Holiday Break Highlights at Breaking Barriers Today

What Do You Do on Holiday Break, When You Need A Break Too?

Our numbers increased over the holiday break and it was great to see the kind of fun and interaction that is possible when we have a great combination of participants, care providers, and volunteers. The Breaking Barriers Today program is continuing to grow and we are very excited about the possibilities of having even more volunteers in the mix. It was also nice to know that the families of these very special participants had an opportunity to attend to their holiday preparations confident that their loved one was in good hands …helping hands.

Holiday Break Highlights: Playing Games

Holiday Break - Playing Games
Sharon our new volunteer has been extremely helpful during our holiday/winter break time! She was helping the crew prepare to play Sorry and Xzavier was in the background playing some beats! They all were having a lot of fun!

Holiday Break - Playing a game of Sorry





Anita, Tony, & Sharon playing Sorry. Anita was helping with shuffling the cards and placing them onto the board. This was actually the first time seeing Anita be willing to sit for a period of time to play a board game.



Holiday Break - Parachute Play

Everyone playing Parachute popcorn and loving the bright colors/breeze from the parachute. Clients had a great time, however what isn’t shown here is that Anita would want to run around in the gym and Jimmy loved his walker so much, he would be a little speedster!


Holiday Break - Jimmy the speedster in his walker

Jimmy has been very much a speedster in his new walker! Loves every minute in it!


BBTPosingPic#12 [1195]






Blaine hanging out in the gym and decided to pose for a picture with Daniell. Blaine is one of the newer participants.

Holiday Break - Jonathan tackling some blocksStephanie observing Jonathon figure out how to put blocks together. He was very determined!

Holiday Break - Artistic block building








Ruth was very focused on building herself a kingdom made of Legos. She’s very artistic, even with arts and crafts!


Holiday Break Highlights: Making Music

BBTXzavier piano5 [1205]Xavier loved the keyboard and the music that it was playing. Xavier playing some beats with Stephanie the care provider!


BBTRuthPiano#11 [1193]





Ruth was a participant during summer program! She came back for a few days during break. The keyboard has been a highlight itself. Ruth loved playing different tunes on it. She loved it!

Holiday Break Highlights: Taking a Relaxation Break


BBTRelaxing6 [1206]
Jonathon just relaxing at the moment with his sensory board! Sometimes it’s just good to relax from school on winter break!

Holiday Break Highlights: Lunchtime

BBT Lunch9 [1209]A few participants were watching a movie with Sharon the volunteer. They are taking a liking to having a new friend to hang out with and Sharon enjoyed making new friends too!

Sierra was preparing lunch with Anita helping & Ally was hanging out with Lucy, Tony, & Xzavier while Jon, he was in charge of watching everyone lol! Lucy is one of the recent addition to the BBT Program!

10 Signs of Caregiver Stress

This list of 10 signs of caregiver stress comes to you from the Alzheimer Association.  At Helping Hands Respite Care we often see or experience these signs first hand. It is heartening to know that we provide the means for families to get temporary relief from the stress they feel because of their responsibilities as a caregiver.

If you experience any of these signs of stress on a regular basis, make time to talk to your doctor.

1. Denial about the disease and its effect on the person who has been diagnosed. “I know Mom is going to get better.”

2. Anger at the person with Alzheimer’s, anger that no cure exists, or anger that people don’t understand what’s happening. “If he asks me that one more time I’ll scream!”

3. Social withdrawal from friends and activities that once brought pleasure. “I don’t care about getting together with the neighbors anymore.”

4. Anxiety about the future. “What happens when he needs more care than I can provide?”

5. Depression that begins to break your spirit and affects your ability to cope. “I don’t care anymore.”

6. Exhaustion that makes it nearly impossible to complete necessary daily tasks. “I’m too tired for this.”

7. Sleeplessness caused by a never-ending list of concerns. “What if she wanders out of the house or falls and hurts herself?”

8. Irritability that leads to moodiness and triggers negative responses and actions. “Leave me alone!”

9. Lack of concentration that makes it difficult to perform familiar tasks. “I was so busy, I forgot we had an appointment.”

10. Health problems that begin to take a mental and physical toll. “I can’t remember the last time I felt good.”

To learn more about respite care and the Adult Day Services (ADS) program at Helping Hands Respite Care, contact Alison Sarkozy

Source: Alzheimer’s Association

Need for Volunteers at BBT

Here at Breaking Barriers Today we are focusing on the importance of volunteers. Currently,we are working on a new goal to build a volunteer base. We are receiving inquiries from participants who will be starting either in December or January. We are proud to report that since we opened BBT, the enrollment numbers have tripled. Granted, some of these participants do not attend regularly yet, and some only during breaks.


