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.
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.
But, in reality, what happens at the Meadows is far more important than that.
The individuals we employ come from every walk of life. They have a wide variety of experiences and abilities. Some of them attempted to work in the community but for whatever reasons they were not successful. This led them to the Meadows where they found a place that changed their lives.
On the other hand, we have people who have been with us from our inception back in 1983. Their thirty-five years of service demonstrate incredible dedication and commitment. Others have joined us at various stages of their lives and for many different reasons.
But whatever situation brought them to us, we know that it is a serious mistake to focus solely on their disabilities. Each one of these men and women are so much more than their diagnosis.
Every person at the Meadows has qualities and characteristics that are unique to them and no one else. That is why it’s wrong to make assumptions about people with intellectual challenges.
A person with Down syndrome is not like every other person with an extra chromosome. An individual with autism does not represent anyone else on the spectrum. Someone with a traumatic brain injury does not share the same challenges as others with that medical condition. An individual who has had a brain tumor has a different experience than someone else with the same diagnosis.
And it’s because of their uncommon perspective that they’re able to teach the rest of us about life. They define what success really means. They demonstrate, in powerful ways, how human beings should treat each other. They present an example of how the world could be if we would just learn to accept each other instead of judging.
Spending time with them and seeing firsthand how they creatively handle personal challenges makes me far less likely to complain about my own problems. They serve as a constant reminder not to take my life for granted.
But despite difficulty with motor skills, dealing with speech disorders or negotiating mobility issues, the men and women we employ are relentlessly upbeat and enthusiastic. They rarely get down about any particular aspect of their life. They take each day as if comes and make the most of it. They do not waste time dwelling on what could be or feeling regret for the way things are. They are too busy living their lives.
Their focus is on today – not the past.
They also have an amazing capacity to forgive and let go, and that is fortunate because many of them have faced mistreatment at the hands of others. Everything from a lack of respect to outright bullying has been a part of at least some of their lives. But their ability to move past that type of behavior has allowed them to become stronger people who are willing to look forward and not be weighed down by things they cannot change.
That is a level of wisdom we should all attempt to achieve.
No matter what job you have, it is unlikely that you enjoy the kind of satisfaction that comes with working with people who have developmental disabilities.
Because of the remarkable men and women we are privileged to serve, no two days at the Meadows are exactly alike. Each one is an adventure in its own way. There are moments that are hilarious and other times that touch your heart.
But through it all, it is our employees who make the work experience so rewarding.
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.
However, many of the adults who work with us also live with physical challenges. Because this form of disability is typically more visible, it can elicit a variety of responses from the public, including sympathy, pity and the belief that to live with such a challenge is somehow “inspiring”.
But our employees simply face their physical issues as part of their lives. Nothing more or less. They do not dwell on the fact that they use a walker for their balance, or that they need leg braces for strength and stability. They are not concerned that they utilize a wheelchair for long distances. It is just part of their life. They accept it and move on.
Physical challenges can occur for many different reasons. Everything from being born with cerebral palsy to having a stroke, brain tumor or traumatic brain injury can all result in paralysis, muscle weakness, lack of coordination, and neurological impairment.
Every one of these issues is experienced by at least some of the individuals we employ. But each day, with patience and perseverance, they are able to do their jobs despite the particular challenges they face. They are not trying to be inspirational; they are just attempting to do their work to the best of their ability.
Obviously, living with physical challenges can add complexity and stress to everyday life. Many of the things that you and I take for granted, such as freedom of movement, strength, and stamina, are lacking in some degree for those we employ.
Anyone who has broken their arm or leg knows how it changes your daily experience. Not having the full use of your extremities alters almost everything you do. You constantly have to make adjustments, and sometimes you have to rely on others for help.
It is the same for the men and women of the Meadows. Occasionally they need assistance with certain tasks, but despite a wide array of challenges, each person is able to do their job. The fact that modifications are sometimes required in their work environment does not diminish their achievements.
