By: Mark Downey
In May 2022 the Respite Manager of Aspire Richmond approached me to see if I would be interested in joining the Include Me committee. I said, “Yes!” because when we meet every month we get paid for the meeting. In the past when self-advocates joined committees, it was a volunteer position. However everyone likes money and nothing is free, including your time.
The respite manager advocated for all self-advocates at Aspire Richmond to be paid for their time on committees because everyone else on the committee is paid. The Directors and CEO discussed this and made it happen.
Self-advocates can now join committees they are passionate about. It feels wonderful because I feel that when I work, I’m also contributing and helping our society get better.
I look forward to having the meeting every month. For the October meeting, I co-facilitated with the respite manager. I asked the question of our self-advocate group, “What does community mean to you?” I will be sharing what our self-advocate group came up with.
Back in 2019, our agency participated in the Include Me! Quality of Life Initiative with CLBC. We received the results in May 2020. Then in June 2022, we formed a small committee to look at the results.
Our committee’s goal is to look at areas we need to make improvements on in order to serve individuals better, such as rights, social inclusion, personal development, material well-being, emotional well-being, etc.
For me, being on this committee is helping me learn how to communicate with another participant who is non-verbal. I’m also personally gaining more skills for my own life. I like to teach other people and share my opinions. And of course, I’m looking forward to the cash so I can pay for things I need or want to buy. It makes me feel warm inside when I share how I feel.