Making Lives Better on the South Shore
~ By Christopher T. White, Ed.D., President/CEO
Road To Responsibility (RTR) has been the premier service provider for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities on the South Shore since 1988. Over the past 23-years a lot of things have changed about us: we serve more people (nearly 1000 every month), in more programs (54), with more employees (500+) than anyone would have imagined from our humble beginnings all those years ago! What has not changed is our determination to meet the needs of each person we serve with the same respectful, individualized approach that has been our hallmark since we opened the doors to our first program!
Homes, Jobs and Therapeutic Day Programs represent the core of what RTR provides to those we serve. Through these efforts we are ‘Making Lives Better’ for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) throughout the South Shore. By doing so, we help these individuals take their rightful place in the community as productive citizens with something to offer. One of the great joys in my role at RTR is the opportunity to see people push themselves beyond stereotypes and the low expectations of society and build a life worth living for themselves. Here at RTR that is a common occurrence.
Many of the people we serve today had lives marked by institutionalization and repeated failures with other agencies, before finally achieving success with RTR. Theirs’ are lives transformed by individualized care, high expectations, shared perseverance and a dedicated, professional staff. Nearly 60 years ago future President John F. Kennedy wrote his famous book, Profiles In Courage. With all due respect to the individuals cited in that popular work, a similar book could be written about many served by Road To Responsibility. These are folks who overcome more on a daily basis than most people reading this article have experienced in a lifetime. Persistence, resilience and inspiration are qualities seen in abundance here. The best way to convey what makes RTR such a special place is by sharing some of those personal stories (due to confidentiality laws names cannot be given).
T is a young woman who had been part of the foster care system as a child. She came to us at age 18 after being turned away by more than 42 other agencies due to her serious behavioral challenges. Now nearly 10 – years later she has earned her GED, she has a part-time cleaning job and she has become firmly rooted in the community through her many activities. She has even joined our Special Olympics basketball team and shown herself to be a great shot! It has not always been easy but she never gave up and now she is pushing herself to increase her hours on the job and to expand her social network.
L is a woman in her 40s who has been with RTR for 20-years. She came to us from a difficult home situation where her overwhelmed family often had to call the police to keep her safe. Since coming to RTR she has gone from living in a group home where she was under staff supervision 24-hours/day and working in a sheltered work setting to living in an independent apartment with only minimal staff supports during the week, working full-time in the community and driving her own car!
D is a young man who had once been completely estranged from his family and various service providers over the years were convinced he would never be able to live successfully in the community unless he had 1:1 staff support and was kept isolated from society. After only a year of our unique, integrated clinical supports and innovative services he is happily living with others, participates in community activities on a weekly basis and tells his family that he loves them for the first time in his life. His father, who had once tried to block his move to RTR, now calls the transformation of his son a “miracle” and has become one of our staunchest advocates.
There are more of these success stories than space to print them. These personal ‘miracles’ have continued despite four straight years of budget cuts resulting from the worst recession in our lifetimes. However, human services in Massachusetts have been in a ‘recession’ for the past 24-years! Our state contracts last received a cost-of-living-adjustment in 1987. Life has, obviously, gotten much more expensive since then. We have only been able to continue our Mission by dramatically cutting expenses and relying on private fundraising to help pay for things no longer covered by our eroded state contracts.
Please help support our cause. Our annual fundraiser is coming up on November 18, 2011 at the beautiful Indian Pond Country Club in Kingston. This year’s ‘Event for Road To Responsibility’ will feature guest emcee Beverly Beckham, Boston Globe columnist, spectacular Live and Silent auction items and a $10,000 ‘Golden Ticket’ raffle! If you would like information on sponsorship opportunities, ticket sales or raffle tickets please contact Kara Malone at (781) 536-3219.