Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!
At this time of year, I am extremely thankful for my job as Executive Director of PDS. I am especially grateful for having the opportunity to have close relationships with my participants—31 adults with developmental disabilities—who bring me so much joy and appreciation. Sometimes when I have a day off, I actually miss work! Our Program Coordinator, Jarrod, says the same thing. He and Shirley and I have discussed how lucky we are to have such rewarding and fulfilling jobs. We have the pleasure of knowing so many unique, kind and loving individuals, people who make us laugh and inspire us to be kind and brave and tenacious, like they are.
Every single person I work with enriches my life, from Sean, who reminds us “Don’t hate, participate,” or Eric who compliments me by saying “I like your face and I like your personality” to my newest and youngest participant, Jason. On Halloween, I was an actively sought out dance partner, particularly by Jason, who I am now taking dance lessons with. Dancing with an 18 year old makes me feel young and also very tired! At work, something happens every single day to make me smile. I never go a day without a warm hug or a kind word. Even my dog Paige is showered with affection and praise at the PDS office.
We had some amazing times this past year, visiting Slide Ranch and doing environmental activities together, going on scary rides at Six Flags, competing in a table tennis tournament, and partying it up at Rancho Nicasio on Halloween. We worked with the Transportation Authority of Marin to develop crossing guard positions for Frankie and Sallie, and lots of people lost weight and got healthier as a result of our fitness and nutrition meetings and events.
If there is one thing that I find difficult about my job, it’s fundraising. It is SO HARD to ask people for money and to try to “sell” our program to others. No matter how hard I try, I find it impossible to convey how special PDS is. We are not just a “program” for adults with developmental disabilities. PDS is like a family—a diverse, loving and sometimes crazy bunch of people from all different walks of life who help each other to navigate through intimidating and lonely times, with unconditional support and acceptance. PDS staff work alongside our clients at their places of employment, like Costco, Woodlands and Banana Republic, helping them stay focused and productive, and helping them reap the rewards of their hard work by having fun together in integrated community environments. I am so proud of our fantastic staff members, all who have been with PDS from 1 to 13 years, and continually surprise me with their dedication and caring. Recently David Coe with his new wife, Evelyn, and our summer employee, Vanessa Larios, took a group to a concert at a county fair. They did this on their own time, on a Saturday, after a long hard week. They did this because they truly enjoy spending time with our clients and just wanted to have more fun on the weekend. This is just one example of our staff going above and beyond the call of duty that I could share with you.
Serving only 31 participants allows PDS to continue to help them in the most personalized and supportive way possible. Your donations will truly make a significant difference in our clients’ quality of life and will not just be a “drop in the ocean.” Please continue to give what you can and spread the word about our good work. It’s not easy for me to ask you for your help, but I do it with my wonderful, deserving participants in mind.
May the holiday season bring you much happiness too.
PDS Founder and Executive Director