Denver Mill Levy Supports Matthew Mueller’s Independence Through Individual and Community Programs
Matthew Mueller practices sign language at the library using his iPad with his mentor, Renee Klotzbach.
Matthew Mueller has overcome many obstacles in his life. He works and travels fairly independently thanks to a notepad he carries with him – he writes whatever he needs to say.
However, at 63 years old, Matthew’s hands are beginning to shake, making writing and typing difficult for him. His penmanship is becoming illegible. If Matthew loses the ability to write, he could also lose some of the independence he’s enjoyed, but service coordinator Lisa Linder at Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS) wanted to help make sure that didn’t happen.
“He knows what he wants to say, and he tries to write it,” Lisa said. “It’s hard.”
Matthew is deaf, so he has learned some sign language in the past but didn’t get to practice with others in the deaf community and never became fluent. Lisa connected him with Renee Klotzbach, a Support Inc. mentor who also teaches sign language, to help find another way to communicate.
Lisa was able to create a Mill Levy Service plan that pays for Renee’s mentorship from property tax funds dedicated to those with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Denver, providing Matthew with his first real sign language teacher.
Mill Levy Service plans are part of the RMHS Denver Mill Levy Program, which administers the dedicated tax funds. To support his sign language lessons, Matthew was also able to access mill levy funds through the program that paid for an iPad and American Sign Language (ASL) applications.
Matthew and Renee use the iPad and apps to practice and learn new signs. Renee has helped Matthew learn to better use technology for improving communication with others, community access and his quality of life.
“They’re slowly coming along.” Lisa said with pride. “She’s taught him how to go on his iPad and access the library system and get free tickets to the museums.”
The mill levy also supports Matthew by paying for a digital newspaper subscription. The newspaper is one of Matthew’s favorite things to read, and now he can read it on the go.
Matthew has always been active in his community. For instance, he has participated in Colorado Special Olympics for more than 50 years. He lit the torch to kick off 2019 Special Olympic events. The skills he exercises with Renee and accesses with support from Linda helps him maintain his connections in the community.
Lisa helps Matthew connect to a variety of supports including agencies that can help him access additional services. For example, Matthew needed to make sure his finances were in order so he could access the services he will need as he gets older. Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, an RMHS community partner supported in part by mill levy funding, has helped Matthew with financial options such as special needs trust funds and establishing his brother as his legal guardian through the Probate Power program.
Lisa’s dedicated service coordination and support from the Denver Mill Levy program will help Matthew to become fluent in sign language, build his communication skills through signing and technology while continuing to live as independently as possible in the community.