text: accommodating the holidays image: people in socks with their feet by a fireplace

Accommodating the Holidays

Written by: Elizabeth Harney, Social Media Manager, Skils’kin

Accommodations. This is a word that people in the disability space know very well. However, accommodations are not reserved for only those with disabilities. We accommodate people all the time; when we leave olives off our husband’s half of the pizza, when we allow our early-bird coworker to take the morning shift, when we push the family gathering back a few hours so everybody can attend – we are accommodating and adapting even when we don’t realize it. This year, during a global pandemic, the holidays will certainly look different than ever before. The key to holiday success during a time of escalated stress and uncertainty will be accommodation. How exactly can we accommodate ourselves and the ones we love during the holidays this year?

For many, video calls have become the norm for socialization. A video call can make you feel connected to your loved ones. Video calls can be overwhelming for some, especially those with certain disabilities. Luckily, video chat isn’t the only physically distant option for socialization with the people you care about during the holidays. Consider alternative options, such as: leaving a gift at somebody’s door, sending a card or virtual note, or engaging through another form of communication, such as text message or email. Rather than adding extra stress, we can easily accommodate anyone by finding alternatives ways to connect with them.

“The best part about this year? You can always go back to the normal next year.”

You have been waiting for the holidays all year and maybe your tree has been up for months. You can’t wait to bake cookies and Zoom chat with your grandparents. How could your cousin, mom, aunt, or child not want to celebrate the holidays? Do they not love you or care about you? It’s understandable to feel frustrated if a friend or loved one tells you they want to skip celebrating this year. Between the pandemic, seasonal depression, and other personal life stressors, some may choose to opt out. While you may be eager to power through 2020 without losing the holidays, a small accommodation of providing grace and understanding for those who choose to skip celebrating is the best way you can be supportive of them.

If we have learned anything in 2020, it is about adapting. Maybe the holiday’s need to look a little different this year. Perhaps it’s time to start a new tradition. After all, somebody had to put the first tree in their home! New traditions offer you the chance to “hack the holidays” and circumvent stressors you may have experienced before. Sick of the financial burden? Look for alternatives to traditional gifts to eliminate the stressor all together. Consider baking with your household, volunteering at a soup kitchen, spending time outdoors, writing letters for people living in group homes, or simply enjoying a new movie as alternatives to gift-giving. Hate cleaning up the elaborate holiday meals? This might be the year for homemade personal pizzas, a warm cider, and cookies.  The best part about this year? You can always go back to the normal next year.

We are all responsible for evaluating our own individual risk levels. Those you love may choose to celebrate differently than you are personally comfortable with. If you are in need of an accommodation from your family to feel loved and safe during the holiday season, speak up. The holidays are about relationships, family, and celebration. While your loved ones may be disappointed to hear you will not attend a group gathering this year, advocating for yourself and what you need this year is an important act of self-care. It might not feel like it right now, but one day we will all be celebrating together and the pandemic holidays will be but a distant memory.

Nobody is helpless

Written by: Marty Orchard, Board Member, Skils’kin

The recent 2020 Skils’kin Board of Directors Annual Retreat may have been held virtually, but some uniquely impactful connections were made among the participants. Why? Because these weren’t the usual participants. This is the first in a series of blog pieces written by board members sharing their individual impressions and take-aways from this enlightening engagement.

The largest section of our agenda was entitled, “Return to the Core: Stories from those we serve” in which the Board heard directly from front line employees, who are in the trenches fulfilling our mission, and were able to ask questions of each.

While it’s difficult to narrow down the diverse array of perspectives and experiences that were shared with us, to focus on my biggest “A-HA! moment,” all I really had to do was to look at my notes and see the item that I circled prominently: learned helplessness. Director of Community Services, Leona Eubank, discussed in length how this idea has far reaching impacts from youth to adulthood.

“Essentially, learned helplessness is behavior exhibited after repeated negative experiences beyond a person’s control. For example, people who are discouraged with our political processes may not vote because they feel that nothing gets done.”