It is the way our employees choose to deal with their physical challenges that make the difference. They show up for work each day determined to be successful no matter obstacles they face. And although they might have to alter how they approach their work assignment, it does not frustrate them. Their sense of satisfaction is derived from completing their job. How it was accomplished is of no importance. All that matters is that they were able to finish what they started.
I have watched as our workers displayed tremendous creativity in how they dealt with a particular task. Often they do not need to ask for help because they cleverly find ways to perform their job assignments on their own. To them it is nothing extraordinary, it’s just what they need to do in order to achieve the desired outcome. Their physical challenge doesn’t register with them as an impediment. It is nothing more than something to work around.
Unfortunately, however, we often consider them to be broken or incomplete in some way. We view them as someone who is not perfect, someone who is less. We unfairly impose our bias and misconceptions on a person instead of accepting them for who they are.
It is astounding just how foolish we can be.
To discount someone whose body looks or moves differently than yours is the height of ignorance because neither of those circumstances plays any part in determining the worth of a person.
For our employees, having a physical challenge does not prevent them from enjoying their lives. They are actively involved in the community. They have many interests, and they pursue their hopes and dreams with passion.
These men and women set an example for all us to follow. They do not obsess over their challenges - so why should we?
Ultimately, we must understand that having an intellectual or physical challenge is not nearly as debilitating as being intolerant and judgmental.
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.
The Meadows can be considered in two ways. First, we are a business offering a wide range of services to a statewide customer base. Second, and far more importantly, we provide employment and vocational training to adults with intellectual and physical challenges.
Unfortunately, people sometimes have preconceived ideas about individuals with disabilities including the belief that they cannot work. However, they are quick to change their minds when they meet our employees.
Customers are invited into our facility to witness their material being shredded. For many of them, it is their first exposure to adults with disabilities.
Without fail they are always impressed by how conscientious and efficient our employees are as they do their jobs while dealing with a wide range of challenges.
When the public sees their enthusiasm, work ethic, and positive attitude, they realize that these men and women deserve respect for developing their skills and abilities.
Additionally, every weekday, eight to ten of our employees go into the community on our company trucks to pick up paper and other material to be shredded. They spend the day interacting with all types of people in every kind of setting. It is another opportunity for those without disabilities to see that our differences are insignificant compared to what we have in common.
Established customers look forward to our workers visiting their businesses to pick up their bins of paper. They enjoy seeing what individuals with intellectual challenges can accomplish when they are given the opportunity they deserve.
In fact, once they have seen how our employees work, many of our customers choose to use our services exclusively because they believe in our mission. They begin to share our goal of ensuring successful employment for people who would otherwise be left out of the job market.
That kind of interaction benefits everyone because it’s through experience that we discover how connected we really are.
When the public realizes that men and women with intellectual and physical challenges can be a vital part of the workforce and contribute to the greater good, it leads to the understanding that every person deserves the opportunity to have a job. The fact that they might need supports and adaptations to make their employment successful, in no way makes their efforts less meaningful.
When the public gets to see that adults with disabilities can be employed and be productive citizens, it changes their point of view. It expands their perception of what these individuals can achieve.
It is often quite surprising to people when they first see the quality of work that our employees produce. It is a moment that alters previously held beliefs. The realization that adults with challenges are able to perform complicated tasks that were once considered impossible, creates a positive impression that replaces the misconceptions of the past.
When a person with a developmental disability has a job, it gives them a purpose and daily goals to focus on. It makes them feel like they’re part of the community and that they are contributing. It creates a sense of accomplishment, and it builds self-confidence that can lead them to attempt even more in their life than was once thought possible.
We consider it an important part of our mission to ensure that the public has the opportunity to learn about and appreciate the capabilities of men and women with intellectual and physical challenges.
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.
That type of thinking leads to a substantial amount of the misery experienced by the human race.
