In Memory of Darlene Nanette Guest

Darlene Nanette Guest
July 27, 1966 - July 09, 2015

I just wanted to add a little history, so all that have become close with Darlene and Norm and Barbara understand how courageous and pioneering they were.

In 1992, before supported living services were an option for people in the East Bay. Norm help to start an organization called HOUSE Inc. with several other parents of young people with developmental disabilities. At that time, there was only one group home in all of the Tri-Valley area and San Ramon. It was a group home for men and the quality of services was very poor. I think Dar had lived in a group home previously in Stockton and had a very rough time. Norm and Barb had taken her out of that home and brought her to live back home with them. The Guests and the other families involved with HOUSE Inc had heard about supported living because there were two agencies in the East Bay (Serra Center and Las Trampas) that were piloting supported living by transitioning people they served from group homes and dormitories to apartments. HOUSE Inc decided they were going to focus on developing affordable housing opportunities and the people with disabilities would then receive supported living. The problem was that Regional Center of the East Bay, had not decided that they were going to fund supported living for anyone outside of the two pilot agencies.

Soon after forming HOUSE Inc, the organization was successful in getting enough funding from the cities of Pleasanton and Livermore to buy two two bedroom duplexes. With a mortgage to pay, HOUSE Inc needed to convince RCEB to expand SLS. I remember Norm and Lloyd Hansen getting up at a RCEB board meeting and making impassioned speeches to encourage RCEB to fund SLS. They were successful and soon my old agency the Arc Alameda County was completing the paperwork to become a supported living agency.

The next challenge for Dar was that RCEB had never funded SL services for a person who needed 24 hour support, and they were trying hard not fund Dar's support. One hurdle RCEB put out for Dar is that she needed to get the maximum number of IHSS hours before RCEB would fund the difference up to 24 hours. Coincidentally, my agency was hosting an informational evening for families about IHSS. The Alameda County Director of IHSS at the time Tom McCormick came to speak to the families. He met Dar and Norm and Barb at the event and we told him of her opportunity to live on her own and he ended up saying he would authorize the hours.

Finally RCEB agreed to supply the rest of the funding for Dar's supported living services. She moved in to the HOUSE Inc duplex in Livermore with a young couple that provided most of her support. That must have been Spring or Summer of 1993. Word got out quickly about Dar's new living situation and another future SL client Laura Long and her father asked to visit Dar to see how her supported living worked. Laura had a similar disability and support needs as Dar, and was living at the time in a group home in Antioch, miserable. Laura was very excited about Dar's living arrangement so when EBI started the next year Laura became one of our first clients. Laura did not have any trouble getting 24 hour support funding approved by RCEB.

Today 300-400 people with developmental disabilities receive supported living services from Regional Center of the East Bay. Many of whom are folks who need 24 hour support. Dar and her family were incredible pioneers!


Reaching Out to Students

Aubrey, a woman supported by EBI, was recently recognized by The Independent for her work with elementary school students in Pleasanton. To read the full article and learn how Aubrey helped teach children about expressing themselves and overcoming communication challenges, click here.

Happy 5th Anniversary CCT!

Happy 5th Anniversary California Community Transitions (CCT)! EBI’s CCT program, which supports individuals living in nursing facilities to transition back into the community, has had amazing growth and success over the last 5 years, and has had a huge impact in the lives of many. Keep up the good work!

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland Project SEARCH Wins Program of Excellence Award!

Lori Kotsonas, EBI's Director of Supported Employment Services & Patti Taggart, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland's Vice President of Ambulatory Services and Liaison to Project SEARCH, accepting the award at the Hospital Charitable Services Conference and Awards Banquet in Atlanta.

Lori Kotsonas, EBI’s Director of Supported Employment Services & Patti Taggart, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland’s Vice President of Ambulatory Services and Liaison to Project SEARCH, accepting the award at the Hospital Charitable Services Conference and Awards Banquet in Atlanta.

Congratulations UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland for winning a “Program of Excellence” award for Project SEARCH! Since its start at Children’s Hospital Oakland in 2008, Project SEARCH has dramatically raised the bar for employment of individuals with developmental disabilities. With at least an 80% job placement rate for each graduating class, its graduates are earning, on average, 80% above the Federal minimum wage and 65% of them receive health benefits through their employers. EBI is honored to be part of an exciting, productive partnership with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Congratulations on being recognized with this prestigious award, and thank you for the wonderful work you do! To learn more about the Jackson Healthcare Hospital Charitable Service Awards, click here! To learn more about Project SEARCH, click here!


Employment: Thinking Outside the Box

Meet Julie! Julie is a Community Living Assistant, where she supports an individual with a disability to participate fully in his community. She does wheelchair transfers, provides personal care, and assists with community access. What makes Julie unique is that she herself is an adult with a disability, currently receiving support services. To read Julie’s story, click here.

Thoughts and Images from EBI’s First Twenty Years

EBI is so grateful for all of the wonderful people who have supported us over these last 20 years. In celebration of our 20th Anniversary, we asked families and individuals to share their stories and photographs with us. We were very touched by the heartfelt responses. These thoughts and images were collected into a book, which was presented to EBI’s Executive Director in honor of this 20-year milestone. We also had a PDF version made, so we could share it with all of you! To view, please click here: Testimonial Book 2014.