[Community-service] {Disarmed} discussion starter

Reyazuddin, Yasmin Yasmin.Reyazuddin at montgomerycountymd.gov
Thu Jul 28 18:13:33 UTC 2016

Hi Darian and all,
This is great article, and I will be forwarding it to some friends.
The Idea of poverty or in case the person experiencing poverty is very powerful. We in the disability community are faced with this reality more than others.
Many colleges and universities to teach their social work/nursing students do a poverty simulation. (I have been to one as a volunteer).  The program is good, but it does not have a person with disability or blind.
The students have to imagine that the next 15 minutes of the time is one full week. They have to go to work, take their children to childcare, and do all kinds of stuff a poor person has to do. If they are late to work, they are fired, they have to find a job, get arrested for doing bad things, and much more.

Another simulation of the same concept I have heard from an unusual source. I have a cousin who lived in Pakistan. She had to do a simulation but with real time. The class was divided into two groups. 1 group was low income for a week, and the other group was from the middle class. The groups were given limited financial resources and they had to struggle with their limited resources.
Again disability was not considered. It seems that people think that people with disabilities are not poor.
I hope this raises more questions.

Yasmin Reyazuddin
Aging & Disability Services
Montgomery County Government
Department of Health & Human Services
401 Hungerford Drive (3rd floor)
Rockville MD 20850
240-777-0311 (MC311)
240-777-1556 (personal)
240-777-1495 (fax)
office hours 8:30 am 5:00 pm
Languages English, Hindi, Urdu, Braille
This message may contain protected health information or other information that is confidential or privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender by return mail and destroy any copies of this material.
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From: Community-Service [mailto:community-service-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Darian Smith via Community-Service
Sent: Thursday, July 28, 2016 1:20 PM
To: Community Service Discussion List <community-service at nfbnet.org>
Cc: Darian Smith <president at nfbcommunityservice.org>
Subject: [Community-service] {Disarmed} discussion starter

Hi all,
 I like the discussion that comes from these articles and  blog posts  that come across the list, and I really hope that everyone on this list contributes at least one over the course of the year.
   The below article looks at poverty and disability, and I thought it might be good to share this to get your thoughts.
  I think there are a few more things at play in this blog post and I welcome others to see what they   observe by reading.

