Vincent Bustamante

May 11, 2018

They Denied Him His Coffee. They Were Wrong.

You can make decisions in your own life, so why shouldn’t a man be able to get a cup of coffee? Fred really liked coffee.  I learned that very quickly.  Working part-time at an apartment complex on the weekends, I came in every Friday night at 10:30pm and worked until 2:30pm on Saturday.  Each Saturday morning, Fred would wake up, come out the living room, and politely ask for coffee.  After a few weeks, I decided to show him how to use the coffee-maker, so he didn’t even have to ask me for coffee.  He was a quick learner, and each Saturday he would get up and immediately go make coffee.  I’d watch him throughout the day and he would typically drink no more than 1-2 cups of coffee in about an eight-hour period.  He did not have any dietary restrictions, so I didn’t think much about it. One morning […]
February 9, 2018

Do you feel sorry for people with disabilities? Don’t!!

“So what do you do?” “I work with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”  “Oh, that must be so sad!”  Over the last several years, I have had this exchange (or a similar one) many times.  Maybe it’s because I’ve lost perspective having worked in this field for so long, but I never quite understand it.  I have found my career to be very fulfilling, frequently lots of fun, and very rarely sad.  I am thankful to spend a lot of time laughing and enjoying time with the people I work with and the people served by our organization.  While my own experience has shaped this perspective, I also believe organizations doing this type of work unintentionally perpetuate the belief that this work is “sad.”  Viable nonprofit organizations frequently diversify their funding sources, and this typically involves fundraising in the community.  This often includes charity events, fund drives, annual appeals, […]
October 10, 2017

James, and Our Impact on Each Other

Sometimes with individuals who do not speak regularly, we pigeonhole them or decide what their specific interests are. Because their verbal communication is “limited,” it seems, we decide that their interests are as well. When we open ourselves up to seeing people with disabilities as people, no more or less than we are, we can learn a lot. When I first started working with a young man named James, I was told “He likes Taco Bell and pancakes with peanut butter.” Can you imagine being introduced to someone and being defined by the two food items that you like?” “This is Vincent, he likes fajitas and chili.” Somehow that just doesn’t encapsulate my full personality. The first few times I worked with him we made pancakes and peanut butter and had Taco Bell. After a little while, however, I started saying, “Let’s try something new today!” I figured he would […]
June 1, 2017

The Struggle Is Real in the Disability Services Industry

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke with a gentleman about services for the I/DD (intellectual and developmental disabilities) population and some of the struggles that our industry faces.  He stated that he had a family member with disabilities who was very well taken care of, received ample funding, and that his family had a direct line of communication with the leadership of the Missouri state government.  Based on his specific experience, he was left wondering why we were seeking out grants and fundraising dollars.  The industry, from his perspective, was operating just fine.  While I respect his individual experience, I also believe it exists as an outlier, a unique experience that is not indicative of most people who receive services in the I/DD system. Research shows that people with intellectual disabilities are living longer, in large part due to advances in health care and support services.  People with a […]