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A message from Executive Director, Angela Jarvis-Holland

Dear Community,

These are times of change for us all and we know how profoundly the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic is being felt in the lives and homes of our families and community. Family routines are being drastically altered, school cancelled, and many of the supports and community options that underpin our lives are reduced. We are a part of the wider effort to reduce the spread of the virus through our actions and very aware in personal ways of the risk of serious complications related to pre-existing health conditions. Many of our families can feel isolated, and the new situation has compounded this feeling, and added new concerns about just staying fed and housed.

Our staff and organization have been working hard and shifting how we can best be of service in these times and what we can lean into and rely on. Our core values remain our guide and we know that our skills, values, relationships, partnerships, and resources are more important than ever. We as a team and board remain committed to supporting families, increasing awareness, advocating for full inclusion, increasing best practices in education, promoting public understanding and acceptance, and defending the rights of individuals with disabilities. Times of crisis reveal a great deal about our communities: the threads that unite us, but also sometimes the wider prejudices that divide us. We remain determined to strengthen what unites us and take on the prejudice that divides us.

We as a team are shifting and working to best serve our population during this crisis.  NWDSA has always been based on the power of community, and to us that has meant activities that physically bring us together: seminars, education sessions, play groups, cohorts, #BuddyFestNW, and, of course the pure people power of our annual All Born (In) Conference.  All these activities, of course, are being postponed, rescheduled, or could possibly be rescheduled. What this has required in the short term is a lot of planning and retooling how we can best reach and support community. We are hard at work on this and know it’s a strength that our staff are also parents, facing the same challenges as the wider disability community.  We are remotely working as a team, we are with you all, and we feel the strength and pride of our community surrounding us.

Please do reach out to us at this time if you are need of support. We will get back to you as soon as possible. Email or leave us a message at 503-238-0522. Support in Spanish is available. Email or call (503) 262-4029.

Please note that we have been hard at work with partners diving into some important work with school districts as public education scrambles to adapt to this crisis.  Policy is being drafted at a fast speed, and we monitor and work to be visible in those discussions, as they can have far reaching implications.  We have collaborated with the Oregon Department of Education in preparing guidance documents for online learning.  We have been giving input on equity issues and identifying barriers to accessing needed resources, as well as creating awareness in policy makers and government representatives. Policy can impact us deeply, so we are paying close attention to and giving input to what is evolving in many areas related to quality of life and opportunity. Let’s all work together to remember that this is a time for patience, creativity and humanity.

We will continue to work with the Latino community identifying barriers and increasing resources, celebrating our lives with disability, and make sure we get new parent guides out to new families. We are uploading resources form our ABI partners that will help with online learning, planning future webinars, and have two virtual events planned next week to help cultivate healing and resilience in these uncertain times.  We will use Facebook to connect, share information, and to help keep pulse on this community.

Our work of the last 15 years has been shining a light on the gifts and possibilities of people with disabilities, and the value of collaboration and best practices in education.  I fervently hope that we will emerge from this crisis with the understanding that we are more closely connected than we ever realized, and that whenever we help someone with more needs than ourselves we are not left with less, but with more creativity, capacity, and compassion, and that we undoubtedly recognize that We All Belong

All My Best,  

Angela Jarvis-Holland

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