In my current job, I attend many networking groups and coalition meetings. When you work in outreach, that is just part of your work life. As a result, I am connected to other disability service organizations. If I am not able to directly help someone, I can usually direct them to someone who is able to provide the assistance they need.
I met Michele three years ago when I was asked to represent my agency at a meeting of the Capital Region Creating Assets Savings and Hope (CA$H) Coalition. The mission of the CA$H Coalition is to help individuals and families increase their financial self-sufficiency. The partners in the Coalition help by providing free income tax preparation, access to community resources, financial education and asset-building activities.
Our Coalition is unique because there is a standing committee to focus on and engage people with disabilities. The partners on the Disability Initiative (DI) committee all represent disability service organizations, government or community groups, such as local independent living centers and the state vocational rehabilitation agency. Michele represents her employer, the Northeast Association of the Blind at Albany. In addition to the DI committee, for the past year we have co-chaired the CA$H marketing committee.
Michele is creative and knowledgeable. She teaches me something new each time we are together. Although I have been engaged in fundraising activities in my volunteer life as an adult, this is the first job where I have been responsible for any development activities. I am fortunate to have someone with experience who generously answers questions and points me in the right direction.
Through Michele, I have learned more about accessibility for the blind and visually impaired. Because of our work on the CA$H Coalition, I am more conscious of how to alter written materials and web content so everyone can access them. Whenever I add graphics or images, I am certain to include alternative text which can be read by screen-readers and other software.
Michele is more than a mentor who provides professional assistance. She is a friend. When I am not at meetings or events, she reaches out to make sure I am alright. If she hears something is happening in my life, like a broken wheelchair, she sends me a note or calls to see if I need anything. I know if I reach out to her, she will do what she can to help – even when things are busy in her life.
Like me, Michele believes in service to others. She is an active member of a local Lions Club and serves in the District leadership as well. The motto of Lions International is “We Serve.” Michele certainly serves her community both in her professional affiliations and in her volunteer activities for several senior agencies and caregiver groups.
Michele – thank you for always making time for me (and others), for being a mentor, for introducing me to people I “should get to know,” and most importantly for giving me the gift of your friendship. I appreciate your support and assistance making my trip a reality. I know from our work together, you understand the importance of saying thank you. I am grateful you agreed to let me express my gratitude in a public manner.