CEO Blog

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, […]
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 […]
December 31, 2015

On Change, Both Personal and Professional

The new year is nearly upon us!   As 2015 comes to a close, I reflect back on the past twelve months both personally and professionally.  If I had to sum it all up in one word, it would be “change.” In May 2015, I got married to Melissa, and I am happy to report the first six months of our marriage have been wonderful!  A week after returning from our honeymoon, I began my master’s program at University of Missouri – Kansas City.  I am on target to finish my degree in Nonprofit Management and Innovation in the next two years.  Best of all, I have found the classes I have taken thus far have been directly applicable to my work for Open Options and have already made me a better leader.  I am looking forward to learning even more in the next year and continuing to grow in my […]
December 15, 2015

Wisdom from the Field: Real-Life Advocacy Lessons

Guest blog by Heather Jewell, director of quality enhancement Being an Advocate I frequently find myself saying I should write a book. This of course is in reference to the numerous unintended lessons I’ve learned throughout my career supporting individuals with differing abilities and their support employees.  The most important lesson I have learned to date is how to advocate. Simply defined advocacy is the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal. My personal definition is to fight like hell for what a person wants and/or needs. However, William Faulkner is more eloquent in his definition, stating, “never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would do this, it would change the Earth.” Holly had an incredible sense of humor, and the spirit of a diva. She relished the moments she […]