San Francisco Sponsors Support Cary Writer’s New Book

Cris Cohen’s upcoming humor book will raise money for kids with special needs.


March 25, 2011 (Cary, NC) – Humor writer and California native Cris Cohen has lived in Cary, NC, since 2008. But fans of his popular columns that ran in California newspapers for several years haven’t forgotten how much they enjoyed his work. They’re also eager to support his new fundraising effort for kids with special needs.

As a result, Cohen announced this week that TechProse, a technical writing, training and instructional design consulting service, and newspaper copywriter Marilyn Berg Cooper, both of the San Francisco Bay Area, have signed on as official sponsors for Cohen’s upcoming book, “Staying Crazy To Keep From Going Insane.” Proceeds will go to a local baseball league for children with special needs, including his own son, nine-year-old Max.

“I had the pleasure of working with Cris on several projects and always really appreciated his sense of humor,” says Kathy Krumpe, Resource Manager at TechProse. “I’m so pleased that he is writing something that will give us a reason to laugh and at the same time help an organization like the special needs baseball league.”

Entitled “Staying Crazy To Keep From Going Insane,” the book will be a collection of Cohen’s humor columns, some from his California career, others penned in Cary.

“I’ve been looking forward to this take-it-with-you collection of Cris Cohen’s offbeat musings,” said Marilyn Berg Cooper.

Cohen has been seeking sponsors to help defray the cost of self-publishing his book. They’re starting to come in, as are endorsements from the likes of Pulitzer Prize-winner humor writer Dave Barry and Pen/Faulkner Award-winning author T.C. Boyle.

“I am flattered that these people not only remember me, but have not pressed charges,” said Cohen.

For more information on “Staying Crazy To Keep From Going Insane,” visit and the Facebook page:

Cohen is also the author of the humor blog “Nothing In Particular,” which can be found at


About Cris Cohen:

Cris Cohen

Cris Cohen, the author of the “Nothing In Particular” blog, was born in Buffalo, NY, and grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, eventually graduating from the University of Southern California. After a stint in rock radio in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, Cris started writing his humor column for a collection of California newspapers. He eventually gravitated toward the tech world and Silicon Valley, working for companies such as Netscape and Cisco Systems. Cris, his wife Michele, and their young son Max moved to Cary, North Carolina, in 2008. Cris’ blog is available at His first book, “Staying Crazy To Keep From Going Insane” is due out later this year.

Proposed Medicaid Reduction Puts Children with Special Needs and Public School Systems Across the State in Serious Jeopardy

January 11, 2010 (ANSON COUNTY, NC) — In Anson County, North Carolina, one of the  most economically challenged areas of the state where the nearest town of any size is at east an hour away, 66 very young children with special needs are receiving free developmental intervention services at the Anson Children’s Center, the only five-star Community Based Rehabilitative Services (CBRS) Center for children birth to preschool (0-3) in Anson County. These early intervention services enhance the children’s cognitive, physical, behavioral, self-help, social-emotional, and language skills – essential skills these children must have before they enter the state’s public school system. Their parents or guardians are also receiving training so that they know how to care for and assist their children with special needs.

Because of this service, these children will require less special education and other treatment and  habilitative services in school, they will be retained in their school grade less often, and in some cases they will become indistinguishable from their classmates.

But all of that could go away this summer. The NC Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) has decided to delete Community Based Rehabilitative Services as a Medicaid payable service as of June 30, 2010 – a move that follows NC General Assembly directives. That means Medicaid will no longer reimburse the cost for the special therapists and other staff that work in community-based centers such as Anson.

Without Medicaid reimbursement, the Anson Children’s Center and 252 other centers like it across the state are in jeopardy of closing, according to Sam Hedrick, president of RHA Howell, Inc., the not-for-profit organization that operates the Anson Children’s Center. And the effect on the public school system will be devastating, she added.

“If centers like Anson stop operating, the public school system will have to dramatically increase programs to assist these children who will be coming to them with none of the skills they learn in community-based, early intervention programs,” Hedrick said. “This is clearly a case of penny wise and pound foolish.”  School systems are struggling financially now.  They simply will not be able to afford to try to catch all of these children up. “

Millicent Williams, director of the Anson Children’s Center, pointed out specific children who receive services, such as Damarion, who is autistic; William, who is developmentally delayed in speech, language, cognitive and gross motor skills; Aaliyah, who needs help with gross motor skills and balancing; and Tanasia, who is blind, deaf and unable to walk.  These children are two years of age or younger.

“I am extremely devastated about Medicaid’s decision,” she said. “What will happen to our infants, toddlers, and preschoolers at Anson? Has anyone really stopped to think about the wellbeing of these children?  Who will provide the safe, nurturing and quality care for all of the children being affected across the state?”

A petition to the NC Division of Medical Assistance, NC Department of Public Health and NC Children’s Development Services is currently circulating, written by Brianna Kelley an early intervention therapist in Pender County. It has received nearly 800 signatures thus far.

The opening statement reads:

“The recent decision made by the Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) to delete Community based rehabilitative service (CBRS) as a reimbursable service effective June 30, 2010 is a travesty. This decision demonstrates a total disregard for what is in the best interest of disabled individuals, families and the public school systems in the state of North Carolina.”