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By Aaron Bigler Lefebvre, AmeriCorps VISTA member
When attending Pre-Service Orientation (PSO), members in the AmeriCorps VISTA<http://links.govdelivery.com/track?type=click&enid=ZWFzPTEmbWFpbGluZ2lkPTIwMTYwNzI4LjYyMDY1MTkxJm1lc3NhZ2VpZD1NREItUFJELUJVTC0yMDE2MDcyOC42MjA2NTE5MSZkYXRhYmFzZWlkPTEwMDEmc2VyaWFsPTE3MDk0MTM1JmVtYWlsaWQ9cHJlc2lkZW50QG5mYmNvbW11bml0eXNlcnZpY2Uub3JnJnVzZXJpZD1wcmVzaWRlbnRAbmZiY29tbXVuaXR5c2VydmljZS5vcmcmZmw9JmV4dHJhPU11bHRpdmFyaWF0ZUlkPSYmJg==&&&103&&&http://1.usa.gov/1ZSW9kz> program learn about poverty. They learn about situational poverty, about generational poverty, about urban and rural poverty, and so forth. During this training, facilitators ask their groups to form a circle to discuss what poverty means to them. They're asked: what does poverty look like to you?
The answers would no doubt surprise you, and would undoubtedly provoke the conscience to consider unknown situations. As a new AmeriCorps VISTA, when I was asked this question of what poverty looks like, the realization arrived that it was the situation in which I'd been living, though it might not look like the poverty you're picturing.
They're asked: what does poverty look like to you?
The answers would no doubt surprise you.
I have a low-vision blindness disability that I developed at the age of 19. I'm a white, middle-class male. A Boy Scout who has always done well in school. Well enough even to earn two English degrees while adapting to a newly acquired low-vision disability.
After graduating from Rutgers University in Camden, NJ with an MFA in Creative Writing, I began a job search. I searched. I searched some more. I had many interviews. Some, I was unqualified for, while others, I was more than qualified for. On occasion, I was dismissed because I had to disclose my disability. Yes, it's illegal, but you know what? They gave me the run-around anyway. Why? Because like with many people who experience poverty on one level or another, I didn't have the resources to do anything about it.
I began looking for simpler work so that I could pay for my bills, but I realized that wasn't an easier task because many jobs that require low skill-sets require good vision capabilities. Imagine for a moment, what it might be like to count money without sight, to mop a dirty floor without sight, to operate a ride-sharing service without sight. The jobs that many take for granted and even turn their nose up toward can be entirely out of reach for persons with certain disabilities. Time and time again, I'd heard the word "no" and "disability" and eventually started to believe that I was unable, that I really couldn't do, that it didn't matter how much education I had because no one seemed to believe that I had the ability to do the work I thought I could do.
The jobs that many take for granted and even turn their nose up toward can be entirely out of reach for persons with certain disabilities.
With all of these forces working against me, I began thinking of other options, which ultimately lead to the AmeriCorps VISTA program. There, I could gain valuable professional experience without fear of rejection based on discrimination, and I'd be helping others in the community gain their own footing as well.
NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania<http://links.govdelivery.com/track?type=click&enid=ZWFzPTEmbWFpbGluZ2lkPTIwMTYwNzI4LjYyMDY1MTkxJm1lc3NhZ2VpZD1NREItUFJELUJVTC0yMDE2MDcyOC42MjA2NTE5MSZkYXRhYmFzZWlkPTEwMDEmc2VyaWFsPTE3MDk0MTM1JmVtYWlsaWQ9cHJlc2lkZW50QG5mYmNvbW11bml0eXNlcnZpY2Uub3JnJnVzZXJpZD1wcmVzaWRlbnRAbmZiY29tbXVuaXR5c2VydmljZS5vcmcmZmw9JmV4dHJhPU11bHRpdmFyaWF0ZUlkPSYmJg==&&&104&&&http://nwwpa.org/> was looking for an AmeriCorps VISTA member to evaluate and redevelop their program delivery model by holding internal interviews, creating client-facing surveys, developing new education and training materials, and implementing a client triage system that would improve the capacity for ensuring client success.
I applied, interviewed, accepted an offer, and went off to AmeriCorps VISTA Pre-Service Orientation the week before starting my assignment. It was there that, suddenly, the challenges I'd been facing were described and placed into my hands. There, I trained for a full year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA member who would help combat the many faces of poverty that threaten to degrade society and remove many from opportunity.
Now in the final stages of my AmeriCorps VISTA project, after working with staff members, attending training sessions and conferences, developing training manuals, workshop materials, client triage protocols, procedures, surveys, outreach materials, and gaining the trust and appreciation of NeighborWorks Western Pennsylvania<http://links.govdelivery.com/track?type=click&enid=ZWFzPTEmbWFpbGluZ2lkPTIwMTYwNzI4LjYyMDY1MTkxJm1lc3NhZ2VpZD1NREItUFJELUJVTC0yMDE2MDcyOC42MjA2NTE5MSZkYXRhYmFzZWlkPTEwMDEmc2VyaWFsPTE3MDk0MTM1JmVtYWlsaWQ9cHJlc2lkZW50QG5mYmNvbW11bml0eXNlcnZpY2Uub3JnJnVzZXJpZD1wcmVzaWRlbnRAbmZiY29tbXVuaXR5c2VydmljZS5vcmcmZmw9JmV4dHJhPU11bHRpdmFyaWF0ZUlkPSYmJg==&&&105&&&http://nwwpa.org/> staff, I can say this: I am able, I can do, I have done, and I will do more.
I am able, I can do, I have done, and I will do more.
In the face of an impoverished lifestyle of living on nothing but Social Security disability and SNAP benefits, I've shown myself and the world that the word "disability" is a word often reserved for nothing better than demotivating a differently-abled individual. Through AmeriCorps VISTA, I learned that individuals living with disabilities bring fresh perspectives, new ideas, new culture, and new levels of awareness. All of which aid in improving others and organizations.
As both an impoverished individual and an AmeriCorps VISTA working to reduce the effects of poverty in my community, I can say that the VISTA program is indispensable to those without opportunity who need a chance to show what they're capable of. Without AmeriCorps VISTA, I may never have found the opportunity I needed to show myself and others that I have the potential for making a difference that can change the community and help those in need.
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Darian Smith
President, National Federation  of the Blind Community Service Division

Web: www.nfbcommunityservice.org<http://www.nfbcommunityservice.org>

Twitter: @NFBCSDivision, at goldengateace

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The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the
characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the
expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles
between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want;
blindness is not what holds you back.
 "We need your service, right now, at this moment - our moment - in history. I'm not going to tell you what your role should be; that's for you to discover. But I am going to ask you to play your part; ask you to stand up; ask you to put your foot firmly into the current of history" - Barack Obama
 Help drive change for the blind .
Donate your car to the National Federation of the Blind today!
For more information, please visit: www.carshelpingtheblind.org<http://www.carshelpingtheblind.org/> or call 1-855-659-9314

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