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 […]
March 13, 2018

Episode 1: Megan Birzer, Open Options Community Living Director

President/CEO Vincent Bustamante and Community Living Director Megan Birzer discuss being lifers in the field of disability services and Megan’s most challenging work experience.  
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 13, 2017

Adding to Her World

The most influential person with a disability I have ever worked with was named Teri. She was a lady who lived in the first group home I worked at, in Emporia, Kansas, many years ago. Teri had Cerebral Palsy, and used a communication device that she controlled with a single red button that she hit with the side of her head. We would have full conversations, her using that button with a vengeance to get the words out. Teri also regularly added words to her device, and I remember being so in awe of her as she added each new letter, each taking at least half a dozen button taps, but when she had that new word added to her device, she opened up her world a little more, and was able to communicate that much more with her friends, family, and staff. I also played countless hours of matching […]