(This is the longest Blog I have ever written but it is a message worthy of sharing and I hope you will take the time to read it)
Planning for the birth of a child is a very special time which is done with much care
The parents and other loved ones look forward to it with great joy
And when the child’s first sounds are heard cheers permeate the air
What matters most too all involved is the child’s health not whether it is a girl or boy
And as the child begins its life’s journey and adds to society’s goodness
Each sign of the youngsters maturing is celebrated by its family with great pride
Watching a child grow and develop its unique personality adds to our happiness
But every once in a we sadly discover that our child has another side
It has diverse needs which even modern science cannot always understand
The one we have brought into this world may be afflicted with a lifelong special challenge
Which changes the happiness and joy into a concern for them and those in their command
And creates a life style change for all of the loved ones upon whom the child’s care depends
Caring for a person, yes no matter the impediment-the child is a real person, a member of our society
Who is precious and much loved and the parent/caregiver now more than ever makes certain that they can expect
That those responsible will devote their entire energy to helping them have a life filled with love and dignity
Making certain that no matter how they look or act in public they are treated with respect
So dear friends please open your hearts and minds to this very simple fact
We cannot always be assured that bearing a child will result in a person without needs
But we are all, including those who are “differently-abled”, part of natures yield and remember to always act
With love, respect and admiration for significant needy persons and join their loved ones
Who do such good deeds
– Bernie Otis
Hi dear readers. I hope that you will take time to seriously read today’s blog. It is one which, as you will learn, has deep meaning to me. And in fact, as I was preparing to write it, I happened to read an opinion that William Falk, the Editor-in-chief of The Week Magazine wrote in its current edition:
“Norms of civility are eroding at a galloping pace and are giving way to an unashamed rudeness—a me –first ethos in which people feel they owe nothing to anyone. —–C’mon people: We’re all stuck with each other, and life is a lot easier—and more pleasant—when we grant other folks the right to exist”.
Read on to learn how this applies directly to the feelings of those with significant diversity and their devoted caregivers, when in public areas.
In one of my recent blogs, I mentioned that, as a result of a new program my Rotary Club had started with the Los Angeles School District, I had the privilege to speak to a group of high school seniors about how to plan their education and careers.
As a result of that experience, my life has been more enriched and doors of opportunity have been opened to share my knowledge and life’s experiences with diverse groups. Diverse individuals and their families, need the world community to open their hearts and minds to them and welcome them with open arms, rather than look away as if they do not exist, as they struggle to seek to be an integral part of our daily lives.
Let me explain;
Following my talk at Taft High School in Woodland Hills, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, I was walking down the stairs to return to my car when a lovely young woman noticed that I was walking with difficulty (my right leg is suffering the effects of a botched artery operation some years ago). She offered to help me down the stairs and as we spoke I asked her what she did at the school.
Christina told me she was a single mom of two boys, her youngest son, Johnny who is 18 years old, was a student at Taft HS. She went on to tell me how she was the parent who helped get the “Find Your Calling Career Club” started (where I had just spoken) and that she volunteers there on a regular basis to help support her son’s wonderful teachers.
She continued to share with me that Johnny has “diverse needs”, which means he has more significant needs than most students his age. Johnny’s communication is very limited. He cannot use his voice to speak and he cannot write with a pen and paper. Christina has to find ways for him to communicate his wants and needs. He has seizures and eats through a feeding tube because he chokes easily.
He has had many surgeries and hospitalizations throughout is short life here on earth, however, despite Johnny’s challenges, the gifts he teaches Christina and so many others, far surpass the work that is required of her to care for him. She truly believes she is the “luckiest mom in the world” because every single day that Johnny is in her life, she gets an opportunity to learn compassion, empathy, patience, tolerance and understanding; letting go of her fears and truly living in the moment.
Christina is a nurse and a filmmaker, and had been working in the entertainment industry as a medical consultant for TV shows and films for the past 10 years, but this past year, made a decision that she needed to spend the majority of her professional work fulfilling her life’s purpose, which is creating content through TV and film, sharing profound stories of people who have so much to teach us.
Christina then told me about what was going on in the community of persons with diverse needs similar to Johnny’s and invited me to attend the opening of the new Legacy Center in our community. A center designed to provide physical activities, as well as classes for community-neglected people with health and physical impairments. They also offer special education classes. In addition, the Center was reaching out to seniors in the community who had physical activity requirements.
When I attended that event I was overwhelmed by what I saw and during a meeting with its Director, Jacqueline Bisquera, a woman who works as a marketing professional during the day and spends her off time as the center’s Director and Advocate for those I have herein described.
Jacqueline also told me, with tears in her eyes, how she was further motivated by the recent loss of her young daughter who had been challenged with Rett Syndrome.
I was moved by something else that Jacqueline said, “This is for the community to embrace all individuals. There are no special needs, no mental, physical or cognitively impaired, no old or disabled – there are only people with diverse needs, all with challenges that can be lessened and strengths that can be grown.”
What these individuals need is to feel part of the community and feel respected for who they are and what they do. How basic is this thing called respect? Yet our society moves further and further away from this simple idea and in doing so, further and further away from the thing that binds us together—-The human connection.”
My dear friends, even at my age, and although I thought I had learned everything I needed to know about life and the challenges it presents, until I met these two remarkable women, listened to their stories and saw with my own eyes how their lives have been effected by their 24 hour, seven-day-a-week dedication to bringing joy to their loved ones, I did not understand how important a role each of us has in giving them our support.
I ask you dear friends for two favors;
1: When you encounter these wonderful persons put your arms around them, put your arms around them emotionally and include them as part of, not separate form our community.
2: Find time to visit centers like the Legacy Center in Woodland Hills, California and see for yourself the wonderful work, devotion and dedication the parent’s families and the staff are providing to communities, to ensure all members of our society are respected and valued equally. You may even find an interest to be part of it.
Bernie Otis is a well known Writer, Author, Speaker, as well as a highly respected Food, Beverage and Laundry Consultant, Marketing/Sales Consultant. During his lifetime he has been involved in the Design and supplying of All major Hotels in Las Vegas, Disneyland and major hotels, hospitals and universities nationally and restaurants (he has been involved in the Design of almost all restaurants in Southern California.
Bernie’s 2 Books; “How to Prepare for Old Age—Without Taking the Fun out of Life” and “Revenue Generation Through the Sale of Kumquats——And Other Things” are Best Sellers on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. His weekly blogs can be read at http://seniormomentswithbernardotis.com/
Bernie also is an advisor to families needing information on Senior Living Facilities and other issues related to Aging
Bernie can be reached at Seymour.Otis@gmail.com–818-519-8347