Main photo (from left): Pathways co-ordinator Amber Gordon with members of the CLH Voices of Inclusion team Kylah Lance, Shoana Skalko, Carla O’Neill, Tish Firman, Cathy Stroud, Andrea Johnston, Myke Malone, Cathy Nunn, and Drew Markham
Community Living Huntsville (CLH) advocates for and provides support for people with developmental disabilities. Many of their services are government funded, but there is a gap in that funding and not all members of the community who need support meet the eligibility criteria.
“Years ago we learned a very unacceptable reality was happening to families here in Huntsville,” said Tish Firman, a multi-year donor and a volunteer with the organization’s Voices for Inclusion team. “Realities that were leaving families literally in a dark place with no support and no hope of ever seeing light and that’s unacceptable. We needed to change this. We needed to be part of the solution.”
Thanks to donors, that solution is finally being implemented this fall. CLH will launch a new program called Pathways on November 1.
Through tears, Firman thanks those who helped to make the program a reality. “Thank you for understanding that Pathways is sustainable fundraising. That without your continued support to our local families, that pathway would no longer be lit.”
Community Living Huntsville’s executive director, Cathy Stroud, noted that the program has been five years in the making. “When we learned that some of the families in our own community were not getting the support they needed for their children when they finished high school, Community Living Huntsville decided to go back to our roots to over 55 years ago when the government didn’t fund any services for people with disabilities and it was concerned citizens who decided to do something about it back then.”
She introduced the program’s part-time co-ordinator, Amber Gordon, and said that the first people they will reach out to are two local youth.
“The initial work that will be done will be gently forming relationships to help build self esteem, so that they can begin to even think about possibilities for their future. People will only be motivated to take action when they have hope,” said Stroud. “Thank you so much for helping us bring hope to those young people and their families.”
A woman, whose son will be one of the first participants in the program, gave a tearful thanks to those involved. “Our family is really excited that this program is happening. We want to thank Community Living for providing the program and…all of you who are supporting it and allowing this to become something for those people who fall between the cracks,” she said. “This has given our son the hope to realize his dream.”
The Voices for Inclusion team which brought this program together includes Andrea Johnston (leader), Cathy Stroud, Myke Malone, Drew Markham, Kylah Lance, Carla O’Neill, Cathy Nunn, Shoana Skalko and Tish Firman.
Multi-year donors to the Voices of Inclusion Society, who have committed to an annual $1,000 donation for five years, include: Abdo and Jelnar Hlal, Andrea & Stephen Johnston, Debi and John Davis, Gail and Gary Donald, George and Diane Hill, Gifts 4 Friends, Gundy Upans and Michael Forbes, Janet and Drew Markham, Jason R. Cottell and Associates Inc., Joy Stott, Kayley Spalding, Lovegrove Construction & Design, Men of Grandview Benevolent Fund, Nicole and John Pantaleo, Rosalind Barden, and several anonymous donors.
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