For a person with one or more disabilities, they may have been told repeatedly, possibly for many years, that they can’t do certain things and potentially may not be held accountable for their actions. Over a long period of time, with the default emphasis on the things that a person can’t do, it’s easy to see why that could become a defining characteristic of that person’s outlook. Furthermore, people who surround that person may also, at least to some degree, define their potential opportunities from a can’t perspective. Paradoxically, the individuals who have had the most influence on that mindset could be those who love and care for that person the most. Now couple that with fixed thinking in developmental and cultural environments that reinforce the behavior. How do you grow when you are always told what you can’t do instead of what you are capable of?

Skils’kin exists to disrupt learned helplessness by emphasizing what people can do. At the annual board meeting, I was amazed to hear several personal stories directly from Skils’kin staff and clients that illustrated people’s difficulty, and even resistance, to this positive disruption. What seems clear to me is that learned helplessness is a natural human tendency that we all experience in some way. Therefore, Skils’kin’s work to flip people’s cannot to can is both gargantuan and never ending.

But as we all know, hard work can improve lives and be profoundly rewarding.

Truly Living the Skils'kin Values

Truly Living the Skils’kin Values

Written by: Steve McBride, Vice President of Operations, Skils’kin

Back in May, Gayle Lawrence, VP of HR, sent the leadership team an article about the 10 signs of someone with integrity. One point in particular stood out to me and reminded me of the one of the first lessons I learned at Skils’kin.


My first month at Skils’kin, I was getting to know the organization and the people, wrapping my head around the operation, and asking a lot of questions. During this time, I found out that my department would take the errant change, dollar bills, and occasional $5 from the laundry and divvy it up to feed the vending machine. I didn’t think that only some of the team should benefit from this; wouldn’t it be a better idea to buy a pizza for the team and share the treasure? Win-win right? I’m the new guy and we are already having pizza! I went to see our CFO, Nicolle Laporte, to run my idea by her. I will never forget that look Nicolle gave me, it was the “Really, Steve?” look. Nicolle said it wasn’t our money and I should probably talk to Brian, our CEO. I was genuinely taken back. I thought it was lost money and there was no way we would find the owners of it. I am the guy who returns wallets found on the street, the guy who will return the dollar that someone dropped at the checkout line at the grocery store. Am I wrong about buying my team a pizza?

So, I went to see Brian and he said the same thing. He pointed to our values and said, “This is who we are.” He asked me to contact the other company and plan to get them their money back. I remember the feeling I had in my stomach. It was unsettled, I felt anxious, and it was almost like the floor came out from under me. Who was I? I have integrity, right?

My first inclination was that I could use this opportunity to solidify my budding relationship with the Contracts Manager at the other company, somebody who clearly wanted to give our business to others. So that’s what I did. It opened the door quickly to having deeper conversations around who Skils’kin is and why they want to do business with us. I could see the path to keeping our business. I knew we could maneuverer in way that they would truly see our value; but that feeling in my stomach wouldn’t go away.

“It is very important to try, but it is also important to surround yourself with people who actually have integrity, because you will be inspired and influenced by them.”

When I got home and told my wife about what happened, she gave me the same look as Nicolle, the “Really, Steve?” look. It was immediately clear to her that it wasn’t our money, duh.  I called my Dad, same thing. I called one of my mentors and – you guessed it! Same answer. At this point, I started to realize something that shifted my thinking forever. The article says it, too. You have integrity or you don’t. There is no halfway, ¾ way, 9/10ths way in. It’s all or nothing. I chose to change that day. I was all in. Do I falter sometimes when looking at these ten elements in the article? Yes. But, I will always strive to be all in. I have used this story many times when describing integrity. It was a life changing moment.

I love that our company lives our values. I’m certain I have never worked at an organization that tries as hard as we do. That is succeeding as much as we do. As we evolve, so do companies, so does the world. I am happy to say Skils’kin, Nicolle, and Brian helped me evolve that day. Learning from and working with this team has been one of the best things in my life. I get to show up as the best version of me. 100% me: quirky, a dreamer, a manifestor, a person who wants to change the world. I believe we are all helping each other be our best selves, our authentic selves.

