A couple of weeks ago, a short video clip went viral. It shows a man in Georgia helping to get a woman using a wheelchair home after it ran out of power. From personal experience, I know that power wheelchairs are more cumbersome than people think. Especially when a person is sitting in it while you’re pushing it.
I’m glad the video was captured and that the young man received a lot of praise in the national news media. I have been in that woman’s place a couple of times before in my life. One time in college I got stuck in a snow bank I thought I could pass. I still don’t know who, but somebody pushed me out so I could get to class. Another time, I was having engine connection problems, and my aide had to push my heavy wheelchair back to my dorm.
All these examples of people helping are encouraging and remind us all why it’s important to be an active part of our community. I have been swamped with work for my community this summer. That’s why I haven’t been writing as many blogs. But it’s been a productive summer so far, and I was going to use this blog to update you on what I’ve been up to.
My first big summer project was to give the invocation in support of The Center for Exceptional Children in Winston Salem. I was honored to represent the graduate perspective at this event. There were a lot of parents and administrators there, but as far as I know, I was the only former student in attendance. Although I believe the integration of all students is the best way to educate kids, there’s no denying I benefitted from the environment of mostly kids with disabilities. I should say there were some kids without disabilities too. I continue to be friends with several of my classmates from way back then, and we still talk today.
That was the place I learned to drive my first wheelchairs and was introduced to my first computer. This also was the place where I was taken out into the community as a part of my classes for the first time. One year, my class only had three students in it, so it was easy for our teacher to load us into her car and go to all sorts of random places. I know we went to the mall, the fire station, and swimming, and I’m sure lots of other places I forget now. I never heard how the fundraiser that I was supporting worked out, but I hope it went very well.
Another critical project I completed earlier this summer was leading the search for the next Executive Director of Disability Rights North Carolina. It’s a credit to Vicki Smith, our current director, and her staff that we had so many well qualified and eager candidates for the position. That process was fascinating to me because it’s not just about hiring that one person, although that’s the primary outcome. What we’re discussing is the future of the organization, and who we think can get us there best.
I wanted to be highly involved in the process as preparation for becoming the Chair of the Board of Directors on October first. I’m pleased to see that the community seems very supportive of our selection. Who, if you haven’t been watching my Facebook, is Virginia Knowlton Marcus coming to us from California and Maryland. I look forward to working very closely with her for the majority of her first two years on the job. I’m excited to see what the future holds.
Before I can assume the role of the Chair of Disability Rights North Carolina, I need to make sure that I leave the North Carolina Empowerment Network in the right spot. So that’s been another ongoing project. We now have a policy and procedure manual which is a necessary document for a functioning non-profit. We wouldn’t have gotten the manual done without the assistance of Douglas Stoll. I’m taking this opportunity to thank him publicly for working with me so tightly over the summer. I wish him the best in his future endeavors in Ohio. We just had a follow-up activity to help us at the NCEN generate goals for the organization. This is another critical step in becoming a fully functional organization.
It’s honestly been a lot of hard work for one person representing so many organizations. But I feel like my work is finally being recognized now. Leadership Winston Salem, which is a program for supporting emerging leaders in the city, actively recruited me to participate next year. This is no guarantee that I’ll get in. They had every reason to pass over me because I didn’t respond to their initial email. But even with that, they still wanted to meet with me.
It’s truly an honor to be recognized as a leader. I was also invited to a special reception with the Executive Director of the National Disability Rights Network, Curt Decker, when I traveled to Baltimore earlier this summer. Be on the lookout for a video I participated in while I was there. Now you see why I haven’t had time to write much over the past couple of weeks. But I can not express how honored I am to represent North Carolina and especially our disability community in so many ways. Oddly, I feel like the young man pushing the wheelchair. He was just at the right place at the right time and possessed the ability to help, just like me.
That’s how I roll.
- Posted by Bryan Dooley
- On July 19, 2018
- 0 Comments