PDS celebrates our 30-year anniversary on July 1, 2020! It’s hard to believe that some of our original clients including Berta and JR have been with PDS since 1990! And plenty of others including Eric, Kasie, Kelly, and Lisa have been with PDS for over 25 years! Lisa and Robin have worked for Banana Republic for over 20 years; JR and Eric have worked for Costco for over 23 years; and Berta and Kelly have worked for Cost Plus for over 28 years!
I’m so proud of our accomplishments and also excited for our future! This year we welcomed some fantastic young clients who are motivated to try new things and to embark on adventures as adults. Sheyla just got her first job at Autodesk working in the cafeteria. Niles said he never expected that he would be able to work at places as nice as Woodlands Market, where he bales cardboard and Point Bonita YMCA, where he is working in the kitchen. We have also welcomed Kayla who is a gutsy young woman with an artistic flair. We’re not sure where life will take Kayla, but it will be fun to help her along the way!
I have such amazing people in my life, and I receive just as much emotional support from them as I am able to give in return. When my dog, Paige, and I drive into the parking lot every morning, we are met by our friends who run to us to give us hugs and who act happy to see us, even through it’s been barely 24 hours since we received our last warm greeting.
I’ve been reflecting upon my good fortune because my son Andre is currently in high school and struggling as any adolescent does, to find his “tribe.” André has a very keen interest in not just animals but specifically snakes, so you can imagine how difficult it is for him to find friends that share in this particular passion. When he was younger he felt lonely, but now he has the Internet to connect him with other people that love herpetology.
In the eighties when I was in high school, you can imagine how hard it was to connect with other people that shared my passion. My interest in Special Education wasn’t exactly popular. I suspected that people thought I was weird for being so narrowly focused on this one purpose: to include people with disabilities in every day life.
I have become more acutely aware of how lucky I am to lead such a diverse team of staff members with different strengths and gifts, who all have one key quality in common: kindness. Nowadays, and particularly within the last couple of years, I have started to see a shift in the way society values kindness. I’ve noticed that kindness has actually become cool. It’s become substantially easier to find people who value people with disabilities, believe in their potential, and want to help them succeed. Jarrod, Shirley, and the rest of the PDS team impress me every day by going so far above the call of duty for our organization, and no matter how stressed they get, they always have time, patience and love left for every single wonderful client that we serve.
In 1990 when I first started hiring people to work for PDS, it was difficult for me to find anyone who would show up and treat our clients with dignity, let alone provide the caliber of services that we have become known for. I don’t think I ever could’ve imagined that PDS would someday be able to provide such high quality art, yoga, martial arts, table tennis, dance, sports, fitness, nutrition, and nature activities. My staff are amazingly talented, and they show respect for our clients by challenging them and maintaining high standards for their participation. Our employees share so generously of their skills, energy, and hearts because they value our clients and want them to participate as equals in all the joys of life.
I have finally found my tribe! Experiences like the Department of Developmental Services audit in April and power outages in October illustrated just how loyal and giving everyone at PDS is, and when necessary, how we come together and envelop each other in support, improving quality of life, not just for our clients, but for each other.
Thank you so much for being one of the kind people in the world who support People with Disabilities Succeeding. Here’s to another 30 years of diversity and inclusion of adults with disabilities at work, play and school in Marin!
PDS Founder and Executive Director