National Volunteer Week 2009 is April 19-25. This year’s theme is “Celebrating People in Action.” Below are three new stories of service members or volunteers with disabilities in action, “honoring the individuals who dedicate themselves to taking action and solving problems in their communities.”
Tiffany Hunter, AmeriCorps VISTA
People First of Nevada-Carson City Chapter, 2006-present
Quadriplegia and TBI
“The Carson City Chapter of People First [of Nevada], began with 10 people. In three years, we’ve doubled,” says Tiffany. Meeting monthly, she tracks and facilitates PFN-CC meetings and encourages those in attendance to determine the thrust of the chapter. The experience of working as a VISTA has also allowed Tiffany to increase the network of partners connected to PFN-CC. “We had a barbecue social, but we didn’thave very much money to hold the event. I looked around for donations, but wasn’t having much luck until I talked to the manager at the local grocery chain where I shop. She originally offered to donate $20, but when I went back to the store to pick up the donation, she had increased the donation to $50. With that I was able to buy everything I needed to cover the whole event. Everyone at the barbecue wrote a really nice thank you and she seemed really touched. And now we have a community partner!”
Elsa Baker, Senior Corps RSVP
Senior Corps of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA, 2001-present
In the spring of 2008, Elsa Baker was recognized for her continued dedication to service and to her community, as she was honored with the United Way of the Capital Region’s Essence of Humanity Award. Elsa has served primarily with Pinnacle Health Hospice & Homecare since 2001, working mostly behind the scenes doing a wide variety of administrative tasks, from assembling information to send out to donors, to putting together letters to kids at Camp Dragonfly, a camp for children and teens that have lost their loved ones. Pinnacle Health Hospice & Homecare have now consolidated their locations, but up until recently, Elsa was splitting her time between the two offices five days a week, about 100 hours every month. In order to serve at both locations she learned to drive. Elsa has also resolved to use a pen and paper on site, as she doesn’t read lips. “I am so proud of my ability to do anything. Most of the people I meet are willing to accept me. They understand how to communicate [by using ASL] or they write things down.”
Service-Learning participant (high school)
Declined to disclose
“Tony” was in a transition-planning meeting and when he was asked what he was interested in, he told his team he wanted to learn more about film and media studies. Then, in a discussion in his media class, he and his classmates stated that they were concerned about the stereotypes faced by minority youth in their community. Their teacher remembered that the local television station was looking for youth and other community members to produce public service announcements. The class subsequently produced a thirty-minute PSA focusing on minority youth in their community. Serving to help create the PSA allowed Tony and his classmates the opportunity to engage with the community. Tony’s teachers and transition team were able to use the PSA project as a way to assess his skills and annual goals outlined in his Individual Education Plan and help him plan for his future.
How does your organization plan to “celebrate people [of all abilities] in action”?
If you are, or if you know of any current or former service members with disabilities who may like to share their service experience, please email me at sarah.kaplan [at] umb.edu or submit a story.
For more information about National Volunteer Week or to read stories of people with disabilities in service, visit:
- Stories of People with Disabilities in National Service (PDF)
- 2009 National Volunteer Week Toolkit: HandsOn Network
- Planning for National Volunteer Week: 20 Tips
Please feel free to contact us with any disability inclusion questions and requests for information at NSIP [at] umb.edu or 888-491-0326 (V/TTY). Visit our website for a list of trainings offered by NSIP.
The National Service Inclusion Project is a cooperative agreement (08TAHMA001) between the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston in collaboration with the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, Association on Higher Education and Disability, National Council on Independent Living and National Down Syndrome Congress. Information contained in this email is for informational purposes only and does not imply endorsement from the National Service Inclusion Project or the Corporation for National and Community Service.
I found a non-profit that supports people with disabilities to become more independent through job skills – they started a recycling business and picked up some city offices and National Park service as clients. I think they are hoping to share the model with other NPs. Good all around!