Salem, Oregon. – Bridges Oregon is a non-profit organization created by and for deaf individuals. Bridges has closely collaborated with Partnerships in Community Living Inc. (PCL) in an effort to relocate their specialized employment service delivery team to Bridges Oregon. As Bridges began to develop and expand local services, Bridges entered into discussions with PCL regarding the possibility of transitioning their deaf services employment team to Bridges. It was recognized by PCL that this transition would best serve the Deaf community.
PCL’s Co-Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Joanne Fuhrman stated, “We are so proud of the work PCL’s Deaf Services Team has accomplished over the past several years helping people who are deaf/hard of hearing to reach their career goals! We are honored to be able to partner with Bridges Oregon as they offer these incredible supports as an option in their portfolio of resources. PCL has always been committed to the success of our mission to expand people’s horizons and enhance their quality of life – even when that isn’t housed within our own agency. We are humbled to be part of the beginnings for this team and so excited for them to transition to their new home with Bridges Oregon to continue that mission. We wish them every success in their endeavors!”
The new employment and Independent living services team at Bridges will be renamed
“MARVEL Employment and Independent Living Services.”
“Making A Rightfully Valued and Empowered Life” (MARVEL) Employment and Independent Living Services is committed to working with members of the deaf community who receive services through Oregon’s Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VR) and the Oregon Department of Developmental Disabilities Services (ODDS).
Bridges Oregon has undergone an intensive and lengthy process to become an approved Medicaid licensed agency with ODDS. The Medicaid license allows us to offer Employment and Independent Living Services while drawing future plans for potential program expansion into Community Living Supports, 24 hour residential programs, host homes, foster care, and much more.
In this transition process, Bridges Oregon applied for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant through ODDS and we were awarded with $250,000. The grant is currently in the contractual negotiation process and expected to be completed and funded by September 2023. This additional funding will support the transition, expansion, and strengthen the program’s operations going forward.
Chad A. Ludwig, Executive Director and founder of Bridges Oregon stated, “We are excited to have this new line of programs and services available within Bridges Oregon and we will aim to expand services statewide beyond the current 6 county service area (Polk, Marion, Lane, Josephine, Jackson, and Linn-Benton). These additional services will provide the accessible and culturally responsive services that the Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing communities have been missing in our state as Bridges primarily employs people who, themselves, are Deaf and Hard of Hearing.”
The Employment and Independent Living Service team transitioning from PCL brings unique experiences, skills, and perspectives to help our company grow as we collectively expand strategic growth in response to the needs of our Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing communities while offering services in their heritage languages.
Bridges Oregon is pleased to introduce the addition of our new Employment and Independent Living Services Team members: Christopher Mortensen, Nyssa Vaughan, Monica Cruikshank, and Holly Hartman.
Chris Mortensen, ACRE, DI
Director of Employment and IL Services
(he,him,his, Deaf, fluent in American Sign Language [ASL], Biracial)
Chris has extensive experience with Employment and IL services delivery as well as developing a successful service delivery model that serves the Deaf/DeafBlind/Deaf Plus/Hard of Hearing (D/DB/Deaf+/HH) community with direct language access and culturally competent services. Chris’ 17 years of experience serving people who are Deaf with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) has given him a specialized understanding of the unique challenges facing this population. Chris has served as a fierce advocate on multiple state and national boards addressing issues impacting the Deaf community. Over the past 3 years, Chris has been highly invested in supporting youth in transition at Oregon School for the Deaf (OSD) in partnership with Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Services to ensure students have access to appropriate assessments for Developmental Disabilities services eligibility as well as quality, Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS), Employment and IL services.
Nyssa Vaughan, ACRE, HSI
Employment and IL Services Business Administrator
(she, her, hers, CODA, fluent in American Sign Language [ASL], white)
Nyssa is experienced in delivering the full spectrum of Employment and IL services offered through VR and ODDS. Nyssa is responsible for maintaining and developing positive business partnerships with VR counselors, county Services Coordinators, brokerage Personal Assistants and all education representatives referring clients to the Employment and IL Services Team at Bridges. She manages all fee-for-service contracts and services agreements while providing billing and administrative supports.
Monica Cruikshank, ACRE
Employment and IL Specialist
(she, her, hers, Deaf, fluent in American Sign Language [ASL], Hispanic)
Monica specializes in providing job coaching supports in a variety of employment settings. Monica’s 7 years of experience serving people who are Deaf/IDD has given her a unique perspective of the challenges facing this population. Monica has extensive knowledge and experience in supporting Deaf people in their communities, homes and workplaces.
Holly Hartman, MS, CRC, ACRE
Employment and IL Specialist
(she,her,hers, Deaf, fluent in American Sign Language [ASL], white)
Holly is a former Arizona Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge related to supporting the D/DB/D+/HH populations to become successfully employed. Holly specializes in helping people explore and research their job goals as well as identify and train the skills necessary to be successful at work and in life.
For more information about the Employment and IL team, contact Bridges Oregon at MarvelServices@bridgesoregon.org.
About Bridges Oregon:
Bridges Oregon is a nonprofit for Oregonians who are Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing or face other communication barriers. It is in our mission to facilitate equity, inclusiveness, and to provide a bridge to opportunities through advocacy, education, and communication.
About Partnerships in Community Living, Inc:
Partnerships in Community Living, Inc (PCL) is a nonprofit with a mission to “Expand the horizons and enhance the quality of life of those we support.” PCL primarily focuses on supporting individuals with I/DD in their homes, workplaces and communities.