As the year begins to wind down and the spirit of thankfulness is on all of our minds, I begin to think about what makes ESP so special, and why I’m so thankful for this community. I read the end of our mission statement and it states “Where individuals with developmental disabilities don’t just survive, but thrive”. I reflect on that sentence and it couldn’t be more true. The longer I’m with the organization and this beautiful community, the more that sentence means to me. It could read “Where individuals don’t just survive, but thrive.” “Where volunteers don’t just survive, but thrive.” “Where parents don’t just survive, but thrive.” “Where Jake doesn’t just survive, but thrives.” ESP is a community where we all have the opportunity the thrive, together.
The beauty in this organization continues to manifest itself in my life daily. In no other position would I have the opportunity to share a community with a 19 year old college student who happens to volunteer with ESP, a 9 year old who happens to have autism, and a 60 year old parent of someone who happens to have Down Syndrome, but here that is common place; here that is part of my eccentric, passionate, fun-loving ESP family.
The confidence I see every person in this community gain is astounding whether it’s confidence in one’s ability to communicate better, or the encouragement received from a job well done in art class. Perhaps as one of our part-time college staff recently said at a staff dinner, the confidence that they “found their place to call home during their college years” or maybe the confidence that a parent receives knowing that someone out there loves their child almost as much as they do for exactly who they are. ESP gives me confidence knowing that I have an army of people who love me and are willing to help whenever I ask.
To all of you participants, parents, volunteers, board members, part-time staff, and fellow full-time staff who make up Extra Special People thank you for being a part of the most important community in my life.