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HOW YOU CAN HELP

The Meadows Center for Opportunity provides a valuable service to Oklahomans with developmental disabilities.  If you would like to contribute to our efforts and help further our commitment to helping these individuals gain vocational training, essential skills, and a sense of value and self-worth, we appreciate your gift of your time or assets.  Whether you wish to make a monetary donation, provide a gift of needed supplies, or offer your time and volunteer efforts, the Meadows would like to thank you for your generosity.

Opportunities to help include:

MONETARY DONATIONS

  • To commemorate a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion.
  • A memorial to honor the passing of a loved one or friend.
  • A donation to The Meadows Walk-A-Thon, our annual fund raiser.
  • Make your one-time or recurring donation online through the
    Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

NON-MONETARY DONATIONS

  • Cleaning supplies
  • Office supplies
  • Latex gloves

VOLUNTEERING

  • Office work
  • Special projects (i.e. window cleaning, parking lot cleanup)


Please 
contact the Meadows to learn more about how you can get involved and contribute to our work.

LATEST NEWS


A Father's Love

Michael Crawley - Sunday, June 14, 2015

It was sixteen days before Christmas 1963. The nation had buried President Kennedy just two weeks before. As they drove to the grocery store, three year old Richard was standing in the front seat of the car next to his mom. This would be a quick trip. She wanted to get back before her husband Thomas got home from work. Because her son was relentlessly inquisitive, Anita was patiently explaining, yet again, how Santa would soon be coming to their house.  
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Family Caregivers

Michael Crawley - Monday, June 01, 2015

Each day millions of family caregivers in our nation quietly share their compassion, out of sight and unnoticed. These individuals are average people just like you and me who come from all walks of life. Yet each one is as special and unique as the situations they find themselves in. They are unsung heroes because they are living examples of kindness, generosity and unconditional love.  
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The Veterans

Michael Crawley - Sunday, May 17, 2015

I used to frequent a restaurant on Saturday mornings, and there was a group of older men who sat in the corner and drank coffee together. It was usually the same bunch of eight to ten although occasionally someone new would join and a regular would drop out. The men liked to sit and solve the world’s problems over steaming cups of black coffee. You wouldn’t find these guys drinking flavors like Irish Mocha or French Vanilla or adding whipped cream to their drinks. These were men with nicotine stained fingers that sometimes bothered to shave the overnight stubble but just as likely would not. Many of their faces were deeply lined and their skin was leathery from years of hard work in the sun. None of these men had ever paid for a tan. They would discuss politics, religion and every other topic that is forbidden and occasionally the political talk would become heated, but eventually cooler heads would prevail and the local sports teams would become the unifying subject they could all agree on. Some of these men were obviously farmers. They proudly wore caps with the logo of their favorite farm machinery on them, and a couple wore overalls every week. Others had been businessmen, factory workers, and truck drivers. But the one thing they all had in common was the fact that they had served their country in the military.  
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Words

Michael Crawley - Sunday, May 03, 2015

Words are the products of our thoughts, attitudes, opinions, beliefs and convictions. That is why the language we use has great power. Fortunately we always have the choice to speak in either a positive or negative manner. We can be outspoken or cautious. We can be abrasive or comforting. We can be accepting or judgmental, or we can choose to remain silent and say nothing at all.

Words can have far more influence than we realize because they convey feelings and emotions, both good and bad. People remember a sincere compliment or kind word for years, and the same is true for an insult or a harsh remark. All of us can remember a circumstance when we were on the receiving end of unflattering comments. We have each had things said about us that we didn’t deserve. As children we were called names that hurt. The fact that we still remember those words after so many years demonstrates their true power.

Language is critically important in the world of developmental disabilities. Certain words have the ability to shape decisions and to have a profound effect on the lives of the people we care about. When we use words like inclusive, diversity, respect, compassion, opportunity and equality we are projecting a positive view of individuals with intellectual challenges. They carry uplifting messages, and they convey a sense of belonging and community. These are words that build people up rather than making them feel inadequate. They support an individual’s dreams, aspirations and goals. They are the result of exceptional ideas that are turned into supports, programs and community involvement.

But too often when describing people with Down syndrome, autism, fragile X syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and many other types of disabilities we use language that is inaccurate or inappropriate. Sometimes it is thoughtlessly used as a form of shorthand. Words like “low functioning” and “retardation” have a dehumanizing effect when applied to people who have the right to be treated as equal members of society. That is why we should strive to use words that show respect and preserve dignity and avoid language that reflects intolerance or narrow-mindedness. Words of kindness, support and encouragement make another person feel valued and worthwhile. While language that is disrespectful can damage a person’s self-confidence and self-esteem.

