The below is something I was asked to write on behalf of the disABILITY Resource Center in my area. Now that the letter has reached its destination I have been given permission to distribute further.
I am including the letter as it was written by me.
I have this day been given great opportunity and much of it goes to the credit of this organization and the work it is doing for disabled persons such as myself. I encourage you to read this in its entirety and distribute further where appropriate.
The letter is self explanatory and will tell you what you need to know about its reason. If you have further questions you’re welcome to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or someone at the contact information given below.
Thanks for taking some time out of your day to read and distribute this.
Patty L. Fletcher
### State-wide Independent Living Council
C/O: Nicole Craig
disABILITY Resource Centre
900 East Hill Ave. Ste. 205
Knoxville, TN 37915
Dear State-wide Independent Living Council Member:
My name is Patty Fletcher and I am writing to show my support for the disABILITY Resource Centre and the services that they provide to the disability community in my region. I believe the work they do greatly benefits all members of our community, and provides much needed services to the underserved disability community in upper east Tennessee. Over the past 2.5 years, dRC-NE has assisted over 900 Northeast Tennesseans with disabilities, in becoming more independent, while educating an excess of 2,500 community members on the subject of Independent Living (IL). Staff have also provided outreach to the Northeast Tennessee Community at large via social media and collaboration with local television, radio and newspaper based media outlets. IL Services are greatly needed in our community, as according to U.S. Census Bureau 2014 American Community Survey, there are approximately 99,326 persons with disabilities living within the current dRC-NE Service Area, which comprises roughly 20.34 percent of the total population.
These IL services are greatly needed in the Upper East Tennessee region as this is an under served area of the State of Tennessee, with no Center offering IL services. As I understand it, there have been two previous attempts to establish IL services in the Northeast area of Tennessee that have failed. Now, we have a thriving center in our community, which has provided services to the counties of Washington, Sullivan, Greene, Carter, Hawkins, Johnson and Unicoi for over two and a half years, we are faced with the possibility of losing it. I am in support of the dRC-NE receiving the funding it needs to continue, as they are vital to our community.
What are some of the services that the disAbility Resource Center provides?
The below list of services gives a great overview of what this awesome Center is doing to improve the lives of each disabled person it assists, in turn this enables the person to go out and become a ‘PRODUCTIVE MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITIES’ in which they live.
Please make sure to read this listing, as I have added my own comments throughout due to my own personal experiences. After all, who better to ask about the need for services than one who has both benefited and is now volunteering for the Center which provides them…?
Information and Referral
We provide people with disabilities, family members, businesses, professionals and the general public with information about resources, accessibility, accommodations, rights, and referrals to resources.
If we’re able to continue with this work, we will not only continue to hand out such information and referrals as we already have available, but we will be able to seek out more as time goes along. Thus educating the public at large, and assisting the disabled client as well.
I for one learned long ago that Information is POWER and that with the right kind anything is possible.
It is our goal to provide as much Information and as Many referrals as are available.
Independent Living Skills Training
People with disabilities are assisted in the development of skills and knowledge that encourage independence. We provide individual instruction and workshops based on our needs assessments.
Once the needs are decided upon plans must be made and placed in to action to see that all skills needed are addressed and that the individual receives as much instruction and training as is needed, to enable them to live as ‘INDEPENDENTLY’ as is possible.
I have learned from my own experience when needing services within the home, such as light house-keeping, the reading of mail, and at times, assistance with shopping due to large items needing to be purchased and which I found difficult to carry on the bus. When I did not have services, nor the funds, or equipment to make doing it on my own ‘INDEPENDENTLY’ I would become stressed, and nonproductive as a result. So you can see the large need for this Center to continue forward in its work.
Individual Advocacy Services
This service assists people with disabilities to become self-advocates by actively participating in the process to support one’s rights, or in obtaining services needed for independence.
This service assists individuals to create reforms at the local, state, and national levels. Our agency advocates for changes in the system that will increase equality and inclusion for the disability community.
