BE AN ALLY AND ADVOCATE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
One in four U.S. adults lives with some sort of disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control. These may range from vision, hearing, or cognition to challenges with mobility, self-care tasks and living independently.
Whether you know and love someone with a disability or want to help others in the community who are living with disabilities, there are plenty of opportunities to make a difference. Here are some ways you can make the world better for those living with disabilities.
Give your time to an organization
There are already a number of very well-established organizations regionally and nationally that are designed to help people with disabilities. Adding your volunteer efforts to their programs could help build momentum and make a difference in your community. A few such nonprofits include Volunteers of America, Easter Seals, Respectability, ServiceSource, and the Arc. Check out their websites and look for remote or regional volunteer opportunities. Your local chapter of the United Way or state office for people with disabilities may also be able to connect you with organizations in your community.
If there is a cause close to your heart, you may also seek out organizations that are specific to a particular issue. For example, Be My Eyes lets you use an app to connect with visually impaired individuals and assist them by sharing what you see through their phone’s cameras. The Hearing Loss Association of America has a number of volunteer opportunities. Search for specific nonprofits in your community.
Volunteers can also use their interests and talents to enhance the lives of people with disabilities. CoachArt lets you teach or coach children with chronic illnesses remotely. Or volunteer with Librivox, which lets you record books in the public domain, one chapter at a time, and make them available for free. Bilingual reading services are also needed, so if you speak Spanish or French, your help is welcome. Have a hobby you’d like to share, like yoga, cooking or art? Organizations like Community Residences, Inc. welcome volunteers to offer their skills and build relationships.
Help housing security
People with disabilities are at increased risk of homelessness. According to the National Association of County and City Health Professionals, point-in-time counts suggest that as many as one in four people experiencing homelessness have some type of disability. You can help people with disabilities by working with organizations like Volunteers of America or The Arc, which offer several types of housing support to people with disabilities to assist with housing security. If you know of supportive living communities for people with disabilities in your area, you may also reach out to them to find out if they need help, in-kind donations, or other services.
In addition, many veterans have disabilities that make them vulnerable to homelessness. Wounded Warrior Homes is a nonprofit organization that provides transitional housing to help alleviate homelessness for post-9/11 veterans experiencing PTSD or traumatic brain injuries. In addition, you can contact your local Department of Veterans Affairs and ask what they need help with.
Lend your voice to encourage support and funding for the services people with disabilities need. Contact organizations like the International Disability Alliance to find out how you can help. If you find out that there’s an issue affecting people with disabilities in your community, write letters to your government representatives to help advocate for positive change.
Using your voice and talents to help people with disabilities can make a world of difference for them. And be sure to look for opportunities on Create the Good®, too.
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