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The Meadows Blog

The Oklahoma Budget Crisis

Michael Crawley - Sunday, October 29, 2017

For thirty-five years, The Meadows Center for Opportunity has served the employment needs of men and women with intellectual and physical challenges. During that time, the state has been an important financial partner in allowing us to fulfill our mission of providing work and vocational training to adults who otherwise would not have the chance to have a job.

Because we are a nonprofit, the compensation we receive each month from the state helps offset our operational costs as well as the salaries that are paid to our workers.

However, the state’s current budget crisis has created a difficult situation for organizations like ours as lawmakers are forced to make hard decisions that could adversely affect thousands of citizens with developmental disabilities.

To present a clear picture of what is at stake, we would like to introduce you to some of the people we currently employ. In each case, their particular disability is listed last, because it is the least important part of who they are.


* This person has limited range of motion in their arms and legs, as well as visual impairment, which puts them at risk for frequent falls. However, these challenges do not stop them from enjoying every moment of their day. Their outgoing nature and love of people make everyone a potential friend. This individual has a developmental disability.  

* This person has held down a steady job for more than twenty-five years, despite the fact that they sometimes have multiple seizures in a single day. Although their seizure activity sometimes scares them and leaves them feeling vulnerable, they continue to remain active despite the knowledge that they could have a medical emergency at any moment. This individual has epilepsy.

* This person spent many years living in an institution, but now they have successfully made the transition to living in a group home in the community. They enjoy their personal freedom and sense of independence. They have made friends, and they participate in many different activities that were previously denied to them. This individual has a developmental disability. 

* This person has the use of one arm. They also have an issue with their leg that requires them to use an assistive device to maintain their balance. Over time, they have developed their own unique ways of adapting to their physical challenges so they can accomplish many of the tasks required in daily living. This individual has a traumatic brain injury. 

* This person is medically fragile. Although their health is a constant issue, they do not allow it to keep them from remaining positive and upbeat. They attempt to make the most of each day by enjoying the things that are important to them, as they continue to live a life filled with hope. This individual has a developmental disability. 

* This person embraces life with tremendous humor and joy. They are a bundle of energy, constantly in motion and never slowing down. With their over the top personality, they delight in being the center of attention and entertaining everyone around them. They make others feel good because they are genuine, with no pretense. This individual has had a stroke.

* This person uses assistive devices to help with their mobility as well as hearing aids that allow them to communicate and interact. Together, these appliances facilitate their participation in the community and in activities they enjoy sharing with their family and friends. It is the feeling of inclusion that matters most to them. This individual has a developmental disability.

* This person has a great sense of humor and loves to kid around and play practical jokes. The fact that their speech can be difficult to understand, does not inhibit their ability to connect with others. They are able to find clever ways to convey their thoughts, ideas, and opinions – whatever the situation. This individual has cerebral palsy.  

* This person has endured multiple health issues, including heart surgery. At this time they are possibly facing yet another medical condition, but they continue to do all of the things that have meaning for them. Their love of art and the fulfillment they find in being creative helps them face their daily challenges. This individual has Down syndrome.

* This person does not like to sit still and would rather be up and moving around. They have a profound love for all things related to Disney, and they have a deep fascination with music and dancing. They prefer to interact with others by communicating in repetitive conversations that make them feel comfortable. This individual has autism.

* This person is not always aware of what is real and what is not. However, that does not mean that they are incapable of enjoying the experiences that actually occur in their lives. Although they can sometimes be confused, it does not keep them from engaging with others in ways that are important to them. This individual has a developmental disability.

* This person has challenges with their balance, motor skills, and vision. However, they do not let those issues deter them from being kind and compassionate to everyone they meet. Because of the thoughtfulness and consideration, they share with others, they have a thriving social life with many friends. This individual has had a brain tumor.

   

These are just a few of the extraordinary men and women we are currently able to employ, due in part, to the funding we receive from the state.

Although each one of these individuals deals with issues that make their life considerably more complicated than the lives of most citizens, it does not prevent them from holding down a meaningful job that gives them a deep sense of fulfillment.

Each weekday, no matter what challenges they face, they come to work and perform their assigned duties to the best of their abilities. Having that opportunity not only allows them to earn a paycheck, it also helps them reach their full potential.

None of these people are trying to be courageous or inspirational. They are just living their lives, day to day, in the particular circumstances they happen to be in. The fact that they need assistance and financial support to maintain their employment makes no difference. It does not diminish the effort they put forth or the results they achieve.

What our employees are able to accomplish is the result of their perseverance and determination. It is their commitment to achieve the extraordinary that makes them successful.

In return, we must show the same commitment to them. We owe them our best efforts to ensure that they have the necessary funding to allow them to be successfully employed.

However, as we look towards the future, the mission of the Meadows is at risk. We want to continue to offer meaningful employment in a safe and supportive environment to as many adults with disabilities as possible - but to do that on a large scale requires uninterrupted state funding.

Ultimately, Oklahoma’s budget crisis is a test of moral character. How we choose to respond to the needs of vulnerable citizens is a reflection of the kind of society we want to have.

For our elected officials, the current financial shortfall provides the perfect opportunity to show true leadership by putting the needs of men and women with intellectual and physical challenges ahead of petty politics. The decisions they ultimately make will touch the lives of our employees and their families, in profound ways.

It is critical that state lawmakers look within themselves and find the courage to care.





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The Truth

Michael Crawley - Tuesday, December 03, 2019

It is an undeniable fact that human beings have always been willing to pass judgment and jump to conclusions about people who they believe are different from them. Unfortunately, this is particularly true when it comes to individuals with developmental disabilities.

