HCN News & Notes

CHD Staff Raises Funds for People with Disabilities Impacted by Hurricane

SPRINGFIELD — Among those displaced by Hurricane Harvey, people with disabilities have been impacted especially hard. The personal nature of special needs makes rescue efforts more complicated and ongoing support even more challenging. Since last week, Portlight Strategies Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation based in South Carolina, has been working on the front lines of disaster relief in greater Houston, specifically providing emergency assistance to people with disabilities. Employees of the Center for Human Development (CHD) have spearheaded an effort to support Portlight Strategies.

To raise funds for the organization and help those in need, CHD employees — including many involved in the care and support of people with disabilities — and individuals with disabilities served by the agency are hosting a bake and candy sale to benefit Portlight Strategies. The event will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 6, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at CHD headquarters, 332 Birnie Ave., Springfield. Tables will be set up in the main lobby to enable CHD staff to purchase items or simply make a contribution.

Among the CHD staff in attendance will be those from CHD Meadows Homes, which provides residential support in 23 separate homes in 10 western Mass communities so that developmentally disabled individuals can develop emotionally, cognitively, culturally, and socially to their maximum potential.

“As a committed provider of comprehensive services for persons with disabilities, we want to help our far-away friends who are hurting in Texas,” said Jim Goodwin, president and CEO of CHD. “It is fitting that we lend our support to organizations that can make a difference right now to persons with disabilities who face staggering challenges in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. In addition to the money raised in our bake and candy sale, I have instructed our organization to contribute an additional $500 to Portlight Strategies to support their efforts related to Hurricane Harvey.”

Portlight Strategies and its partner organizations have been rallying stakeholders daily and working together to help get people to safety; provide for any immediate needs they may have for disability-related accommodations, durable medical equipment, and other assistive technology; respond to evacuation and sheltering issues; and actively solve problems for a variety of immediate disability-accessibility issues. In addition, they have been by providing technical assistance and guidance to prevent disaster survivors from being turned away from shelters, denied sign-language interpreters, denied their civil rights, or sent to inappropriate institutionalization. These are issues that people with disabilities have faced in past disasters.

To that end, Portlight Strategies is working closely with the Houston Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Texas state government, the FEMA regional disability integration specialist, private disability organizations, and partner organizations from across the country. Portlight Strategies has also joined forces with the Cajun Navy, an informal organization of local volunteers who are using their personal boats and watercraft to assist in rescue efforts.

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