Perhaps it’s because a couple of weeks ago, I saw a terrific recording of a live concert by the Eagles on television, and that song has been echoing through my head ever since. Perhaps it’s because Community Options has reached a remarkable milestone as Georgiana Russell becomes our first employee to celebrate 45 years of employment, while Mike Schottelkotte has also served that long on our Board of Directors. Perhaps it’s because I celebrated my 25th anniversary at this agency in March. And perhaps the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to be a little more reflective and aware of our purpose and fragility. Whatever the reason, the longevity, dedication and perseverance exemplified by this agency have been on my mind and my heart.
Including Georgiana, we have five employees who have worked here over 30 years; nine who have worked here over 20 years; 20 who have worked here over 15 years; and 40 who have worked here 10 years or more. Over half of our employees have worked here five years or more. This demonstrates remarkable dedication to the people we support and their families, and to what we are working to accomplish. Our work can be difficult and emotional, especially during a pandemic. But for those of us who have found our niche and our calling, the intrinsic value of helping enhance the quality of life of another human being is an incredibly worthwhile endeavor.
And it’s certainly not just the staff and board members who are in this for the long run. For the vast majority of people served by Community Options, having an intellectual or developmental disability is a life-long experience and challenge. That is not the case for everyone however, as there are quite a few young children served through our Early Intervention program who, by the time they turn three years old, no longer need any services. This is always cause for celebration and is one of the most gratifying aspects of what we do.
But for most of the folks we serve, they become a part of our family for life. There are many people that we have known and supported since they were very young, and who are now in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. When you start serving people as infants and have served many people into their 80s and even 90s, that is indeed the long run.
Last Sunday, July 26, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Community Options is proud to be a part of that effort, and since 1972 we have steadfastly supported local citizens with disabilities. Even in these perilous times, that long run continues.