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The Meadows Blog

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.

We would love to increase our workforce and offer jobs to more men and women with disabilities – but, sadly, we believe that, for several different reasons that are beyond our control, it is not appropriate at this time.

For one thing, Oklahoma’s legislators appear to be hopelessly mired in petty politics, and that is preventing them from reaching any type of long-term solution to the severe funding issues facing our state. Lobbyists representing several major industries have the money that politicians crave and that is taking the focus off of the funding for those who are in need but who are too often not heard.

However, even if the worst happens and the Meadows eventually loses government funding, we will be able to survive. We have an established business that can sustain us at our present level. None of the people we currently employ will lose their jobs.

But that is not the case for other nonprofits like ours. Some of them will be forced to close their doors and the people who depend on them for a job will be unemployed.

That is heartbreaking and unacceptable.

Those individuals have overcome tremendous obstacles in order to be successfully employed, and now there is the chance that all of that will be taken away from them by bureaucrats who have no idea of how difficult it is for someone with a developmental disability to find a job.

Another serious problem we face regarding the government is their belief that a workshop setting is no longer a viable employment option for people with intellectual challenges. They feel that each individual, regardless of their personal circumstances, should be forced to work in the community.

We strongly disagree with that opinion.

While we are certainly in favor of individuals participating in community employment whenever that is possible, it is not always a realistic goal for people who require close monitoring for health or behavior issues.

Organizations like the Meadows offer a safe and supportive setting that allows men and women to engage in meaningful work who would otherwise be excluded from the job market.

The government’s refusal to acknowledge that every person deserves to work – not just those who can be employed in the community – is both disturbing and harmful in the sense that it is preventing us from hiring more individuals who have the right to a job.

And as if all of that wasn’t enough, the government is now saying that the people with intellectual challenges who are already successfully employed at the Meadows should be moved into community jobs - and they are backing up this demand with the threat that federal funding will be pulled from any organization that is not compliant.

It is impossible to comprehend that kind of thinking.

The government actually wants to take away the jobs of people who have been employed with us for ten, twenty or thirty years. They want to force them into community jobs which, for a significant number of them, will not be appropriate and will, therefore, leave them unemployed.

And, incredibly, the government is holding us responsible for these new community jobs. They are expecting the Meadows to interrupt our employees’ work day, which means their pay stops while they are out of the building, so they can be taken into the community to try and find them a job when they already have one. And, once again, if we do not comply we lose funding.

This possibility is being raised in IP meetings and our families are becoming increasingly upset to think that the government is trying to take away the jobs, that in many cases, their loved ones have had for decades.

If you stop and think about it, it’s inconceivable that any other type of business would be expected to find different jobs for the people they already employ.

But when it comes to individuals with intellectual challenges, the government has a double standard.

For the men and women we work with, having a job at the Meadows is an important part of their lives. It gives them the opportunity to develop both vocational skills and social skills. It helps them build their self-esteem as they grow in confidence. It gives them a sense of responsibility, and it allows them to earn a paycheck.

We wish we could extend this same opportunity to other people who deserve to work - but at this point in time, we can’t.

For all of the reasons listed above, we have no choice but to maintain a hiring freeze.

Until a determination is made on government funding going forward, and until our elected officials stop interfering with people’s lives, we cannot hire more men and women with disabilities.

We hope for the benefit of everyone concerned that this is a temporary situation - but, unfortunately, when money and politics are involved it seems that those who are vulnerable suffer the most.



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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.  
Read More


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. 
Read More


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