Independence, respect, education, celebration and the chance to advocate on a federal and state level. That’s what I get out of People First, a self-advocacy organization I joined 20 years ago. I became a member in 1993 because I was not networked well into the community, and people deserve to direct their own lives.
People First teaches members self-determination, that we are people first and our disabilities are secondary. It also promotes independence, which impacts the quality of our lives.
To me, being a self-advocate means speaking up. If we don’t get the services we need to live in our communities, we are at risk. It’s only fair to everyone to have freedom to make decisions in their own lives.
In my job at Washington State People First, I am an advocate for our members. I also oversee the chapter, keep members informed about legislative matters and help with training. I love my job! It keeps me in the game!
In addition to being a staff member, I have served in every office: president, VP, secretary, and treasurer. We have 10 members in our chapter. There are 36 chapters around the state and approximately 1,500 members statewide. Our People First advisers are Donna Lowry (administrator) and Meredith Moyer (advocate).
People First of Washington is working on closing institutions that house people with developmental disabilities, improving supports in our communities, making transit services more readily available and teaching our members. Among the fundraisers we sponsor are the Human Race, Rock and Bowl State Convention, dinners and silent auctions.
I was born in 1956, the same year as my wife, Susan. We have been been together for 36 years. She is also an active member of People First.
I also belong to Moose Lodge 493. I am president of The Arc of Whitcom County, and Susan I volunteer to serve meals for the homeless at Ascension Catholic Church in Bellingham, Wash.
We live in an apartment. For fun, we do Special Olympics events. I have also participated in “Empire Baseball” for the last 30 years and enjoy PlayStation.
My favorite movie is Golden Eye (James Bond); my favorite TV shows are the Honeymooners and Leave It to Beaver. My favorite foods are lasagna, pizza and steak.
My friends would say my best quality is my administration ability, my gifts of encouragement and my never-give-up attitude.