We want to learn to advocate for ourselves and reach our goals
Like other members of People First Tulsa in Oklahoma I speak up for myself.
Tulsa People First is a group of adults with developmental disabilities. We meet each month to support one another as we learn to stand up and speak up for our rights as human beings. We are people first, with abilities and talents. Our disabilities are second.
As people with disabilities, we may have seizures, learn more slowly, and have difficulty walking, talking or hearing. We want to have dignity and be shown respect. We want to be accepted by others, and be able to live and work in the community of our choice. We want to learn to advocate for ourselves and reach our goals.
Although parents, professionals, care providers, and others can help us in many ways, they will never fully understand our situation because they have never felt the discrimination of having a disability. We want the same rights as everyone else. Nothing more. Nothing less.
I am the treasurer of the chapter. I have also served as president, secretary, and vice president.
We have 40 to 60 members in the Tulsa chapter and more than 200 People First members across the state. We believe our main purpose is to be supportive of others.
Our chapter adviser is Jae Kaye. I’m a native of Tulsa. I was born Oct. 16, 1961, to Stan and Irene Burnstein. I have a little sister, Kim, and a little brother, Danny. Both live in Tulsa close to me.
I talk to my brother and mom every day. I see my brother at least once a week and other family a couple times a month. I have my own home.
I attended Grissom Elementary School, Thoreau Junior High and graduated from Memorial High school in 1980.
I worked at Temple Israel for 31 years and retired in 2011 because I was diagnosed with cancer. Temple Israel is – and has been for 100 years – a place where Reform Jews can gather to explore and enrich our Jewish identity. Temple Israel is affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism. We are a diverse and inclusive community.
My parents started A New Leaf Inc. (anewleaf.org) in May 1979, thinking I would want to work with plants. A New Leaf ’s purpose is to provide horticultural-related job training to adults with developmental disabilities.
They didn’t ask me what I wanted to do. I did not want to work with plants.
I wanted to get a job at Temple Israel to work in daycare with kids. I got the job on my own. I never worked at A New Leaf.
I joined People First about 20 years ago after I heard about it from advocate Michelle Hoffman. I wanted to meet people.
We raise money for People First by sponsoring dances and bowlathons and by selling candles, cookie dough, and Amish jam.
For fun, I like to bowl, be with friends, go to the movies and the mall, make cards and calendars, and travel.
My favorite movie is Heaven is for Real. My favorite TV show is 19 Kids and Counting, and my favorite food is steak.
My friends would say my best qualities are that I am fun to hang out with, and that I am energetic, always happy, and remember everybody’s birthday.