FUN FACTS: Did you know?

Heather Smith - Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas comes and goes every year, but there are many interesting facts about Christmas that we may never take the time to learn about during the holiday season. For instance did you know that 34-36 million trees are produced each year to keep up with the demands of Christmas. Many of us have lived to celebrate many Christmas Holiday's and therefore believe that they already know everything there is to know about Christmas.

15 Fun Facts about Christmas

  • The Christmas tree was first introduced by Queen Victoria in 1846.
  • The word Christmas is Old English and comes from the terms Christ's Mass.
  • Franklin Pierce is the first president to decorate the white house Christmas tree.
  • Electric lights Christmas trees were first used in 1895.

  • The movie "It's a Wonderful Life" appears on TV more often than any other holiday movie.
  • The most famous Christmas ballet is "The Nutcracker".
  • The song "Jingle Bells" was first written for Thanksgiving but become popular around Christmas time.
  • You would receive a total of 364 presents if you were to receive every gift listed on the "The Twelve Days of Christmas" song.
  • Do not eat a Holly berry, they are poisonous.
  • Alabama was the first state to recognize the Christmas holiday.

  • It wasn't until 1870 that Christmas became a national holiday in America.
  • Candy canes were originally white straight sticks of sugar used to decorate a tree.
  • Many of the needless, pine nuts and pine cones found on Christmas trees are actually edible.
  • In the United States alone, Visa cards are used an average of 5,500 a minute during the holiday season.
  • Each year over 3 billion Christmas cards are sent out in the United States. 



BIG MOVES: Plan to Boost Disability Employment

Heather Smith - Monday, December 12, 2011

The Obama wants to use the power of the federal pocketbook to dramatically increase hiring of people with disabilities.  Under a proposed rule announced recently by officials at the U.S. Department of Labor, the government would set a goal that at least 7% of workers employed by most federal contractors must be individuals with disabilities.

Officials and supporters are hailing the effort as one of the most significant civil rights developments since the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.  The impact of this development could be significant. Federal contractors and subcontractors account for nearly a quarter of the American workforce and take in $700 billion in contracts.

Since the 1970s, federal law has required government contractors to use affirmative action efforts to include people with disabilities in their workforce. But, without any measurable goals, the law required nothing more than a reasonable effort.  The proposal would change that by setting clear standards. Federal contractors would be asked to ensure that at least 7% of workers in every job group within their company are people with disabilities.

For nearly 40 years, the rules have said that contractors simply need to make a reasonable effort to recruit and hire people with disabilities. Clearly, that’s not working. This proposal would define specific goals, require real accountability and provide the clearest possible guidance for employers seeking to comply with the law.

As of November, the Department of Labor said that Americans with disabilities faced a 13% unemployment rate and almost 80% were out of the labor force entirely.

The Obama administration’s plan would not establish a quota, but would call for increased data collection and require annual self-reviews, among other efforts, to encourage employers to meet hiring goals.

The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on Friday and is up for public comment through Feb. 7.

Highlights of the proposed rule include:

  • Goals: Establish, for the first time, a single, national utilization goal for individuals with disabilities. Federal contractors and subcontractors would be required to set a hiring goal of having 7 percent of their employees be workers with disabilities in each job group of the contractors’ workforce.
  • Data Collection: Improve collection of data on employment of people with disabilities by modifying the invitation for workers to self-identify by requiring that contractors invite all applicants to voluntarily self-identify as an “individual with a disability” at the pre-offer stage of the hiring process. Contractors also will be required to invite post-offer voluntary self-identification and to survey all employees annually in order to invite their self-identification in an anonymous manner.
  • Record-Keeping: Require that contractors maintain records on the number of individuals with disabilities applying for positions and the number of individuals with disabilities hired.
  • Accommodation Requests: Require, for the first time, that contractors develop and implement written procedures for processing requests for reasonable accommodation.
  • Outreach: Require that contractors engage in a minimum of three specific types of outreach and recruitment efforts to recruit individuals with disabilities.
  • Job Listings: Require that contractors list job openings with One-Stop Career Centers or other appropriate employment delivery systems.
  • Annual Reviews: Require previously recommended steps contractors must take to review their personnel processes, as well as their physical and mental job qualifications.
  • ADAAA Updates: Incorporate updates made necessary by the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008.

