County Commissioners Issue Proclamation Recognizing March 2022 as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
Written by Press Release on March 17, 2022
Douglas County, Ore. – Douglas County Commissioners Tim Freeman, Chris Boice and Tom Kress were honored to issue a proclamation recognizing March 2022 as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month during their weekly business meeting on Wednesday, March 16, 2022. The proclamation shines a spotlight on the amazing individuals, families and agencies here in Douglas County who work day in and day out to advocate for the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities, as well as strive to empower them to make their own choices. It also recognizes that individuals with and without disabilities live and work side by side in Douglas County to form stronger and more diverse communities. In addition, they wanted to bring awareness to the barriers that people with disabilities still face in their everyday lives.
Prior to the meeting, the Commissioners extended an invitation to several individuals and agencies in Douglas County that work directly with clients who have developmental disabilities, and asked them to attend a special proclamation presentation to acknowledge the important work they do to help these individuals achieve their full potential in life. Additionally, the Board encouraged each agency to bring an individual or family they’ve worked with to also attend. In attendance today were representatives and clients from the following local agencies: Community Living Case Management, Connections Case Management, Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS)-Aging & People with Disabilities Division, Andy & Dean Hatfield of the Taylor Hatfield Memorial Youth Fund, RISE Oregon, Douglas County Special Olympics, Sunrise Enterprises, Umpqua Homes, Inc., and Umpqua Valley disAbilities Network. Each organization provides a wide variety of services and programs in order to assist individuals with a wide array of disabilities. They foster independent living programs, provide access to meaningful education and employment opportunities, help connect them with programs and services that facilitate self-determination, and support them on their journey for continuous personal growth.
Commissioner Chris Boice read the proclamation and then presented 9 local agencies and their clients with “Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month” proclamation certificates to thank them for the work they do in delivering these valuable services to these individuals and also to recognize the people who receive these services.
Commissioner Freeman selected a couple of the agency directors to come up and speak on behalf of their organizations and tell a little bit more about what they do for their clients and the families living with disabilities. First to speak was Robin Mouser, Director at Connections Case Management. “We have been in business for 20 years and provide services to over 700 clients, their families and their providers in four counties in Oregon. We serve just under three hundred clients in Douglas County. We help advocate for people and help them reach their goals and their dreams,” explained Robin Mouser.
Next was Matt Droscher with Umpqua Valley disAbilities Network. “First, thank you Commissioners for acknowledging and celebrating disability services awareness month in Douglas County. I would also like to take this time to thank my staff. We have a great group of folks and these are walking testimonies and success stories, just like those that walk in our doors. So, they don’t just walk the walk, they now teach each other to walk the walk. We have people that walk in the door with any number of barriers to their success, sometimes it’s a developmental challenge, emotional, behavioral, or all the above. We hopefully help them to become more successful and productive people,” commented Matt Droscher.
Third was Natasha Atkinson, CEO and Executive Director for Umpqua Homes, Inc. (UHI). “UHI is excited because we are celebrating 35 years in Douglas County. We serve over 45 individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) with a staff of over 150. We are a rather large employer here in Douglas County that people don’t often know about. Our mission is to be united in providing a foundation of independence and choice. It is very important, because people with IDD are often excluded from choice and we do a lot to help and protect their ability to have a choice,” stated Natasha Atkinson.
“The final thoughts I’d like to leave you all with, again, this is something that I learned while serving in the Oregon legislature, and something I will remember my entire life. We used to say this, and we truly mean it. The work you all do is truly God’s work. We know it often times does not pay as well as other jobs, it’s sometimes very difficult and emotional, but it’s some of the most important work done in our communities. We, as your Board of Commissioners, very much appreciate the work you do!” – Commissioner Freeman.
To learn more about Developmental Disabilities Month, click on the link for the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities website: https://www.nacdd.org/ddam1/. To watch the Facebook Live video from the presentation, click here: facebook.com/DouglasCountyeGovernment