Remembering Harry Golden: A Tribute Letter

Written by: Connie Fernandez, Community Inclusion Specialist, Skils’kin

I was Harry’s Community Inclusion Specialist for almost six years. Harry had an infectious smile and laugh and kind blue eyes, too. Harry loved to wear a baseball hat in the aummer and a knitted hat in the qinter. When Harry was feeling shy around others, he would try to hide under the hats. Harry used to be the plus one for Day Out for the Blind Dance with another Community Inclusion Client, this was when I first got Harry on my caseload. He loved the coffee and food and The Ladies would take him around the dance floor in his wheelchair. Harry would hide his face under his eyes, but The Ladies loved him and that made Harry smile.

Harry and I went to the Spokane Valley Senior Center on Friday mornings. Harry loved watching the guys play pool. He also loved the table tennis matches as well. Harry would wave his hand and say big “Hello” to everyone he saw. Harry had a love for buses and would get super excited when he would see a bus. He would always say the bus was “empty” even if it was full of children. Harry would ask what a person was doing all day and than answer them with the word “nothing”. Harry was in a wheelchair, but I was able to transfer him to and from the vehicle and Harry would always touch my face when I was putting the seat belt on him. When we went to Kendall Yards to Spark Community Center, Harry would wave his hand and say hello to all the ladies coming out of the yoga class on our way to Spark.

Harry went on a Durham Bus Ride three or four years back, it was a group tour with the Community Inclusion Team. Harry loved that bus ride! He laughed and pointed and smiled the whole time. Harry and I would laugh all the time wherever we went. Harry would say that people were “late” picking him up and also that he “stayed up till midnight” and that was why he was tired. He did not truly stay up that late, he liked to tell everyone that he did.

When Harry’s birthday came around on December 1st, we would go get a doughnut or cupcake during our outing. Harry loved this and of course I made sure the cupcake was cut up into little pieces and that he had non-caffeinated coffee too, warm, not hot. If I could not see Harry during the week of his Birthday (if he was out due to weather) I would drop by his residence and give him his sweets.

When we had to stay home and work remotely due to the coronavirus, I would call Harry every week. Staff said that Harry would get emotional when he heard my voice on the phone. Harry could be difficult to understand for most and had some words he would say all the time. I was able to understand his words and sentences after being with him for so many years. I was thankful to see Harry and hold his hand before he passed and say my goodbyes. I did not care that I was on vacation at the time and asked Merry Glen Staff to keep me posted. When I received the call from  Merry Glen to come see Harry as he was in Hospice care, I went immediately. The Staff at Merry Glen were so good to Harry and he had a good life there.

I am honored to have known Harry Golden and to be part of his life. I will never forget Harry. Harry made an enormous impact on my life and made me and everyone that knew him a better version of themselves, just through his kindness and big heart. Harry will always carry a special place in my heart.

Care Providers: The Guardians of our Independence

Written by: Jason Peterson, Front Desk Receptionist, Skils’kin

I sit in amazement when friends or coworkers tell the stories of their whirlwind morning routines.  Unencumbered movement fascinates me.  The idea that in a matter of minutes, someone could move through their environment with relative ease, while wiping the sleep from their eyes, tucking some coffee grounds in their cheek, and navigate through their bathroom routine like an automated car wash on overdrive, and do it all with relatively no recollection of the steps that got them to work or class, is downright mesmerizing!

Anyone with a physical disability, myself included, will tell you, “That’s the stuff I fantasize about!”  The reality for us is vastly different.  In most cases, our morning begins with our care providers arriving to work.  If for any reason that person is late or, in the worst-case scenario, cannot arrive at all, the rest of our day is at best in limbo and at worst rendered completely moot.

The true value of the care provider in the lives of the people they care for cannot be overstated.  Not unlike any ability you possess, disability cannot be measured with a “Yes” or “No.”  There are as many degrees and variations of disabilities as there are the people that have them.  Correspondingly, the tasks one care provider will assist an individual with are completely different from those of another person.  The important thing for the caregiver and outsiders to remember is, there is no “small” task.  Any task performed that helps a person maintain their independence and gives them the ability to achieve their goals is invaluable for that person.

To me, and to several other profoundly disabled people I know, our care providers and the ability to have them is an absolute necessity for living independently.  Our caregivers become extensions of ourselves during the hours they work with us.  Still, for others, a care provider’s job may be profound in other ways.  The person caring for a young boy with Autism in his fourth-grade class could act as his only conduit for communication with his classmates.  The 22-year-old college student that delivers Meals on Wheels before his classes could likely be the only social interaction an 80-year-old retired staff Sgt. has all week.  All the truly great people that give their working lives or small segments of their free time to the hands-on care of others know the true benefits of their efforts.

