by Jen Pleimann
It is that time of year when we typically take some time to reflect on the past year and set goals and ambitions for the year ahead. At CAA, we have a lot to celebrate - new board members, fundraising goals met, amazing new students, dedicated professors, visionary leaders, supportive parents and a site to call home for quarterly classes and events.
I have now been a part of CAA’s board for four years and every year gets better - our community grows, more doors are opened and the mountain is moved a little bit more for our students; but I think what is most exciting for the board and visionary leaders at this time is the true understanding of who we really are.
As a new organization and a non-profit, it is not always easy to find your “fit.” In CAA’s early days, we struggled to find our niche in the special needs world. We struggled to fit into special education, as special education stops at age 22. We struggled to understand how our program complemented the current structure of day programs. We struggled to find grants that were open to an entirely new concept and new way of thinking. And then we realized, we do not fit. We are different.
Being different brings many opportunities, but these opportunities come with challenges. It takes time to introduce changes to the way the things have historically been done and seen. It takes time to educate the broader community not only about what we do but WHY we do it. It takes time for grant makers and funding providers to understand the long term benefits of such a program. And it takes time for governing bodies to turn their heads and recognize the untapped potential of adults with disabilities....