From California Community Opportunities (CCO)
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Saying Goodbye . . .
On April 5, Director of Family Teaching Model Services, Mark Rystrom, will say goodbye, after serving the men and women of CCO for nearly nine years in a variety of roles.

Mark came to CCO after working at Community Living Opportunities in Kansas, where the Family Teaching Model was born. He and his wife, Tamela—former CCO Executive Director—began their journey in the groundbreaking model as a Family Teaching Couple responsible for three ladies. Moving into roles as part of CLO’s Admin Team, he worked as a Targeted Case Manager (similar to the role service coordinators play for individuals in California), managing and billing for all services received by CLO individuals. He coached other couples and did the same type of couple recruitment to fill FTC positions that he has done for CCO for many years.

Prior to CLO, Mark and Tamela became very active foster parents when their first biological child, Piper, was just three months old. Serving 13 at-risk kids in their home for eight years, Mark and Tamela developed skills, sensibilities, and a passion for individuals’ rights, which would eventually bring them to California to play a pivotal role in the life of CCO.

Mark will join Tamela in Nashville and begin a new and less demanding job, matching EFT families to children who need services. He’s looking forward to having more time to spend with his family, though, “I’ll miss everything about CCO, especially the men and women.” Mark came to California as part of an effort to raise the bar of services provided for individuals served by CCO. “A lot changed in 2008 for the better: we improving the way services were provided, ensuring that staff was fully trained, making sure everyone here was safe and learning—and always to benefit the folks we serve.”

Among the things he’s most proud of from his time with CCO is establishing a program that recognizes the tremendous work and contributions made by staff. On the other hand, Mark says, the greatest challenge has been maneuvering the clunky bureaucratic system in California, “which ultimately has a negative impact on the lives of the people we serve.”  And the people we serve, he says, “is why I’m here.”

Mark has five children and a new grandson.  Youngest daughter, Darby, has already begun her new life in Nashville with Tamela, and her sister, Tori, will join after she graduates from Lincoln High School this summer. He’s looking forward to having more time to cook, laugh at old sitcoms and comedy shows (Mark is a huge Lucille Ball fan), and reconnect with his family, as he continues to make a profound difference in the lives of people with significant challenges.
He is a firm believer in the power of the family teaching model.  “We’ve all worked very hard to develop this model and it’s better now than ever. I want CCO to continue to grow, get better, and expand to serve more men and women.”

Mark is optimistic about CCO’s future. “The FTC group and the Admin group are the strongest they’ve ever been in the years that I’ve been here. I am so excited to watch the day program and the EFT program explode. The groundwork has been set and we finally have the go-ahead to really take off. It’s a very exciting time for CCO.”

You'll be deeply missed, Mark, by your colleagues and, especially, by the women and men whose lives are better because they knew you.
Welcome to CCO's new Executive Director, Ken Toren, who joined the team March 1. Learn more about Ken in the next issue of the CommU Communicator--or stop in and say hello!
Coming Up at CommU
March 24  end of Winter Quarter
March 27-31  Spring Break
April 3  Spring Quarter begins
May 26  Spring Park Social
The COMMUNITY in CommUniversity
At CommU, we are proud to offer a host of activities and classes in individuals' own communities and throughout the San Jose area. During the Winter Quarter, CommU women and men enjoyed swimming, gardening, golfing, hiking, and much more. They contributed to their community as volunteers for Meals on Wheels, Full Circle Farm, Animal Assisted Happiness, and Optimal Hospice. We're adding new, meaningful opportunities with each new quarter. Let us know if you have ideas!
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The Launch Team
FTM 1 opted into the new "News You Can Use" CommU class in the 2016-17 Winter Quarter, charged with the job of creating and launching the first issue. Christopher Coxhead, Alfonso Amador, and Said Padellan (pictured above with their teacher, Susan) spent the quarter learning about different types of online and print publications, and developing a name and overall features for the newsletter, which will be coming to your in-box each quarter. Stay tuned and thanks, guys for getting us off the ground!
In Memoriam
Kevin Bloom

August 16, 1952-January 27, 2016
Copyright © 2017 California Community Opportunities, All rights reserved.

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