Most days, my day starts pretty early, usually around 6 AM.  A little later during the weekends, but not by much.  My morning start early out of pure necessity.  To get through my full routine is at best a four to five hour procedure.  During this time, my caregiver is helping me with both personal care and household duties.  Keep in mind, all of the activity I just described has to happen every day, just to make leaving the house to pursue “living” a possibility.  Sharing the haul of my life, right now, I have two unbelievable care providers, neither of which would I give up or replace for any dollar amount.

Do me a favor – the next time you are in a grocery store, and you see someone wearing scrubs or a healthcare badge, stop and strike up a conversation.  If you learn they are doing the grocery shopping for their client, take a moment and thank them.  People that provide personal care for the betterment and security of the elderly and disabled may not be the soldiers protecting your freedom.  But they are heroes for their clients that work hard every day to safeguard their client’s independence.

That’s all for now, friends.

Here I sit, there you stand.

Written by: Jason Peterson, Front Desk Receptionist, Skils’kin

At first glance, this is a relatively simple statement, one of proximity. For some people, however, this simple statement describes two places that are worlds apart. In my heart, I am not one of those people. I have always believed that the only difference between my existence and anyone else’s, is that I make my way in the world from a sitting position.

Rather than pointing out the similarities we all share, I’m going to reverse engineer my perspective to shed light on the three obstacles that make it difficult for people with and without disabilities to see each other as equals. It’s basic human nature as we grow from children through adolescence that propels us across an invisible threshold into adulthood. This white-knuckle ride is not for the faint of heart. While zits rise and fall like tectonic plates and hair springs up like crabgrass, our young minds wrestle with the thoughts and feelings that will become the foundation blocks of who we are for the rest of our lives. Having a disability does not insulate you from the very same struggles and milestones as those of our non-disabled counterparts, nor does it mitigate any possible frustration or pain experienced during the pursuit of the very same. More often than not however, the disability adds an additional level of complexity to the overall journey.


The first obstacle is perspective. Perspective is a bit of a double edge sword. By that I mean, especially for someone with a disability, there are two overall viewpoints in play. First, the perspective of the outside world looking in. This group includes family, friends, and society at large. Second, “my” perspective, or another way to put this, is the perspective someone has about themselves, the internal looking out. In my experience, anyone with a lifelong disability is awfully familiar with the first type of perspective shortsightedness. It is common for those that love and care for us to do whatever they can to alleviate or minimize struggles we face on a day-to-day basis. You will see things such as: your auntie, while serving you dinner, cuts up your food. Your best friend, while handing you a soda, opens it for you, without being asked. These types of people do these things for us not because we can’t do them ourselves, but in most cases, because these tasks look difficult when we do them ourselves.

I say this with total love and admiration, not only for the organization, but also for all of the people that are the lifeblood of that organization. I was a Shriner’s Kid. While I cannot put a value on each individual stay, I know without a doubt, my independence today, is a direct result of the summer I spent as a therapy inpatient working with my Physical Therapist, Jerry White. At any time prior to that summer, you could have asked any of my friends or family what they saw for me after graduation. The resounding answer would have been, living at home with mom. Sadly, that probably would have been my answer as well. In the course of three and a half months and gallons of sweat and tears, Jerry completely changed my internal perspective by opening my eyes and my mind to a world where I was capable of doing more than I ever thought I could. My future freedom was in the palm of my hand. I started that summer a little fat kid in a wheelchair that couldn’t do much for himself. I went home at the end of the summer, still a little fat kid, still in a wheelchair, but with direction, purpose, and drive for my future.


The second obstacle is passing value-based judgments, that is when somebody sees a person with a disability as something broken. I call these people “value-judges.” Sadly, this happens quite often within the disabled community; typically, this occurs with no malice or overt pain intended by the value-judge. In much the same way as perspective, value judgments are perpetrated both internally and externally. Through no fault of our own, people with disabilities may move slower, talk slower, think slower, or generally have more difficulty accomplishing tasks of any kind. The most unnerving attribute of the value-judge is that they can be the nicest person in the world otherwise. This behavior and way of thinking is more insidious than overt bullying because the disabled person can begin to internalize these ideas and in turn begin to believe that having a disability makes their life defective in some way.

