Sean Luechtefeld, 12.02.19
Antonio Meyers, participant in RCM of Washington’s Direct Support Professional Academy
(photo: Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
We’ve survived Black Friday. We’ve supported our local jaunts for Small Business Saturday. Today we’re constantly refreshing the Amazon homepage for Cyber Monday flash sales.
All of this can only mean one thing: Giving Tuesday 2019 is upon us.
Personally, I love Giving Tuesday. Whereas all of the other post-Thanksgiving holidays are about commercialism—yes, even Small Business Saturday—Giving Tuesday is all about giving back.
At the same time, Giving Tuesday can bring about some anxiety. There are so. many. organizations. deserving of my dollars. Especially lately, I find myself spending the days leading up to Giving Tuesday thinking about the wide range of causes to which I might donate a bigger chunk of money, only to decide to make a bunch of smaller donations to a wide range of organizations.
Sound familiar? I assume I’m not alone. And for that reason, I want to tell you why I believe the ANCOR Foundation’s Included. Supported. Empowered. campaign should be among the list of causes to which you consider donating tomorrow.
Included. Supported. Empowered. is an ambitious storytelling and public awareness-raising initiative designed to show the world what’s possible when people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have access to the supports they need to be included in the community. Currently, we’re two years into what is a three-year campaign, which will culminate next fall to coincide with ANCOR’s 50th anniversary.
In the two years since we launched Included. Supported. Empowered., we’ve told a lot of amazing stories—stories like that of Antonio Meyers. Antonio, who happens to be on the Autism spectrum, is a participant in the Direct Support Professional (DSP) Academy at RCM of Washington, an I/DD service provider here in our nation’s capital. In light of a national shortage of DSPs that is affecting RCM and thousands of other providers in communities across the country, the DSP Academy is preparing people with disabilities for careers supporting others with disabilities.
When I first heard about the DSP Academy, I was immediately intrigued because it seemed like a win-win-win: professionals like Antonio develop the skills they need to succeed in a meaningful career, RCM taps into a new set of potential DSPs to help alleviate high turnover and vacancy rates, and people with I/DD in Washington, DC, have high-quality support that empowers them to be part of the community.
As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one intrigued by Antonio and the innovative thinking at RCM. When the Included. Supported. Empowered. team shared this powerful story with a few local reporters, they took notice. And now, you can learn more about the DSP Academy by reading the Washington Post, listening to NPR, or following other local and national publications.
This is the essence of what the Included. Supported. Empowered. campaign was designed to do: lift up what works to show people who may otherwise be unaware all that’s possible when we invest in programs that include, support and empower people with I/DD. Because, as our tagline reminds us, we all have a stake in building opportunities for people with disabilities.
This work is exciting, and it’s important and…it’s a huge undertaking. Quite simply, we cannot do it alone.
That’s why, this Giving Tuesday, I hope you’ll consider making a contribution to Included. Supported. Empowered. As we enter our capstone year, we look forward to expanding on the success of our first two years and making our biggest statement yet about the importance of truly inclusive communities.
Your donation, no matter how big or small, is essential to our mission, and we’re so grateful to have your support—for Giving Tuesday and all year long. Thank you.
Sean Luechtefeld is Communications Director for ANCOR and the ANCOR Foundation.