NFL Super Bowl Champion Kurt Warner Speaks about the Importance of Inclusion at Gatepath’s Power of Possibilities Event
Warner shares his inspiring story about being a parent of a child with special needs
Burlingame, CA — Two-time NFL Super Bowl MVP and NFL Hall of Fame inductee Kurt Warner was the guest speaker at Gatepath’s 11th Annual Power of Possibilities event on March 21, 2019. As the parent of a child who is blind and has developmental disabilities, Warner has a personal connection to Gatepath’s mission of empowering people with special needs to achieve their full potential. “It was very inspirational to hear Kurt Warner speak at this year’s event,” said Gatepath CEO Bryan Neider. “Kurt had a remarkable NFL career, but his dedication to the community is even more impressive.”
In a conversation moderated by Emmy award-winning journalist Nancy O’Dell, Warner talked about how his son Zack shaped his perspective on life. “He showed me on a daily basis that when you allow someone with special needs to spread their wings, you’ll be amazed at the possibilities. You’ll be amazed by what they accomplish.”
Warner and his wife Brenda founded Treasure House, a supportive living community for young adults that focuses on independence, respect, and community integration. Like Gatepath, they help individuals of all abilities thrive and reach for their dreams. Warner emphasized that everyone can make a positive impact. “What I’ve realized over time is that it doesn’t take much to really impact people. Regardless of our circumstances, we’ve all been given a platform to do something for others. For me, it all starts with including individuals with disabilities in the things we do.”
O’Dell also shared her personal connection to Gatepath’s mission and described her passion for inclusion of those with developmental disabilities. “Growing up, my best buddy was my Aunt Ellen, who was born with Down syndrome,” O’Dell said. “I can remember watching her wanting so badly to be included in certain high school activities like band and cheerleading. So, I applaud organizations like Gatepath because they help provide opportunities for everyone.”
Gatepath presented its annual Neal Poppin Award to Mitzi Zwierlein, who’s been a dedicated employee of McDonald’s for 41 years. The award is named in memory of a man who was in Gatepath’s employment program and whose determination, spirit, and enthusiasm transcended any limitations he faced. “We are honored to recognize Mitzi as this year’s Neal Poppin Award winner,” said Neider. “She’s an amazing woman whose inspiring work ethic and positive attitude have earned her the respect and love of her colleagues and customers. She radiates joy in everything she does and sets a wonderful example for others.”
The 2019 Power of Possibilities event was made possible by title sponsor, Carole Middleton, and the following platinum sponsors: Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, Gatepath Auxiliary, and Sutter Health, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center. Other corporate sponsors included Arborwell, Bailard, Barulich Dugoni & Suttmann Law Group, Inc., Heffernan Insurance Brokers, SC Properties, D’Elia Construction Inc., Electronic Arts, GoPro, Graybird Foundation, Norman S. Wright Mechanical Equipment, Oracle, and Wells Fargo.
Gatepath has been a cornerstone of our community for 100 years, providing support services to individuals with special needs and developmental disabilities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Our mission is to empower people with special needs to achieve their full potential through innovative, inclusive programs, and community partnerships. With educational, therapeutic, vocational, and family support services, we provide support to an individual throughout his or her lifetime. We collaborate with businesses, third-party providers, local nonprofits, and various other organizations to bring the highest quality services to the children, youth, and adults in our programs. Together, we are creating a world where people of all abilities are fully accepted, respected, and included in all aspects of life – in the classroom, in the workplace, and in our communities.
For more information, visit Gatepath.org.
Contact: Julia Ballantyne, Gatepath
Burlingame, CA — Two-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl champion Kurt Warner will be the guest speaker at Gatepath’s 11th Annual Power of Possibilities event on March 21, 2019 at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront in Burlingame, CA.
While Warner’s football narrative reads like a rags-to-riches Hollywood script, it is the story of a man filled with dignity and class that captured the imagination of sports fans and so many others worldwide. During his 12-year career, Warner continually beat the odds to quarterback the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl and etched his name in the NFL record books along the way.
Warner’s football success is truly impressive. But his gridiron accomplishments pale in comparison to his dedication to the community. Warner believes that all people, regardless of ability, have a purpose and calling in life, and that everyone can participate in meaningful and challenging activities, establish personal relationships, and contribute to society when provided with the appropriate support and opportunities.
Inspired by their son Zachary, who is blind and has developmental disabilities, Kurt and his wife Brenda founded Treasure House, a supportive living community for young adults, focused on independence, respect, and community integration. Their vision for the future is to replicate the model and help individuals with intellectual disabilities realize their full potential. “People are going to forget that I won a Super Bowl, but they’re never going to forget the kind of impact you had on them personally,” said Warner in an interview with CBS Evening News.
