Disability Services Day at the Capitol

Disability Services Day at the Capitol

Walking Alongside Those We Support to Raise Their Voices

Rally in the Rotunda!

We had a GREAT day during Disability Services Day at the Capitol on Tuesday. About 100 people from Hammer & NER were in attendance including those we support, their staff, family members, Board members, and volunteers. We really know how to represent! Following the Rally in the Rotunda at 10 a.m., we had an opportunity to meet in small groups with State Senators and Representatives from districts where we have home and apartment programs. The day was all about advocating for disability services, sharing the challenges we have been facing with staffing shortages and pay equity, and telling our stories.

Waiting for the bus outside our East office

Hattisha Gary is a DSP from our 9th Avenue home in White Bear Lake. This was her first time attending Disability Services Day at the Capitol. “I had a wonderful time going with some of the ladies at Cedarwood,” Hattisha says. “I think it is good to see and learn what has been happening over the years. The good and bad. One of the highlights was seeing one of our ladies speak to the Senator for herself, peers, and staff. It made me proud to see people in our community care and fight for equal rights for the people we support.”

Hattisha adds that one of the challenges of the day was accessibility for those who have a hard time walking up stairs. While the Capitol is a beautiful building, the wide marble staircases can be very difficult, perhaps even dangerous, for those with mobility issues. Waits for elevators were sometimes long, causing our groups to be late for meetings with Legislators.

“There are a lot of logistics that go into getting everyone there,” says Mary Gaasch, Hammer & NER’s Director of Advocacy & Community Relations. Mary helped organize the many details for the day. “We work really hard to make it as accessible as possible for everyone. We think about parking, accessible vans, access to buildings, where the elevators are, along with the invisible barriers of those we support who may have sensory disorders or hearing or visual impairments. But at the end of the day, it’s all about creating opportunities for those we support and their staff to share their stories and experiences.”

Meeting with Rep. Ethan Cha

Everyone from Hammer & NER got to meet with at least one Legislator. The work we put into planning the day is well worth the opportunity to raise our voices and connect with our state representatives. Thank you to everyone who participated. You are helping make a difference!

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