We Could Use A Little Less Anger

by Mike Hyland, Venture President & CEO

The country is once again moving toward a new beginning, as is inevitable every four to eight years when a new presidential administration is peacefully installed.  Though often chaotic, this transfer of power is the most basic tenet of our democracy and should not pass unnoticed.  There is a great deal of work to be done and it is more necessary than ever that people set aside disagreements and get on with the task of ensuring that people who need help can get it.  In short, we could use a little less anger these days.

One of the great tragedies in government is the erosion over time of simple cooperation between people.  The very notion of moving forward requires overcoming disagreements and finding compromise for the sake of a greater good.  Unfortunately, in too many cases this requirement is completely lost.  Instead of compromise, our system has devolved into something where disagreement has become animosity and cooperation has become forbidden.  The sad and predictable result is that people who need help are at constant risk of being left behind because important issues that help them stay safe are used as tools by competing interests rather than as building blocks for growth.  These people too are victims of the anger that dominates national discussion now.

It is inevitable that change accompanies any transition of leadership and that old practices and policies are replaced by new ones.  What must be kept sacred are the safety nets that allow people supported by human services agencies to live and thrive in the least restrictive environment.  This means continued access to programs that provide opportunities for community inclusion, employment, education, and recreation.  There also needs to be a renewed commitment on a national level to initiatives that enhance our workforce.  It is crucial that we have an actual plan to create a genuine living wage for all direct support professionals as well as a recognition that professionals who do this work are a major economic force in this country.  And as always, there must be a united effort from all of the leaders in this country to finally and legitimately remove all stigma and abuses that people with disabilities still face.  Adults and children with disabilities are still victims of crime and abuse at a higher rate than their peers without disabilities.  It’s time that people with power publicly acknowledge this and take immediate steps to address it.

There should be no debating the idea that people who need help are entitled to receive it in a safe and dignified way.  It should also not be debatable to suggest that those who provide support must be paid and respected in a meaningful way.  There shouldn’t be anything political about these issues and prioritizing them certainly should not be cause for anger on anyone’s part.  To quote our outgoing president, “ultimately we’re all on the same team”.  We need to finally behave that way for the sake of the people who tend to be dismissed far too easily.


Become a Shared Living Provider

Developing community living opportunities for people with disabilities can sometimes be a challenge.  There are many individuals who need assistance with daily activities such as transportation and medication management but seek independence in many other areas of their lives.  For people who fit into this category, the Shared Living model is an excellent option.  Shared Living programs focus on providing people with developmental disabilities a compatible home environment to enrich their lives. Providers welcome adults with developmental disabilities into their homes, lives and families. The ultimate goal is for the individual and provider to establish a mutually supportive relationship.

Caregivers are responsible for providing the participant with a safe and comfortable home, assisting with medical appointments, promoting improvement of daily living skills, developing positive relationships, and fostering community involvement.  Ideal candidates for becoming a Shared Living Provider should possess a valid driver’s license and have access to a reliable vehicle.  Orientation, training, respite care, and a tax-free annual stipend are provided to Shared Living Caregivers.

In the past year alone, the number of individuals participating in Venture’s Shared Living Program has more than doubled, and we are continually working to develop compassionate, caring providers to expand our program even more.  We will also continue to identify individuals who are ready to explore a more independent living arrangement.

Currently, Venture has immediate openings for Shared Living Providers in Sturbridge, Brookfield, Palmer, and Ware.  If you are interested in becoming a Shared Living Provider, please contact Shannon Guenette at 774-922-1129 or sguenette@venturecs.org.

This photo can be used to promote how carers can support people with a disability in activities of daily living