Our choice of words in describing individuals with disabilities actually illustrates what kind of people we are. Because words communicate someone’s true feelings and opinions, disparaging language reveals our own prejudices and biases. We only have to listen to the words a person uses to figure out how they really feel about a particular subject. When someone chooses to describe another person as broken, defective or less than, they are unwittingly demonstrating their ignorance about people they do not know. They are letting their unfounded judgment and misconceptions cloud their thinking. They are hurting people by using language that objectifies them by stripping away their humanity.

We each know how painful it can be when someone reduces who we are and everything we’ve accomplished to just a few inconsiderate words. Every one of us has physical traits or personality quirks that could easily be ridiculed with demeaning language if someone so desired. We are all vulnerable in some way and the last thing we want is for someone to verbally attack us about an issue we have no control over. No one wants to be the butt of a cruel joke. No one wants to be put down for the way they look, the way they speak or the way they move. Each person is doing the very best they can to fit into a culture that is not always welcoming. The last thing they need are insensitive remarks that criticize their efforts.

Sadly words are sometimes used as a form of bullying. Aggressive or degrading language leveled at those who cannot respond appropriately or defend themselves is absolutely unacceptable. Unfortunately such behavior often finds strength in numbers as several individuals band together to tease or taunt a person who, in some superficial way, seems different. Using words to attack someone is a simple case of taking the easy way out. Instead of making the effort to get to know them, a bully attempts to make himself feel superior at their expense.

When dealing with those who have developmental disabilities we must weigh our words and carefully consider our language. Each man or woman has the right to be treated with dignity. There is never a reason to stereotype or tear a person down. People with intellectual challenges struggle throughout their lives not to be defined by limiting words. As children, their families are sometimes forced to confront language that hinders their child’s right to be treated fairly. It can be an issue that follows a person all of their lives.

On the other hand, when we speak to people with developmental disabilities in a positive way we can have a meaningful influence by letting them know that someone cares about them and believes in them. When a person has been told repeatedly that they will never be able to accomplish something, even before they’ve had the opportunity to try, being encouraged with supportive inspiring language can have a dramatic effect by giving them the necessary confidence to attempt challenges that can transform their lives. Our words have the ability to lift people up, they possess the power to have a significant impact because they often represent life changing ideas and concepts. They are the building blocks that lay the foundation for how society perceives those that we care about.

People with developmental disabilities deserve to hear words of caring and support. They deserve to hear words of compassion and acceptance. They deserve to hear language that treats them with respect as equals.

We should always choose our words wisely because they reveal who we really are.

 

 
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Family

Michael Crawley - Sunday, April 19, 2015

For most people there is nothing more important in life than family. The benefits of the parent child relationship cannot be stressed enough. Family provides the nurturing support that every person needs, but it is particularly crucial for children with intellectual challenges. The unconditional love they receive from a parent gives them permission to be themselves. They receive encouragement, understanding and most of all complete acceptance. The single most valuable thing a child with a developmental disability can be given is the loving support of their family.  
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Disability Bias

Michael Crawley - Sunday, April 05, 2015

There are many forms of bias that permeate our society. We have all seen the studies that indicate that people who are tall, thin, pretty, handsome, and have outgoing personalities are more likely to get a job, a promotion or have better success finding a mate. However, none of those attributes actually tell us anything about what kind of person they are. They do not describe their character, their integrity, their work ethic or their generosity. They do not tell us if the person is trustworthy, honest, forgiving or compassionate. They are simply unimportant characteristics that society incorrectly places great value on.  
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The Challenge of Cancer

Michael Crawley - Friday, March 20, 2015

The word cancer can strike terror in our lives at any moment. It is a word that brings untold grief but also unbelievable courage into our world. The devastation that this single word can wreck on families is almost indescribable, and yet the people who battle its effects so bravely can inspire us with their strength, resolve and determination to overcome it.  
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Bullying

Michael Crawley - Sunday, March 08, 2015
 
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Two Old Friends

Michael Crawley - Sunday, February 15, 2015

We all know how important friendship is. It adds so much to our lives that its absence creates unending loneliness and hardship. But is friendship any less important for those with developmental disabilities? Is it any less real, any less valuable or any less appreciated? The following story illustrates the need and desire to have a friend that you can trust and rely on, no matter what your circumstances in life or what your personal challenges might be.  
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Forgiveness

Michael Crawley - Sunday, February 01, 2015

Forgiveness is one of the most compassionate acts that can occur between human beings. That Is why having the willingness and ability to forgive others is one of the most meaningful traits we can possess. True forgiveness is cleansing. By creating a fresh start it allows us to stop wasting time dwelling on the past so that we can focus on the future. It benefits both the one who forgives and the one who is forgiven. Forgiveness is so compelling that it can instantly change a person’s life. It is fundamental to all healthy relationships, and it is necessary for our society to thrive.

