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RISE, Inc. -
“Resource for Interdependence
and Self-Empowerment”

By Carrie Switzer

Lisa Cantsee (left) & Helen Toney,
Direct Support Provider

Imagine a home where four women live as roommates in modest comfort. They range in age from 26 to 57; two of them don’t walk, two of them don’t talk. They are moderate-to-severely, developmentally disabled and require non-nursing care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

These women are your neighbors in Moab, and many people here see them out and about at grocery stores, the library, the pool and the park. One participates in Special Olympics, a dynamic culture of other adults with disabilities who live in Moab make up a community of their own within the greater Moab Community.

What they all have in common is that they receive services from Rise, Inc., a non-profit organization that contracts with the state to provide support programs for people with developmental disabilities. In Moab Rise serves four women in its Residential Program and 11 people in what is called Supported Living. The latter is a program offering assistance with shopping, housekeeping, banking, transportation and even supported employment to allow people with lesser, but still severe, disabilities to live in their own homes. There are over a dozen people in Moab who work for Rise and provide these services. When they are asked where they work, and respond, “I work for Rise,” staff is usually met with an inquisitive bewilderment.

Claudia Shields, Moab RISE Coordinator

“People in general don’t understand what we do here,” comments Moab Coordinator and Assistant Director Claudia Shields. “I’ve tried to educate the public, but there is sometimes a misunderstanding that this is assisted living or a home health service.”

Rise Founder and President Gerald Nebeker started the company in Provo, Utah in the early 1980s, and found the demand was so great services have grown to include an array of programs in four states: Utah, Arizona, Oregon and Washington.

“We offer such a wide variety of services that try to offer the best quality of life people can have,” Claudia said. “We help people with independence.”

Before services such as RISE began emerging, people with disabilities were routinely institutionalized and “told” where to go, what and when to eat, what to wear, Claudia explained. “Now they have choices,” she said. “That’s an important part of what we try to do.”

A lot of the assistance offered in the Residential Program deals with medical issues, such as assisting people with medications and equipment for bathing, exercising, even eating. Residential staff keep house and provide total care for their clients, and the relationships that form are often strong bonds of love.

“I love everything about them,” says Charlene Brown, a direct care provider who has worked for RISE’s Residential Program for three years. “They have a lot of insight into things we don’t because they see it from a different perspective. And they are really fun to do things with because of their reactions. They are so easy to please.”

Alice Walker (left) & Charlene Brown,
Direct Support Provider

Charlene regularly took two or more of “the ladies,” as staff collectively calls the residential clients, to the car show and other day fairs in Moab this past summer. RISE, Inc. leases a state-of-the-art van that enables staff and clients to be mobile.

Another staff member said she didn’t know what gratitude was until she met the four women she said she feels privileged to know.

“In this environment I have time to give a massage to someone whose physical pain is probably beyond anything I can imagine,” she said. “And after a few minutes of such miniscule effort, she’ll look up at me and say, ‘I love you.’ There really is no greater reward than that, because this lady wouldn’t say it if she didn’t mean it.”

Supported Living clients enjoy each other’s company as well as their service providers. They bowl regularly; cook and watch movies together; participate in Special Olympics activities such as swimming, golf and bocce; and make an annual trek to Salt Lake City for a three-day Quality of Life conference the local community helps finance through generous donations. Special Olympics is also largely funded by local donations, and countless volunteer hours from some of the very same people who support their clients for a living.

Claudia said the next logical expansion of RISE services in Moab would be in the area of assisted living for senior citizens. All programs are overseen by a host of regulatory agencies, including the State Department of Public Health, and adhere to high standards of safety, health, home maintenance and food services. Each direct care provider receives paid training prior to full employment, and monthly training on specific aspects of working with adults with disabilities.

More information may be obtained by calling the local RISE office at 259-4127, where volunteer and/or employment opportunities are available, or Provo’s toll free line at 800-257-9920.

Alice Walker (left) & Jolyne Lee,
Direct Care Professional
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