At the Meadows, we do everything in our power to fight this kind of attitude. We know that every life has equal meaning. Gender, ethnicity, age, and disability play no part in determining the value of a person.
Every day, we witness firsthand what men and women living with a wide range of intellectual and physical challenges can accomplish when they are given the opportunities they deserve.
Throughout their lives, these adults have had to deal with the harmful misconception that their lives mattered less. Even now, society does not always embrace the diversity that is represented by people with disabilities.
That is unjust and unfair.
People who live with intellectual challenges are complete human beings. They are not just a diagnosis used to conveniently label them.
They are also sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, aunts, uncles or cousins. They are church members, students, neighbors, employees, friends, and citizens. They are people with hopes and dreams. They want to be appreciated. They deserve respect.
Just like you and me, these individuals are doing the best they can to build a life that they find rewarding and fulfilling.
But frequently the biggest stumbling block they face is the narrowmindedness of others.
Through no fault of their own, people with intellectual challenges are often prejudged and assumed to have issues that do not allow them to be considered equal members of society. That is a painful loss for everyone because what is sometimes perceived as differences actually show just how much we are all alike.
*A person may use a walker or a wheelchair, but their mobility matters just as much to them as someone who is physically graceful.
* A person may need to wear functional clothing because of physical challenges, but their appearance is just as acceptable as someone who wears designer labels.
* A person may have communication issues, but they have the right to have their thoughts understood just like someone who is fluent.
* A person may use public transportation, but their destination means just as much to them as it does to someone who drives a luxury car.
* A person may live in a group home, but having a residence is just as important to them as it is to someone who lives in a gated community.
These examples apply to the men and women we employ at the Meadows. But the fact that they make certain adaptions in their lives does not make them less. It just makes them like everyone else because we all have limitations.
Every one of us has certain areas of life we excel at and other areas that will always remain beyond our capabilities. However, that does not diminish our worth as a person.
It is the same for people with intellectual challenges. They can achieve certain goals while others are out of reach, but that does not mean we should focus exclusively on what they can or cannot accomplish. They should always be considered in terms of their humanity.
All of society benefits when we realize that each life has the same value. When we understand that every person deserves to be treated with dignity, whether they have a disability or not, we take a giant step forward in accepting all of our citizens without reservation.
There can be no progress made in our world if some are left behind. Our organization does everything possible to provide meaningful work for people who are wrongly assumed to be unemployable.
At the Meadows, we believe that every life matters.
There are no exceptions.
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.
Every weekday morning, forty-seven men and women come to work at the Meadows. They range in age from twenty-one to seventy-three, and they come from every walk of life. But the one thing they all have in common is the fact that they each have some type of intellectual challenge.
For most of these individuals, being employed was a long-term goal - but not a certainty.
That is why their job is so important to them. They remember the years of hard work and effort that was required to realize their dream. To be rewarded with the opportunity to reach their potential means everything to them.
But it is important to understand that being employed benefits them in more ways than just receiving financial compensation.
Their job keeps them physically strong and mentally active. They don’t spend their time sitting in front of a TV. They are engaged with life. They are up and moving. They are testing themselves and finding that they can do much more than was once believed.
Having a job gives their life structure and discipline. It provides them with valuable experience and a sense of purpose. Day by day they build self-esteem and self-confidence. As they experience success, it creates a feeling of accomplishment. The pride they feel for earning a paycheck is well deserved.
Once they begin working at our facility it is a never-ending opportunity to learn. Our employees develop both vocational and social skills. They discover the importance of interacting appropriately with others which gives them a sense of belonging. They form friendships that last a lifetime. Some of our employees have worked together for more than three decades. Those kinds of enduring relationships are rare in modern life.
Having a job at the Meadows allows them to be part of the community. They have the chance to interact with people who do not have disabilities. The public gets to see their dedication and commitment. Our customers are always impressed by the skill and ability displayed by our workers.
