Advancing lives of connection, contribution, and meaning for persons with developmental disabilities and the individuals that support them.– Garden Center Services Mission Statement
It’s been thirty-six years since President Reagan recognized March as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month to increase “public awareness of the needs and the potential of Americans with developmental disabilities” and to provide the “encouragement and opportunities they need to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.” Though there have been strides made over the last three and a half decades, individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities continue their struggle to live their lives with the same access to those experiences and prospects that we all expect.
I am very pleased with our agency’s mission statement because I believe it identifies those desires that we all share in hoping that our time on this planet will make a difference; we all want to have connections, we want to believe that we have made contributions, and we need our lives to have meaning! This is the life we want for each of our participants and for every one of our employees as well. I guess the dream would be that at some point in the future we won’t need a special month dedicated to disability awareness.
To make this happen however, takes a certain amount of resources, and until just the last few years the state of Illinois lagged far behind in authorizing the revenue necessary to implement creative, flexible, quality supports for the persons we serve. Even with the increases of the past few years we are still playing catch up. In today’s economy with its workforce crisis that many health service providers are experiencing, it’s imperative that we are able to offer our staff a decent living wage! Why is it that our state still has too many developmental centers that they operate where the annual cost of serving an individual approaches $400,000! To serve that same individual in one of our settings we would be paid approximately 80 to 90,000 dollars. So when you receive notice from us asking that you contact your legislators, please do so. It’s really true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
I would like to share some incredibly good news with you. Just this last Friday the Illinois Housing Development Authority awarded Garden Center Services the funding necessary to move forward with our plans to develop a much needed 16 unit Permanent Supportive Housing apartment building that will provide adults with disabilities the opportunity to lease their own home. “Garden Apartments” will not be like our other group living alternatives as it is targeted for those individuals that can live independently with just minimal assistance. I am very proud that our agency’s application was approved for funding as this is a statement about Garden Center’s financial stability and the constancy of our adherence to all the state’s rules and regulations. I am very grateful to our Board of Directors for their support of this initiative and to all the staff that assisted with the application process. Doing everything we can to assist all persons with disabilities is the true spirit of Garden Center Services!
In closing, I want to wish each of you a joyful Easter and sun-kissed Spring!