Understanding the need for water

Gompers members proudly display water collected

Oftentimes, people underestimate the comprehension and compassion of people with intellectual disabilities. At Gompers, we never do.

Giving back to the community

Members in Program Room 30-1 already enjoy volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul to help feed people who are homeless, so understanding the need to distribute cold water in the sweltering heat of July resulted in many excited volunteers.

Early in the month, members and their families donated 12 cases of bottled water. Case by case it arrived in family vehicles and Gompers vans. One mother sent three cases to be sure there was enough. By July 5, members were ready for a group discussion on the importance of drinking enough water – a life skill we should all pay attention to during the high temps of Phoenix summers.

Friday, July 22 dawned hot and dry with a 111 degree high and 15 percent humidity. At last, Gompers staff and program members were ready to hit the streets. Vans were loaded with coolers of ice and water and it didn’t take long to find local parks where homeless people gathered to spend the hottest hours of the day.

Recipients seemed genuinely surprised at the friendly gesture of good will and everyone thanked our willing volunteers. Even the ice was in high demand as some people brought jugs and pots to take away the frozen treasure. Direct Support Professional Alex summed up the feelings about the day when she said, “I felt needed and I felt like finally, I did a good deed.”

Connecting with others to share a hot day and a cool sip of water is at the heart of community. At Gompers, big hearts abound everywhere.

Thunderbird Charities provide Gompers with a decade of support

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TBCharities-4CThunderbird Charities is a cornerstone of support throughout greater Phoenix communities. Contributing to many deserving organizations they truly make a difference in the lives of children and families across the valley.


We are blessed to be the recipient of their support for nearly a decade. Over the last ten years, Thunderbird Charitiesteacher working with student
had given nearly $212K to Gompers in an effort to support the empowerment of individuals with disabilities. Their impact on the lives of our students and members has been significant. From funding our sensory room, where students and members have the opportunity actively engage in learning techniques that regulate their behaviors by stimulating their nervous system, to resurfacing our indoor basketball court where our “Special Olympians” learn about the importance of physical fitness, competition and teamwork, Thunderbird Charities has been on the forefront of ensuring that these integral opportunities remain in forward motion.  In addition, their contribution to the building of the infrastructure of our assistive technology program has given our students and members an opportunity to perform tasks that were once beyond their scope of reality.


Thunderbirds Charities m003ost recent generous contribution to our K-12 special education school funded improvements in equipment, teaching materials, innovative curriculum and training to ensure our students will receive individualized and innovative support through a structured educational environment. Students are maximizing their abilities and developing important  life skills leading to their successful transition to adulthood.


For many, the Thunderbirds have helped turn dreams into reality. Here at Gompers, we provide a space that emphasizes growth and development, that values each person’s abilities, and that guides individuals to reach their true potential, treating all who come through our doors with the dignity and respect they deserve. We are so grateful to Thunderbird Charities for supporting us in these endeavors.

Leading our AT program

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Mrs. Candice M. Steel, B.S. SLP-L, AT Specialist

Gompers Assistive Technology Specialist Candice SteelRecently, Candice Steel joined our team as Gompers AT Specialist and her experience is greatly benefiting our students, members and staff. Assistive technology includes items, piece of equipment or products that are used to increase, maintain or improve the capabilities of an individual with disabilities.

Mrs. Steel received her Bachelor of Science in Speech/Hearing Sciences from Arizona State University in 2003. She began her studies in Music and Speech/Hearing Sciences at The University of Arizona and has taken graduate level course work through Northern Arizona University’s Interdisciplinary Program for Assistive Technology.

Mrs. Steel brings 11 years of experience in Speech-Language Pathology plus four years of field work with mild to severe/profound developmental disabilities in private, charter and public schools. Her expertise has afforded Mrs. Steel opportunities to collaborate on developing and implementing inclusive service delivery models focusing on the importance of life skills curriculum for K-8 self-contained students. Mrs. Steel has received training in various aspects of assistive technology, speech/language techniques, behavior analysis/management and leadership. Assistive Technology has been an integral part of her approach to learning and using functional communication since the start of her career; “it’s the key that unlocks the smallest of possibilities for someone.”

Mrs. Steel is married, has a son, two dogs, a cat and a fish.  She enjoys getting outdoors, nutrition and spending time with family and friends.

Visit our Website to learn more about how AT is benefiting students in our school program, or members in our Day Training program.

Exploring our world through science

Gompers Day Training for Adults (DTA) program has begun embarking on a journey of discovery with our new science initiative! Each month all of the DTA program rooms explore a new topic culminating in a month-end celebration of everything they learned.

DTA VolcanoBeginning last May, our members learned what happens when the earth trembles from inside and boils over. They discussed, researched, and even created working volcanoes! It was a lot of fun but boy did they create a mess! A friendly competition in the parking lot celebrated the completion of the experiments.

In June, members went to the moon! Rockets and Space were all the buzz on campus. The members learned about the planets and how astronauts were able to reach the stars. With an exciting, early morning countdown, our members launch the rockets they made outside of Gompers Boundless Park™ and Playground. The rocket that went the highest won the competition.

July brought out the creepy crawlers! Sometimes things can be deceiving, like when a caterpillar metamorphosis into a butterfly or when a lonely ant becomes part of an active colony. DTA members were enthralled watching the changes and creation that took place right before their eyes. Each morning was a rush of excitement to observe the changes that had occurred the night before!