Being employed gives them a sense of identity. They get to see themselves in a way that has nothing to do with their particular disability. We offer them the freedom to be themselves. In our organization, they’re not judged – but rather they are accepted for who they are.
At the Meadows, differences are celebrated, not discouraged. Everyone is allowed to express their individuality even as they learn to work together as part of a team to achieve a common goal. Their job has a built-in level of trust. They are never pressured. Instead, they are encouraged to keep trying when attempting a new task.
Fortunately, in recent years more people with developmental disabilities are finding jobs in the community, and we certainly think that is a positive trend. However, for some individuals with intellectual challenges, working without supports is never going to be a realistic option.
That is why we must offer them an appropriate alternative.
We cannot allow people to be left behind just because their issues are more significant. They too deserve to experience the dignity and respect that comes with having a job. They should not be denied the opportunity to earn a paycheck because of circumstances that are not their fault and that are beyond their control.
It is our opinion that every person has the right to work. If adjustments or accommodations are needed to meet the particular needs of an individual it does not alter that right.
When citizens with intellectual challenges are given the chance to be productive in a vocational setting it results in a more inclusive and tolerant society.
For the incredible men and women we are privileged to employ, working at the Meadows is so much more than just a job.
We are thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of their lives.
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.
People with intellectual challenges deserve to have those same meaningful relationships.
But, unfortunately, many people believe you can’t be friends with a person if they have a developmental disability.
Any two human beings on earth can be friends. It is only our bias and narrowmindedness that prevents it.
Typically, a person with an intellectual challenge is ready and willing to accept you as a friend. Often they have endured negative experiences that have left them feeling lonely. They have sometimes been ignored and forgotten. In some cases, they have been marginalized in society. That has created a real need to interact with someone they can trust and who will respect them.
The question is: what characteristics do you look for in a friend?
Do you want someone who is honest and trustworthy? A person who has a sense of humor and loves to laugh? An individual who is compassionate and cares about others? Someone who will value your friendship and won’t take it for granted?
Would you like to meet a person who does not judge you but rather accepts you? Someone who is loyal through good times and bad? An individual who forgives you when you are inconsiderate or unkind? A person who wants nothing more than to be your friend?
A person with a developmental disability can have each of those qualities and more.
If you will open your heart and your mind, you’ll find that there is no reason an individual with an intellectual challenge cannot be your friend.
All they require is that you to treat them the way they treat you.
Here’s an example. When I was growing up, there was a boy that lived on my street who had a developmental disability. He was happy, easy going, and always glad to see me. And although he was nonverbal, we quickly learned to communicate in our own way. It did not take long for us to become good friends.
We spent several years together until one afternoon I came home from school and my mother told me my friend had unexpectedly died the night before. It was a shocking moment that stands out in my childhood. The sadness and sense of loss was in no way diminished because he had a disability. It hurt just as much to think I would never see him again as it would losing any other person. He was my friend, and now he was gone. That was more than fifty years ago, but I can still remember the sound of his laughter.
That is the power of friendship. It makes us care about others in a way that impacts our lives.
Currently, the Meadows employs forty-seven men and women with some form of intellectual challenge. But the fact that they each have a disability does not alter their ability to be a friend.
I have been fortunate to work with them for seventeen years. During that time we have celebrated joyous moments together, as well as troubling days that tested us. But through it all, our appreciation for each other has never wavered.
These remarkable individuals have had such a positive effect on me that it is difficult to imagine what my life would be like if I had not been hired by this organization.
I am a better person for knowing them.
They are my friends.
When an individual arrives for their first day of work at the Meadows, it is an accomplishment resulting from a lifetime of effort. It’s the culmination of years of commitment and dedication. It’s the achievement of a goal that at times seemed unattainable – but is now a reality.
And, in almost every case, it required the loving support of their family.
However, it was not an easy journey. The challenge of raising any child is daunting, but when a disability is factored in, it changes everything.
Through the years, these families learned to have patience, they learned to embrace perseverance, and they learned to adapt.
