Vaccine Equity). Through Project ALIVE we hope to identify and where possible remove barriers to COVID-19 vaccines for Montanans with disabilities living in rural areas and to help those wanting a vaccine and needing support to access one.

To get started on this task we need your help identifying barriers to COVID-19 vaccine access in your communities! Please click on one of the links below and either take the online survey or download a paper survey. Let us know about your experiences with accessing the COVID-19 vaccine.

Project ALIVE is rooted in the values of self-determination and self-direction. The project does not seek to persuade or convince. Project ALIVE will serve as a resource for those who want the vaccine and those seeking further information in order to make an informed decision.

At the bottom of this page you can view an episode of LIFTT’s “Living Well in Montana” where Corby Skinner talks with LIFTT team member Jed Barton and Priya Penner of the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies about Project ALIVE and review the survey questions.

 Your answers will be fully anonymous and will be used for internal purposes of this project that will help Project ALIVE identify barriers and implement strategies. For more information about Project ALIVE or to request assistance in completing the survey or to receive the survey in an alternative format please contact LIFTT team member John Robison at (406) 294-5188 or through our contact page.

 

PROJECT ALIVE COVID-19 Survey Links

Raffle Tickets now on sale through June 29!

Tickets are on sale now through June 29 for the 2022 LIFTT fundraising raffle! Tickets are $2 each or three for $5 and can be purchased from any LIFTT team member or by contacting our offices in either Billings (1201 Grand Avenue #1, (406) 259-5181) or Glendive (100 1/2 South Merrill Avenue, (406) 948-8501) during regular business hours. 

The 2022 LIFTT raffle drawing will be held on Thursday, June 30, 2022. Winners need not be present. Winners will be notified by phone call, text, and/or email.   

Among the prizes to be awarded  in the 2022 LIFTT raffle: 

  • A Round Imperial Garnet, free design consultation, and $100 off a custom setting from Sugar Plum Fine Jewelry of Glendive.
  • A $100 gift card towards art supplies/instruction from Crooked Line Studio of Billings
  • Gift cards for
    • Wal-Mart,
    • Fuddruckers,
    • Wendy’s,
    • Perkins,
    • Tractor Supply Company,
    • and More!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

All proceeds from raffle ticket sales will go towards furthering LIFTT’s work of helping people with disabilities achieve independence. The  LIFTT team would like to express our thanks to all of the businesses who have donated prizes and all those who have or will buy tickets.  

About Living Independently for Today & Tomorrow (LIFTT): As the center for independent living for 18 counties in Southeastern Montana, Living Independently for Today and Tomorrow (LIFTT) is committed to providing programs and services that help to empower persons with disabilities to break down the physical, bureaucratic and cultural barriers that prevent them from being fully independent participants in their lives and communities. For more information about LIFTT’s programs and services click here or find us on Facebook and YouTube

March 2022 Newsletter: Director’s Corner

Editor’s note: A version of this article can be found in the March 2022 “LIFTT Connection” newsletter by clicking here

We are happy to inform you that, since early February 2022, our Billings and Glendive offices have been open to the public. Once again, we welcome visitors for in-person meetings, community activities, group events, and resuming our participation in outreach events. Please feel free to stop by. 

We hope to see you soon. However, LIFTT will continue to accommodate the needs of those who expect to receive services electronically and communicate via telephone and email. We are equipped and prepared to move forward as a hybrid organization. 

You need to know that we are living in what is being called a transitional period. During 2022, as a society, we are moving from a pandemic [the global or national outbreak of a disease] to an endemic [when an infection is restricted to a certain location]. For this reason, LIFTT will continue to encourage our team members, consumers, and community to protect themselves against COVID-19 infection. The best way to accomplish that is by being vaccinated. Please remember that LIFTT is available to help you order COVID-19 test kits, get vaccinated, and be safe. We highly recommend you have COVID-19 tests kits available at home and are happy to help you order them for you and your family. 

We believe that thanks to the efforts of the Public Health Authorities, the US will soon be a COVID-19 free country. Until then, LIFTT’s team members will continue to adapt to the virus and pass this knowledge onto you and the community of our service area. 

Please allow us to remind you that if you had COVID-19, you qualify as a person who has a disability and are entitled to many services and benefits. 

We invite you to partner with LIFTT and help us shape the post-COVID-19 Montana and use the lessons we learned from the pandemic to improve our independent living community and services. We are proud to be open for business again along with businesses, banks, industries, the school system, hotels, airports, sports facilities, and churches. 

Come to LIFTT! Let us work together to strengthen the independent living community. 

