A Noteworthy Cause - Inspiring America's Disabled Beyond their Disability(s)
Our blog is about our cause, and not about our popcorn. Really, how much can a popcorn business possibly blog about popcorn anyway? Our Cause is to make a better America for all of us, including those that are disabled.
“A Dream For The Disabled,” is my very first blog, with many to follow. My goal in this blog is to not only map out the inception of this dream, but to verify a logical need for us as American citizens to help bring about the next step of change that needs to occur in motivating our disabled population beyond their disability, (e.g., something they deal with on a daily basis, but something for which they should not identify with). I believe it is our approach in assisting America's disabled population that utterly fails to capitalize on the fact that we are a capitalistic nation. Changing this approach involves changing their mindset. All too many people with disabilities end up identifying with their disability simply by virtue of dealing with it or needing to compensate for it daily...just to function.
America's disabled need a reason not to identify with their disability as much as any one of us --having sustained a broken leg-- would not walk around day after day, informing ourselves and others, "I am a broken leg."
I just want to offer a little bit of background into my inception of this dream, and the trek it has been just bringing it this far. As the painting to the left creatively illustrates, the journey up this mountain has proven both fulfilling and incredibly challenging as we discuss with people the sort of project we are intending on creating. A program that goes one step further than anything yet offered to America's disabled population. A program that taps into the parts of them that exist as a result them needing to accomodate their disability.
I first began conceptualizing this dream while working toward my degree in Social Welfare back in 1993. The dream started to take shape over the years as I worked in my degreed field. It started with an internship working in adolescent shelters in the Milwaukee WI area. Upon graduating from college in 1997, I began working as a counselor at a center that provided residential, educational, vocational and day programming for children, adolescents and young adults, most dually diagnosed with emotional disturbances and developmental disabilities.
After investing 8 years of my life achieving a degree in social welfare, it took me just a little over 6 years to leave it. The bureaucracy of governmental funding and licensing serves to cripple people like me from fulfilling the reason we entered this field in the first place. Namely, to offer hope to the hopeless, and inspiring people with disabilities to be productive thriving members of society. Never wanting to let go of this chosen field, I knew any re-entery into it would need to be on my own terms.
In 2005, I became a mentor to a young man I met at a church camp I attended. He was a member of an affiliate church in my area. He was 22 years of age, and was yet hopeful and full of zeal for life, and had a cognitive disability. Prior to our friendship, he was assessed and awarded disability income through the federal government. He was required to have a payee manage his money, which is reasonable. What I found shocking though was that they charged him a monthly fee for this service, subtracting it from his --already-- meager disability subsidy that he was barely able to live on. I volunteered to be his payee for free. It was through volunteering as his payee, that I got to see this young man's attitude change over time, as he aspired for the normal American dream, but consistently fell short. This is where the vision I have of offering opportunity to the disabled, really began to solidify.
We Are Going To Need A Solution
In our current age, greater dependence on government appears to be the agenda of our current administration. If this agenda is not the America you have in mind, then an alternative plan is going to need to be created and implemented -especially as it pertains to motivating and elevating people with disabilities beyond their disability(s).
A Noteworthy Cause reverberates such a plan.
A Noteworthy Cause -- A bit of History
In order for us to embark on creating, and implementing this plan, we will need to understand the history of social welfare in America. If you were to take a 100-level college course in social welfare, you would find that most major charitable organizations that exist today in America originated out of Christian or church-driven organizations. It would make sense that these charitable organizations originated out of churches, because if we look into the history of America, not only was religious freedom a strong component of our country’s history and heritage, but it was a central theme to our country’s existence, since almost it's very beginning with the landing of the Pilgrims in 1620.
The time between the 1870’s to the beginning of the 1900’s was an era in our country of what has become known as the “Reconstruction Era” following the end of the civil war. This was also the period of time known as the "Industrial Revolution.” This was a time of one of the major surges of immigrants migrating to the US from Europe as a result of hard economic times there. They came in search of a new beginning from the land of opportunity. Many trades became obsolete as a result of various innovations and inventions, as well as the advent of machine tools, and new more efficient ways of doing things. New jobs were more plentiful as various factories and industries arose. These and other factors all contributed to a more centralization of our country's population, and the buildup of our cities. This led way to the beginning of the need for charitable organizations to assist and fill in the gaps of so many people in need.
Also, during this same time, the US was going through their own struggles. Jobs were not as plentiful as was hoped, for those leaving their homelands in search of a new beginning. Europe's economy was greatly depressed at this time. Imagine leaving one's homeland as a result of barely struggling to make ends meet.
Imagine being an immigrant at such a time. You've sold all you had, paid off all your debts, and paid for passage to America. Upon making it to Lady Liberty, you and your family wait through Ellis Island to receive unusual physical examinations by government doctors, hoping and praying you will be allowed to continue on through. You've done all of this because your uncle 'Ole' has written many letters, informing you of all the work available with good wages in America. Except, upon having made the tremendous journey, you come to find that the multitude of jobs uncle Ole spoke of, have all been filled by the multitude of other immigrants that have come before you, and with you, and now your circumstances are far more dire and desperate than they were before having left the fatherland.
The “Melting Pot” that the US eventually came to be known as, was not yet melted at this time. The immigrants that had ties to relatives that were already settled in the US had a huge advantage over those that did not. Another advantage to this, would be their "Lack of Need" to be able to speak the English language. The language barrier was as much a barrier to employment and getting ahead then, as it was at the “Tower of Babel," and as much as it is today in the 21st century. Also relevant to this conversation is the fact that one’s nationality yet played a large role in one’s ability to obtain work. There were certain industries that were mostly employed by certain nationalities of people. For instance in 1890, it was found that nearly 90 percent of the laborers in New York's Department of Public Works were Italian immigrants. There is so much more to all of this than what I can define in this blog. I do need to point out that exclusivity and separation of America's masses at this time, also came down to showing allegiance or alliance to one's own heritage. This showed itself apparent as inner city sports teams arose, and the composition of those teams being separated along lines of nationality.
This separation was further bolstered in the various charity organizations within each of these nationalities. If you were someone of Italian descent in need of assistance, you would go to a charity organization that represented your own nationality. Jewish charities helped Jewish citizens. Polish charitable organizations helped Polish citizens. Family was as tied to heritage, as was heritage tied to family. Marrying outside of one's nationality would have been unthinkable. That melting pot of people who aligned themselves to heritage, needed to have life events that would challenge or shake-up that pot. Events like a couple of world wars, men marching side-by-side in union pickets lines, men voting for city, state and federal elections, women's suffrage and church affiliation, (i.e., placing Christian morals and values above exclusion of others nationalities who are in need). Yes, there are a lot of factors yet remaining to be discussed in next month's blog.
I cannot possibly describe our "Dream" in just one blog post. So, over the next couple of months I hope to be able to clarify this vision to you our committed readers, in much more finite detail . It is my hope that some of you reading our blog will take up this cause with us, and help us bring this dream into fulfillment.
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