The willingness to be flexible became necessary the moment a family’s loved one received the diagnosis of an intellectual challenge because, going forward, all of their lives were altered in significant ways.
At the Meadows, each of our families experienced that type of moment in one way or another. It was a point in time that took their breath away. It was a powerful combination of fear, worry, disappointment, shock and even anger.
In some cases, the family had suspected for some time that there could be an issue with their child. Perhaps there were delays or behaviors that gave some indication that something was different.
In other cases, they did not see the diagnosis coming.
However, when they learned their child would have lifelong challenges, there was an adjustment period as their expectations changed. Some quickly accepted their child’s disability while others struggled to understand why it had happened.
But, eventually, each family accepted their particular situation and committed themselves to ensuring that their child had a full and rich life.
It was that desire to see their son or daughter succeed that led them to the Meadows. Without their unrelenting efforts, their child might not have ever been prepared to enter the workforce.
Because I have only known their children as adults, I often wonder what their little boy or girl was like at the age of eight or ten. What particular issues did they face? What were the problems they struggled with as parents? Where did they find the strength to keep fighting for their child’s future?
I must say that working with these families through the years has touched my heart in a way that is difficult to describe. I am also a parent, and now a grandparent, but I never faced the challenges of having a loved one with an intellectual or physical disability.
That means I never feared that I might lose my child as they underwent dangerous surgical procedures to save their life. I never struggled with a sense of loss because my child was not going to be the person I thought they would be. I never endured the looks and whispers when my child was in public because people didn’t understand the person they were seeing. I never had to comfort my child when others bullied and ridiculed them just because of who they were. I never had professionals tell me that my child might not ever walk or talk or go to school or have a job.
But the families we work with chose to focus on the positive instead of the negative. They discovered that having a child with a disability showed them what really mattered in life. They realized the importance of appreciating each day they had with their son or daughter. They learned to value the simplest moments because they are the most beautiful. Every time their child reached a milestone their hearts soared with joy. And as their child grew up they were surprised by how hard they laughed and how often they cried all because of the unconditional love they experienced.
The amazing families of the Meadows have always played a vital role in our business, and they always will. We could not be a positive force in the community without them. It is a partnership that we value above all others because it is rooted in the common goal of seeing their child be successfully and safely employed so they can grow as a person and reach their true potential.
That is why we will continue to do everything in our power to justify the trust they place in our organization as they allow their sons and daughters to work under our supervision.
Most people would be shocked to learn that three out of every one hundred Americans have a developmental disability and that in the United States there are approximately ten million adults, teens, and children with some type of intellectual challenge.
Please stop for a moment and consider that number. Ten million.
That is more than the populations of Oklahoma, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Vermont, and Rhode Island combined.
And yet a typical citizen could easily live most of their life without ever meeting a person with that particular challenge. However, it is also possible that they could come in contact with an individual who has that diagnosis - and not realize it.
People with intellectual challenges can be physically healthy with no visible signs of disability. In the right situation, you could spend a short amount of time with a person without ever knowing that their IQ was 70 or less. (That is the criteria the state of Oklahoma uses to classify a person as having a developmental disability.)
But these individuals are present in all areas of life. They go to school, they go to church, they eat at restaurants, they attend movies and they shop at the mall. They have the same interests, the same hopes and the same dreams as you and me. They want to be understood, they want to be valued and they want to be accepted.
Among the nation’s millions of people with developmental disabilities are the men and women that work at the Meadows. They are an accurate representation of all the other individuals around the country who are diagnosed with some form of intellectual challenge.
We employ adults with unspecified developmental disabilities, Down syndrome, autism, epilepsy, and individuals who have had traumatic brain injuries, strokes and brain tumors.
Each one of our employees has overcome tremendous physical and mental challenges on their road to successful employment. Through their desire to be part of the workforce, they have demonstrated courage and perseverance. They have tested themselves and discovered that they are capable of holding down a job that allows them to experience dignity and respect.