When we have the strength to ask for forgiveness it makes us better people. It is an acknowledgement that we are less than perfect, while at the same time it demonstrates our desire to improve our lives and to show concern for others. It draws its power from the fact that it takes courage to ask for forgiveness and it takes character to forgive. In both cases it gives us the opportunity to grow and to reach our potential. It forces us to look at ourselves realistically and to be willing to change so that we no longer feel the need for payback or revenge. It prevents us from being petty and spiteful. And when we have been taken advantage of or hurt in some way it gives us the ability to let go and release the pain so it can no longer interfere with our happiness.

People who go through life holding grudges against perceived slights by others or against life itself set themselves up for continual unhappiness. To constantly be at war with everyone around you wears a person down. We all know people like this. They take offence at anything by personalizing it. Their focus is always on themselves. These are the people we dread seeing each day. Their eagerness to complain about their latest imagined wrong has a dispiriting effect on everyone they encounter. How troubling it must be to go through life perpetually seeing yourself as a victim.

Sadly, many people have to learn from personal experience that the refusal to forgive leads to continuous anger, bitterness and overall unhappiness. The lack of forgiveness can tear apart entire families while the capacity to forgive can heal them. Refusing to forgive is exhausting. Holding a grudge diverts our attention away from far more important aspects of life. It prevents us from living fully in the present because we trap ourselves by clinging to something that has happened in the past. Fortunately the unwillingness to forgive is often based on a simple lack of communication. Once both parties are willing to confront the issue, forgiveness usually occurs and everyone can let go of their resentment and indignation.

There are some situations, however, where we are so hurt by the actions of someone else that, for now, forgiveness cannot take place. The pain is too fresh and raw. The hurt is too deep, and the memory of the transgression is overwhelming. In these cases, time becomes the determining factor on how long we carry our discomfort before we are willing to release it. What has happened cannot be undone, but the effort to forgive that person can act as a release so that the negative emotion no longer controls us.

Often it seems to be the case that the hardest people to forgive are the ones we love the most. Perhaps the sense of unfairness or betrayal is heightened when it comes from someone who is close to us. But because we care about them it is all the more reason to find it in our hearts to forgive their behavior. We are all imperfect; therefore we all deserve to be forgiven for our mistakes. It is tragic to endure feelings of estrangement and rejection because of the insensitivity of a person who is important to you. It is so much better to realize that life is too fragile to carry grudges for long periods. The time that is wasted when you refuse to forgive someone can never be regained. It is lost forever.

Of course, sometimes it is easier to forgive others than it is to forgive yourself. This can lead to feelings of unworthiness and a lack of self-respect. Every person on earth has flaws, and undesirable characteristics, but we must accept our shortcomings as part of what makes us human. We can’t let guilt and self-recrimination paralyze us to the point where we can’t be productive and enjoy life. Until we learn to forgive ourselves it is difficult to forgive others.

On the occasions when you are the transgressor it is critically important to summon the courage to ask for forgiveness. The acknowledgement of your mistake often softens the heart of the person you hurt or offended. And because it is comparatively rare for people to take responsibility for their negative actions, when someone actually does the right thing and asks for forgiveness it is usually sincerely appreciated.

Thankfully there are no special conditions needed to ensure that forgiveness takes place. It simply demands that we be our best. It requires that we are open minded and that we are willing to accept the fact that none of us is perfect and that no one is always right or always wrong. It means that we must attempt to see both sides of an issue so that we have some understanding of why the other person took a different view. 

If we will each stop and think for a moment we all have someone to forgive, and we all need to ask forgiveness from someone as well. The issues involved might be minor or they might be quite serious. Whatever the case, we should each make the effort to embrace forgiveness at every opportunity so that we can be at peace with ourselves and with others.

Carrying a grudge or being filled with resentment is a burden that we can decide to release at any moment. We always have the choice of letting it go or allowing it to weigh us down. No matter how the other party behaves we have the freedom to choose how we react and how we respond. 

Without forgiveness the human race would be in desperate circumstances. It is the one quality that heals everyone involved, and because it can be life changing, it is something we should practice each day.

 
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The Meadows
Center for Opportunity

1000 South Kelly
Edmond, Oklahoma
73003-6081

phone: 405.348.4470
fax: 405.340.5395