Friday, November 2, 2012

I Count!

Life on Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) is anything but dull.  Something interesting is always going on which keeps me busy in my task of keeping up with all that is happening.  Be they birthday celebrations, monumental milestones, Campus-wide activities or individual antics, you can bet I will be there with my camera in hand.

One day I learned a representative from the U.S. Census Bureau (USCB) was on Campus conducting interviews of a cross-section of our Campus members for their American Community Survey.  This survey collects information about the social and economic needs within the overall community, and which is used when assessing the need for new schools or improved emergency services.  With residents’ permission, I observed the interviews in which some of the answers seemed to startle the USCB rep.  Bryant shared to the interviewer’s surprise that he knew several languages.  A couple of staff members put Jeffrey up to no good, telling him that when asked his name to respond “Trouble!”  Always game for a good joke, Jeffrey did just that to his and the staffers’ delight.  Fortunately, the USCB rep had a great sense of humor.  Fun aside, it was wonderful to know that our Campus members were not overlooked when it comes to the Census Bureau’s work.  
Did you know several of our residents vote?  It never occurred to me that some would, but several most certainly did during the Primary this past May. WFC actually hosts a voting poll on site, which brings people in this precinct to our Campus (if they choose to exercise their right to vote).   I received word that Shelly and her Direct Support Provider were checking in to vote if I wanted to get a photo, which I did with permission of the poll workers and Shelly.  I learned voters have a right to assistance when voting with several requirements in place, obviously to ensure no foul play or external influence is taking place in the process.  Many Campus members, such as Shelly, have severe extensor tone in their arms and hands, therefore, limiting their ability to press buttons, work with touch screens, or grasp levers.  Several of our residents exercised their right to vote that day which left me feeling simultaneously in awe and annoyed.  Despite living life amidst the greatest of physical challenges, these men and women took the time, the energy and the effort to have their voice heard through their vote, and to contribute to the future of our country.  My annoyance stems from the fact that many able-bodied individuals do not always care enough to make the effort, especially considering that only less than 12% of our state’s nearly three million voters came out for this May 2012 primary. And in Daviess County?  Only 7,989 voters out of 66,883 voted!  I know Roger, Shelly, Mary, Butch, Eric, Marilyn and Gary to name a few made their vote count!

Our Campus and its constituents tend to be “forgotten” by the general population, and worse, many seem surprised that they exercise their rights as U.S. Citizens.  When I shared with a few people the story of the Census Bureau conducting survey interviews, or that several voted in the Primary, most were surprised.  “Why not?” I said to one person, “They are U.S. Citizens.  Why wouldn’t they have the same rights as you and me?”  After all, they live in our community; and they have needs for healthcare, education, and other community services provided to people without cerebral palsy.  They also have sharp minds and strong opinions about who should run our county, state and federal governments!
Yes, WFC peeps most certainly count!

In the Next Blog Entry:  ". . . Joey continued his serenade, calling out Angie’s name similar to Romeo would call out Juliet’s, minus the romantic pining tone. . . . Angie was laughing while red with embarrassment at the attention . . . . "

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