But, sadly, they have also had to struggle to have their rights upheld. They have fought against bias and judgment. Some have even faced ridicule and bullying. All because of who they are.
That is why organizations like the Meadows are so important to this population. We provide a sanctuary for individuals who would otherwise have difficulty finding employment. And one of the most important aspects of their job is the fact that it takes place in a safe and supportive environment. We not only help them develop vocational skills, we also monitor their health and safety at all times.
Our employees come to work each day, not only to earn a paycheck but also to have a purpose. Their employment is an important part of their daily life. Their sense of accomplishment, their feeling of achievement and the joy of belonging are all positive benefits that result from being employed with an organization where they are appreciated for who they are instead of for what they can do.
The millions of U.S. citizens who live with the diagnosis of an intellectual challenge are still often ignored and marginalized. In a sense, they remain invisible within society, and that is everyone’s loss.
However, because the Meadows specializes in secure data destruction, customers are welcomed into our facility to witness their confidential information being shredded. They watch our employees work, and they quickly realize that we are all far more alike than we are different.
Also, 20% of our employees go out each day into the community on our company trucks to businesses and organizations statewide to pick up material to be destroyed. Being in public gives people the chance to see what individuals with disabilities can accomplish when given the opportunity.
Ultimately, everyone benefits when we get to interact in meaningful ways with people who are more than willing to accept others for who they are and who, in return, deserve the same consideration.
That is why we believe that a significant number of the unseen millions with intellectual challenges would benefit greatly if they could be employed at an organization like the Meadows.
A new year is a time to not only reflect on what has been - but to also anticipate what could lie ahead.
Here at the Meadows, we believe our future looks secure. However, just like every other business, we will face challenges during the next twelve months. But, thankfully, our Board of Directors and management team have been vigilant in preparing to meet them.
First and foremost is the issue of state funding. With the Oklahoma budget crisis still unresolved, we cannot count on that source of income over the entire year. Although it is our hope that legislators will somehow find the courage to support men and women with developmental disabilities, at this time, we cannot be certain about their intentions.
But despite that particular financial issue, 2018 looks hopeful. Our business remains strong because our organization has an established reputation for integrity that has allowed us to maintain long-term relationships with our large customer base even as new partners come on board to utilize our services.
Without their loyal support, we would not be able to employ as many men and women as we do. Their willingness to do business with us is a testament to their belief that there is merit and worth in what the Meadows stands for. Our sincere appreciation for the commitment of our customers cannot be overstated.
Our annual Walk-A-Thon fundraiser in October was a tremendous success, raising over $62,500.00. That money will be used to purchase a new forklift and for repairs to our facility and other equipment as needed. The compassion of our sponsors including individuals, families, businesses, and corporations was astounding.
Another example of generosity and goodwill was recently demonstrated by the W. J. Jones Family Foundation. They make grants to deserving nonprofits, and two weeks ago they presented the Meadows with a check for $20,000.00.
We are humbled by the faith that has been placed in our organization, and we are truly grateful for the financial support we consistently receive from the community.
Obviously, we cannot predict what the future holds, but we do believe that our organization is well positioned to capitalize on good economic news as well as being prepared to withstand any additional downturns.
However, being a nonprofit means our focus is on something far more important than just the bottom line.
In good times and in bad, our mission remains the same; to provide supported employment for individuals who deserve the opportunity to experience the sense of satisfaction that comes with having a job.
The men and women with disabilities that we are blessed to work with are the reason the Meadows exists. We are here to serve them.
During the next twelve months, we look forward to assisting these amazing adults in maximizing their strengths while giving them the chance to develop new vocational skills that will be of value to them for the rest of their lives.
As 2018 grows near, we hope that everyone connected with the Meadows has a safe and prosperous new year, and we offer our sincere thanks for your ongoing support of our efforts to provide meaningful employment to men and women intellectual and physical challenges.