The stated mission of The Meadows Center for Opportunity is to provide employment and vocational training to adults with developmental disabilities and intellectual challenges. But there is actually much more to our mission than that.
Each day we have the pleasure of welcoming a workforce that is comprised of men and women who routinely do what many say can’t be done. These individuals refuse to accept the opinions of those who claim that people with developmental disabilities cannot hold down complex and demanding jobs because that is exactly what they do, 5 days a week. In the process they continually learn new vocational skills, and they make maximum use of their natural abilities. They are completely unconcerned about the supposed “limitations” that others have tried to impose on them, and they go through their day performing their jobs at a level that would be the envy of any employer.
But hiring and supporting a workforce of people that have had difficulty getting jobs in the community is only part of our mission. We also have a serious responsibility to advocate and to educate on behalf of the men and women we serve. We believe we have a moral obligation to see that their rights are observed and that their physical, mental and emotional needs are being met. We try to make sure that their voices are heard by those in power and that they have the same opportunities in society as other citizens.
Because the people we employ can be vulnerable, we are accountable to them and their families for their welfare at all times. We are vigilant regarding their health needs, and we work closely with parents, guardians, case managers and the appropriate state agencies to ensure that our employees are protected from any type of improper treatment. We monitor their well being at all times, and we take any necessary steps to make adaptations that will make the work area safer for them.
In fact, adaptability is a quality we embrace every day. Whatever a person requires in order to be able to do their job effectively and comfortably, we provide. We are happy to accommodate the specific needs of each individual so that they can work efficiently with their particular capabilities. Whatever their physical requirements might be, we are able to create an environment that enables them to work along side a person who has a completely different set of requirements. Our goal is to assist each person individually so they can be as productive as possible while ensuring their comfort and safety.
Another important aspect of our mission is to create an atmosphere that is not just encouraging but that actively engages individuals in a consistent effort to help them gain self-confidence and build self-esteem. Many of our workers have spent a lifetime being told that they would never be employable and that it would be pointless to even try to learn job skills. We change that kind of negative thinking by providing opportunities for them to attempt new challenges and by giving them the time they need to successfully learn a task. Encouragement, praise and sincere appreciation are used to create a level of support where there is no pressure to learn within a certain time limit, and there is no sense of failure when attempts are unsuccessful. We allow each individual to develop at their own pace and to feel good about making the effort to improve.
As far as advocacy is concerned, this blog is an example of the online presence we have established in order to tell people about what we do and to inform the public about the incredible individuals we employ. The Meadows is also on twitter. Our advocacy efforts are aimed at increasing awareness about what people with intellectual challenges can accomplish when they are given the opportunities they deserve. We also want to be a positive voice for families who have made countless personal sacrifices as they pulled together to support their loved ones in their efforts to overcome daunting challenges that tested their strength and resolve.
Our mission also includes educating the public so they understand that people with developmental disabilities are not so different from them. We want them to realize that individuals with intellectual challenges have the same hopes and dreams in life. They want to be happy and healthy. They want to have a job and to feel successful. Their daily lives are also similar. They go to the same malls, movies and restaurants. They enjoy the same recreational activities. They belong to the same churches and other organizations. But, most importantly, they have the same rights as any member of society. Therefore, they deserve the same dignity and respect accorded to others. Our advocacy, on behalf of the men and women we work with, is a compassionate effort to break down the barriers that can prevent a person from leading the most fulfilling and rewarding life possible.
For three decades The Meadows has fulfilled its mission to provide employment to people who simply need the opportunity to prove they can contribute. This is a commitment we honor every day and that we look forward to continuing in the years ahead. Our experience has shown us that with the proper support, individuals with intellectual challenges can accomplish what was once considered impossible. Having faith in them as human beings and demonstrating our belief that they can learn a variety of vocational tasks is often the determining factor in helping them become successful at a job that will test them physically and mentally but that will give them a type of personal satisfaction they have never experienced.
In the simplest terms, our real mission is to believe in the men and women we hire, and because we do - they never let us down.