In my 44 years of life, sadly, I am all too familiar with the value-judge’s manner of thinking. On a very regular basis, people assume that being in a power chair also means I have cognitive disabilities as well. Throughout my life I have had several friends both in manual and electric wheelchairs, and almost without fail, those of us in the power chairs, will be treated as though we are cognitively impaired by unenlightened newcomers. Conversely, however, the same automatic assumption is very rarely made for individuals in manual chairs. Additionally, the value-judge is usually overly empathetic. On one occasion, I was at the grocery store when a complete stranger walked up to me and offered to purchase my groceries. This stranger said to me, “Excuse me sir, I know your life must be hard because of your wheelchair and I would like to purchase what is in your basket for you.” Inside, I immediately bristled. Outside, I held it together and politely declined his offer. On another occasion, while sitting on the sidewalk waiting for my para-transit pick up, an older couple walked by me, and I heard the lady say to her husband, “Isn’t that sad, a blind man in a power chair.” What?  It may be worth mentioning that I was wearing dark sunglasses that day. While I did find the comment to be funny, this assumption is indubitably harmful. When in the presence of the value-judge, you can’t help but to feel more disabled than you actually are.


Finally, we reach the third obstacle. This one is also a bit of a soapbox issue for me. Lowered expectations. While I don’t have children yet, I am fully aware of the natural inclination of loving families to feel let down when first learning their child has a disability. This is then followed by the innate fear of putting too much pressure and expectations on their disabled child. It is true. Your son has cerebral palsy and will probably never play school sports or ride a bike in the traditional sense. Your daughter has Down Syndrome and may never be a neurosurgeon or join the military. Being diagnosed with a disability does not end expectations; it changes expectations. By lowering expectations to alleviate struggle, the child with a disability is also robbed of opportunities to develop self-worth. Confidence and self-worth are the direct result of experiencing struggle. Struggle leads to achievement and achievement leads pride in one’s self. How are we to expect more for ourselves if more is not expected from us?

The need for fair expectations is especially important where employment is concerned. For many disabled employees, myself included, arriving to work each day is the last link in a complex chain of events that must occur for us to claim our peace of the wage earner’s pie. The reality is a large majority of people with disabilities depend on care providers, medications, various therapies, and a plethora of medical professionals to help maintain our daily lives. The vast majority of these needs are not covered by job offered medical plans. Those of us that have the ability and choose to work, are forced to maintain the delicate balance between gross monthly earnings & hours worked and staying eligible for Medicaid/Medicare. Too often it is assumed that people with disabilities choose not to work because they don’t want to. While this may be true for some, it is certainly not true for all.

I sincerely hope I have successfully dispelled possible “us” and “them” ideas where people with disabilities are concerned. Life is a continuum with varying degrees of ability. Like the aperture of a camera lets in more or less light based on size, think of your perspective as the aperture of your heart and mind; keep your perspective on those around you wide open so you do not miss any light. Never be afraid to expect greatness from someone that is different from you. The path to success might be different from the one you would have chosen, but those differences may also provide crucial opportunities for learning something new. At the end of the day, a closed mind is the biggest disability of them all.

5 Ways to Ace Any Interview

Written by: Elizabeth Harney, Social Media Manager, Skils’kin


An eager Front Desk Agent in a big-chain hotel in town, I found myself wanting more. Seeking a challenge and a career, I began applying for positions just outside my skill set. That’s when I saw it – Human Resources Coordinator at Skils’kin. While I knew my resume wasn’t necessarily the most competitive for the role, I couldn’t stop thinking about my future at Skils’kin.  The next day, I was over the moon to accept an interview offer. Did I interview perfectly? No. Did I know all the answers? Absolutely not. Did I think I would get the job offer, a mere 2 hours after I walked out of the conference room? No.

At the time, I didn’t know why they offered me the job. In my next almost two years as a Human Resources Coordinator, I reviewed countless resumes and cover letters, met job seekers, and spent entire weeks running interviews. That’s when I finally learned why my manager gave me a chance after my interview.

