Wednesday, March 6, a few members from the Arc of Greater Plymouth made the journey into Boston with a goal: Get the attention of Governor Patrick.
The Arc of Massachusetts and the Developmental Disabilities Council held its annual legislative reception at the State House, so we decided to make the journey on the T. We were met with snow, slush, rain and lots of hills. However, we succeeded. After taking the Red Line from Quincy, we emerged in good old Boston right at the foot of Beacon Hill.
With one of our individuals in a wheelchair, navigating the subway and streets of Boston was a bit tricky. I challenge you to take a look around the various T stations the next time you ride and try to imagine what it would look like to someone with a disability. Look for the elevators; notice the gap between the platform and the train. It’s a struggle that someone in a wheelchair deals with every day. This was one of the issues the Arc members wanted to bring to the attention of our legislators at the event.
However, the event was very popular and, therefore, crowded. Our little group had to split up in order to get a view of the stage and be able to see the speakers. The governor spoke with enthusiasm for his new budget plan and a state trooper sang a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem.
The highlight for us all of us, however, was a Haitian immigrant father of a now-adult son with disabilities. His son is autistic and non-verbal. His father spoke of the struggles he and his wife have shared throughout their son’s life and praised the PCAs, caseworkers and other home care staff that tirelessly care for his son. It was passionate, touching and sincere.
As we were standing in the Great Hall of Flags listening to another speech, I noticed a small crowd started to gather through the glass wall behind me. It was the governor meeting with a few individuals and taking some pictures. I quietly snuck out with Marie Saldi and approached him. He shook our hands and Marie introduced herself and told him where we were from. She explained she works five days a week at the Arc as our receptionist and the governor was so proud to hear this that he gave her a “fist bump.”
“Good for you! You’re getting it done!” he exclaimed. This, of course, was the highlight of the day for Miss Marie. After taking a picture with us, Governor Patrick hurried off back to running our government and we made the long trip downhill to the T station for the journey back to Plymouth. Mission accomplished.