Why Volunteers Needed

As a participating family you may be wondering what more volunteers will mean to you and your loved one? It means that the participants will have more individualized attention, even though the ratio could be 2:1 or 3:1. With volunteers on board we can create a balance of care providers and volunteers so the volunteers can step in where needed to engage with participants while the care provider performs critical care activities of setting up goal-related activities for individual participants.
Since moving to the Gier Community Center and changing our scope of services, it has opened some doors for new programming.  This means we will need more hands on a regular basis. Additionally, we are hoping to get some volunteers on board during our Winter Break time when our numbers will go up.


If you, or someone you know, are interested in volunteering, please contact us at Helping Hands Respite Care. We would be happy to answer questions and get you signed up. It is with pride that I watch this program continue to grow and evolve. It is a privilege to get to know our new participants and their families.Until next time, please enjoy this Holiday season, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The Importance of Goals

Importance of goals, picture show caregiver getting a participant outside for some fresh air

Do you have goals? Well here at Breaking Barriers Today we value the importance of goals. The clients are currently being assessed to determine the appropriate goals for them. Some of these goals are already put in place by Community Mental Health, however as the clients are becoming comfortable here in our program, we begin to think about the next steps and new goals for them. For example, one of the goals that Jimmy, one of our clients, had was to get a walker. Now that he has the walker we are considering all sorts of new goals related to independence, endurance and stamina.

Regardless of your current situation it is very important to have goals to be able to move onto the next phase or step in your journey. The journey here at BBT started out as a dream and then a vision but without specific goals in place, BBT would have never have come to be. It is a pleasure to see small changes occur almost on a daily basis as we continue to plan and move toward our vision for the future at BBT, this happens because we have goals.

Please enjoy your time with family as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday which will be here quicker than we know it. Have a great month and look forward to sharing more in December!

Breaking Barriers Participants Marking Progress

Breaking Barriers participant Jimmy is show using a gait trainer/walker at this program operated by Helping Hands Respite Care.

It’s the Small Things that Count

By Breaking Barriers Today Supervisor, Elizabeth Krumm


Wow! I can’t believe it’s already Fall! The leaves are changing, the weather getting cooler, and new participants to welcome to the Breaking Barriers Today program.
First, I’d like acknowledge new participants who started attending BBT – Blaine, Scott, and Bethany. They’ve been a pleasure to have here at the program and I look forward to getting to know them throughout the year.


Marking Progress at Breaking Barriers

The participants here at BBT have been enjoying the program and it has been exciting to see little changes that have been happening marking their progress. Jimmy (an all-day participant) recently got a gait trainer/walker to help him get up on his feet and start using those leg muscles. Xzavier (an After School Care Participant) has been on his own learning where to place dirty dishes when we are done with snack time. This is without anyone prompting him. Blaine has been doing awesome with getting comfortable with his surroundings and has been more vocal.

As the program matures we are finding comfort in routine here at BBT. The current goal is to look at how we can incorporate individual goals for each client to help them become ever more independent. I’m excited to announce that we expect some Physical Therapy and Occupational interns from Baker College to be arriving here in January to help participants with their physical therapy and occupational training needs. In preparation over the next few months, I’ll be assessing and incorporating goals for individual participant into their plans. This will help the interns to assist our participants on working on their daily living skills.

Time at the Gier Community Center always provides new opportunities for experiences and enrichment for our participants because of the many programs that come to the center. For example, this month we were able to watch the Senior Cloggers put on a show for BBT. Our participants seemed to love the tapping of the shoes and the music playing in the background.

There are three important things that are part of the new Breaking Barriers Today program for participants: enhanced socialization, achieving new life skills, and community inclusion opportunities. Here we mark progress in small steps, but it is progress …it truly is the small things that we count.
Be sure to visit the Helping Hands Facebook page to stay up-to-date on our participants having a great time enjoying football games, bonfires, Halloween, the sunshine and crisp air during this beautiful season.

Transitioning into the School Year

Clean Up Day at BBT is all part of transitioning to the new school year. Executive Direct John painting as participant Jimmy supervises.

