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  • Writer's pictureDixie Frantz

Steppin' Out onto the Box

So this "memory" came up today on my personal Facebook page from 13 years ago. Geez, has it really been that long ago? I did not share it. They are my memories. However, I thought it would make an instructive blog post.

The story begins in mid-February, 2011, with a bus ride to the Texas State Capital in Austin. The trip was organized by The Village Learning Center, the day center Mimi attended. Once again, the Texas legislature was threatening to cut services for adults with disabilities. Hearings before a state appropriations committee regarding the proposed cuts were planned and the public was encouraged to testify. That day the room was packed. I was one of those who put my name on the list for a time slot. I prepared a short and to-the-point speech and sat with others watching the proceedings.

Sitting in the audience was enlightening. For several hours, we faced a long table with yawning and bored-looking legislative committee members behind their microphones and water pitchers. I couldn't believe my eyes. Testimony by those in the audience ensued. Passionate individuals who live, work, and care for those with disabilities poured out their very personal stories. I was given two minutes and also entered my testimony into the state record.

A few weeks later a rally was held at Houston's Discovery Green. I was one of speakers surrounded by family. I read my committee testimony again before an audience who also wore red and white t-shirts that said: "Don't Cut. Care." No one listening yawned or looked bored.

So what happened 11 years ago with the Texas legislature after the committee hearing and the rally? Did they cut? Yep!

Fast forward to today. According to a recent report, Texas is still ranked 49th in the United States in serving those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In 2019, Texas had the longest waiting list for services with 196,248. Mimi was on this list for 13 years before her name came up. Our family benefitted from the program for a couple years before Mimi suddenly passed away at the age of 34.

I don't know the solution to this nagging "waiting list" problem. But I bet if Texas legislators asked those who work and care for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, they could clue them in!


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