A year ago members of the Arc of Missouri piled 5,000 shoes onto the floor of the State Capitol rotunda to represent the number of people with developmental disabilities waiting for state services.
What a difference a year makes.
Last week, members of the advocacy group honored Gov. Jay Nixon for his support of the Partnership for Hope, a new statewide program that speeds up the service process, allowing people with developmental disabilities and their families to receive help far sooner. Instead of waiting until people are in crisis, the program helps recipients avoid calamity and delay or avoid the move to a residential home or institution.
The Partnership is an important program to the governor who talked about its impact the night before during his state-of-the state address:
“Working together, our Partnership for Hope is changing the lives of Missourians with developmental disabilities and their families,” Nixon said. “Before this compassionate program was in place, some folks waited years for services to help their loved ones live more independently – help with things like getting dressed, cooking meals, taking the bus to work.”
The award presentation was part of an event sponsored by state and local chapters of the Arc, intended to continue raising awareness of the statewide waiting list for services and to recognize new programs like the Partnership for Hope that have cut the waiting list.
On hand for the award ceremony were Norma Anderson and her grandmother, Fern, of Columbia. Thanks to the Partnership for Hope, Norma received a variety of services through Boone County Family Resources, including job training, classes to help with social skills and assistance with practical living skills such as budgeting and cooking. The instruction not only helped Norma land a job, but has better prepared her for an independent life. (Norma and Fern are picture third and fourth from the right in the group picture.)
Ann Bledsoe of Camdenton, whose son was also helped through the Partnership for Hope, presented Gov. Nixon his award and expressed her thanks for the services her son has received
In 2010, Gov. Nixon lent his support to a partnership among the state of Missouri, 37 county developmental disability boards and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Today, the Partnership for Hope includes 91 Missouri counties and the City of St. Louis, and serves 1,300 people with developmental disabilities. Gov. Nixon has promised to expand the Partnership this year, which he believes will improve lives and save money in the long run.
Also at the award ceremony were representatives of the Missouri Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities and People First of Missouri as well as Les Wagner, Executive Director of BCFR (pictured second from the right in the group picture) and President of the Missouri Association of County Developmental Disability Services and Keith Schafer, Director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health.