Can it be??!!
Unbelievably, yes, Networks is now 25 years old!
While it’s certainly time to celebrate, it is also important to remember all those who have traveled with us, helped us, challenged us, cheered us on, & joined with us over these amazing 25 years. You helped us realize our vision & assisted us to become more of who we are today.
Together we have
- fought injustices & discrimination
- encouraged others to find & raise their voices
- re-imagined schools, workplaces, communities, & lives
- assisted groups to coalescence around important issues
- found solutions (or at least some parts of solutions) to change the world to embrace ALL people.
We are still going strong & look to the next 25+ years of hard but exhilarating work.
But first, we will be taking time each month this year to look back, honor, & celebrate.
This month we are overjoyed to bring you some thoughts from a few more of Networks’ folks…. their perspective on what Networks is! ♥
Networks is … helping people to grow where ever they are. My first memories of Networks go way back to the 1990’s. Not long after I received my Master’s degree and was having problems finding a job, I realized I would need to plan my own destiny and figure things out for myself. So, I decided to apply for a grant and I asked Networks to look over the proposal because I had never written anything similar before. I still remember Harriet Gordon sitting with me on my apartment floor reading through piles of printed pages to make sure everything was in order. Back then, I was using a computer, but it was necessary to have several copies of the proposal, and for a blind woman with very little computer experience, it was no small feat. But Harriet came over and proofed everything and I actually did get the contract. Since that time, I have often sought help from Networks, and now I am part of it—helping others in their efforts.
– Suzanne Erb; Accommodations Specialist, Networks
Never ending encouragement and positive support
Equal opportunities for all
Way of Viewing the world of accessibility … Universal Access and opportunities
Ordinary people doing extraordinary things
Ready and willing to provide training and support
Kind, caring and knowledgeable
Sharing of hopes and visions
— Tracy Lapreziosa; Assistive Technology Lead, Networks
Several years before there was a “Network” Mike and Rosa asked me what I saw for my son’s future. Mitchell was almost 8 at the time. I shared my vision of what I hoped his future would be and little did I know at that time that Networks would play a role in making my vision a reality. I saw my son living as independently as possible in a place of his own, having a real job and making spending money. He liked being around people and was already a part of his community, but I hoped for more.
When Networks was founded, I sometimes was invited to present at training sessions as a parent to give my perspective to trainees; primarily employees in the ID system in Philadelphia. Mike felt it was important for them to hear from real people living with children and adults with disabilities and what we would need and expect for the future. Keeping a finger on the pulse and bringing reality rather than just theory into the classrooms was always important to Mike. Just presenting theory was never enough.
When Mitchell reached transition age I happened to run into Mike one day near my office, a block away from Networks’ office downtown, and we caught up. He offered to get involved with Mitchell’s transition and our district agreed to contract with Networks to do just that. Networks staff got to know Mitchell during the spring and used the extended school year time to do community based assessments and job development for him based on his skills and interests. They saw the strengths and potential in a young man who most people only saw his multiple severe disabilities.
Mitchell came out of that summer with a job he still has today; 17 years later. Additional work opportunities were developed for him when he was leaving school. At about that time, I was asked to serve on the Networks board where I still serve today. While we have all changed over the years since then, Networks has maintained it’s philosophy supporting a ‘can do’ attitude. As we celebrate a quarter of a century of Networks, my hope is that while changes continue to occur in the organization and the ID system and service areas expand, the basics of the beginnings of Networks will carry forward as the guiding principles of the organization for the next 25 years!
— Ruth Landsman; Long-term Friend, Advocate, and Networks’ Board Director
Networks is… opportunity, possibility, dignity and choice. Networks is… passion, hard work, creativity and discovery. Networks is… holistic, honest and open-minded. Networks wholeheartedly believes in each individual person and their potential. Other people ask, “why?”. Networks asks, “why not?” Why not do everything we can to provide people the supports they need to live their best lives? Networks is… giving it your all even when meeting resistance from The Way Things Have Always Been. Networks is… progressive and forward-thinking. The only way to be.
— Nikita Arnett; Transition and Research Liaison, Networks
Networks is a group of beautiful people, working to serve others in the ways they are inspired to help. It’s about empowering, healing, supporting, making connections…and I don’t even know the half of what all these wonderful folks do!
— Jeremy Duke; Wholistic Practices Team Member, Networks
At its core, Networks is an organization of people devoting their lives and careers to help other people.
These days it seems that such an occupation is becoming less and less “fashionable”. Starting with the “me decade” of the 70’s, success has been increasingly defined in terms of personal achievement and self-service. Yet Networks has been steadfast, continuing to pursue Mike and Rosa’s original vision with consistent and remarkable success. While my contribution has been marginal, I am proud to have been a part of the family for these 25 years.
— Paul Bartolomeo; Attorney, Friend, Inaugural Board Director, and Board President
And last of all, Tracy offers us a look back at this 25th year and how we have celebrated…
Networks: Celebrating 25 Years!
While it’s certainly time to celebrate, it launched us into a year of reflection, sharing, and gratitude to all those who helped us realize our vision and joined in our journey to where we are today.
Where to begin?
Rosa started us off with a launch of the historical video of the “birth” of Networks sharing how it all came to be! We began meeting regularly eagerly planning fun surprises and ways to show our thanks to our supporters.
In January, we honored our 2nd most senior individual still at Networks, George Callaway. Did you check out the video? We expressed our gratitude to Anthony Gallasso a former Networks team member for leading and guiding George to his employment at Networks.
March began with a giant thank you to the Assistive Technology Advisory group participants who helped guide the direction of our focus and delivery of Technologies for Independence and Control. The group included friends of Networks and others in and outside of the field to bring objective insight and considerations of our AT work.
Jessica shared a beautiful description of our Wholistic Practices in June to celebrate our work in this area. Alternative modalities such as massage, meditation, energy work, breathing techniques aromatherapy and much more are real options for EVERYONE, not just tree hugging folks!
In September, Shauna shared how our Community and Organizational Development has evolved and changed to meet the needs of those we serve and support. Styles and topic areas have changed with the times as we assist groups of varying sizes. Networks may be small but our ripple effect has been instrumental in bringing change and growth to many over the years!
Throughout the year, staff members, board members, Networks friends and supporters have been sharing personal thoughts of what Networks is to them. As you read each one, it is evident how much Networks has impacted not only those we support with our services but our own team members and our personal supporters.
And, of course, we will end the celebration year, with good eats, games, music, dancing, singing, playing, sharing and reminiscing at our Anniversary Party in Philadelphia. Looking forward to the energy of a room filled with love and gratitude!
Plans are in full swing for the future of our next 25 years! This coming year will be filled with more trainings, plans for expansion, and helping other organizations.