Self-advocacy group makes leaders out of members

Linda Moody Features Editor

January 14, 2014

DARKE COUNTY - It’s a young organization, but it’s getting things done.

The Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities (DCBDD) saw the formation of the Self-Advocacy Group nearly two years ago.

The mission of the DCBDD Self-Advocate Group is to advocate for the citizens of Darke County with developmental disabilities. Its members are adult individuals with developmental disabilities, meeting the third Friday at 11 a.m. at the Wayne Industries facility on Jaysville-St. Johns Road.

The focus of the group’s activities is to act as a voice, speak up and speak out on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities; support participation of these individuals in local volunteer activities; and organize and support in these individuals to participate in social and community activities.

Among officers of this special interest group are Ruby Sacher, president; and Elizabeth Brewer, secretary. There are approximately 10 members.

“We have a strong desire to give back to the community,” said Matt Harrison, a member of the group. “Most of the events are open to the community. Meeting every third Friday gives us plenty of time to come up with more ideas. A lot of different ideas come out in every meeting.”

Among activities they have done are picking up trash and participated in canned food drives.

Preliminary plans for this year are a carry-in and music on April 11; picnic and games at Greenville City Park on June 28; and bowling and pizza on Sept. 12.

They have visited the Shelby County and Preble County programs to see how to run their meetings. In Shelby County, they heard from the rescue squad and in Preble County, they participated in the Sprout Film Festival.

Erin Clark, community employment services director for DCBDD, said the group was formed in March 2012, and the members run its own group with a supporter, who is currently Jeff Miller, adult services director of Wayne Industries.

“It’s a confidence-builder,” said Clark. “Some of their events are socializing. This group helps adults with developmental disabilities and gives them a voice to speak up for themselves. Membership has grown.”

Harrison said it is fun being a member of the self-advocacy group.

“The reason I joined in was a calling from God,” he said.

Sacher, the president, remarked, “I like it. We’re always dedicated to help each other out when we work together. It helps me with my leadership.”

“Things are going in a new direction this year,” said group member Chas Floyd. “We’re hoping to help other people.”