We are a community-based 501c3 nonprofit whose work is based on a partnership model. We collaborate with partners in multiple sectors (nonprofit, government, and private) to develop programs and activities in the focus areas of affordable accessible housing, health and wellness, education and economic empowerment. Our organization believes that persons with physical disabilities can do more than just survive with a disability—they can thrive as people who live with physical disabilities. Through strategic partnerships, conferences and educational events, and with the help of our wonderful volunteers, Disability Partnerships continues to work toward solutions to the social and economic problems that continue to afflict people with disabilities.
In May 2011, I became a T8 paraplegic as a result of a natural gas explosion in my home. I was 37 years old. I quickly moved from being a member of the able-bodied population to a severely physically disabled woman. I will always remember the utter fear I felt when I left the hospital after being a patient for almost eleven months. How would I manage as a disabled woman? How would I do the daily activities of living that I used to take for granted?
After attempting to reintegrate into the community, I quickly realized that in many ways the fear was justified. There were three major areas that caused me significant emotional pain, constant feelings of helplessness, and a sadness that infected my mental health. Specifically, it was the barriers that I encountered with my health, housing, and employment/career options.
As time went on and I began to make friends who were also disabled and realized I was not in a unique situation. We were all able to tell the same stories. I began to think if able-bodied people were more aware of these issues, they would be willing to help find solutions. With my public health background and extensive experience in partnership development, and management, I began to understand that the barriers people with disabilities face are a social problem. It's a social problem that I believe people want to work together and solve.
I began to research the data. I knew the time was right to engage multi-sector organizations and corporations in helping to achieve the goals of my organization. So, I took my more than fifteen years of management and marketing experience and my professional training in public health to launch Disability Partnerships.
I view the organization as an opportunity to do good, serve God, create beauty from ashes, and demonstrate that together people really can make a difference.