The concept for Strategies to Empower People began in late 1990 when Jacquie Dillard-Foss and Kelly McGurran were working at Jean Martin group homes. These were ICF/DDH’s developed to serve Deaf and/or Deaf-Blind individuals. Tina, one of the residents, was told that due to her being so successful she had to move out of the group home and into an ILS (Independent Living Services) program. A few local programs assessed Tina for ILS but none of them knew sign language and this was a major factor leading to the development of Strategies to Empower People.
Tina Harris First Person Supported in 1991
Tina had spent many long years at Napa State Hospital, and the majority of the issues and frustrations she dealt with came from lack of communication from the staff there. After much discussion it was decided that Jean Martin Homes, Inc. would create and submit a Program Plan to begin ILS services for Tina. Jacquie and Kelly, with the help of Heather Campbell and a few others, first began by naming the new program. We knew we wanted People to be “empowered” and that the first “step” toward independence was the scariest. after a long night of discussion and laughter, we became Strategies To Empower People (STEP).
While we waited for an approved program plan, we had to save Tina from going into an existing ILS program with no Deaf communication. What to do? In early 1991 Tina moved into a house with Jacquie. The program plan was submitted and we waited. After six months of waiting, and non-paid support by Jacquie, Tina moved into an apartment next to Kelly and he continued the non-paid support while we waited for DDS approval of the program plan. Another 6 months went by. Meanwhile, Tina flourished (a few bumps in the road) and then Wahoo! On April first, 1992 the plan was approved and Strategies to Empower People became an actual vendorized ILS program with DDS.
We next served Joe and John. They moved out of the ICF/DDH. The next people to take their STEPs to independence were Charlotte and Sharlene. The photo shows Tina in 2007. From those humble beginnings, we are now one of the largest agencies of our kind in Northern CA.