I’ve heard the story a dozen times, someone at school kicked her in the stomach for no reason, and she asked the school nurse if she could go home. She had the wind knocked out of her, and was not feeling well physically or emotionally. The nurse said no, but she went home anyway.
I wish this story weren’t true, but it is. My sister was bullied and teased throughout high school, and to this day those memories haunt her.
Susie Davies, the Executive Director at Mother Lode Rehabilitation Enterprise (MORE), said it was only 60 years ago when people served by MORE were locked in an institution. Their disabilities put them in a class of “throw-away people” because society was under the misconception that they were unable to learn. They were simply force fed, and left to live lives with no hope or dreams.
I had the pleasure of meeting Susie Davies, and was delighted to learn about advancements in serving individuals with developmental disabilities. Here are her responses to some questions I raised.
Q. What is your mission and how are you positioned to accomplish?
A. Our mission is to empower individuals with disabilities to enhance their quality of life. We are pleased to report that with consistent and on-going training, we’re increasing technical competencies and human skills which empower the people we serve.
We have an eighty-two member staff that “gets” what they are here to do. They are not at MORE for the money, but for their life purpose of making a difference. The culture at MORE is diverse, and encompasses generations. MORE‘s staff is the best it’s ever been with civility, positive solutions, and “can-do” people who know about team effort!
That the people served by MORE have full acceptance, and freedom in utilizing all the resources that you and I choose to use in this community. The key element is that they understand their responsibility in making these choices. It also means, acceptance as neighbors, friends and contributing citizens of the community.
Q. How do you help people with developmental disability overcome obstacles most of us don’t face?
A. The wonderful component about most of the people we serve is that they don’t see that they have to overcome obstacles. They know what they can and can’t do, and are eager to learn. They know they aren’t allowed to make their own choices in some areas, and strive to earn that right. They may be developmentally disables, but they have excellent insight in people. Most of the people we serve have happy, content, full lives without the stress.
Q. What are the benefits of your services to families and individuals?
A. Each individual and family has identified goals which they want to achieve or experience. MORE’s family satisfaction rates are high. Families are accustomed to making all the decisions for the individual, and that may need adjusting as an individual reaches their respective goals. Seeing individuals get a job, earn a paycheck, learn a new skill and being able to speak up for themselves is inspiring. Even simpler things such as brushing one’s teeth, helping with a family chore can be exciting. We have many individuals that are developing into productive artists, puppet makers, painters, sculptures and musicians!
A. The services that MORE and other organizations provide were created in the late sixties with visionary parents and professionals. Legislation was created and community based programs like MORE were created throughout California. There is a referral/funding and monitoring statewide system set-up that entitles all adults in California with a developmental disability to receive services. The families/individuals receive support in funding, services, training, medical consultation, etc. you name it, including living in an apartment or home on their own.
Q. What is your hope for all individuals with a developmental disability?
A. People served by MORE are truly being accepted and valued with jobs in the community, and they can also live independently in the community. We have had a client annually serve as a Board member of MORE since the mid-nineties, and their contribution is significant.
My hope is that every non-disabled person should have an opportunity to meet and get-to-know, truly get-to-know, a person served by MORE because they will enrich your life. They make our lives better and make us better people because of who they are!
“The Human spirit is capable of unimaginable and miraculous feats when not limited by its own thoughts or the thoughts of others!” Susie Davies – favorite quote
I am inspired by Susie’s passion and self-described lifework. She reaffirmed experiences I’ve had, and verbalized feelings I was unable to articulate. I also have a deeper appreciation of the advancements made with people with developmental disabilities, and recognized the opportunity that we
all have in enriching our own life, while improving those with a developmental disability.
MORE is showcasing their art on January 16th from 6:00pm – 9:00pm at the Art & Wine event at the Mark D. Forni Building in El Dorado County.