Who knows where their discovery will lead them next… Stay tuned!


Genentech engages Gompers’ in a day of fun

Gompers member Terri bowling

By Jeremiah Rojo, DTA Supervisor

Thursday, April 23rd turned out to be a day of laughter, bowling challenges and fun for Gompers Day Training for Adults (DTA) members, made possible by generous hosting from Genentech Inc.

Our members’ morning began by meeting with fellow peers and staff to go over the day’s event. Everyone was excited to get to Main Event to eat pizza and go bowling! Our hostess, Holly, greeted us with welcoming arms and escorted us to our reserved area. All of our clients were smiling as they began to see where they were going to bowl and they waited patiently for the delicious food to be served. After everyone ate, the staff from Genentech greeted us with enthusiasm and smiles.

Genentech staff with Gompers members

Bowling started and all of our members were extremely happy and pumped to play!! The Genentech staff was devoted to assisting our clients during their game of bowling. Joyous cheering was at its highest as the pins came knocking down, which resulted in high fives all around as our clients continued rolling bowling balls down the lanes. It was non-stop excitement and fun for all the entire Gompers team.

Genentech staff helps

Our day ended with pictures and hugs with Genentech attendees. It was a bitter sweet ending to our joyous special event and everyone left with a belly full of food and a smile.

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Executive Director Mark Jacoby expressed his personal gratitude for the effort Genentech extended to make the day special for everyone involved. “Community integration and a sense of being welcomed and belonging is so important for the individuals we serve – just as it is for everyone. We greatly appreciate corporate partners who are willing to reach out to engage individuals with disabilities by including us in their activities.”

This is the second year that Genentech Inc., a biotechnology corporation and a subsidiary of Roche headquartered in San Francisco, has given back to the community by engaging Gompers DTA members in a day of interaction and fun. For more than 30 years, Genentech has followed the science and sought solutions to unmet medical needs. As a proud member of the Roche Group, Genentech continues in their efforts to make medicines to treat patients with serious medical conditions.

Gompers DTA member finds volunteer work fulfilling

By Josie C.

josie c bags chipsI have been going to St. Vincent de Paul’s food bank for about six months. One of the things  I enjoy most is I know I am helping others in need.

When we go to the food bank, we work on different jobs packing food like cookies, chips and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich for the snack packs. After all the work is done, we get to enjoy eating lunch and talking to other people. The thing I love most is I’m doing my best to help.

I really love going every week. I feel very happy to be helping the homeless.

I really like working with my peers at the food bank. Every time it’s time to leave, I go knowing I did my best and knowing I helped others.

Josie C. is a member in Gompers Day Training Program Room 30-6.

Assistive technology adds up to better understanding


By Niraj Parikh

In Gompers’ Assistive Technology Lab, the phrase “team teaching” takes on a bit of a different meaning than it does in a traditional classroom.

Today, Jeffrey Schultz — a volunteer in Gompers’ Assistive Technology Lab and a student at ASU — is working with DTA member Cody in building his math skills. The two are using Khan Academy, a free online program open to anyone wishing to work on various skill sets at his or her individual pace.

cory 2Khan Academy flips the traditional educational model upside down. It provides theoretical knowledge and encourages students to do their work alongside a teacher so, if they get it wrong, the teacher is right there to explain and pupils can better understand how to determine the correct answer.

The math exercise Cody and Jeffrey are using today is not simply numbers on paper. The online instructor “draws” on the computer screen and illustrates a problem using coins, pieces of fruit or other tangible items to help the learner reach the correct answer. This is “assistive” technology in the sense that it is providing an alternate way of looking at a problem. Seated nearby, Jeffrey is able to reiterate the lesson using a pad of paper and written numbers so Cody is better able to understand the correlation.

In the AT Lab, Cody likes having the dual approach with the Khan Academy program and Jeffrey nearby to assist. “I think it’s a good way to learn,” he says.

For more information about this free program, go to khanacademy.org.

Niraj Parikh is the Assistive Technology Specialist at Gompers.

Gompers Gators ‘strive’ to do their best!

By Rose Gonzales

Just as we go for the gold in Special Olympics, we also strive to become healthier athletes!

gators 2Recently, before our state-level soccer competition, our Gompers Gators had the opportunity to participate in Strive. Formerly known as Healthy Athletes, this initiative offered through Special Olympics helps teach our athletes how to be healthier and stronger by offering information on nutrition and hydration along with a series of flexibility activities to practice before competing on the field.

We had athletes doing squats, planks, sit-ups, sprints, ball tosses, long jumps and other activities with trainers observing their technique and helping them do the activities in the safest and most effective ways possible. Ray was timed for squats and was especially pleased with his progress:

“I did 15 squats in 30 seconds!” he said. “I felt it in my muscles.”

gators 4Strive was a great activity, because our Gators now know how to warm up before all practices and all games and understand that stretching is very important to help them stay healthy and in shape.

After everyone was limber and ready to go, we competed. The difference between our practices in the gym and playing in competition is intense; these athletes gave it their all. We tied it five times in the end, so our goalies had to face off — and we lost by one point.

But, with the attitudes our Gators displayed, it was like they walked away with first place. Our team displayed excellent sportsmanship as they congratulated the other team with smiles on their faces. They played their hearts out and, as their coach, I couldn’t be any happier. Go, Gators!

Rose Gonzales is a habilitation technician in Gompers’ Day Training for Adults Program and the proud coach of the Gompers Gators.