It’s Official! Mayor Anise Parker presented me with The Mayor’s Disability Advocate of the Year Award at City Hall on Tuesday with family, friends and co-workers present as support. In a wheelchair for the last 15 years, I was the recipient of an award for a disabled advocate. Other awards were to Dr. Cynthia Peacock as a non-disabled person and Matthew Stephenson as a youth advocate.
Advocacy made me use or develop skills I didn’t know I had, so I am still working on them. By nature I am a hands-on person who likes to teach and write, but the field of work with persons with disabilities has promotional needs and a desperate call for vision and someone who will speak up loudly for them. Some people say I have a loud mouth. Some say I have a loud presence. Some say, “Stay away from Naomi, or she will recruit you,” To sign up to help try firstname.lastname@example.org or through this website Contact Us page.
The landmark American With Disabilities Act achieved much, but the act did not tell us how to enact and interact with persons on personal scale in the fields of spirituality, education and physical accessibility in churches. I came to the right places at the right times with ambition to find ways to do this. Right or wrong, I plunged in, and along the way people taught me and helped not only me but the programs I proposed. No one person can be successful in disabilities work without the persons of like heart who join the vision. Along the way, God took little achievements and turned them into goldmines.
One of my goldmines is still underground: I want to start a full-scale respite center in my area where students can have a good time while their parents enjoy a little vacation together. That’s for when I win the lottery.
A little tea party after the award ceremony was fun with my family, Circle of Friends family and supporters and other friends . The Revs. Greg and Betty Edwards, who worked with me on the Texas Conference committee on disability concerns, surprised me all the way from Beaumont.
Thanks are due to many persons for the award, especially Dr. Jim Jackson who nominated me.