Things Smell A Little Fishy

UCP and its clients want to extend a huge thank you to Pets Supplies Plus and to Cheyanne, Anthony and Marissa for their generous donation of a fish tank, the supplies and their time for the setup. It is the talk of our Ben Holt facility. The clients are so excited to have this fish tank. We can hear them talk to each other, saying “Have you seen the fish tank?” and “The fish are so pretty.” We will be adding more fish to their freshwater home!


Passion for Weightlifting

UCP Wishes Chloe Kaalund Best of Luck


Chole is at it again!  This month Chole will travel to Las Vegas to see if she can beat her own world record in bench press and deadlift.   She has won two World Association Benchersat (166.34 pounds) and Deadlifters (308.6 pounds). Her  weightlifting journey Chloebegan early in junior high school when she was approached by her gym coach about a potential position on her school’s weightlifting team. Since then, Chloe has displayed great interest in weightlifting and has worked hard to pursue various weight lifting goals. She has received numerous trophies and has even set new state and world records.

Chloe competes in her own weight division and engages in a weight training program 3 days a week. This allows her the time to work out at the gym while also competing in different weight lifting tournaments. Chloe

At 32 years old, Chloe is a client of UCP’s Applied Abilities Program in Tracy. She enjoys participating in this program and going out into the community and interacting with other program participants. Chloe continues to live her life without limits, making everyone at UCP proud of all her hard work and everything she has accomplished.

Spark of Night Prom 2017

The Spark of Night Prom is the brainchild of the staff members of United Cerebral Palsy of San Joaquin, a nonprofit organization, who’s Mission it is to: Enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities by providing services that enable them to realize their goals and achieve their highest level of independence. The staffs’ goal was to provide a prom with all the glitz and glamour for individuals living with a disability in the San Joaquin County and provide them with a memorable prom experience.

It was important that there was no cost to the participants. And, UCP would remove any possible obstacles preventing someone from attending.  The first thing to do was to find a place to hold the event.  After calling around they quickly found that most places were too expensive, but one was willing to help out. A group of young college men attending the University of the Pacific were interested in donating to our cause.  The fraternity Xi Chi Sigma had an officer whose relative was disable and felt the need to extend a helping hand.  These young men quickly went to work and arranged for UCP to hold their first prom in the beautiful DeRosa University Center as an in-kind donation.

UCP partnered with Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo and Men’s Warehouse to provide formal dresses and suits for the participants to rental free of charge.  Local hair stylists banded together to provide hair and makeovers for both the ladies and the men prior to the event.  Our gracious community came together to pay for the party decorations, a DJ, photo booth and food to round out the event. Each year professional photographers donate their time.

Our 2nd Annual Spark of Night was once again held at the DeRosa University Center where participants could enjoy a formal event followed by several hours of music, dancing and keepsake photos. Our prom was a great success with over 300 people in attendance and nearly 100 volunteers giving of their time.

The family members were even more excited than the participants.  Many parents had given up on watching their child experience prom.  Tears streamed from many of the parents and extended family members faces who tagged along to take photos.

One of the donating vendors, Tim Ulmer was heard describing the event as one of the most moving events he had ever attended.  The look of pure joy of the participant’s faces has Tim already volunteering for next year’s prom.

The evening always ends with participants and family members giving thanks for a wonderful event and a priceless memory.


UCP’s Employee Spotlight

Samantha Bailey – Instructor Ben Holt Program

Samantha Bailey’s introduction to UCP began as a teenager in the Ben Holt program where she volunteered with her mother who worked there at that time.  As a volunteer, Samantha assisted with feeding clients, teaching lessons and taking clients on walking trips in the community.  In 2010, Samantha was hired as an Instructional Assistant in the same program.

While working for UCP, she earned a certificate as a Certified Nursing Assistant.  In 2015, she took on additional work in the SAIL and Respite departments.  In 2016, she was promoted to the Instructor position in the Ben Holt program.  As an Instructor, Samantha is responsible for planning client’s community outings and work activities. Through her tenure at UCP, Samantha has developed greater compassion.  She has learned how to find creative ways for clients to accomplish a task rather than focusing on the limitations of their disabilities.

