ShelterCare Board Helps Consumers Find Their Voice
On October 26, 2015, ShelterCare’s Center for Programs and Services hosted the annual joint meeting between the Board of Directors and the Consumer Council. Attendance was phenomenal, and attendees engaged in some great discussions and developed numerous ideas to help guide the future of the organization. While these discussions and ideas should prove valuable to both the Board and Council, the event produced another positive result that was not immediately evident.
At our November ShelterCare Consumer Council meeting, I was delighted to see many of the faces I had seen for the first time at that round-table discussion with the Board. One of my passions is teaching people how to advocate for themselves, and I see the Council as a primary route to that goal for consumers. The more people who come and lend their voices, the louder our collective voice in the organization and in the world at large. It is truly amazing the kind of power we can wield when we join together.
In the coming year, I hope to see our collective voice grow to the point that the public and the government can’t help but take notice and listen to our stories of sadness, loss, triumph and strength. In the 2016 legislative sessions in Salem, I want the disenfranchised, the disabled, the mentally ill—all of us—at the top of the priority list, not the bottom. I want the talk to be about how to support us in becoming all we can be, rather than how much money they need to cut from our programs in order to balance the budget.
Will you join me and lend your voice to support those who need our help? If you are a ShelterCare client, I want to invite you to the next meeting of the Consumer Council. It will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, December 17 at 499 W. 4th Avenue in Eugene. (Program participants in need of transportation should call the main office to be added to the list for a ride.) If you are a ShelterCare supporter, consider reaching out to your elected representatives to let them know how you feel about affordable housing, homelessness, mental health treatment, and other issues that impact the most vulnerable members of our community. If our leaders hear enough voices joined in a common message there is a good chance they will change their priorities.