ABLE United

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Spring and Summer Events 2019

This spring, the ABLE United team is hitting the road and will be at a number of events across the state to answer your questions. Stop by our booth at any of the events below to speak to one of our team members and learn why an ABLE account is right for you or your loved one – there’s never been a better time to start saving.

Treasure Coast Down Syndrome Awareness Buddy Walk
March 23, 2019
Indian Riverside Park
Jensen Beach, Florida

Best Buddies Friendship Walk – Gainesville
March 24, 2019
University of Florida’s Flavet Field
Gainesville, FL

Seminole County Public Schools – Transition Fair
March 30, 2019
Winter Springs High School Cafeteria
130 Tuskawilla Rd.
Winter Springs, FL 32708

FGCU CARD Center: Annual Conference on Best Practices in Autism Spectrum Disorder
April 6, 2019
Florida Gulf Coast University Cohen Center
Fort Myers, FL

Best Buddies Friendship Walk – Tallahassee
April 13, 2019
Lake Ella
Tallahassee, FL

SportsAbility
April 12, 2019
Tallahassee Community College Lifetime Sports Complex
Tallahassee, FL

Autism Notebook Connections Conference & Expo
April 13, 2019
Renaissance Hotel
1230 South Pine Island Road, Plantation, FL 33324

Autism Society of Greater Orlando 2019 Autism Walk & Family Fun Day
April 20, 2019
Orange County Convention Center
Orlando, FL

Best Buddies Friendship Walk – Central Florida
May 4, 2019
Lake Eola Park
Orlando, FL

Best Buddies Friendship Walk – Jacksonville
May 4, 2019
Seawalk Pavilion
Jacksonville Beach, FL

Best Buddies Friendship Walk – Tampa Bay
May 4, 2019
Raymond James Stadium
Tampa, FL

Nathaniel’s Hope Make ‘Em Smile
June 1, 2019
Lake Eola Park
Orlando, FL

Family Café
June 7 – 9, 2019
Hyatt Regency Orlando
Orlando, FL

Best Buddies Friendship Walks

At ABLE United, we take pride in working with organizations, like Best Buddies Florida, that support our mission of helping individuals with disabilities Achieve a Better Life Experience. Represented in over 200 elementary, middle, high schools and college campuses across the state, Best Buddies programs enrich the lives of youth and adults with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Since 2009, more than 150,000 participants in 60 cities have walked to raise awareness for friendship, inclusion, and integrated job opportunities for those with IDD. Every dollar raised supports local Best Buddies programs, bringing the world one step closer to inclusion and acceptance.
The month of March officially kicks off the walks in Florida, and we’re excited to share that ABLE United brand ambassadors will be present at nearly every walk to answer questions and share why an ABLE account is right for you. Come visit us at one of our booths:

Friendship Walk – South Florida
March 16, 2019
Maurice A. Ferré Park
1075 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132

Check-in: 8:00 a.m.
Walk: 9:15 a.m.
Celebrate Until: 1:00 p.m.

 

Friendship Walk – Gainesville
March 24, 2019
University of Florida’s Flavet Field
Woodlawn Drive between Stadium and Museum Road

Check-in: 9:00 A.M.
Walk: 10:00 A.M.
Celebrate Until: 1:00 P.M.

 

Friendship Walk – Tallahassee
April 6, 2019
Lake Ella
North Monroe Street & Lake Ella Drive

Check-in: 2:00 P.M.
Opening Ceremonies: 2:30 P.M.
Celebrate Until: 4:30 P.M.

 

Friendship Walk – Orlando
Saturday, May 4, 2019
Lake Eola Park
512 E. Washington St., Orlando, FL

Check-in: 8:00 A.M.
Walk: 9:00 A.M.
Celebrate Until: 12:00 P.M.

 

Friendship Walk – Jacksonville
May 4, 2019
Seawalk Pavilion
1st St. N., Jacksonville Beach, FL

Check-in: 8:00 A.M.
Walk: 9:00 A.M.
Celebrate: Until 12:00 P.M.

