Just over a year ago, the Board launched its FANS Network: (Friends, Allies, and Neighbors) as part of an effort to help people receiving services address unmet needs. The idea was simple – create a network of community members who were willing to give time or resources to helping people with disabilities. Since its inception, the FANS Network has enthusiastically responded to a range of requests from the Board, from air conditioning units and new mattresses for people unable to afford these purchases, to the formation of a walking group and book club for people hoping to get healthier and broaden their interests.
For most of us, our lives feel most enriched when we have broad access to our families, friends, civic organizations, faith-based communities, and hobbies. Unfortunately, the connectivity or sense of belonging of people with disabilities is often far less significant. Even well-intentioned people see those within the disability community as defined by their disability, and thus different and less capable.
This year, the FANS Network is expanding its efforts towards “community connection”. By placing a greater emphasis on identifying interests, hobbies and networks, PCBDD’s Community Connections Coordinator, Heather Foll, hopes to link people with disabilities to peers in the larger community with the same interests. Through this shift in concentration, PCBDD hopes to provide broader, more significant and meaningful connectivity for those receiving services.