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Disability Network Southwest Michigan

Until We Meet Again

Joel Cooper

A note from Joel

I am sharing with you my reflection of retiring from a career of 49 years in services supporting people with disabilities to be fully included in their community and a life of meaningful independence. The past 20 ½ years in my role at Disability Network has been indescribable in accomplishments alongside a talented and dedicated team of staff and disability advocates and devoted board members. In this reflection, I am reminded of all the different paths I have chosen and how the different circles in life experiences do come around to connect or reconnect in interesting ways. I know I can relate to my favorite poem written by Robert Frost that refers to ‘the road not taken’. As I look back on all my diverse professional roles within the disability rights movement, I know “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

I also wish to express my sincere appreciation to co-workers, volunteers, community partners, donors and colleagues across the state for embracing with me the values of being welcoming and kind, dedication to a role of making a difference and working together in collaborative ways to accomplish positive outcomes. Thank you for being present, so I could join with you, on many new and astonishing paths for us to experience together. I know the transition to follow my retirement will all be carried out with the highest integrity of ensuring our agency Mission will be ever present in achieving high quality of services to our communities and community members.

It has truly been my honor and pleasure to have enjoyed these memorable experiences at Disability Network Southwest Michigan and in the communities of Southwest Michigan.

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Joel