It is hard to believe that I have already been working with Lutheran Services in America for six weeks. It seems like just yesterday I was walking past the Capitol building in awe, ecstatic that I found my way to LSA without getting lost or being late on my first day. Today, I went through the motions of getting on the metro and heading past the Capitol without any concerns. I know my way around now, this is starting to feel more like my city. Today, someone asked me for directions and I knew exactly what to tell them. A lot has happened in these six weeks, and I have started to look at the DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia) as my adopted community.
Recently, Lutheran Services in America Disability Network (LSA-DN) had the privilege of hosting 30 self-advocates, family members, direct support staff and program staff from Bethesda Lutheran Communities, Filling Homes, KenCrest, Lutheran Family Services of Virginia, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and Mosaic for our second "Speak Up! Self-Advocate Training" in Washington, DC.
The Washington, D.C. area has been preparing for the arrival next week of Pope Francis, leader of the global Roman Catholic Church. During this historic visit, the Pope will be welcomed by the President at the White House, will hold a special mass at Catholic University and will address a joint meeting of Congress, in addition to visiting local congregations and volunteers and a stop at an organization affiliated with Catholic Charities USA that feeds the poor and homeless in the city.
The LSA Disability Network (LSA-DN) is a nationwide association of Lutheran social ministry organizations, faith-based organizations and Lutheran professionals who support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To date, LSA-DN includes 25 member organizations that provide support to more than 150,000 individuals, in 32 states and the Virgin Islands.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created to ensure equality for individuals' with disabilities. I personally have a mild cognitive disability called Cerebral Palsy. While this affects my fine motor skills as well as my mobility/walking abilities, my disability does not stop me from accomplishing my daily tasks. Over the years, the ADA has helped me overcome issues dealing with employment, transportation, and self-advocacy. However, there are challenges that the ADA has not addressed.
Earlier this month, Bill Nolan from KenCrest Centers reflected on the importance of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to the people our network serves and the work of disability ministry. Today, we are honored to share a reflection from Linda Timmons, the President and CEO of Mosaic, an organization based in Omaha, Nebraska that provides a life of possibilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, supporting and empowering them in pursuit of their goals. Mosaic, a member of LSA, is an active member of the LSA Disability Network (LSA-DN). This post originally appeared on the Mosaic website on July 23, 2015.
Sometimes I think of KenCrest as a large classroom spread across three states. Like all the agencies of Lutheran Services in America, many thousands of dedicated staff and the people we (LSA) support in vibrant and enthusiastic relationship are confronted each day with opportunities to bring their unique talents and abilities to life. No fixed roles: sometimes teachers, sometime students moving together, all building toward positive goals. A boisterous community lab-setting, full of experimentation with no graduation day in sight.
This year marks the beginning of the 114th Congressional session, and many of the federal programs and funding sources that are crucial to the work of Lutheran social ministry are at the forefront of the current Congressional policy debate. In anticipation of landmark legislation that could potentially affect our members being put before Congress, we made sure that we were focused on the valuable work of building relationships with key policymakers.
As many of you know, our director of public policy and advocacy Bob Francis has transitioned out of his public policy work with LSA to pursue a doctorate at Johns Hopkins University. We wish him many blessings, and I’m confident he will stay in touch with our network as he pursues the next step in his life’s journey.