By: Waverly Ann Harris
Often, when I am sitting with a new family in my office, they share a similar story with me. It is a story of their adult child being underestimated, being discounted, being forgotten, lacking opportunities, not BELONGING. Since the time of their child’s diagnosis, doctors, teachers, and community leaders often assume that their child will never be able to achieve milestones, life events, and success. Families come to us in a place where very few have taken the time to see their child for who they are and their abilities. They are at times faced with, “I’m sorry, but your child will never…”, and it is left up to the parents to defy all they have been told by the professionals they trust.
Individuals with disabilities, from birth through adulthood, are restricted by other people and the systems within society due to the lack of knowledge and understanding of what a disability is and what it means to have one. As the Friends grow and develop into the people they were created to be, it often becomes apparent that they are limited in their opportunities. Even with the support of friends, church members, school systems, and practitioners, families can often feel very lonely and tired of trying to move mountains within a society that has not been built for their loved one.
That is where Friends Life Community comes in. Friends Life Community is not only a place where the Friends BELONG, find acceptance, feel safe, build job skills, and be surrounded by a support system, it is a place for families to find support and peace of mind. Friends Life Community strives to change society’s mindset and create a place of understanding and acceptance.
Friends Life Community prioritizes opportunities for the Friends to be active in the community, grow in confidence, and self-advocate, so that they can continue to defy the limiting labels given to them. At Friends Life Community, Friends work alongside community members to educate them on the value of inclusion and re-frame the expectations of individuals with different abilities.
Dream with us a day when inclusion is invisible. When the Friends are working, living, and playing alongside all others and are seen as an equal co-worker, a loving neighbor, and peer – not as an individual with a disability, but so much more.
Join the community that believes Everyone Deserves a Place to Belong. We need your help to create limitless opportunities so that all members of the community can fulfill their fullest potential and feel Present, Invited, Welcomed, Known, Accepted, Supported, Cared For, Befriended, Needed, and LOVED.
Help us erase the “never” from our vocabulary and meet everyone, unapologetically, with open arms, and an open mind in a place where EVERYONE BELONGS.