Emmy Award-winning journalist Nancy O’Dell will join Warner onstage as moderator of the Power of Possibilities conversation about their personal connection to the intellectual and developmental disabilities community and the importance of advocating for inclusion in society. A proven force in all areas of her career as a host, author, producer, and entrepreneur, O’Dell is the co-host of Entertainment Tonight, contributes to CBS This Morning, and is the go-to anchor for live TV specials.
O’Dell is excited to join the Power of Possibilities event. She is passionate about inclusion and respect for all people, including those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. “Growing up, my best buddy was my Aunt Ellen, who was born with Down syndrome,” said O’Dell in an interview with Ability magazine. “Because of my memories of her, to this day, she remains my inspiration for promoting inclusion for individuals of all abilities.”
Tickets for Gatepath’s Power of Possibilities event will be available starting February 1, 2019 at Gatepath.org/POP-2019.
The 2019 Power of Possibilities event is being made possible by title sponsor, Carole Middleton, and the following platinum corporate sponsors: Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, Gatepath Auxiliary, and Sutter Health, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center. Other corporate sponsors included Bailard, Barulich Dugoni Law Group, Inc., Janice Berthold, Heffernan Insurance Brokers, D’Elia Construction Inc., Electronic Arts, Graybird Foundation, Norman S. Wright Mechanical Equipment, Oracle, and Lisa and Kevin Cullinane, SC Properties.
For more information about becoming a sponsor or benefactor of the Power of Possibilities, CLICK HERE.
About the Power of Possibilities
Gatepath’s Power of Possibilities event celebrates and supports the achievements of those with developmental disabilities in our community and is perfect for anyone who wants to create a world where people of all abilities are accepted, respected, and included. The Power of Possibilities is known for its powerful keynote speakers. Last year, actor Patrick Dempsey talked about how growing up with a learning disability shaped his perspective on life and helped him become a successful actor. Award-winning actor Colin Farrell, Glee actress Lauren Potter, former San Francisco 49er quarterback Steve Young, and actress and author Holly Robinson-Peete were also previous keynote speakers. Attendees of this event call the Power of Possibilities “magical,” “heartwarming,” and “empowering.” Proceeds benefit Gatepath – the largest nonprofit in the Bay Area supporting individuals with developmental disabilities to achieve their full potential.
Gatepath has been a cornerstone of our community for more than 98 years, providing a lifespan of support services to individuals with special needs and developmental disabilities in the greater Bay Area. Our mission is to empower people with special needs to achieve their full potential through innovative, inclusive programs and community partnerships. With educational, therapeutic, vocational and family support services, we are distinctive in providing support to an individual throughout his or her lifetime. We collaborate with businesses, third party providers, local nonprofits and various organizations to bring the highest quality services to the children, youth and adults in our programs. Together, we are creating a world where people of all abilities are fully accepted, respect and included in all aspects of life – in the classroom, the workplace and in our communities. Join us in “Turning Disabilities into Possibilities”. For more information, visit Gatepath.org.
Contact: Julia Ballantyne
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The Gatepath Auxiliary was honored in October 2018 at an annual appreciation event hosted by Gatepath to recognize the members for their incredible dedication to the mission since 1950. Remarkably, more than half of the Auxiliary members have been with the Auxiliary for 20+ years! The members who were able to attend the event were recognized for their commitment with an honorary pin noting their years of service. It was a very special treat to also welcome Michael Collopy Photography, world renowned photographer, who spoke about his portrait work of inspiring changemakers who are “Architects of Peace” such as Saint Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Dolores Huerta, Cesar Chavez, and many more.
All Smiles at the Annual Summer Picnic hosted by the Gatepath Auxiliary
Cathy Nessier, President, Gatepath Auxiliary
The Gatepath Auxiliary hosted its annual summer picnic at Coyote Point for more than 100 individuals with special needs and developmental disabilities in Gatepath’s adult program, Community Access. Co-chaired by Marianne Guttas and Betsy Grotte, the Auxiliary has been hosting this event for more than 20 years!
“We look forward to this event all year long,” said Marianne. Each participant was greeted with smiles from the Auxiliary members, a festive goody bag and enjoyed a variety of activities from bingo to volleyball.
Marianne and Betsy are grateful for the support of Auxiliary members who helped organize the event. The dedication to plan the event was well worth the effort. “It makes us happy to see everyone having a memorable time — smiling and having fun!” said Betsy.
Auxiliary members brought their husbands, children and grandchildren to help with the event, which included a barbecue lunch, root beer floats, games, a photo booth, temporary tattoos and dancing!
“I look forward to the picnic every year because I get to dance with my friends and eat good food,” said Nancy (AKA Princess Nancy), an attendee who participates in Gatepath’s adult program.
Coincidently, Nancy’s birthday was the same day as the picnic and she got to celebrate with endless servings of ice cream and socializing with her friends. Nancy said her favorite part of this year’s picnic was winning a friendly competition of ring toss.