 

Friendship Walk – Tampa
Saturday, May 4, 2019
Raymond James Stadium
4201 N Dale Mabry Hwy., Tampa, FL 33607

Check-in: 8:00 AM
Walk: 9:30 AM
Celebrate: Until 12:00 PM

How to Make the Most Out of Your ABLE Account

An ABLE United account can be a freeing experience. The freedom to save more than $2,000 without impacting eligibility for means tested government benefits. Freedom to save and invest based on the goals of the account holder. Freedom to use funds in the account for a variety of expenses that help improve or maintain health, independence, or quality of life.

Once an account has been opened, it’s important for account holders to understand all of the possibilities it allows to save and invest in their futures.

 

Save up to $15,000 annually.

At ABLE United, we recommend account holders take an honest assessment of their financial goals, as that will help determine how to manage their account appropriately.

It’s important to start each year with a plan on how best to maximize ABLE account contributions. The keys to success are keeping up with the selected investment options, their performance and the ability to make changes to invested funds twice a year.

 

Save with the help of family and friends.

Anyone may contribute to an ABLE United account electronically through the account Gifting page or through the mail using the Gifting form. Think outside the box – this could include friends and family, as well as a church or civic-based organization.

In order for an account holder to create their Gifting page, login to the account and create an event under the eGift tab. Email or share the unique Gifting page to allow anyone to contribute electronically to the account.

 

Rollover funds from a 529 College Savings Plan.

Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law last year, families who were saving for higher education expenses for their child with a disability, or who have family members with unused funds, can rollover funds from a 529 college savings account into an ABLE account. These types of rollovers do count towards the $15,000 annual maximum contribution limit.

 

Use an ABLE United account with a Special Needs Trust.

Special Needs Trusts (SNT) can work in conjunction with an ABLE United account. If an account holder has both, it’s important to discuss with the trustee or an attorney on how an SNT can fund an ABLE account. An SNT is part of estate planning and can encompass non-cash assets, requires an attorney to set up, and can be costly. ABLE accounts are generally more appealing for everyday use as they are flexible, grow tax-free, and are low-cost to maintain.

 

We hope you’ll kick off 2019 with ABLE United by opening an account – and for those of you that already are account holders, our hope is that you get the most out of your account and in turn, your future.

Faces of ABLE: Gunner Brandt

ABLE United provides options no matter what Gunner’s future holds

Gunner Brandt is a happy, spirited young boy who loves the outdoors – and as a South Florida native that includes being in or on the water. Diagnosed with autism at the age of three, and more recently with speech apraxia, Gunner does not let his limited verbal communication skills impact how he shows his affection and appreciation for those that help him throughout his day.

“He wakes up with a smile on his face and jumps on the bed – excited for the day,” says Phoebe St. Germain Fellows, Gunner’s mother and an ABLE United brand ambassador. Gunner’s enthusiasm for life is contagious.

Prior to the launch of ABLE United, Fellows attended a workshop at Nova Southeastern University’s Miami campus where she was introduced to the program that would allow her to begin saving tax-free for her son’s future.

“I am grateful that ABLE United exists not just for my son, but for all Floridians,” said Fellows. “My mother has been in the finance industry for years, and we had struggled to find a solution given the limitations he may face with a special needs trust and also his college savings account that we had opened for him when he was born.”

“Like all parents, my hope is that my son is able to live a happy and healthy life – and that he has the opportunity to work independently and save his money as I believe individuals with disabilities can make a real impact when they are encouraged to work in fields that they love,” Phoebe St. Germain Fellows

Every day, ABLE United works to provide individuals with disabilities the opportunity to save for a better life experience, and Fellows and her family continue to add funds to Gunner’s account on a yearly basis.

In the future, account holders will have options – no matter what their future holds. New enhancements to ABLE United accounts include the ABLE to Work integration, which allows a beneficiary who is working and not contributing to a retirement plan, the ability to contribute above the $15,000 annual maximum contribution limit.

Partner Highlight: Best Buddies Florida

At ABLE United, we are proud to work with like-minded organizations to further advance our mission of helping individuals with disabilities to Achieve a Better Life Experience. You may be familiar with our newest partner, Best Buddies Florida, an organization that is deep-rooted in our state with strong programs that enrich the lives of youth and adults with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

To date, Best Buddies is represented in more than 200 elementary, middle, high schools and college campuses across Florida and has matched nearly 100 adults with IDD in one-to-one friendships in the Citizens programs in Central and South Florida. This has resulted in more than 2,600 friendships happening across the state of Florida right now.

