Atlanta

Invitation to No Limits

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I would like to invite you to the opening reception for the exhibit, No Limits, at Mason Fine Art on Thursday, November 10th, from 6-9 PM. This is an exhibition featuring artists from Georgia who are living with a disability. My project, Real Stories, Real People, will also be on exhibit. Please join us on Thursday evening to support these talented artists.

Mae’s Job Training at Agnes Scott

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Mae works in the cafeteria at Agnes Scott College once a week through a job training program at her high school. Over 80% of adults with intellectual disabilities are not employed. Approximately 63% of people with disabilities who are unemployed want to work. The majority of special education students who age out of high school could be successful at working paid jobs in the community but supported employment is needed to ensure their success. Earning an income would steer these individuals away from a life of dependence and poverty. For every dollar invested in supported employment there is a return of $1.61.

Once Mae ages out of high school in November our focus will be on job training. Mae is very capable of working but she will need perhaps a year of social skills, community navigation and job training before she would be ready to be placed, then who knows how many months of job coaching? However, at some point I believe she will make a good employee and by working, she will begin to return Georgia’s investment in her. She has participated in a number of internship positions through her high school program and the common denominator is that she is a pleasure to work with so I am hopeful she will be able to find a position suitable for her, with time and help.

Bob (Mae’s father)

A Father’s Perspective

Bob

When you have a child or children with life-long disabilities, it changes the nature and indeed, the definition of child rearing in a profound and lasting way. Raising children becomes a decades long process, with tangible concerns moving well beyond the parent’s actual lifetime. Friendships are impacted. In the end, we navigate the path much more alone than do parents of typical children.

Bob (Mae’s dad)

Bob’s daughter Mae was featured in blog posts on July 19 and August 1, 2015 at https://realstoriesrealpeoplega.wordpress.com

 

 

FUNDING UPDATE

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I wish to extend a huge thank-you to the Decatur Baseball coaches, players and parents for supporting my project, Real Stories, Real People. This past Monday evening I was asked to throw out the first pitch. This was both an honor and a humbling experience. My pitch soared sky-high and plopped down short of home plate. As I walked off the mound towards the dugout I was intercepted by one of the graduating seniors with an envelope which contained a very generous donation for my project. Despite my lackluster performance this was an evening that touched my heart and will always be treasured. The game ball sits on my desk, scuffed from bouncing in our red Georgia clay; a reminder of a special evening and a remarkable group of young men.

To make a tax-deductible donation visit my website at http://www.realstoriesrealpeople.org/donate/

The Stewart Family Story

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“We have an incredible family life but it is a very fragile one. Any significant event to either of us puts the entire family at great risk. We struggle to keep up with the daily routine. As Diane and I transition from middle to old age, we will not be able to continue being caregivers with any effectiveness. Unless programs and funding are in place, our family’s story does not have a happy ending.” 

Pat and Diane Stewart

View the full story at http://www.realstoriesrealpeople.org/aaron-and-ryan/.

The Stewart Family story embodies all the challenges that families face when caring for a child with a developmental disability. Their story is a complex one for several reasons, one of which is that Pat and Diane are caregivers to two grown sons. Pat and Diane live with emotional, physical and financial challenges that most people cannot even begin to fathom. They have been the sole caregivers to Aaron and Ryan for almost 22 years and have never received any funding for support. In addition, Aaron is aging out of high school in one month and without support services and a plan in place he is at risk for living a life of isolation. Despite the challenges these parents face, Pat and Diane are not only concerned for the future of their sons but also the future of all persons who are living a with a disability.  As Pat and Diane struggle to keep their heads above water they are thinking about ways they can advocate within their community to ensure that all citizens have the opportunity to live meaningful and productive lives.

Testimony at Capitol

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Yesterday was a cold, blustery, winter day that was predicted to produce icy roads and possible flurries. While some school districts closed and many offices delayed the start of the day, business proceeded as usual at the Capitol. I was asked by  Dawn Alford, the Acting Public Policy Director at the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities to testify at a legislative committee meeting about the need for increased funding for more Medicaid waivers to support persons living with a developmental disability (DD). I had the opportunity to speak to legislators about my project, Real Stories, Real People, and present several of the photo essays. This is the time to voice your support for funding to support people with DD. Please contact your State Senator and Representative and ask them to support funding for the following:

Unlock the Waiting List Ask – $16,493,000 for 1000 NOW/COMP Waivers for FY 2016

Supported Employment – $ 1.96 Million for 250 students leaving high school to secure gainful employment in an integrated work setting

A link on my website will assist you in identifying your legislators and provide you with contact information at thttp://www.realstoriesrealpeople.org/how-can-i-help/