I wrote my annual fundraising letter to our donors the other day and wanted to
adapt it to share my gratitude with you.
There once was a very unbeautiful, very rocky, rotten island. It had acres of sharp
gravel and volcanoes that belched fire and smoke, spewed hot lava, and spat poison
arrows and double headed toads;. This is the beginning of a book I used to read to
Andre when he was little called Rotten Island by William Steig. It was about a
horrible place overrun by monsters, in which one day a flower mysteriously grows
out of a bed of gravel on the scorched earth. It’s a parable about how from
something ugly, beauty can grow.
As I sit in my new office, looking out at our patio seeing my PDS friends walking
by, laughing, holding hands, and hugging, I think of the Friend Zone as something
beautiful that grew from the dark, sad days of the pandemic. During that
depressing, dreary time, we created The Friend Zone, a joyful gathering place
where there is never any shortage of kindness and cheer.
Thanksgiving time gives us the opportunity to reflect on things that we have to be
grateful for and to give thanks. But at PDS a day does not go by without hearing
people express gratitude and appreciation. When Paige and I arrive to work, we are
greeted by all our friends, thanking me for their jobs, their amazing staff, and for
all the different activities they experience as part of People with Disabilities
Succeeding: cooking, day trips, hiking, exercise, dance, karaoke, art, games and so
much more fun. I love working next door to The Friend Zone. Right now, Windy is
leading a math game. Cheers and applause cause Paige’s tail to flutter, as she rests
on the floor next to my desk. Even during my days off, I look forward to checking
into our WhatsApp group to see photos of all the exciting happenings at PDS, and
to read the sweet, encouraging messages between our clients and staff members.
Kelly just wrote today, “I love all my friends and my staff, all the people in The
Friend Zone”. And John Paul, commented, “Same. I love all my staff and friends
so much. You are wonderful people.”
People with Disabilities Succeeding has emerged from the pandemic stronger,
happier, and more resilient, just like Rotten Island, which at the end of the book is
a paradise filled with lovely flowers, birds, and an overarching rainbow.
Because of the respect, compassion, and grace that we show one another, we are a
caring, trusting team that can get through hard times together. And we celebrate
our blessings every day, not just at Thanksgiving.
Thank you to every single one of you for the gifts, talents, skills, and kindness you
bring to People with Disabilities Succeeding and to The Friend Zone.
PDS Founder and Executive Director