Community Options was incorporated in 1972, so at our annual meeting this coming Tuesday, we will be celebrating 47 years of providing quality services and supports to local children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Getting close to 50 years is a remarkable achievement for an agency, much as it is for a marriage. When one considers the challenges faced over the course of 47 years — the swings in the economy; the philosophical and programmatic changes and evolutions; the myriad decision points and the ever-increasing bureaucratic and regulatory demands — the success that we have had is remarkable.

That is not to say, however, that this success has been lucky or accidental. It has been the direct result of decades of caring, dedication, hard work, and skill by multitudes of people who have clung to our values and faced those challenges one by one, year after year.

That being said however, these are definitely the most challenging times we have ever faced as we struggle to maintain financial viability. Many years of stagnant, insufficient Medicaid rates, increases in the minimum wage, reductions by the state in the number of people we are allowed to serve, and exorbitant health insurance costs have all contributed to extremely difficult times for our agency, as well as the vast majority of other rural provider agencies across Colorado.

To learn more about our successes and current struggles, please consider attending our annual meeting at the Montrose Pavilion this coming Tuesday, Oct. 8. The evening will begin at 6:30 with coffee, goodies, and conversation, and the meeting starts at 7.

The evening will feature a performance by Joyful Sounds, a musical group founded by the All Saints Anglican Church, and which includes musicians and dancers with disabilities. This is the sixth straight year that they have performed at our annual meeting, and it is always enjoyable and inspirational.

We will also be awarding personal achievement awards to people that we serve, community appreciation awards to individuals and businesses that impact the lives of people with disabilities and our employee of the year.

We’re also excited that our keynote speaker will be Christiano Sosa, executive director of the Arc of Colorado, who will discuss the work of the Arc and some of the current opportunities and challenges facing people with disabilities and the agencies that support them. Sosa is a knowledgeable and engaging speaker and I’m pleased that you all will have a chance to meet and hear from him.

Please join us for a special and important evening as we celebrate our successes and prepare for the future of critical services and supports for area citizens with intellectual disabilities.

Tom Turner is executive director of Community Options Inc. in Montrose.

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