Best Buddies Florida also offers a supported employment program, Best Buddies Jobs, in key markets across the state including Broward, Central Florida, Miami and Palm Beach. Florida staff members are currently supporting 155 adults and youth with disabilities who are either seeking or successfully employed in the community.

“Through inclusion programs that focus on one-to-one friendships, leadership development and integrated job opportunities for those with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD), Best Buddies envisions a world where those with an IDD will someday be successfully integrated into schools, workplaces and communities,” said Andi Allen, State Director for Best Buddies Florida.
In addition to the great programs offered across the state, the six area offices plan and host regional events and trainings. These events and trainings are designed to help support the growth and development of Best Buddies student leaders and its participants with IDD. The most well-known events are the annual Best Buddies Friendship Walks. These walks are community-wide events geared towards raising awareness of programs and most importantly, celebrating the amazing friendships that happen throughout the year. This year alone, over 5,800 students, teachers, parents, siblings, and community members attended seven walk events across the state to demonstrate to their local communities the power of friendship.

“Organizations like ABLE United who support independence and quality of life for those with an IDD are instrumental in ensuring our vision becomes a reality. Through our partnership with ABLE United we are able to offer a financial savings resource to our program participants,” said Allen. “A resource that acknowledges the unique financial circumstances faced within the IDD community and affords those with special needs the opportunity to save, plan and invest for the future which was once not an option.”

By working together, we can make an impact and further enrich the lives of individuals with disabilities in Florida.

Ten ideas to dial up the fun this summer

Summertime in Florida probably sounds a lot more magical to people that live somewhere else! Those of us that dwell here knows it can be simultaneously sticky and sweltering, prone to daily afternoon thunderstorms, and open season for bugs. But summer in Florida is also supremely beautiful, especially when experienced at our cool springs and white, sandy beaches.

Whether it’s an indoor or an outdoor day you’re looking for, it’s great to have some playful ideas in your back pocket. Here are 10 suggestions to enrich your summer for both your typical children and your children with unique abilities.

  1. Pack a picnic. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t to be far, and it doesn’t have to be during the hottest part of the day! Grab an old blanket and some snacks or a loaf of bread and jars of peanut butter and jelly. Your kids will delight in just getting “out there,” whether it’s the back yard or a local park. There’s something fun about eating — and just being — outside.
  2. Pitch a tent in the living room! If it’s too hot to be outside, why not camp inside? Set up a tent and allow your children to bring their blankets, stuffed animals and books inside. Their imaginations will take delight in the new space.
  3. Take that mess outside. Summer makes it easy to explore sensory activities outdoors, where everything — and everyone — can be cleaned up with a hose. Now’s the time to paint with shaving cream or fill a bucket with dry rice and start exploring. Dress the kids in their swimsuits if it makes it easier!
  4. Visit the beach. If you’re a Floridian, there’s a beautiful beach a short drive away. And beaches aren’t just fun, they’re filled with teachable moments about natural exploration and self-care. Encourage all of your children to participate more in the process, from dressing themselves to carrying their own toys to reminding you to reapply their sunscreen.
  5. Create your own ball pit. Inexpensive phthalate-free balls are available for purchase online and can be used outdoors in a kiddie pool or indoors in a bathtub, with or without water. They’re colorful, stimulating and easy to pick up.
  6. Go to a concert. Many communities host family-friendly concerts at this time of year, and you can usually position your children closer or farther away from the action according to your preference.
  7. Photograph your day. With smartphones, it has never been easier to snap casual photos. Take advantage of this opportunity by chronicling your child in their daily adventure and make a devoted time to look at those pictures in the evening. It can become a time to retell and celebrate each day. Take it to the next level by printing a few pictures and putting them in a scrapbook that your child can share with friends and family.
  8. Make a graffiti wall. Too hot or too rainy for sidewalk chalk? Cover a section of an indoor wall with paper and let the kids have at it. If your kids really love it, consider painting a portion of the wall with chalkboard paint, or just buy a large whiteboard.
  9. Visit a farm or petting zoo. Bring a few dollars to buy some food so your kids can get up close and personal with the animals. Don’t forget the wipes and hand sanitizer!
  10. Dance party. When all else fails, push the furniture out of the way and turn on some favorite tunes. There are no wrong moves in the privacy of your own home, and few activities bring out more joyful smiles than dancing with your loved ones!