1. Be your authentic self

When the stress of the job hunt has you thinking: “I’ll take any job,” it’s time to take a step back. You will likely spend more time at work than you do at home. When you enter your interview, don’t pretend to be what you think the company wants. Show the employer who you are and what you are passionate about. Consider if this company is a place you can find happiness in your work. A successful job placement goes both ways.

2. Don’t be afraid of your weaknesses

Towards the end of my interview at Skils’kin, the hiring manager told me he was going to read out a list of fifteen HR related acronyms and I would tell him what they meant. I didn’t even get half of them right. Instead of completely giving up hope, I admitted: “I know I didn’t do very well on these, but I promise I am a very quick learner and I will learn them all.” I acknowledged my weakness and made a commitment to improve. A commitment to growth and learning goes a long way for hiring managers.

3. Know your long-term goals

It’s okay if you don’t know what exactly you want to do, but you need to know how you’re going to get there. Tell the interviewer exactly what skills you want to grow and develop. Tell them what you want in a career. You don’t need to know which specific job you want in five or ten years, but you do need to know what you want to work on.

4. Research the company

As a former recruiter, I can’t stress this enough. There is nothing more disappointing than asking a candidate their opinions about the company, for them to say they don’t really know what we do. Why would I hire you if you don’t care about our company?

Do your research. Check Facebook. Check LinkedIn. Peek at the hiring manager/recruiter’s LinkedIn. Look for YouTube Videos about the company. Check Glassdoor. Know their mission, their values, and what services they offer.

5. Hype yourself up

We all get nervous before an interview. It is easy to give into the feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. Instead of allowing it to consume you, I challenge you to hype yourself up. Listen to loud music. Search for motivating videos online. Jump up and down. Look in the mirror and say out loud all the things that make you amazing. Tell yourself they would be lucky to hire you, that you are smart, that you are capable.

Person holding a compass in their hand, Skils'kin logo in top left

Following Our True North Despite COVID-19

Author: Mary Stevenson, VP of State Programs, Skils’kin

When COVID-19 hit and the governor declared a state of emergency, we found ourselves facing something we had never encountered before. Despite my over 15 years in the social service profession, and the combined centuries of experiences of my team, we found ourselves looking at a challenge that none of us had faced ever before.

As we started to learn more about the virus and the level of social distancing it would take to slow the spread, so many thoughts ran through my mind; what would the immediate impact be and what are the long-lasting implications? Information was changing minute to minute and instantaneous adaptation was needed. The initial thoughts centered around how to provide the highest quality services while keeping everyone safe. How can we maintain the relationships we have with those we serve, continue their progress toward real and meaningful goals, and how do we help our now deemed essential workers in the community and assure they had supports to maintain employment? We planned out several options; no longer providing services was never an option, nor was it discussed. We soon learned this was not the approach every provider took, in fact, several agencies stopped providing services immediately and some are still closed today.

When I announced to my team that we were going fully remote, effective immediately, I could see on their faces they realized the depth of the situation. Every person on the team went home and started contacting clients and informing them that our doors at our physical address would be closed. We would be supporting them with remote services, but our dedication and the support we provide to them would not waiver. We assured them we are there for them and in this together with them. We confirmed that we would continue working on goals and have regular contact. Our commitment to serve meant a great deal to each of them.

In the same way, my thoughts swirled around what the evolution of our services were about to undergo to meet the new needs. I saw those around me focus on that same goal. The Leadership team at Skils’kin was not slowing down services, instead we focused on continued growth and opportunity. We are bound to the mission in such a way that when this disaster struck, it was a muscle memory response to adapt and serve. This group of people are at Skils’kin because of that belief.

It is not every day that you get the opportunity to know what you are genuinely made of.
It is not every day that you find out how dedicated your team truly is to the mission.
It is not every day that you find out what is truly at the center of your organization. 

