I hope the holidays are treating you well. It’s the time of year when I write to you to ask for your continued support of People with Disabilities Succeeding (PDS). I usually wait until I am feeling inspired to write, and today I am feeling inspired!
The reason I am feeling upbeat and positive right now is because of our newest client and future Client Rights Advocate, Nicole. Nicole is not like the people we usually serve, because she only has physical disabilities. She was born with cerebral palsy, which has rendered her unable to walk or talk. She uses her wrist to type on a computer, and she gets around using an electric wheelchair and public transportation. Nicole is incredibly independent and an exceptional communicator and self-advocate, despite her limitations. Our plan is for her to become, ironically, a voice for our clients, as their advocate.
Nicole has breathed life into PDS and made me more excited about my job and coming to work every day. Because she is in training, I spend a lot of time with her, explaining the PDS philosophy and teaching her about the folks we serve. Nicole impressively comes in every day, often in the pouring rain, and always has a great attitude, a wonderful sense of humor, and respect for her coworkers and the other people we serve. She is an excellent role model to all of us and a joy for us to get to know.
Working with Nicole has reminded me of why I got started in this field to begin with and ignited my passion. She reminds me of how people can be so caring, so open-minded and so welcoming to others, even when they are very different. We were all a little nervous with her at first because she is so different than the folks we usually work with. Her quietness can be intimidating, and her silence often makes me babble! Because she uses a short-hand type of communication, she can be very direct. But PDS is an incredibly diverse group of staff members and participants, and we all feel like a big family despite our backgrounds, our abilities, and our ethnic, religious and age differences. We have embraced Nicole as one of us, and somehow it feels like we have found a puzzle piece that was missing in our organization.
I am sitting with Nicole now as I compose this letter, and I just asked her to tell me how she feels about PDS. She typed, “I feel like I have a purpose every day, which I have not experienced since college. Also I feel like I have a new best friend in Lisa.”
As I watch Nicole put so much effort into typing that sentence, I feel blessed to know someone with such determination and inner strength. I would also like to introduce Matt, who is another new participant of PDS. Matt is kind quiet and bright. He is very interested in history and loves the movies. Both Nicole and Matt are looking for employment opportunities, so please contact me if you have any leads for them.
I feel gratitude for this job, where I get to know so many fantastic individuals with so much to offer to the world. It’s an honor to help them tap their potential and contribute to society. And as our country becomes more divided and we see more and more ugliness in the media, I still feel hopeful when I witness the beauty of our community’s kindness toward, encouragement of and acceptance of people with disabilities.
Thank you for supporting PDS, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.
PDS Founder and Executive Director