November began with one more celebration in remembrance of our good friend, the cofounder of Access Press. At the Charlie Smith Community Award Banquet on November 3, John Smith was recognized for his leadership in the Minnesota disability community. John (no relation to Charlie) is a project coordinator and researcher for The Research and Training Center on Community Living at the University of Minnesota. His colleague Charlie Lakin pays John tribute.
The awards banquet always marks one more year gone by and 12 more issues of the paper having been produced. It makes me think about how cyclical our lives are. Summer, fall, winter, spring—and day to night—our lives are filled with cycles. We get up in the morning; we do the same routine. We go to work; we check phone messages and e-mail. At some point in the day, we begin to plant the seeds for tomorrow, not knowing whether those seeds will bear fruit for harvest—and storage for the beginning of the next cycle. Charlie Smith planted the seed of Access Press, and at the banquet Friday night it was easy to see some of Charlie’s harvest. So many people that knew Charlie and came to remember him!
As the years and the cycles continue, there are more people who attend, but fewer among them had a chance to know Charlie. Still, all who were there could feel and see the product of Charlie’s work. I continue every year to stow away some of Charlie’s harvest to fuel me through the next year. And many of us will be fueled by the harvest that John Smith’s work has sown. John is another one of the people who produce far more than they know in their dedication to humanity and civil rights. I think it is important that we recognize the people around us, the seeds they sow and the harvests they share. I know I do not have to say it, but, “John, keep up the good work. We honor you, as Charlie would, for your drive and energy in making the world a better place.”
But ours is just one of the many banquets that comes up around this time of year. Harvest time is the time to look back and celebrate the accomplishments of the year for many organizations. Metropolitan Center for Independent Living is celebrating 25 years of following—and helping to blaze—the trail created by the founders of the independent living movement. The Minnesota State Council on Disability also honors some of the great work of many others in the disability community. For me, it is an honor to be associated with all the people that were awarded this fall for their drive and inspiration in pursuing the common good.
I also want to thank Access Press staff for their dedicated service to the paper, to the community, and to me as editor: currently Lance Hegland and Bret Hesla, but also the staff members who have moved on in the past year—Ekta Prakash, David Hadlich and Terri Ricci. Many thanks as well to all the volunteer writers who have made Access Press a great paper this past year.
Finally, I want to thank our Board of Directors for another year of dedication to building communication among the disability community. Access Press board members serve for up to six years, and it’s always hard to say farewell to those who depart even while it’s wonderful to welcome newcomers. This year it’s very difficult for me to say goodbye to Mary Kay Kennedy, who has been a huge supporter of Access Press. Ms. Kennedy, who is codirector of Advocating for Change Together, is a person whose dedication to vulnerable people in our community is immeasurable. In the years I have known her, I have never heard Mary Kay utter bad sentiments about anyone. She is instead always ready to come to the rescue of someone who needs a kind word or loyal supporter. Thank you, Mary Kay, for your service to Access Press. And my personal thanks for your confidence in me.
Have a great Thanksgiving, everybody!