The state and federal funding partners did not immediately issue guidance on how services were to be delivered. Even without knowing how we were moving forward, we were still all driven to continue following the mission. The mission is who we are, and nothing, not even a global pandemic could change who we are at our core, nor could it change our grit. In this moment, I realized how deep our commitment lives and that it is our true north. Without pause or hesitation, we all knew we would find solutions because our “why” drives us. We have been building our plane while in flight. We empowered our employment team to find ways to adapt services as they focused on serving their clients to include investing in technology that would make remote services accessible.

Dedication isn’t just in our employees, but our clients as well. Clients are working in health care, grocery stores, laundry facilities, and providing essential services on our military bases; they never faltered in their commitment to their employment. Employment is powerful. Employment is a connection to our community.

Now, a little over 90 days later, we have rolled out an “In It to Win It” client employment development program that elevates our services to the next level. It is now the cornerstone of our training and job readiness program. We are implementing an individual goal-centered curriculum as a tool for job readiness with a focus on essential worker skills for those wanting to work during the pandemic and support their communities. This program is built with the individual client in mind with a fully tailored curriculum for each individual we serve. This is just the beginning.

We see the possibilities that remote services brings and we realize we are going to need to utilize this format for some time to varying degrees. We will not tread water and wait for the storm to pass. We will continue to innovate and collaborate to drive our services and capabilities even further. We will continue to adapt and provide the highest quality supports and services.

Over the next several months, as our community rebuilds and reopens, it will be the dedicated employees and businesses that will lead to recovery. After the 2008 recession, it was employment services that were matched opportunities from the communities with valued, talented employees and helped facilitate the turnaround in local economies. Today, we are committed to finding those opportunities for the people we serve and supporting them to find their “why.”

Now I know. Now I know who I am, who my team is, who Skils’kin is, and what our shared true north is. You may think you know who you are and what you stand for; when you are ultimately tested and you do not bend, you do not waiver, then you genuinely know. It is humbling. It is life-affirming. It is the gift of insight.

We are Skils’kin. We know our true north. We understand the value of work.

We have been here for 50 years and we are poised to remain a cornerstone for many more to come.

Accounting Solutions for Supported Living Providers by Paragon

Accounting Solutions for Supported Living Providers by Paragon

History of Residential Care Specialization

Paragon staff have a long history of serving the residential care industry. We specialize in back office accounting solutions for supported living providers, skilled nursing, adult family homes, and other residential locations. We partner with numerous providers that serve clients in these types of settings.

Throughout the United States, Paragon works with providers of supported living programs regardless of location. We understand the need for accurate and timely reporting, individual financial plan tracking, shared expense reconciliations, eligibility reviews, and other processes specific to these populations.

Robust Systems and Processes

Paragon utilizes specialized accounting and case management software that is specifically customized for our back-end services, allowing us to implement collective bank accounts and enhance the client experience. Our system has substantial reporting capabilities that help us track spending and shared housing expenses, and report on activity for each client individually, grouped by housing units and program level. The system also allows for tracking of case notes, contact information, and a full suite of demographic and diagnostic data.

We have also implemented a fully electronic document retention system. This system allows us to capture images for all bills, receipts and other client-related documents, which are then fully searchable and routed to the appropriate staff on our team. This system is secure and backed up regularly.

Trust and Accountability

Paragon’s accounting solutions for supported living providers furnish these benefits:

  • Reduced financial risk, oversight, responsibilities, and costs.
  • Direct communication and reporting to Social Security and State agencies for annual reviews, accounting, audits, and benefit renewals.
  • Full assistance with Individual Financial Plan (IFP) creation and modification.
  • Prompt payment of invoices, distribution of budgeted funds, and as-needed expenditure requests with monthly transactional reporting.
  • Use of pre-paid VISA® debit cards with a full suite of administrative tools that include security alerts, real-time transaction details, and card history.
  • Utilization of a specialized accounting and reporting software to schedule, transact, and track all client income and disbursements.
  • Paperless Scanning Technology

Power in Partnership

We focus on what we do best: excellence in managing the finances of your clients. Partnering with Paragon enables you to focus on what you do best: excellence in supporting the individuals in your care to pursue an enriched life.

A Paragon solution provides the best support possible. We reduce your responsibility for client financial management and provide an additional layer of control and accountability. Choosing Paragon as your partner will provide considerable peace of mind, minimize in-house financial responsibilities, and provide significant financial benefit with a direct positive impact to your organization’s bottom line.

