By Danielle Miller, Public Relations Specialist
It has been one year since the Mosaic Self Advocates Group formed, and the group is gaining momentum. Starting with just 5 members, the group has grown to 20 people attending meetings on a regular basis.
Most recently, members have been selling Martin’s Supermarkets coupon books as a fundraiser to pay for the two conferences they will attend. So far the group has sold almost $500 dollars’ worth of books- but to the people selling, they are also learning critical social skills.
“We went out into the community to sell the books, going door to door. Each person sold at least one. Everyone had fun being involved. We told them to state their name, where they are from and what they are selling the books for,” said Co-Advisor, Rachel Hooker.
For their next fundraiser, they will be selling t-shirts. Right now they have two designs picked out and will take a vote to decide which one makes it to the final process.
From voting on t-shirts to voting for the next President of the United States
The group has prepared for the presidential election for quite some time. During one of their monthly meetings, election specialist Angie Troyer came to speak to the group regarding the election process. She also discussed how to vote and informed the group of their specific rights. 23 people registered to vote- including some staff and several cast their ballot for the first time ever this election!
Earlier this year, the officers of the Mosaic Self Advocacy group were up for re-election. Elections within the group went well. All of the candidates were very informative as to why they should be elected or re-elected.
“Laura explained why keeping her position as president is best for the group. They had to speak from the heart. The self-advocacy group is important for them and becoming part of their lives. They turn to the group with issues and advice, talking openly and honestly when voicing their concerns and areas of their lives they want to improve,” said Rachel.
Rachel said the group has come a long way over the past year when it comes to understanding their rights and how issues like employment could affect their benefits and lifestyle.
A representative from Martin’s supermarkets came to speak to the group about employment opportunities and brought applications for those interested to fill out. There were a few interested applicants but most importantly those applicants asked informed questions. The questions took into account the material presented at National Conference last year.
“Someone asked about hours and pay. Someone else asked about accommodations with a wheelchair. A lot is revolving around jobs and employment at the conference this year focusing on that and we are trying to make sure to match up those who would benefit the most out of the info to go,” said Rachel.
In the self-advocate meetings, the group talks about responsibility and discipline. For example, if members do not come to meetings regularly and prepare for conference then they are not able to attend.
The November conference was held at Erskine Green. Erskine Green is a training institute for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
At the conference, participants were able to see what they can do with education and training. During the December conference in Indianapolis there will be different workshops and break-out sessions to choose from.
The conferences are very valuable but also expensive when considering travel expenses. This is why the group fundraises to help offset some of those costs. Attendees pay for their own food while traveling and they usually try to go somewhere fun like the mall so they can buy a small souvenir if they are able to.
Christ the King Lutheran church graciously donated a $1000 grant to the self-advocacy group to use toward travel expenses to the conferences allowing the possibility of more members being able to attend.
There are some exciting things to look forward to in the coming year. These include, doing a joint fundraiser with the Terre Haute chapter, starting a new bowling league and taking up a collection for the holidays and giving back to a family in need. Also Laura will be volunteering in a kindergarten classroom soon as she loves working with children.
We are happy to see all of the hard work and dedication by the members and officers of the group as well as co-advisors Rachel Hooker and John Coleman. As we move into the second year, it seems the possibilities for growth are infinite.
To receive up to date information, please visit our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/mosaicinnorthernindiana/?pnref=lhc
The Mosaic self-advocacy group meets at our Meaningful Day Program site once a month located at 1415 Lincolnway W Suite D Osceola, IN 46561. Or contact Rachel Hooker at 574-340-9296 or John Coleman at 574-361-5646.