A big thank you goes out to the 700 advocates including over 20 individual self-advocates, staff and family members from Penn-Mar who participated in the Developmental Disabilities Day in Annapolis on Thursday, February 22nd. They spoke to numerous legislators, key staff, and interns urging them to support the re-instatement of the 3.5% mandated rate community service rate. As of last week, it looks like their efforts worked and it will be restored in the budget.
Mark Rivera-Junkins, Community Learning Coordinator for Penn Mar, said, “I believe the most significant outcome of that day was witnessing the empowerment of the individuals we support, to speak on a topic that has an impact on them. As we continued to speak to more people throughout the day, those individuals who by nature are normally more reserved, requested to read the speech, wanted to pass out materials developed, or speak unscripted. Everyone who came with us wanted to contribute in some way and the act of empowerment was contagious.”
When speaking to staff and members of the government that day, our individuals wanted to let them know how important their support staff is to them. Over 400 Penn-Mar individuals rely on support staff to live and work as independently as possible. They shared that it is hard to find people to support them when they can make more money working at McDonalds.
The day was very special to everyone who attended and now that they know their voice was heard, we all have reason to celebrate. Thank you to all of our advocates who took the time to share their stories with our elected officials!