And remember funds in an ABLE United account can be used at any time to help maintain or improve health, independence, or quality of life!

ABLE United Celebrates Second Anniversary

Florida was one of the first states in the nation to launch a qualified ABLE program, and in just two years, ABLE United has provided more than 2,300 Floridians with disabilities a new way to save for a better life experience.

“We are thrilled that many Floridians are now saving with ABLE United and are experiencing financial flexibility and freedom that they could not experience before. We look forward to serving all those who find ABLE United as their way to save for A Better Life Experience.” – John Finch, Director of ABLE United.

Don’t just take it from us – here’s what one of our account holders had to say when asked if they would recommend ABLE United to a friend or colleague who qualifies for participation:

“Every parent of a child with a disability needs to know that ABLE United exists.”

Enroll for FREE today and find out how thousands of individuals have jump started their savings and contributed more than $10 million to their accounts – building assets for today, tomorrow and for life.

Here’s what you’ll need to open your account:

  • Name, Address, Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Category of disability with onset before age 26
  • Selection of at least one savings or investment option

We’re making big changes this year to make the program even better, so stay up-to-date on all things ABLE United by signing up for our newsletter and following us on Facebook.

Savings are in Bloom with ABLE United

Spring into green with ABLE United.  Enrollment into an ABLE United account is FREE – and when you enroll during the month of May you will be automatically entered for a chance to win a $250 contribution to your account!

Open an account HERE by May 31, 2018, and you could be our one lucky winner. Asset thresholds no longer have to be a barrier – so start saving TODAY for a better future!

Click here for full contest rules.

World Braille Day celebrates literacy, economic empowerment

On January 4, we celebrate World Braille Day, and I’m excited to share all of the reasons we celebrate each year.

As the Executive Director of the Florida Lions Conklin Center for the Blind in Daytona Beach, we are the only organization in the country that exclusively serves clients who are blind with an additional disability, such as being blind and deaf, blind with brain injury, blind with an intellectual disability, and blind with cerebral palsy. We help our clients get ready for the workforce, and teaching them Braille is an important first step.

Braille is an old system; its developer, Louis Braille, was born in France in 1809. But his system of using fingertips to read raised patterns of dots still has a critical place in our increasingly technological world. While we have audio books that speak stories out loud to us; Siri who searches the Internet for us and reads our texts to us, these shortcuts aren’t enough – the knowledge of Braille provides an indispensable advantage in navigating our world.

Why? Literacy. Learning Braille is as fundamental to a blind person as learning to read is to a sighted person. Research has shown a strong connection between knowledge of Braille and vocational success. It matters if I am almost anybody in the economy that I can write something that’s spelled correctly, punctuated properly and grammatically correct. Sighted people don’t realize how much their ability to write is reinforced by constant reading and often take that essential skillset for granted. Braille readers earn their success through lots of intentional practice.

Our aim for our clients is that they leave us ready to enter the workforce – from handling stock in retail stores and working in restaurants to working in an assembly line in an industrial setting and working in customer service.

For years, we were very frustrated that our clients couldn’t accumulate savings from their efforts because they couldn’t jeopardize losing federal disability benefits. That’s why we are advocates of the ABLE United program, which allows our clients to save their earnings in a way that helps them achieve their life goals.

At the Conklin Center, our desire is to help our clients live the life they desire to live. Braille education is one tool we use to achieve this goal. ABLE United is another. Our hope for you is that you find all the tools you need to achieve your dreams, too.

Robert Kelly is the executive director of the Florida Lions Conklin Center for the Blind in Daytona Beach.

Jump Start Your Savings with ABLE United

‘Tis the season for giving, and at ABLE United, we’re in the holiday spirit! In addition to recently reducing the monthly account fee to $0.00 – ABLE United is also offering individuals who open their ABLE United account in November and December 2017 a chance to win $1,000.

Open an ABLE United account HERE by December 31, 2017, and you will be entered to win a $1,000 contribution to your new ABLE United account.

What better way to start your savings plan than with a little bit of help? It’s our gift to one lucky winner!

Click here for full contest rules.

Save in September Giveaway

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Receive a $50 Account Contribution

Enroll in a new ABLE account between now and September 30th to receive a $50 contribution!

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