Advocacy for independent living

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Call her an advocate for independent living.

Whether it is a disability by birth, age or accident, whether it is physical, cognitive, visual, auditory and or mental/emotional, and whether it is in Bates, Cedar, Hickory, St. Clair and Vernon counties or in the Jefferson City offices and chambers of the Missouri General Assembly, Jennifer Gundy, director of On My Own, Inc. is an advocate for independent living.

Gundy is known for exhibiting a tough love which one moment is manifest in great compassion and servanthood but will say to someone whining, “Suck it up buttercup.”

Sitting in her office Thursday morning, this engaged mother and devoted rodeo barrel racer said, “What I do here is not just my work; helping people with disabilities to live in their own home or get up and go to work is my calling; it’s my passion.”

Her early years personally delivering in-home services stoked a fire for helping not just her clients but ever more people which has only increased as she directs the multi-county agency.

In striving to provide independent living, On My Own’s five core services include advocacy, peer support, independent living skill training, information and referral as well as help with transitions.

“Yes, earlier this year I did spend a fair number of days speaking with legislators in Jefferson City but advocacy is one of our five core services,” said Gundy with discernible force in her voice.

“When I worked in homes, I enjoyed helping one person or several people live on their own and even go to work,” said Gundy. “But these days, I get a lot of joy being an advocate helping folks, not just in this agency’s five-counties but all across Missouri.”

In 2017, the Missouri General Assembly made budget cuts to Missouri Medicaid which provided a significant impact on nursing homes as well as upon agencies such as On My Own which are known as centers for independent living.

Nursing homes received cuts amounting to $5.37 per patient per day.

Consumer Directed Services, a program which allows the disabled person to hire, train and manage their personal care attendant with On My Own handling payroll, received a cut of 3 percent plus a lowering in the amount of time for CDS services from 50 hours per week to 32.

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