If you’re interested in volunteering, or being a member of the Gatepath Auxiliary, please let us know by sending an email to email@example.com.
Being a Voice for People with Developmental Disabilities
By Sarah Verity, Gatepath Board Relations Manager
I was very proud to represent Gatepath at this year’s Legislative Affairs Conference run by the California Disability Services Association (CDSA), a statewide association representing nearly 100 community-based organizations that provide services to support and empower people with disabilities and their families. At the conference, providers from across California came together to discuss legislative matters that relate to our work and visited state legislators to express our collective concerns.
I had the opportunity to attend meetings in the offices of Assembly Members Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo) and Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), and Senators Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside). Overall, I felt the legislators were receptive to CDSA’s positions, which included the following points.
- Opposition to the governor’s budget proposal that reduces the annual number of service days for those with disabilities by four.
In 2009, the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) implemented a uniform holiday schedule in an effort to reduce state expenses during the recession. A court injunction blocked the uniform holiday schedule, but the injunction has since been lifted.
By way of example, this would mean that Gatepath would be required to close programs for four additional days per year, and the children and adults we serve would go four days without critical services. These forced closures seem particularly unnecessary given the State of California’s $6.1 billion surplus.
- Request a 4% systemwide increase in reimbursement rates to all community-based providers like Gatepath.
The reimbursement rates paid by the state have been frozen since 1998. While the cost to provide critical services to individuals with developmental disabilities continues to rise, providers have not received an increase in the real estate rates set by DDS. An increase of 4% would amount to approximately $130 million from the general fund and match the percentage increase proposed by the Governor’s Budget for state employees.
About a year ago, providers received some additional money as part of ABX2-1, and those funds allowed providers to give much needed raises to direct care staff. Unfortunately, with minimum wage on the rise, the increase is basically a wash. Additionally, ABX2-1 did nothing to address the rising costs associated with providing services, such as housing, gas, etc. DDS has engaged Burns & Associates to conduct a rate study to evaluate the reimbursement rates, but the study is not expected to be completed until 2020 at the earliest. An immediate increase of 4% would provide some much needed financial relief to providers in the interim.
Legislators were also encouraged to support Assembly Member Chris Holden’s (D-San Gabriel) budget request for $25 million in bridge funding to increase rates for providers facing rising labor, housing, leasing, and fuel costs until the comprehensive rate study is completed. There is consensus among providers across California that many will be forced to close without some relief on reimbursement rates.
- Ensure that assets realized from the closure of the developmental centers remain in the system.
The CDSA asked legislators to use funds from the sale or lease of the state developmental centers to develop integrated, community housing. At one time, the developmental centers housed 13,000 residents; today there are less than 650. It is no secret that California has an affordable housing crisis. These funds would go into a specific fund to develop housing for individuals with disabilities.
Also, as the developmental centers close and current residents move to community settings, there will be net savings in operations. In fiscal year 2018-2019, the estimated cost per resident is estimated to be over $1 million. The current average cost to provide services to an individual in the community for one year is $20,000. The average housing cost for individuals who have already moved out of a developmental center is between $75,000 and $300,000 depending on the residence type. These savings are currently earmarked for people with developmental disabilities and should be reinvested in the community services budget to foster program development and supplement inadequate reimbursement rates.
- Protect choice and preserve options.
The Lanterman Act is built on the principle that individuals have a choice when selecting their programs and choosing their providers. Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) requirements will necessitate that providers make program modifications by 2022. Today, California does not have an approved plan to meet the federal HCBS requirements. Providers need clarity on the changing federal rules so we can begin planning for any necessary changes by 2022.
Lawmakers were asked by the CDSA to ensure site-based day programs continue to be options for individuals who choose to attend these programs. Until alternative options are in place, fully funded, easily accessible, and have a proven track record, California should not consider any limitations to existing program options.
- Support proposal to improve employment outcomes.
Assembly Member Jim Frazier (D-Sacramento) has submitted a budget proposal to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities without limiting choice. This is a follow up to last year’s bill – AB 1607, which received unanimous legislative support before being vetoed by the Governor, who indicated it is a budgetary issue.
Frazier’s proposal would allow for individualized employment exploration and discovery to improve and increase community integrated employment (CIE) placements and aligns with the State Employment First Policy and the California Blueprint for Competitive Integrated Employment. The proposal also allows Work Activity Programs and Supported Employment Groups to design pathways to competitive integrated employment settings with individualized job discovery and skills training, consistent with individual choice.
Recently, the Assembly met to discuss the DDS budget. Assembly Member Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), seconded by Assembly Member Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), moved to reject the Governor’s proposal to re-implement the uniform holiday schedule. However, due to technical procedural rules, the item remains open until the May revise hearing. This adds an extra layer of difficulty for providers like Gatepath because we are preparing next year’s budget now.
