To celebrate our 40th anniversary, our staff have asked members and persons from the community to share their experience with INARF. If you would like to share your experience, please contact Harley Ehrman.
A Partnership that Strengthens Indiana
By John Dickerson, Executive Director at The Arc of Indiana
Thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts on this wonderful celebration of INARF’s 40 years of service – service that continues to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities and their families throughout the state.
I have been very privileged to be involved with The Arc since 1973, including a short stint at The Arc US in ’79-’83. My involvement with The Arc of Indiana began in 1974, so I was lucky enough to be in Indiana at the time INARF was founded. With the help of the Lilly Endowment, Costa Miller came in to build something from scratch. This giant of a man in his little car traveled the state to bring a loose band of people together. And from that start what an organization has been built and what an impact this tremendous organization has made!
The leadership of so many community agency execs, and the professional leadership of Costa Miller, Jim Hammond and now Kim Opsahl has touched thousands of lives and literally changed the landscape of this great state.
Throughout this time, there has been a unique partnership between INARF and The Arc. That partnership recognized that when providers and advocates - families and self-advocates - work together, we are all stronger. When we listen to each other and come at issues together we can make great progress.
From the time it was founded, INARF has always been a staunch advocate, open to considering new models, understanding that good programming can always be built on to serve Hoosiers with disabilities and their families in new ways. We so very much appreciate that INARF constantly strives to work with others, including The Arc, to improve Indiana’s system of services.
And when challenged, families, self-advocates and providers have and will continue to stand together to protect the rights and dignity of people. We all remember those days when people rallied and spoke loudly. Today, that tradition continues in groups large and small across this great state.
These are challenging times and life is indeed hard for many people: those we serve and those staff that so many depend upon for support. We have to respond. At a time when many leaders want to cut back, we need to reinvest. At a time when some look to other priorities, we need to stand firm and speak out for those in need with new ideas and new models.
Our history is important, but more important is our future. Working together, Indiana will be better because of the partnership between INARF and The Arc.