Samantha’s artistic skills acquired at the Academy of Art University contribute greatly to her latest project – designing a sensory room.  The clients selected ocean scenery for the theme so Samantha is busy painting life under water.  The murals are also textured to replicate coral and shark skins.  Once Samantha has completed the sensory our clients will be able to run their hands along with walls and experience life under the sea.  The color blue, which is known for its calming effect, encompasses the majority of the room to assist when an individual needs time to decompress. The mural will also provide visual stimulation.

Outside of work, Samantha enjoys drawing and reading science fiction and fantasy books.  She says, “Could read the same book a hundred times and get different meanings from it.”  She also enjoys music and the emotions that it evokes.

As a member of the Ports City Roller Girls roller derby team, Samantha is known as “Yosemite Sam.”  She loves the camaraderie with her teammates and she finds the endurance drills challenging.

Samantha would love to go sky diving and wing-suit flying, travel to Finland, take dog sleds to see the Northern Lights, and visit Alaska to watch the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.  Her career goal is to become a Program Manager at UCP.

UCP’s Employee Spotlight

Kenda Eskridge – Job Developer

Supported Employment Program

Kenda began working at UCP as an Administrative Assistant in May 2014.  Her recent promotion to Job Developer in September 2016 has created an explosion in job placements for the Supported Employment Department.  Her primary responsibilities involve intake of new clients, preparing them for employment opportunities, and developing partnerships with employers.  Kenda spends a significant amount of time meeting with new clients to identify their work history, interests, and any obstacles to job placement and retention (e.g. unreliable transportation).   She provides individualized training, as needed, such as using public transportation or a cash register to address grooming and hygiene.  Kenda also accompanies clients to department stores like Ross to ensure they maximize their Department of Rehabilitation stipend purchases of work clothes.  She has a keen eye for sales at the store.

On a weekly basis, Kenda conducts cold calls and goes door to door to businesses to find prospective employers.  Her motto is “Ask everybody and you will get a bite.”  Her record of accomplishments within 7 months is impressive.  Kenda has placed 28 clients throughout Tracy, Manteca, Lodi and Stockton.  Their jobs include Crew Members at Burger King, Loss Prevention at K-Mart, Sales Associates at Home Goods, Courtesy Clerks at Safeway, Fulfillment Specialist at Amazon, and Office Aide at Valley Mountain Regional Center.

Her zeal is truly infectious and her passion is evident when she speaks about her job and the clients.  She cares about each person she works with, recognizes how they can contribute their strengths in the workplace and she celebrates each successful interview and job placement.  Kenda acknowledges that the Supported Employment team is strong because they “never forget why we are here” and they empower her to do her job so well.

Outside of work, Kenda loves spending time with her children and grandparents.  Whether that is “taking care of business” (washing clothes and listening to her children share about their day), watching her son play Itty Bitty sports (soccer, t-ball, and basketball), playing music and dancing with them or going to the Exploratorium.  Her children inspire her to bring her best to each day – her commitment, motivation, and compassion.  Kenda loves to shop online and watch her favorite TV show.  She dreams of attending a Frankie Beverly and Maze concert and taking a vacation to a relaxing and peaceful forest.

30th Annual CHOICES conference

The 30th annual CHOICES conference held at San Joaquin County Office of Education was a success!

Phillip and Nick, two clients who attend Program Without Walls, setup a booth at the Micro Business Fair to sell their goods. Phillip sold jewelry, handbags and comic books and Nick sold his paintings and homemade soap.

Keynote speakers presented about living on their own, establishing micro businesses, and volunteering in the community.

The Advocates jammed during lunch provided by Panera Bread. They drew a crowd of dancers while singing oldies and country songs.

Supported Employment Client Spotlight

AJ – Courtesy Clark Safeway

Back in February 2007 our Supported Employment program worked with AJ on possible job placement.  AJ’s placement landed him working for Safeway as a Courtesy Clerk.  He easily transitioned from Courtesy Clerk to Gas Station Attendant, though he was missed by many of the older customers whom he had previously helped in the store. In September 2016, AJ was promoted to Gas Station Attendant Manager and is responsible for overseeing the night shift employees.  He continues to shine as a reliable, hardworking, and dedicated manager. Within the next 5 years, AJ’s goal is become an Assistant Manager at Safeway. 

