Why I Give to ABC
By Kristen Lynne, Day Training & Habilitation Program Manager
I was raised in an era when individuals with disabilities were routinely segregated from the general population. At school, children with disabilities were separated from other students. They ate lunch at a separate table. They studied in a separate classroom and had little to no interaction with other students. Students were given the opportunity to earn extra credit by volunteering in the special education classroom. I signed up for this, hoping to learn and understand. I received no training or support, and left fearful of those that were different than me.
Growing up, I had an uncle with autism, a 2nd cousin with schizophrenia and a parent who battled depression. These disabilities were not discussed. As a teen, when I struggled with my own mental health, I saw it as a weakness and as an area that I was failing at in life. I had little understanding of how disabilities impact people, and more importantly, of how individuals with disabilities make a positive impact on the world around us.
In the summer of 2014, my father-in-law was riding his motorcycle on his birthday when a deer ran out in front of him and he was thrown from his bike. He was airlifted to Mayo Clinic and placed in a medically induced coma. He remained in the coma for almost a month to allow his brain time to reduce swelling. When he awoke, he was diagnosed with a brain injury. My husband and I realized at that moment how important family is, and how life can change drastically in a moment. We decided to move from Winona to Rochester to be closer to him and other family members.
As I searched for a job, I saw a posting for a Coordinator position at ABC. As I scrolled through ABC’s web site and read about the mission, I realized for the first time how important it is to support the disability community. I thought to myself “this seems like the perfect fit for me.” I applied and accepted a position. I was hopeful about the job, but never realized just how much of an impact ABC would have on my life.
I can say, with all honesty, that working at ABC has been the most rewarding career of my life. Every day I walk in to work happy, excited to spend time with the individuals that we serve. I am able to see people accomplish their goals, overcome obstacles, and work towards the future that they want. There are no words to describe how lucky I am that I found ABC. I am the fortunate one, and because of that, I have the desire to give back in any way that I can.
It’s no secret that budget cuts have impacted ABC. As a non-profit manager, I don’t necessarily have an abundance of funds to give back to ABC. I am, however, able to give back in other ways. This year my husband decided that it was time to upgrade his vehicle. As a way to give back, we decided to donate the vehicle to ABC. It was an old, beat-up Corolla, with almost 300,000 miles on it. Believe it or not, we were able get $1,200 for ABC through the sale. ABC took care of the entire transaction, all we had to do was the leave the car in the parking lot and give the keys to Bruce Remme. Another way that I have been able to give back is by promoting ABC on Facebook. I started a birthday fundraiser, promoted Give to the Max Day, and encouraged people to start a fundraiser on Giving Tuesday. Through these action, I have been able to give back to ABC in ways that I normally would not be able to.
I encourage you to think outside of the box and come up with different ways to give. The impact that ABC has on the community is immeasurable, I’m proud to say that I am a supporter.