Breaking Down the Barriers for People with Disabilities

WAYNE, MI – July 15, 2014 - More than two decades ago, people with disabilities were treated as second-class citizens. They were placed in institutions, had no control over their lives and were at the mercy of their caregivers and the state. Fast forward 24 years and these same individuals are living in homes of their own, working, going to school, making decisions about their budgets, who they want to hire as staff and what they’re going to eat for dinner!

Saturday, July 26 marks the 24th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This was the first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability in the areas of employment, public transportation, public accommodations and telecommunications.

“The ADA still has a few holes and room for change,” said Andre Robinson, a Peer Mentor at Community Living Services, a non-profit that provides supports for people with disabilities. “But it’s the legislation we, as people with disabilities, live our lives by. That’s how we remain active citizens in the United States.”

The Olmstead Act, which is an amendment to the ADA, celebrated its 15th anniversary June 22nd. This is a ruling that requires states to eliminate segregation of people with disabilities and ensure that they receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.

In the words of then president George H. Bush, upon signing the act, “Let the shameful walls of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” His message was meant to assure quality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities.

Community Living Services, Inc., is a non-profit organization providing supports and services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in Wayne county. CLS is funded through the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency.

For more information contact us at (734) 467-7600 or visit our website at .

Special Olympics athlete also hosts his own TV show

A metro Detroit Special Olympics athlete is training for the USA Games, but he's used to being under pressure and in the spotlight. Ryan Gray also hosts his own tv show. "The hardest part about being a host, Deena, is thinking about the questions. The questions, right, making sure we adapt the questions to our guests," he says.

Ryan, 33, always dreamed of being an investigative reporter, so he took a class and eventually asked to host a community access TV show with his buddies, David and Erin. Now, once a month, he and his peers produce "Community Corner" at Lake Orion's public access TV station.

"I think they teach people who watch their program that they're intelligent, they're witty; they're charming; they're funny; and that comes across on their television program and they have opinions that matter," says Joe Johnson from Orion ONTV.

Ryan's mom, Pam Gray thinks that, "it focuses on their abilities and it allows them to see themselves in a great light."

Mental Health First Aid Awareness

As part of Mental Health First Aid Awareness, the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority (DWMHA) is making available FREE training courses through September designed to teach people methods of assisting someone who may be in the early stages of developing a mental health challenge or in a mental health crisis. DWMHA received a grant through the Michigan Department of Community Mental Health (MDCH) to support and educate about the importance of Mental Health First Aid, which ties closely with Governor Snyder’s call for attention to the improvement of the mental health system in Michigan. “Mental Health First Aid training is an evidence-based and internationally recognized program that will do just that – greatly increase the understanding of mental health issues, and in turn, improve the recognition and appropriate treatment of mental health issues for our residents” according to James K. Haveman, Director of the MDCH.

The courses DWMHA provides are useful in situations where it becomes apparent to others that someone is developing a serious mental challenge or it can provide useful information on how to assist someone who has a history of a mental health disorder or longer-term mental health challenge.

“This is an effort to reduce stigma, improve mental health literacy, and greatly empower the individuals serviced throughout our region”, said Tom Watkins, President and CEO of DWMHA. Mental Health First Aid will give people the knowledge of the potential risk factors and warning signs for a range of mental health problems, including: depression, anxiety/trauma, psychosis and psychotic disorders, substance use disorders and self-injury. It will also give them the skills, resources and knowledge to assess a situation, select and implement appropriate interventions, and help the individual in crisis connect with appropriate professional care.

We Celebrate Our Hard Working Social Workers!

WAYNE, MI-March 20, 2013-Not only is it the first day of spring, it’s also National Social Worker Month! The National Association of Social Workers reports that the field of social work has grown to 650,000 in the United States. By 2020, it is expected to increase by 25% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Social workers or Supports Coordinators have an impact on all facets of society. Community Living Services, a non-profit organization providing supports and services to more than 4,000 people with disabilities, has a workforce of more than 200 and more than half are social workers. Several of them have been working in the field for decades.

Livonia Man Earns Top Honors Despite Obstacles

LIVONIA, MI. - March 19, 2013 – Some of the greatest stories in history are about people overcoming obstacles and achieving things that were not believed possible. “I don’t worry about obstacles. I always know there are ways around them,” said Josef Zenicki, recent U of M Dearborn grad with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. Livonia resident, Zenicki uses a wheelchair and has very limited use of his hands, but maintained a 3.96 GPA, earning him the honor of High Distinction and a Chancellor’s Medallion, which is awarded to only six students each semester. He also earned a Dean’s Scholarship, the FEI Academic Excellence Award and the J. Steward Linden Foundation Scholarship.

“He is definitely a success story,” said Community Living Services Supports Coordinator, Robert Sims. “He has limitations but figured out ways to manage them so he could pursue his dream. I’m so proud of him.” Zenicki managed his classes with the help of his mother and an assistant.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared March as Disability Awareness Month to align with a national campaign that takes place every year. This month CLS celebrates all of the abilities of people with disabilities. Zenicki interned at Federal Mogul Corporation and at Ernst and Young while he was working on his undergraduate. He also volunteered at the Accounting Aid Society as a tax preparer for low-income families as well as at Junior Achievement. Zenicki is continuing his education at U of M while working toward his CPA license. He has accepted a full-time job at Ernst and Young this fall.

CLS has provided Supports Coordination services for Zenicki since 2007. CLS is a non-profit organization providing supports and services to seniors, veterans and people with developmental, physical and intellectual disabilities living in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. CLS is funded through the Detroit-Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency, Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority, Macomb County Community Mental Health and United Way. For more information contact us at (734) 467-7600 or visit our website at