Advocating for Disability Rights

Advocating for Disability Rights

Rich Stoebe

I was thrilled to join the Hammer & NER Board of Directors in January. Participating on the Board, Program Committee, and Advocacy Committee comes with a learning curve, however, not without wonderful support from other volunteers and staff members. The Hammer & NER Vision and Strategic Plan is inspiring, and I am thoughtfully looking for ways to support this essential work.

My wife, Anne, and I are lifelong advocates for choice, equity, and inclusion for all, including our daughter. At 32, April continues to learn and grow to build her independence. While she doesn’t like it when her disability gets in the way, it hasn’t stopped her from reaching her 10-year anniversary at work or trying new challenges like indoor rock climbing and snowboarding.

Anne, April, and Rich Stoebe

We also know that choice requires the right amount and type of support at the right time. Like many of you, our family has experience in navigating the system of support. The information can be complex, and decisions can be difficult. This challenge motivates me to join you in advocating for disability rights and working to make life a little less complicated for people with disabilities, family members, and caregivers.

Hammer & NER has a remarkable history of creating lifelong options for people through professional and dedicated support. In my opinion, the commitment to staffing as the top strategic imperative for the organization will result in a fuller life for people today and in the future. It is also encouraging to hear about the recent progress in advocating for more inclusive reimbursement rates for apartment services. It’s a milestone that will improve lives. It also demonstrates how to lead system changes that benefit many organizations supporting people in similar situations.

I know there is much more to learn. In the meantime, I am telling everyone I know about Hammer & NER as I figure out how to actively contribute time, talent, and resources.

Rich Stoebe is a Hammer & NER Board Member, Parent, Advocate, and Volunteer


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