Posted By:Paige MadorShare This Post
A New Year Has Arrived
By Mike Hyland, President and CEO
Another year has passed and a new one is now beginning. This annual event always provides us with two opportunities: to look back or to look ahead. Looking back can be exhausting, so let’s spend a couple of minutes looking ahead. Each new year begins only once and this is the time to wonder what 2018 can be. I believe it can be a year of hope.
Let’s hope this will be the year when the incredibly dedicated direct-care staff who choose to work with people with developmental disabilities and other needs are recognized as the talented professionals they are. That everyone finally realizes the value these amazing people bring to our society every day and the critical importance of their profession. Without them, people with disabilities would still be living in facilities that remove them from the community rather than in nice homes that allow them to be a vibrant part of it. Worse yet, many people who need help simply would not have it. The men and women who encompass the human services profession deserve to be paid an appropriate wage commensurate with the challenging and meaningful work they do every day.
Let’s hope 2018 will be the year when people with disabilities are no longer stigmatized. That it will be a year where everyone with a disability is treated with respect and dignity at school, at work, and in the neighborhood. This can be the year we all acknowledge that people with disabilities are still abused at a much higher rate than those without disabilities. They are bullied and dismissed and taken advantage of at an alarming rate and every leader needs to stand up and say that this is a national problem that needs immediate attention. Now is a time to hope that failures to adequately address the issue in previous years can be erased by sweeping action.
Let’s hope this is the year that our society sees a seismic turn back toward civility. That we can look back in 2019 and say that the old year was when people remembered what it is like to work together on behalf of others, to create resources that allow everyone to thrive, and to finally ensure that those who need help are never left behind again. 2018 can be a time when the nation returns to acceptance in place of derision and where discussion replaces argument. For too long now we have allowed leaders and people in power to treat those who disagree with them as enemies rather than as people with a different point of view. Those who need help are usually caught in the middle of this divide and we should all hope that the people who have put them there realize they’re part of the problem.
Finally, let’s hope that the New Year will be one where everyone can agree that those who need help should get it and that a society is strengthened when it takes care of them. People don’t ask to be born with a disability or to be homeless or to hear voices. Creating programs that help these people to achieve maximum independence is not merely compassionate, it is cost-effective. There is no shame in needing help to move forward, or at least there shouldn’t be. Let’s hope we can look back on 2018 someday and point to it as the year when we all agreed that people who needed assistance were able to find it and those who provided it were finally identified as the gifted professionals they have always been.