To read the proposed rule or submit a comment, please visit the federal rule making portal at All comments must be received by Feb. 7, 2012.




Remembering Pearl Harbor 70 years later!

Heather Smith - Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Seventy years ago, the attacks on Pearl Harbor shook the United States to our core. The events of that day changed our country forever. But like every other time in our history before and after December 7, 1941, we resolved to become a better, stronger nation. The example of the USS Nevada epitomizes that resiliency as well as any. While in the port of Oahu, this battleship was hit by several bombs and a torpedo, and 60 Americans died; yet less than a year later the battleship returned to service. Today we honor the living Pearl Harbor veterans for their courage and sacrifice. We also remember the nearly 2,400 Americans who lost their lives on that infamous day and the hundreds of thousands who made the ultimate sacrifice throughout World War II. These service members were true heroes who set fine examples for the men and women who protect our freedoms today around the world, and we shall never forget their courage.

CRI is committed to helping our communities' Veterans through unfamiliar processes and supporting any endeavors they wish to take on with resources referrals. 

What is the Veterans Outreach Program?

This program is designed to assist all Veterans, young and old, with disabilities and without, from all eras and branches of the US military.  The Veterans Outreach Program gives Veterans options within their communities as well as provides them guidance through the different obstacles that they may face as a result of their call to duty.  

How will CRI assist Veterans?

In November 2010, CRI hired U.S. Army Veteran, Matt Griffith, as our Veterans Outreach Coordinator. Matt served in the Army from 2005 - 2010 as an Army Ranger. As a recent Veteran, Matt is very familiar with the confusing and frustrating transition from military to civilian life that Veterans face. Since his start at CRI, Matt has been making contacts with Veteran Administration Agencies and researching resources available to all U.S. Veterans and their families.

For information regarding CRI's Veterans Outreach Program - click here!



Clooney Flick Draws Oscar Buzz or Criticism???

Heather Smith - Friday, December 02, 2011

George Clooney’s new film “The Descendants” is getting some major Oscar buzz however is it for all the right reasons?  Doesn't seem that way, thats not why disability advocates are talking about the family drama.

In "The Descendants," George Clooney stars as a father dealing with his two daughters -- and a tag-along boyfriend -- while his wife is on life support as a result of an incident on a boating accident.

A scene in the movie shows Clooney’s character, Matt, in a heated exchange with his daughter’s boyfriend, Sid, where both use the term “retarded” in a derogatory fashion.

The exchange has disability advocates on edge, warning others on blogs and social networking sites to stay away from the film.

“If hearing the word ‘retarded’ used several times in a gratuitous joke within a movie is something that is going to ruin a night out for you, save your time and heartache and do not see ‘The Descendants,’” reads a posting on the Special Olympics blog.The group, which sponsors the “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign to end use of the word “retarded,” told Disability Scoop in a statement that the organization “is always disappointed to hear when film writers use the r-word gratuitously and the usage makes it to the final product.”

The film is not the first to draw criticism for use of the word “retarded.” This summer advocates called out the movie “The Change Up” for its inclusion of the term. And three years ago, protests led to some changes in how the comedy “Tropic Thunder” was promoted.

Representatives from Fox Searchlight did not return calls requesting comments from various advocacy organizations.



Disability Unemployment Stats

Heather Smith - Friday, December 02, 2011

Unemployment among Americans with disabilities dipped to the lowest level seen in over two years in November, but the jobs picture wasn’t a bed of roses.

The rate for those with disabilities without a job fell to 13 percent in November, the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday. That’s down from 13.2 percent the month prior and represents the lowest unemployment rate on record for this group since April 2009.

One reason for the decline, however, is that fewer Americans with disabilities were in the labor force, which includes those who are employed or looking for work. So, despite the lower unemployment rate, less people with disabilities were actually working.

Meanwhile, a similar story played out among the general population. Unemployment fell to 8.6 percent, but the drop was due in part to a significant decline in the number of people looking for jobs.

The Labor Department began tracking employment among people with disabilities in October 2008. There is not yet enough data compiled to establish seasonal trends among this population, so statistics for this group are not seasonally adjusted.

Data on people with disabilities covers those over the age of 16 who do not live in institutions. The first employment report specific to this population was made available in February 2009. Now, reports are released monthly.