Over the years I have been a strong supporter of this type of work. I publish a monthly Online Magazine called The Neighborhood News, and I have lots of disabled readers from all over. I have been putting out the word, and letting them know of these types of Centers. The reason is clear, we as disabled persons have needs, wants, and desires, dreams, and aspirations, just as anyone else. The learning of how to disseminate what we want and need. A desire in a clear and correct manner which will allow for understanding and action from all parties necessary to continue this work onward. This is vital to a disabled person’s success for all things mentioned above.
Peer support services are offered to people with disabilities by people with disabilities. Peers provide information, share their personal experience, listen, and help others to solve problems via telephone, e-mail, internet, support groups, educational and recreational activities.
As someone who suffers from Multiple disabilities, it is my deepest conviction and something I place in the highest of priorities to see that the work of the PEER SUPPORT SERVICES continue at all cost and without interruption. I learned by being the recipient of PEER SUPPORT SERVICES that it is almost impossible for someone such as myself to do without them. Everyone needs a place to go and just be themselves, and people to do it with. The PEER SUPPORT SERVICES we, at the disAbility Resource Center are able to provide, are simply PRICELESS!
Transition services refer to moving individuals from nursing homes and other institutions to home and community based residences. Assistance is provided to those who are at risk of being placed into an institutional setting. It also refers to transitioning young adults from attending school to living life in the world and gaining employment.
Again as someone suffering from disabilities such as mine could not do without such awesome help as is spoken of here. I can speak as one who had to do without such services as these. When I left the Tennessee School For the Blind, and went out on my own, after having a brief stint in a hospital, I was totally not prepared for what awaited me. It has taken me years and many trials, mistakes and challenges, finally solid triumphs to get to the point at which I am today.
Had there been services such as what are written of above I might have turned out even better!
I can only hope now to use the experience I have gained and now see as being beneficial for the developing of continued Transitional Services, and to assist people with becoming able to function in society as PRODUCTIVE INDEPENDENT Persons.
Limited legal assistance is provided under the direction of a supervising attorney.
Personal Attendant Services
Through our personal care attendant program, we assist individuals with disabilities to obtain and/or maintain residence in the community rather than in nursing homes.
While I haven’t as of yet become disabled to the point of needing skilled care, I hope that should I ever need them, that the funding would be there for me to have them.
Ramps and Rails
Ramps and limited home modifications are provided through available grants and fundraising activities.
The service of adapting homes for those in wheelchairs and who have walking disabilities is near and dear to my heart. My mother could’ve benefited greatly from a program such as this, and I can only wish I’d known of it when she was alive to need it.
Now I hope to have the privilege of assisting others with getting such awesome additions to their homes.
Assistance is available to individuals seeking to obtain employment.
Through a contract with TN Rehabilitation Services, we provide Supported Employment, Job Placement services and Computer Training Skills.
Speaking as one who has gone without employment for as much as two and a half years at a time, and who is at this moment unemployed, who chooses to volunteer to keep up skills, I have to say these employment services are vital to the ‘COMMUNITY’ as a whole. If people are employed they are making money, if they’re making it, they’re spending it in the businesses around them. So, again, everyone is benefited.
Spirit of ADA Awards Celebration
I myself, was honored and privileged to be a part of this day, and in fact did present the award to Congressmen Phil Roe. Although the Congressmen did not get to make it that day, I was able, as a result of this fine organization to present my very own work as a writer to the assistant there and to receive the award for him. I was disappointed and thrilled all at the same time.
Nowhere else can you get experiences like these. Not in this area. I used to work for CONTACT CONCERN of Northeast Tennessee INC and loved it. I am no longer able to work there, so having the Northeast Tennessee disAbility Resource Center available to volunteer at, keep up my skills, and gain new ones at the same time. This is vital to my very own survival.
Even though I haven’t participated in the rest given I list them just the same, so you can see it all for yourself.
Disability Mentoring Day Extreme Challenge
As you can see this organization is all about the improvement of life for all disabled persons everywhere and this work will in turn improve all the COMMUNITIES concerned.
Patty L Fletcher
Author Motivational Speaker Nonprofit consultant and Volunteer for the Northeast Tennessee disAbility Resource Center