I often have the privilege as The Arc Minnesota’s Communications Director to be present when individuals with disabilities and families share personal stories about the struggles they face.  These stories lend urgency to my work preparing for Disability Matters Day at the Capitol on February 28th, which I hope you will attend.

At the January 28th Parental Fee Town Hall Forum, I heard the heartbreaking stories from parents paying unaffordable fees, which Steve Larson discussed in his recent blog post.   Each story reinforced the need for passing the parental fee relief bill recently introduced in the Minnesota House and Senate, SF 807/HF 1182.

Participating last Wednesday night on a panel for a segment recorded for an upcoming Disability Viewpoints broadcast, I listened to Pam Gonnella express anxiety about the difficulties in hiring staff for the group home where her daughter Sarah lives.  Pam worries that staffing will someday be stretched too thin to provide even minimal care and support.  This made the importance of passing SF 669/HF 873, legislation just introduced to increase direct care staff wages, even clearer to me.

That night, I also heard frightening stories from Jeff Bangsberg about people with complex needs who were forced to go without care because of the shortage in direct care staff.  His stories and others’ received much needed coverage in Chris Serres’ February 12th Star Tribune piece, and gave urgency to the legislation Jeff and others are promoting, SF 393/HF 481.

I’m sure you have a story that needs to be shared with legislators, too.  It could illustrate dramatic challenges you face, like the stories above.  It could express hopes you have for a job in the workforce, a place of your own to live, or access to self-directed services to help better meet your needs.

Whatever your story, share it with your legislators at Day at the Capitol.   Sign up to let us know you’re coming (there’s no registration cost).  Prepare for February 28th by creating your story with the Telling Your Story app and by looking over our resources, which have tips on visiting your legislator and points to include in your personal story.  See you at the Capitol in two weeks!

Mike Gude, Communications Director