Veterans Employment Outreach Day

Heather Smith - Friday, December 02, 2011

Act Now Save Our Services!

Heather Smith - Friday, December 02, 2011

Join us* in advocating for action by the Corbett Administration to ensure the health and sustainability of community services and supports for people with disabilities and seniors in Pennsylvania.



December 6, 2011 @ 3:00 PM



The Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg, PA 17120



We call on the Department of Public Welfare and the OFfice of Long Term Living to address NOW the critical policy and funding actions that are essential to keeping our service system stable.  Failure to act will continue to result in a weakened provider network, service interruptions, and disruption in the lives of people who depend on daily assistance and supports critical to meeting their needs and safeguarding their health.



We demand immediate action on the following:

  • Enacting the interim agreement that will stabilize the system during the development of new rates for our community services
  • Approving service plans in a timely manner so that people get the services they need and providers get paid for the services they have already provided to thousands of people within the community
  • Improving communication and dialogue with providers and other stakeholders to make our system better; Bring Back the CLAC.
  • Halting a new policy that will take away needed community supports from vulnerable people in a few short weeks and will leave them and their families with few options for continued independent living
  • Immediately reinstalling eligibility to children and adults wrongly kicked of essential services, to avoid disruption and harm


* Current consumers, applications for services, providers, families, advocates


Join us on December 6 at 3:00 in the Main Capitol Rotunda:

Heather Smith - Friday, December 02, 2011

To join us* on December 6 at 3:00 in the

Main Capitol Rotunda:


We look forward to having a large group of concerned people with us as we call on the Corbett Administration to Act Now to Save Our Services! Thank you for making the effort to be with us.


Please leave time to park and go through security. Enter at the Commonwealth Avenue entrance where the fountain is. Take the elevator or the escalator up one floor and go down the hallway to the Main Capitol Rotunda. You have to go to the right or the left when you get to the stairs.


You may bring signs but not on a stick and no balloons, horns or other noise makers. There is a cafeteria in the building just beyond security where you can get food prior to the event. There is a visitor’s information booth just beyond security, as well. They can point you to the bathrooms.


The website has:

  • Information about parking in Harrisburg (Walnut Street and 5th Street garages are closest). Because the tree lighting ceremony is at noon that day the on-street meters will likely be taken on Commonwealth Avenue.
  • Driving directions to the Capitol
  • What to expect when going through the security screen
  • The press conference/rally will start at 3:00 and end by 4:00.


If you are able, please plan to arrive earlier and schedule a visit with your Senator or Representative or their staff. Find their contact information here: .You can also follow-up with a phone call or an email to them. Make sure they hear you!



* Current consumers, applicants for services, providers, families, advocates

Local and Virtual Advocacy

Heather Smith - Friday, December 02, 2011

If you can't join us at the Capitol on December 6, you can help us support the advocacy message to Act Now - Save Our Services by communicating with your elected officials.


How:Contact your local Representative and Senator.  Find their contact information and local district office locations at this website  For an easy way to find out whose district you live in, put your address in the box in the upper right corner.  If you can't meet or speak to the elected official, give your message to the staff person.


What: Use the advocacy messages/demands in the December 6 flyer and add your own point, story, or concern to make it real for them.  Tell then you are their constituent and these issues are important to you.  Ask them to let you know about any follow-up that happens.


When: December 6, 2011


Starting in the morning of the 6th, fax, or email your message.  Urge them to attend the event at 3:00 in the Main Rotunda to learn more.  It is a session day for both chambers so the members will be in Harrisburg.


Visit your elected official in their district offices as soon as it can be arranged to make your points in person.  Ask them to let you know about any follow-up that happens. 



Make sure they hear you!


Being a Good Neighbor...

Heather Smith - Tuesday, November 29, 2011
CRI and the Good Neighbor Fund donated a total of $1000 to the Multicultural Community Resources Center of Erie for the purchase of a new wheelchair lift platform.  The Multicultural Community Resources Center of Erie facilitates the educational, social, political, and economic progress of the communities they serve. They work to break down cultural barriers due to language, appearance, or ethnic traditions. They also actively promote and advocate the development, empowerment, and advancement of all people while preserving their cultural identity. Additionally, they work to educate the community to value diversity.




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