Donna Spears

Think person before disability

Donna Spears joined People First in Louisiana because she believes in its mission and vision statement. She believes people should come before theirdisabilities. 

by DONNA ANN SPEARS

I was an officer and a board member of People First from 2005 to 2007, but now I’m just a member. I would say there are about 25 to 30 members in our chapter. I get to meet other people with the same issues as mine. We come up with solutions, then we take those to the People First of Louisiana Board of Directors to see what advocacy actions we need to take. Sharon Hennessey is the adviser for the chapters.

The value of People First to people with disabilities is extremely high.People First teaches members how to advocate for themselves. If they are not able to advocate for themselves, People First members advocate for that person.

To be an advocate is totally about being part of society. Educating legislators about issues we have in our communities. The “R” word is an ongoing campaign for People First of Louisiana.

During the month of March, we set up information booths in the community. People First is also working on the ABLE Act, which means Achieving a Better Life Experience. Most of the People First chapters collect dues at monthly meetings. People First of Louisiana — at the state and local levels — is organizing a fundraiser for 2014.

Here’s a little about myself.

I was born Jan. 13, 1966, in Lake Charles, La., to Larry Lee Spears and Lorise Marie Deshotel Spears. I have two brothers and one sister. My brothers are Timothy Lee Spears and Johnathan Wayne Spears. My sister is Brooke Renae Spears Bergeaux.

They all live in Louisiana. Timothy and his family live in Gotts Cove. Johnathan and his family live in Jennings. Brooke and her family live in Evangeline. I see Johnathan and Brooke every day.

I went to Hamilton Elementary, S. J. Welsh Junior High School, Northside Junior High School, then to Jennings High School. I attended college at Louisiana State University at Eunice and also McNeese State University. I did not graduate from high school but received my GED in 1992.

I was employed by People First of Louisiana as a program mentor and then as an advocacy facilitator. I helped local chapters in the area. I attended stakeholder meetings, board meetings, conferences, etc. I really did enjoy my job, but due to lack of funding, I am currently unemployed.

I first joined People First of Louisiana in 1999. I also belong to many other organizations in my home town and throughout the state. I live in my deceased parents’ home, and I pay the mortgage.

I like talking to friends on the phone and in person. Meeting new people is interesting to me. I enjoy learning about different cultures.

My favorite movie is Titanic. My favorite television show is NCIS. My all-time favorite is Mexican food.

My friends say my best quality is the ability to listen and support others without judgment.

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