Editor’s Note: This is the 11th in a series of articles featuring the people and programs of Cardinal Services in their 60th anniversary year.
As the community wraps up the year-long celebration of Cardinal Services’ 60th Anniversary, one thing is abundantly clear. People with disabilities have greater opportunity now than ever before. Where once every aspect of their life was dictated to them, today they are given choices and enjoy many of the freedoms they were once denied.
Cardinal CEO Jane Wear points out that we aren’t all the way there yet, but things are improving. In the past decade, state institutions for the disabled were closed; more people are finding jobs with companies in the community and living in neighborhoods.
In keeping with the changing landscape, Cardinal adopted a new mission this year, to assist and advocate for people with disabilities or challenges to live lives of dignity, growth and opportunity.
In one step toward meeting this mission, Cardinal is working with the state to implement My Life My Choice, an initiative giving those currently in residential programs the choice of where they live.
The trend is for more people with disabilities to live in smaller settings, making their own decisions about where they go to eat, or whether they want to go to the ball game at the high school or stay home this weekend. They are getting out in the community as an individual, interacting with others who are not disabled and making new friends. According to Wear, our community is very open and engaged with individuals who have disabilities, and each connection a person makes, adds to their well-being.
Whether a person lives in a group home, apartment or in the family home, Cardinal continues to provide supports to empower each person to express their interests and pursue them as they wish. Perhaps the person wants to learn to cook their favorite food, or how to wash the dishes or do laundry – all so they can be more independent. One lady expressed her desire to learn to paint a picture so staff took her to a shop where an artist gave instruction. Her resulting artwork was beautiful! Whatever the goal may be, as they have for the past 60 years, Cardinal Services will be here to provide the support and services needed to achieve it.
The final event of Cardinal’s 60th Anniversary celebration will be a holiday open house at Cardinal’s Parker Street Home Thursday. The public is welcome to attend.
For information about Cardinal Services, contact Michelle Boxell at 574-371-1387 or michelle.boxell@cardinalservices.org.