Pre-paid VISA® Debit Card

We work with supported living providers to minimize or eliminate the handling of checks and cash in homes. The use of our pre-paid debit card reduces the risk of handling cash and allows for more detailed reporting of transactions, facilitating painless account reconciliation.

We load our pre-paid VISA® debit cards with budgeted weekly/monthly personal spending (groceries, hygiene, recreation, personal needs), enabling your teams to assist your clients in making purchases wherever VISA® is accepted, including online.

Our pre-paid VISA® debit cards are isolated from your clients’ main accounts, and will only be able to access funds that are specifically loaded to the card.

We provide your teams with a full suite of administrative tools, including security alerts, the ability to view real-time full transaction details, card history, and the ability to report lost cards and order replacements. We even have the capacity to provide instant issue cards to avoid any delays if a pre-paid card is lost or damaged.

Providing Outstanding Care

These systems help us to perform our services in the highest quality manner with considerable efficiency, allowing us to provide significant financial benefit to your organization’s bottom-line while providing for better segregation of duties and internal controls. This in turn gives your teams more freedom to focus on providing outstanding care.

We look forward to discussing your needs to see how our accounting solutions can help improve your service levels and cost structure. Please call or email Mark London, Vice President of Marketing at (509) 319-1419 or by email at mlondon@skils-kin.org.

Environmental Cleaning & Disinfectant Services

Environmental Cleaning & Disinfectant Services

New Service Offering

In light of COVID-19, Skils’kin Commercial Services is offering environmental cleaning and disinfectant services for non-healthcare facilities. Organizations such as schools, offices, daycare centers, businesses, community centers, and public municipalities that have either been exposed or potentially exposed to COVID-19 are eligible for this service.


Commercial Services has implemented a comprehensive protocol based on CDC guidelines for deep cleaning & sanitization to combat against the COVID-19 virus.

Vertical and horizontal nonporous surfaces:

  • Any surface vertical or horizontal that comes in contact with building occupants will be addressed.
  • Visibly dirty surfaces will be cleaned using detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Once surfaces are adequately clean surfaces will be wiped down using Microban Medi-Clean commercial disinfectant. MSDS sheets provided.
  • Care is to be taken not to shake loose content in the environmental space; this will minimize the possibility of dispersing virus though the air.

Vertical and horizontal porous surfaces:

  • Surfaces covered by a porous fabric such as but not limited to carpet, cubicle walls, chairs and window covering.
  • All porous surfaces will be pre-vacuumed with true EPA rated HEPA vacuum machines suitable for asbestos and mold remediation standards.
  • All porous surfaces will be treated with Microban Medi-Clean commercial disinfectant. MSDS sheets provided.
  • Care is to be taken not to shake loose content in the environmental space; this willminimize the possibility of dispersing virus though the air.

Personal Protective Equipment

We take every precaution to insulate our cleaning staff from environmental hazards:

  • Cleaning staff will be equipped with disposable gloves and suits for all tasks in the cleaning process.
  • PPE will be compatible with disinfectant products used.
  • Additional PPE may be required based on environment and products being used.
  • Gloves and suits will be removed carefully to avoid possible contamination of the wearer and surrounding environment.
  • Hands will be cleaned immediately following removal of PPE.

Cleaning and Disinfectant Services Rates

Application of disinfectant via airless sprayer and or ULV fogging device:

  • Price $.10 per square foot of building space.
  • Minimum charge $275.00.

Note This option does not follow CDC recommendations for environmental cleaning and disinfection.

Environmental cleaning and disinfection in accordance with environmental cleaning and disinfection protocol for Coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • Hourly rate for 2 persons including disinfectant, cleaning equipment, and personal protective equipment.
  • Rate based on square feet of building area, $.47 per sq. ft. $550.00 minimum.
  • Rate for prevailing wage contracts based on bldg square footage. $.52 per sq ft. $550.00 minimum.

Note This option complies with recommendations for environmental cleaning and disinfection set forth by the U.S. Center for Disease Control.

To Schedule an Estimate

Our environmental cleaning and disinfectant services team looks forward to discussing your needs. Please call or email CS Operations Manager, Nichole Garcia.

(509) 326.6760 ext. 2665