Hedrick, Williams and other members of the RHA Howell team are working on strategies to combat these cuts before the June 30 deadline. They’re also planning to team up with other organizations that operate community-based rehabilitative services center across the state.

Hedrick said she is aware that some state representatives are opposed to the Medicaid cuts, referring to an email from Representative Pryor Gibson. Gibson represents Anson and Union counties. In his email he pointed out that state Senator William Purcell, a retired pediatrician from Laurinburg, “was raising Cain about the cuts during the budget fight in [the] July conference report…. but we could not get any more money designated…fyi it is going to be some worse in ’10….”

“The good news is that we are getting through to Senator Purcell,” Hedrick said. “The not-so-good news is that he predicts further budget cuts in 2010.”

The Raleigh News & Observer recently reported, “State officials must figure out a way to replace the service despite the elimination of federal money, because federal education laws require states to help disabled children. So any future program would likely be trimmed to narrow the kinds of help provided and serve fewer families.”

To the families of these children and the people across the state who serve them, including the staff at Anson Children’s Center, this is unacceptable.


by Becky Lansing, M.ED, Corporate Education Specialist, RHA Howell, Inc.


No one plans to have a child with special needs.  But having a child with a disability is a reality for families throughout the state of North Carolina, across the country, and around the world. Families everywhere face the challenges of meeting the unique needs of their child, beginning with where to turn for help.

Coleman has Down’s Syndrome. His mother talked about how they coped with his needs.

“It was very overwhelming — even though we knew, before he was born, there was a small chance he would have Down’s. We knew he was going to need more than a normal child. I was so lost. But the hospital referred us to the CDSA (Children’s Developmental Services Agency). He started getting Community Based Rehabilitative Services (CBRS) when he was 3 months old.”

Now an active 3-year old who runs, climbs, talks and is “into everything,” Coleman has no difficulty keeping up with his same-age peers. Coleman’s family credits the individualized services Coleman received through CBRS. Collaboration with his teachers and therapists kept everyone focused on the skills Coleman needed to practice.

There is still ground to be gained, but Coleman’s mother is proud of the progress her son has made.  She reports that he walked at two years of age, and still may be a little behind—but not much.

“I hate that the (CBRS) services might be discontinued,” she said. “There are so many children that need these services.”

Without CBRS, she believes Coleman would need far more support than he does now.

Destinie began receiving CBRS as an infant with medical and developmental concerns.  Now 3


years old, her family and support team agree that she has made good progress as a result of the services she’s received.

Destinie attends an inclusive education program where it is reported that she is “happy and confident.” Her great-grandmother recalls that as an infant, Destinie was content to just sit, and would not try to do anything. She was delayed in language and motor skills.

Now, her participation and socialization skills are appropriate for her developmental level, and she continues to make progress with school readiness skills.

“She walks, and talks, and sings her ABC’s and counts,” reports her great-grandmother, her primary caregiver. ‘We are so grateful for the services she received.”

Without CBRS, it is unlikely that either Coleman or Destinie would have had educational services until their third birthdays—three years of missed opportunities to make a difference in their lives.

About RHA Howell, Inc.:

RHA Howell is a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization that has been helping people with disabilities and special needs, and their families, make choices to live more independently for more than 35 years. Integrity, high standards for quality, hard work are at the core of every RHA Howell disability assistance program. Proven leaders in caring for people, RHA Howell, Inc. is a pioneering force in the field of human services, particularly supporting infants and children. For more information, go to

RHA Howell President Joins ANCOR Board of Directors

December 17, 2009 (RALEIGH, NC) – Sam K. Hedrick, president of RHA Howell, Inc., in Raleigh, has been elected to the board of directors of the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), a nonprofit trade association representing more than 800 private providers of services and supports for Americans with disabilities.

Sam K. Hedrick, president, RHA Howell, Inc.

Hedrick has served as president of RHA Howell, a network of residential and community-based services for people with disabilities across North Carolina, since 2007. Prior to this position, she served as chief operating office and associate counsel from 2003-2007.

A licensed attorney, Hedrick has also served as RHA Howell’s business and legal consultant. As a registered nurse, she has worked at North Carolina Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill. She is also the mother of a child with disabilities.

As a member of the ANCOR board, Sam Hedrick will be directly involved in the organization’s efforts in the area of public policy, federal legislative and regulatory initiatives, judicial results, state-level initiatives, and in the culling of leading practices that have positioned ANCOR as a national presence for private providers of services for Americans with disabilities.

“Congress and federal agencies turn to ANCOR as the authority in our profession,” according to the ANCOR web site. “ANCOR has always been and will continue to be [a private provider’s] eyes, ears, and voice in Washington, DC.”

For more information on ANCOR, visit

For more information on RHA Howell, Inc., visit

About RHA Howell, Inc.:

RHA Howell is a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization that has been helping people with disabilities and special needs, and their families, make choices to live more independently for more than 35 years. Integrity, high standards for quality, hard work are at the core of every RHA Howell disability assistance program. Proven leaders in caring for people, RHA Howell, Inc. is a pioneering force in the field of human services, particularly supporting infants and children. For more information, go to

About ANCOR:

The American Network of Community Options and Resources, founded in the 1970s, represents almost 700 agencies and associates that, with the agencies served by state organizations that are members of ANCOR, together support more than 160,000 people with disabilities nationwide. For more information, go to