These negative perceptions occur because we allow our emotions to guide our thinking instead of seeking the truth which can require effort and an open mind. Consequently, we are quick to label people with challenges and to categorize them for our own convenience. We fail to understand that no two people are the same and that each individual has their own personality and character. But we are, unfortunately, eager to form an opinion about their life without knowing a thing about them.


Here are five common situations that we are all familiar with. In each case, you encounter a person you think cannot possibly be a productive member of society.

You are shopping at the mall when two individuals walk past you. Suddenly one of them collapses with a seizure. You watch in shock as the convulsions run their course. Certain that the person lives in terror with the knowledge that a seizure could occur at any moment, you feel great sympathy for them. You assume their quality of life is compromised and that because of their epilepsy they cannot accomplish anything of significance.

***

You are eating at a restaurant when a person comes in with another adult. You can’t help but stare as they follow their hostess to their table. The individual has partial paralysis on one side of their body and there is visible scarring that indicates that they have endured multiple surgeries. The person walks with a pronounced limp, and you can see that their arm is immobile. You can’t imagine how they make it through the day living with those kinds of issues.

***

You are waiting to check out at the store. The individual in front of you is trying to communicate with the cashier, but their speech is extremely difficult to understand. The people behind you become impatient as the person struggles to convey their thoughts to the cashier who just wants them to move along and get out of the way. You feel great pity for the individual as you wonder what kind of “affliction” could’ve caused their inability to communicate clearly.

***

You are in line to buy a ticket for a movie when an individual standing with their mother becomes agitated about something. Very quickly the person’s behavior escalates and they begin to yell as they lose control of their emotions. Their mother tries to help them calm down, but she is not successful in getting the person to relax. You and others watch with silent disapproval as you harshly judge her lack of parenting skills for allowing this to happen in public.

***

You are waiting for an elevator. The doors open and a person carefully steps out pushing a walker. Their balance is precarious and their legs seem stiff and rigid. It is obvious that they would not be able to walk without the assistive device. You suspect their life is limited in countless ways because of their lack of mobility, and you can’t help thinking it would be better for them to stop trying to walk altogether and to just use a wheelchair.

What do these five people have in common?...... Yes, they each have a disability. Yes, it affects certain areas of their lives, and yes, their diagnosis is often used to unfairly define them. But what might surprise you is one other thing that they have in common. Something positive. Something meaningful. Something that deserves to be acknowledged.

All of these individuals are successfully employed at the Meadows.

Along with almost forty other men and women with intellectual challenges, these five individuals work each day at a variety of jobs that not only provide them with a hard-earned paycheck but also build self-esteem and self-confidence. They learn vocational skills, but, even more importantly, they are given every opportunity to reach their personal potential.

But when these same individuals go out in public, people rush to judge them based on nothing more than appearances. That kind of narrow-mindedness is unfair and unjust.

Obviously, there is an important lesson that must be learned.

When we encounter a person with an intellectual, physical or emotional challenge, we should treat them just like we would anyone else. They deserve to be understood and accepted for who they are as a person. They deserve to be treated with dignity. They deserve to be respected.

The men and women we proudly employ are perfect examples of what people with developmental disabilities can achieve in a positive work setting that offers support and encouragement.

The truth is simple. Every person, regardless of what their challenges happen to be, has the right to live their best life.

That is what our employees do every day.


 
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Why The Meadows Matters

Michael Crawley - Monday, November 11, 2019
 
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It Is Not Too Late!

Michael Crawley - Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Meadows annual Walk-A-Thon, held on Saturday, October 12th, was a tremendous success, and we want to thank everyone who participated.  
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Why We Are Not Hiring

Michael Crawley - Sunday, February 25, 2018

People frequently contact the Meadows to see if we are currently hiring individuals with intellectual challenges. Unfortunately, as much as we wish we could, the answer is NO. 
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The Men and Women of the Meadows

Michael Crawley - Sunday, February 18, 2018

The mission of our organization is to provide employment and vocational training for adults with developmental disabilities as well as other intellectual and physical challenges. 
Read More


Physical Challenges

Michael Crawley - Sunday, February 11, 2018

For those of you who are familiar with the Meadows, you know that on this blog we focus primarily on intellectual challenges. That is because each of the men and women we employ has an IQ of 70 or less, which is the state’s criteria of determining a developmental disability. 
Read More


Public Perceptions

Michael Crawley - Monday, February 05, 2018

As people drive past our building each day it is impossible to get a true sense of what is going on inside our 42,000 sq. ft. facility. That leaves the general public with a natural curiosity about what kind of organization we are and exactly what it is we do. 
Read More


Every Life Matters

Michael Crawley - Sunday, January 28, 2018

Each one of us believes that our life is important. But, unfortunately, our fixation with our own significance can sometimes lead us to presume that other lives don’t matter as much as ours. We often fall into the trap of believing that we are superior and, therefore, by default, others are inferior. 
Read More


More Than A Job

Michael Crawley - Monday, January 22, 2018

Our jobs play an important role in each of our lives. In many ways, they help to define us. For some, it means having the ability to provide for their families. For others, it is a lifelong commitment to a meaningful career. But no matter what the circumstances, our jobs occupy a significant portion of our time. 
Read More


A Friend Is A Friend

Michael Crawley - Monday, January 15, 2018

Friendships are some of the most important relationships we have in life. They add a richness and warmness to our existence. They provide comfort and make us feel connected. They allow us to be understood and accepted for who we are. They provide us with people we can count on during difficult times. And, just as importantly, friendship gives us someone to share our happiest moments with. 
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The Meadows
Center for Opportunity

1000 South Kelly
Edmond, Oklahoma
73003-6081

phone: 405.348.4470
fax: 405.340.5395