By Deanna Tharpe, DSAIA Executive Director
I can tell you all day long how nonprofits should do this and that...and they should deliver good programs and evaluate them...and they should be continuously improving. But I'm not telling you why I feel so strongly about it. And maybe I should.
Not too long ago, I met someone at a conference and in the midst of our discussion I mentioned my son with Down syndrome. They were surprised. "You mean, you have a child with Down syndrome?", they asked. Yes, I do. I realize I don't mention him so much. Well, he is not the focus of what I do or why I do it - or is he? I got into this community years ago when my son was born. I didn't realize how much I missed by not getting involved well before that. I had a cousin with Down syndrome. He was my mother's first cousin...she remembers playing with him and was the first person to say "it's okay" when my diagnosis was delivered. Of course, she really didn't realize all the drama involved with keeping him for a week when he's 14 and a teenager and cranky and bored. But she made her bed... (I digress)
I started an organization. It went well. They are still successful. I am proud. But at the end of the day, the picture you see with this post pushes me to help organizations be better. I want every organization to support every individual with DS. No, not just the cute babies, not just the sweet little toddlers, not even just the incredibly funny elementary age kiddos. I want every DS organization in this country to help make it a better world for MEN and WOMEN with Down syndrome. I want my Joel (14 and loves Chucky movies) to be supported by the local org and not the government. I want my friend Craig Blackburn to marry his sweetheart Heather Hancock and they live together successfully supported by employment and their parents (as all of us were when we first got married).
I want all of this. And so that is why I work late on Wednesday nights on Topical Calls and spend extra time on Leaders' Circles and will take a call way after 5 pm Central because I know it's important. And it's why my board does the same thing. And so, if you didn't know, I have this guy in my life that makes me happy, upset, mad, frustrated, excited, confused and incredibly grateful. He is my guy. And he is why I want all DS groups to strive for more - for nonprofit excellence. Hey, let's start with DSAIA accreditation.