The Breaking Barrier Today (BBT) program made it through its first summer and is transitioning into the school year! This was an accomplishment for all of us including parents and your loved ones, care providers, Gier staff, and others. BBT has cleared many hurdles to get to where we are now. Between moving to the Gier Community Center; setting up our spaces; getting used to having a summer camp and many campers running around; and going on field trips, we have learned many new skills. We transitioned from the Beekman Center to the Gier Community Center, and now we are learning to transition from a Summer program to Fall Program and merging the former After School Program into our processes at BBT as we offer after school care.
A special thank you goes to the parents for how flexible and patient they’ve been throughout this transition. As we venture into the first Fall Semester of BBT, this again will be a transition but also a time to establish a great foundation for BBT and all that it can be for families and participants as we go forward.
On Thursday, September 10th Helping Hands Respite Care coordinated a spruce-up day at Gier Community Center, especially in the arts and crafts room. The arts and crafts room is just one of the wonderful assets we have at our disposal at the Gier Community Center and we are happy to do our part to make sure that all the spaces we use are in good shape and ready to benefit our participants and the community.
On September 14th from 6-8pm at Gier Community Center, BBT will be holding an Open House for those who would like to find out more about the program and may be interested in having their loved one attend.
Lastly, the program has been published within the Lansing Parks and Recreation Program Guide and has been mailed to households throughout the City of Lansing. This is great exposure for BBT and also Helping Hands Respite Care. Yet another way to make it known that respite care exists and the benefits offered to families, especially those with children and young adults with special needs.
We hope everyone had a great Labor Day, and that it has been a smooth transition for those of you who are going back to school and/or work!  Should you have any questions about the BBT program, please feel free to contact Elizabeth Krumm, BBT Supervisor at

Breaking Barriers Today Outing

Breaking Barriers Today Outing pictured at Lugnuts stadium with Big Lug the team mascot

Breaking Barriers Today Outing!

On a warm, sunny day the participants of Helping Hands Respite Care’s youth and young adult activity program, Breaking Barriers Today, experienced the excitement of going to a professional baseball game.

You might remember these old baseball lyrics:

Take me out to the ball game. Take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack. I don’t care if I never go back. For its root, root, root for the cubbies. If they don’t win it’s a shame. For its one, two, three strikes, you’re out at the old ballgame!”

Or, perhaps you recall the fun of doing the wave or beach ball toss in the crowd at a baseball game or waiting with excitement to see the mascot and players take the field.

Breaking Barriers Today joined Lansing Parks and Recreation along with other organizations such as CMH, CADSA to hang out at Cooley Law Baseball Stadium.  The Lansing Lugnuts played against the Bowling Green Hot Rods with a final score of 4-2. Lugnuts took the win!

Before the game, our “kids” from Breaking Barriers Today and Lansing Parks & Recreation participated in a parade on the baseball field and met with Big Lug, the Lugnut team mascot, on home plate! Everyone came home happy and also tired, but we all enjoyed our time and meeting up with other friends at the ballgame.  All in all, it was an exciting day for the whole group; especially with this being something that has never been done in the history of Breaking Barriers Today or After School Program.

Good game, good day, with good friends!

New Program Running Smoothly

A field trip to the State Capital is a testimony to a new program running smoothly

Breaking Barriers Today celebrated its first full month of service on July 8, 2015. The new program running smoothly, is located within the Gier Community Center. It provides an opportunity to serve more participants and their families, with more hours, more programming and community enrichment.
This program is an alternative to the limited hours of the former After School Program, and answers the need to provide activities and stimulation for those individuals who may have aged out of special school programming. State law limits attendance in the special school settings after the age of 26. “This Breaking Barriers Today program can serve individuals, with varying skills, from age 13 to 50. It really answers a critical need for those from 26 to 35,” shared Program Supervisor Elizabeth Krumm.
The first weeks of the program have been about becoming acclimated to a new environment which is rich with things to do and places to be…a gymnasium, a dance studio, an art room, a game room that doubles as a dining area, and a quiet area for reading and resting. The Gier Community Center also has several acres of outdoor play space. “There has been a learning curve in becoming comfortable with the flow of people from place to place and to see those organic opportunities to interact with other visitors to the community center.”
The participants are also looking forward to getting out into the community. On the calendar for July is a tour of the State Capital building, and a trip to a Lugnuts Baseball game. These are activities that would simply not been possible in the former location and program.
“I want to thank all of our families for their patience as we work out the details. We are dedicated to making Breaking Barriers Today a quality resource for more members of the community who may have a need,” said Krumm. “We know that we have to walk before we run, but it is so exciting to have the space to run!”
Families interested in learning more about the Breaking Barriers Today activity program should contact Elizabeth Krumm at