By MICHELLE BOXELL
(Editor’s Note: This is the ninth in a series of articles featuring the people and programs of Cardinal Services in their 60th anniversary year)
In early 2014 the Cardinal Services’ Board of Directors crafted and adopted a new mission statement which would more clearly portray the organization: to assist and advocate for people with disabilities or challenges to live lives full of dignity, growth and opportunity.
Each of the 14 programs Cardinal provides fulfills this mission, yet perhaps none more so than Community Living Opportunities.
People in this program are provided with a staff person for a few to several hours each week. The state of Indiana determines how much time they actually receive. With that staff time, the person is able to go out and do things they would not otherwise be able to do without the support of another person by their side.
For instance, Cory works several days each week and like most people he wants to go out and have fun on his days off. With his staff to drive and support him he can go wherever he’d like: the library, out to eat, to a movie, etc. The choice is his. Derrick loves to get outside and walk the Greenway Trails, and go to festivals. Another gentleman enjoys running errands for others, shopping and stopping off for a leisurely coffee where he can people-watch.
The where and what is less important than the simple fact of being out and about in the community. Meeting new people, seeing friendly faces, doing something fun, and learning something new – these are things most people take for granted as part of daily life. Yet, until recently they have been denied to people with disabilities because the accepted reality was that people with disabilities should remain out of view.
Happily, that is no longer the norm and people now realize those with disabilities have a place in their communities. Cardinal Services assures that each person is treated with the dignity of acceptance and personal choice; that they have the opportunity to experience the world as they would like; and that they are empowered to grow from each experience.
Naturally, the state cannot afford to give each person the amount of time they would like, so Cardinal welcomes volunteers who would become a “Cardinal Friend” to one man or woman. The f(riend is paired with a person (the two must mutually agree that it’s a good match) who they agree to spend time with once in a while. Perhaps it’s a weekly game of checkers over coffee; or a monthly date of bowling. The arrangements are entirely flexible and dependent on the volunteer’s availability.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a Cardinal Friend, contact Linda Bruss at (574) 371-1312 or [email protected].