It’s hard to believe we are now two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. Yes, that is getting old! But with the old comes something new. Here at Disability Network we were able to adapt quickly to alternative ways of connecting with you and providing services to our customers. We continue to offer the same programming we did before COVID-19 and have even added some new programs. If you are looking for ways to connect to people in the disability community, are interested in learning more about disability, or need to connect to services, please contact us—we are here for you.
Our peer support groups and advocacy teams continue to meet online. We have even added new groups since the pandemic started. Our list of peer support groups includes: The Brain Injury Support Group, Phenomenal Women, and Autistic Adult Peer Support. The Divine Divas in St. Joseph is taking a break, although our staff continue to connect with the Divas individually. Our regular advocacy groups are Access, Transportation Advocacy Group (TAG) and the new Lake View Terrace Speak Up/Speak Out group.
We have also added an online exercise program to our programming; Spirit Club meets weekly online to provide professional, accessible, alternative exercise instruction. This is a great way to keep moving, even during the cold winter months.
Our Independent Living staff and Social Security benefits counselors have been able to connect with even more people using online video conferencing then we did when we were traveling throughout eight counties. Our Information & Referral staff continue to meet with people needing to connect with services in their communities. We are meeting with people through video conferencing, on the phone and in person by appointment. We have also partnered with Urban Alliance to be on-site at their office in Kalamazoo every other week to serve our common customers in one location.
The Advocacy & Community Education team is doing more programming than ever before, and with video conferencing, we are reaching a much broader audience. We have many local participants as well as people from across the state, the country and even internationally!
Of course, we miss seeing so many of you in person. We are confident that at some point we will be returning to the level of in-person services we were offering before COVID-19. The silver lining to this situation is that we have learned new ways to connect with people and will now have more options for continuing to stay connected as we move forward.
Disability Network staff wishes you a very happy New Year and is looking forward to seeing you soon!