Cheers! Carlos Ramalho, Executive Director 

March 2022 Newsletter: Home Sweet Home! a LIFTT Success Story

Editor’s note: A version of this article can be found in the March 2022 “LIFTT Connection” newsletter by clicking here

Timothy J. is a 52-year-old male who came to LIFTT asking for help finding housing because he was homeless. Timothy has diabetes, which, affects the ability of the body to produce or respond to the hormone insulin. Timothy is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated glucose levels in the blood and urine. 

People living with diabetes have an increased risk of lower limb amputation, wounds, or ulcers that do not heal, which are the most common cause of amputation among people with this condition. Timothy’s toes were amputated. 

LIFTT’s Independent Living Specialist Tonnette Jensen called a local property owner to ask about the availability of any rentals. The landlord said he had a studio apartment vacant that didn’t have too many stairs so Timothy could navigate them. Timothy looked at the apartment and came to the LIFTT office the next day to complete a rental application. 

Due to his situation, the proprietor waived the deposit fee. Timothy was able to move in and start fresh in a place he could finally call his own Home, sweet home! 

3/22 Newsletter Team Member Spotlight: Tonnette Jensen: When you are lost, ask directions

Editor’s note: A version of this article can be found in the March 2022 “LIFTT Connection” newsletter by clicking here

LIFTT Glendive based IL specialst Tonnette Jensen, White female with brown hair wearing glasses

Glendive-based IL specialst Tonnette Jensen says that joining the team at LIFTT has helped make her an “independent woman with a bright future.”

Meet Tonnette Jensen, a LIFTT employee whose experiences of tragedy and loneliness transformed her. Here is her story: 

For the first 18 years of her life, Tonnette grew up on Camano Island, Washington, an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, where Tonnette spent her time exploring trails and beaches, but it was not all paradise for her. Tonnette was a painfully lonely child with no friends and parents who often left her to raise herself. In addition, at the tender age of eight, Tonnette had to cope with both the suicide of her 16-year-old brother and her own struggles with suicidal thoughts. “Growing up was hard for me,” she said, “and I isolated myself until I could make friends.” Tonnette staved off grief and loneliness by immersing herself in her families’ outdoor hobbies including hunting, archery, and, because their house was five minutes away from the beach, fishing and shell hunting. 

Following graduation, Tonnette worked at various grocery stores and hotels. She found her calling when she joined Eastern Montana Industries (EMI) where she cared for consumers with mental and physical disabilities. In 2021, Tonnette and her husband were walking along a Glendive sidewalk, searching for a small store they had heard about, but could not find. Unexpectedly, Jen Hawkinson, Senior Independent Living Specialist for LIFTT Glendive, appeared, gave the couple directions, and after a brief description of LIFTT’s services, suggested Tonnette apply for a job with the organization. 

Two months later, Tonnette was hired as an IL Specialist with the Glendive LIFTT office. 

“When I moved to Montana, I did not come out of my shell until I went to work for LIFTT.” She considers her coworkers her sisters, and now refers to herself as a social butterfly.’ “Best of all,” she said, “I am a strong independent woman with a bright future.” 

Tonette’s work keeps her on her toes, and she enjoys every minute of it, “I love this job and what it stands for,” she said, “and I can empathize with people who are struggling because I have several disabilities myself, including borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, hypothyroid condition, immune deficiency, and PTSD. Despite her challenges, Tonnette remains positive. “What inspires me is living the best life I can live, and assisting people to achieve that same goal.” 

Tonnette sees herself working at LIFTT for the next ten years, owning a house with her husband, and, taking some awesome vacations. 

With her can-do attitude and a healthy dose of self-esteem, chances are, this butterfly will get it all. 

March 2022 Newsletter: Welcome Back! LIFTT offices reopen

Editor’s note: A version of this article can be found in the March 2022 “LIFTT Connection” newsletter by clicking here

Dear readers, we hope this notice finds you safe and well during this unprecedented time. While LIFTT has been working remotely over the past few months, we are pleased to announce the reopening of both our Billings and Glendive offices. Face-to-face interaction is important to LIFTT and we are lifting restrictions while taking specific measures to protect the vulnerable. We look forward to seeing you. 

LIFTT Billings (406) 259-5181 

1201 Grand Ave, Billings, MT 59102 

Hours: 8 a.m – 5 p.m., Mon.-Th., 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Friday. 

LIFTT Glendive (406) 948-8500  

100 1/2 South Merrill Ave, Glendive, MT 59330

Hours: 8 a.m – 5 p.m., Mon.-Th.. 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Friday.

As the center for independent living for 18 counties in Southeastern Montana, LIFTT is committed to providing programs and services that help to empower persons with disabilities to break down the physical, bureaucratic and cultural barriers that prevent individuals from being fully independent participants in their lives and communities.