As we approach our 100th anniversary in 2020, all of us at Gatepath understand the critical importance of being a voice for those we serve, and proactively working to secure a sustainable safety net of services for individuals with disabilities for the next 100 years.
Please join the effort by signing up for our advocacy action alert network at PledgeForInclusion.org and lend your voice.
March 9, 2017
Actor Patrick Dempsey Speaks about the Importance of Inclusion
and Community at Gatepath’s Power of Possibilities Event
Openly shares his story of growing up with a learning disability
Burlingame, CA —Award-winning actor Patrick Dempsey, who is best known for his role as a neurologist on the hit television show Grey’s Anatomy, was the guest speaker at Gatepath’s 10th annual Power of Possibilities event on March 8, 2018. As someone who was diagnosed with a learning disability at the age of 12, Dempsey has a personal connection to Gatepath’s mission of empowering people with special needs to achieve their potential. “We’re honored that Patrick Dempsey spoke at our event this year,” said Gatepath CEO Bryan Neider. “His personal perspective helps raise awareness about the importance of creating a culture of acceptance and inclusion in all aspects of life.”
In a conversation moderated by ABC TV news anchor Dion Lim, Dempsey shared how growing up with a learning disability shaped his perspective on life and helped him become a successful actor. “You never feel like you belong,” Dempsey said, “but out of that struggle, you find a unique gift, which is something you excel in. And that’s a gift that comes because you look at the world and see things differently.”
Dempsey also discussed the importance of giving back and paying it forward. “The reason for living,” he said, “is what we do for our communities.” Dempsey reflected on the value of Gatepath’s lifespan of services for people with special needs and developmental disabilities, from infants to seniors. “The work you’re doing here is remarkable,” he said, “and the success you’re having is due to the individuals and corporations that stand up and understand what it means to give back to the communities you’re all part of.”
The Power of Possibilities, which is co-hosted by the Gatepath Auxiliary, brings together likeminded community members to celebrate the achievements of those with developmental disabilities and to support Gatepath’s mission. “This is a truly wonderful event,” commented Gatepath Auxiliary President Cathy Nessier, “for everyone to come together to celebrate the inspirational accomplishments of the individuals and families served by Gatepath.”
In addition to the conversation with Dempsey, Gatepath presented Annett Guterres with the Neal Poppin Award, in recognition of her determination, character and achievement of personal and professional goals. Annett has exceled at her job in a group employment setting at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront hotel, and is now seeking an individual job placement. “In many ways Annett’s story is just beginning,” said Neider. “Being in a group setting was the perfect way for her to develop her skills and find out what she’s really interested in. We’re very excited for Annett as she starts the next phase of her career.”
In a video tribute, Clif Clark, general manager of San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront Hotel, spoke about the contributions of Annett and her Gatepath peers at the hotel. “Gatepath’s been a very important part of this hotel for a long time. Some of the Gatepath employees have been here for more than 20 years. They’re truly part of the Marriott family.” Neider added, “Businesses like the Marriott who partner with Gatepath are providing meaningful employment and opportunities for inclusion and independence.”
The 2018 Power of Possibilities event was made possible by title sponsor, Carole Middleton, and the following platinum sponsors: Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, Sharon and Joel Friedman, Gatepath Auxiliary, Goldman Sachs Gives, GoPro, Sara and James Jungroth, and Sutter Health, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center. Other sponsors included Bailard, Barulich Dugoni Law Group, Inc., Janice Berthold, Heffernan Insurance Brokers, Kathryn and Richard Breaux, Elaine and George Cohen, D’Elia Construction Inc., Electronic Arts, Karen and Todd Gemmer, Graybird Foundation, Linda and Richard Leao, Diane Christensen Mason and Charles H. Mason Jr., Katie and Bryan Neider, Norman S. Wright Mechanical Equipment, Oracle, Barbara and Paul Regan, Lilli Rey, and Wells Fargo.
Click HERE to view images from the event.
Photography by Andy Berry
Gatepath has been a cornerstone of our community for more than 97 years, providing support services to individuals with special needs and developmental disabilities in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Our mission is to empower people with special needs to achieve their full potential through innovative, inclusive programs and community partnerships. With educational, therapeutic, vocational, and family support services, we provide support to an individual throughout his or her lifetime. We collaborate with businesses, third-party providers, local nonprofits, and various other organizations to bring the highest quality services to the children, youth, and adults in our programs. Together, we are creating a world where people of all abilities are fully accepted, respected, and included in all aspects of life – in the classroom, in the workplace, and in our communities.
For more information, visit Gatepath.org. Our local online resource center is available at Smcfrc.org, where families can connect to invaluable resources and support services.
Contact: Julia Ballantyne, Gatepath