AJ enjoys spending time with his 13-year-old daughter, Alycia, as well as hunting, fishing, playing golf, and watching football.  For his dream vacation, he would love to go on a deer hunting trip in Texas.   

The Supported Employment program works with our clients to make their dreams become reality.  Our Job Coaches collaborates with both our clients and amazing Business Partners, such as Safeway, to overcome any obstacles that may hamper job performance. Whether it’s hands on training or spot training for new responsibilities UCP is ready to jump right in and evaluate whatever is needed (if anything) to assist our clients to advance in their workplace.

Our Business Partners love the individuals placed by UCP’s Supported Employment program. They appreciate our Job Coaches efforts to assist individuals like AJ to meet the demand of their job requirements.  UCP strives to place individuals who meet or surpass the expectations of our Business Partners.

AAP – Spirit of gratitude

Full of a spirit of gratitude and love

The Applied Abilities Program staff in Tracy prepared a delicious, home cooked meal for 51 clients using the money that they had collected from recycling throughout the year.  Staff prepared various dishes at home, including turkey, ham, stuffing, green beans, and potatoes.  The smells wafted through the building as staff served the clients a hearty meal followed by an assortment of desserts.  Then, everyone gathered in Area 1, their largest classroom, for the Saran Wrap Ball game.  When the music was playing, the clients passed two large Saran Wrap Balls of goodies around the circle.  As soon as the music stopped, the person holding the Saran Wrap Ball frantically tore off as much of the Saran Wrap as possible to release a goodie trapped inside – color pencils, coffee travel mugs, erasers, candy, and puzzles!  Laughter, smiles, and excitement filled the afternoon as clients delighted in the fun and their unexpected gifts.  After the game ended, staff and clients packaged the remaining food, placed it in carryout containers, and distributed it to homeless people who were gathered near a local restaurant and at several parks throughout the city.

In Memory of Renee

In Memory of Renee

UCP celebrated the life and memory of our client, our friend, our inspiration, Rene.  She started attending program back in 2006 at our Ben Holt Adult Day Center.  Rene’s smile was infectious; you couldn’t help but smile back.  She loved to hug and handed them out generously as often as she could.

While in program she enjoyed spending time with her favorite staff, Christina, who runs our computer lab.  When she wasn’t visiting the computer lab she was often found using the foot bike and leg extension machines.  This made total sense since Rene always kept our staff on their toes as she darted from one activity room to the next investigating what others were doing.  Rene loved to draw but she absolutely loved watching the Wiggles.  There were days we would look out the window and there she was lying out on the grass arms and legs spread and a big smile on her face just enjoying herself.  That’s how we will always remember this amazing individual who left a hole in our hearts.

Rene you will truly be missed.


Look Who Turned 70!!

Happy Birthday to Patricia Austin who turns 70!

Patricia (Pat) Austin was born Patricia Ann Davey November 7, 1946 in Richmond CA.

Pat says she was born with Cerebral Palsy and used a wheelchair from an early age. She lived with her parents until she met a handsome man named Howard Thomas Austin. They met through family members and married in 1974. Pat felt proud of her husband who was an orderly and later an LVN. She said he also worked at a mortuary which Pat shared with 018some giggles. Pat said she enjoyed being married. She said they went on trips together to the Bahamas, Florida, Lake Tahoe and they took Pat’s step daughter, Vicki, to Disneyland in LA. Pat was married for 9 years and then they divorced. She said, “At least I took the plunge!”

I asked Pat what she wants to do before her 80th birthday. She said she would like to meet her favorite soap star from the Young and the Restless, Eric Branden. She said she also wants to see Hillary win the Presidential Election.

As far as life advice, Pat says, “Be patient, don’t argue and never go to bed angry because you’re always sorry afterwards.”

Pat says, “I like being 70. Don’t be afraid of old age. You feel more mature and you can speak your mind and you don’t have to be afraid of what [others] say. I feel stronger at 70.”