Once again, the Charlie Smith award banquet was a fabulously enjoyable event. The winners of the Charlie Smith award were Jim and Claudia Carlisle, the founders of People Enhancing People. Many of us have benefited directly from Jim’s and Claudia’s efforts, and their actions have motivated others of us to act for our own empowerment. As several speakers said that night, Jim and Claudia exemplify what we can do when we recognize our interdependence. Jim and Claudia embody independence; at the same time, they are interdependent with one other, and with the individuals who they help and who help them through their daily living. The Carlisles in turn have helped many of us in the disability community.
In the 1960s, when Ed Roberts was trying to force the University of California to accept him as student, he said that he and the whole disability community just got stronger and stronger as more people came to see that severely disabled people were going to the University of California, Berkeley. And the university began to see that the future was in serving more people with disabilities. The disability community had now gained political clout; others had to respond in a much more realistic way. Jim and Claudia took that kind of a risk when they started dreaming of People Enhancing People. By their actions, they gained political clout and all kinds of people began to listen to them. As a result, we now have People Enhancing People, a PCA Choice agency. After listening to those who spoke about Jim and Claudia, I realized that the Carlisles were like Ed Roberts in another way. He once said that the word “No” is a very interesting word, and that he’d learned that the word “No” means “Yes” sometimes. Jim and Claudia would not accept “No” as an answer to their requests for independence—and they created strength through interdependence.
Mary Kay Kennedy and JoAnn Cardenas Enos were also celebrated for their long-term commitment to the Access Press Board of Directors. Mary Kay and JoAnn have been wonderful mentors to me, and have taught me a lot about the finances and organizing of a nonprofit. Access Press would not be a strong community paper today without the drive and motivation of these two former board members.
I hope everyone enjoyed themselves at the award banquet, and I hope those who couldn’t come will join us next year. For five years, we have enjoyed a beautiful celebration of communication in the disability community. We are grateful for the wonderful hospitality of David Glass, owner of Black Bear Crossing, as well as Kathy Anderson, banquet manager, and the fantastic staff.
Finally, I want to add to the thanks I offered at the banquet to all the board members who have served the paper—and helped me—throughout this past year. I am also grateful to the paper’s excellent staff and to all the hard-working volunteers who have made this an exciting year for Access Press. And many thanks to the issue sponsors that have helped support Access Press this year.
Minnesota State Council on Disabilities (MSCOD) and Metropolitan Center for Independent Living (MCIL) also had their annual banquets this last month. We want to congratulate and thank everyone in those organizations for their years of good work for the disability community.
Anita Schermer and Luther Granquist are writing a book: a history of people with disabilities in Minnesota. Their interest in the history of disability took them to the recent Department of Human Services’ recognition of the history of state hospitals and nursing homes in Minnesota, with the theme of “Honor the Past, Embrace the Present, Create the Future.” Ending the inhumane treatment that took place in our state hospitals, as described in the article, is definitely worth celebrating. Thank you, Luther and Anita, for all your good work and years of dedication to people with disabilities. We wish you all the luck in the world on your book venture. We’ll be waiting for a signed copy.