Tag: Minute Man Arc

Self Advocate Shares Experience as a Successful Trainer

Nora McShane, Guest Blogger

This week we introduce Nora McShane who is returning as a guest blogger to share her experience as a trainer. Nora has lived independently for the last six years and became involved with her self advocacy group  several years ago. She is currently the president of  the S.A.F.E. group at Minute Man Arc in Concord  and a member of their Board of Directors.

Becoming a trainer

Recently, I was asked by my mentor, Sue Crossley, to present a training about proper nutrition at an advocacy meeting in Worcester.  At first I felt a little anxious but I was also excited at the opportunity.

I was encouraged to give my own presentation entitled “Making Healthier Food Choices” as well as a separate training using an iPad. Sue came to my apartment and gave me training on how to use the iPad. The training made me feel more confident because I had learned a new skill.

Building confidence

When I got to the Worcester meeting I felt really excited. I was so honored to be able to teach my peers about nutrition and living a healthier lifestyle. There were around a dozen people from H.M.E.A. who were willing to hear me speak and be their trainer. Everyone watched and listened while I presented my own food plate demonstration. Everyone seemed eager to learn and ask questions.

After the training I felt very positive about my performance and I felt like I had accomplished a goal. I made positive strides toward being a more confident public speaker.

I’m glad I was asked to participate; it’s good to feel like I’ve been helpful. It feels good to share my knowledge with others.

Join us next week to hear about additional trainings being offered throughout the state by and for people with disabilities.

Board Director Shares her Experience as Mentor

This week I introduce Elizabeth Berk, a former board member of Minute Man Arc and presently a mentor for Mary, who we met last week. Liz shares her experience and insight into having people with intellectual disabilities serving as board directors.

Learning from colleagues

Mary Blauvert and Liz Berk
Mary Blauvert and Liz Berk

Liz began the conversation with a simple observation.

“Over the years, our board has diversified. We now have more business leaders and others who aren’t necessarily friends or family of a person with a disability. For these new members, this may be the first time they are meeting someone with a disability”.

As she spoke, I realized the issue was not only about advocating for people with disabilities to be board members for their own benefit; there was also another advantage at hand.

If Board Directors are introduced to a person with a disability as a respected colleague, everyone benefits.

Training and support

We discussed the process of Mary joining the board and receiving support.

“Mary had some training before joining the board and was presented with a few other candidates. It was important because the board members all felt comfortable that she had passed the training and understood what was involved.”

The board training was a series of four group sessions followed by a meeting with the Board President and Liz as Mary’s mentor.

“To be a mentor, I think it’s important that the person has experience and understands people with disabilities. They should also be committed to educating the other Board members as to how viable they are.”

Challenge addressed

Liz explained her approach to one of the challenges.

“This month I realized the financial report will be most of the meeting, so I explained to Mary that she can abstain from voting if she feels overwhelmed by all the information. She had very good questions about what it meant to abstain and I think she is going into the meeting feeling very comfortable.’

Benefit to all

Liz shared her final thoughts about the impact Mary has had on the other board directors.

“I will never forget a comment by one of the board members after Mary attended her first meeting. He explained to me in complete candor that he was hesitant when he first heard that two people with disabilities would be joining the board. Yet after the meeting he was so impressed with what they had to say and realized how much he would learn from them both.”

She described it as a pyramid effect where the board members would now bring their experience back to their community organizations and everyone benefits in the process.


Being a Board Member is an Honor

Picture of Mary sitting on a couch

This week I introduce Mary Blauvelt as a guest blogger

My name is Mary Blauvelt and I have a developmental disability. But because I have a disability, it doesn’t mean I can’t do the things I want to do.

I go to the Minute Man Arc Day Hab and live at Carter house in West Concord. In my spare time I go to ceramics and chorus. In the last musical I was Tiger Lilly, the Indian princess in Peter Pan. I am also a member of a book club and President of the Minuteman Self Advocacy group. I was also in a walking club until it got too cold.

Becoming a Board Advisor

About a year and a half ago I joined the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Advisory Committee. I have a supporter who brings me to the meetings and helps me when I need help. I like the meetings; I like them a lot. I learn about the things they are doing at Shriver.

At one of the meetings I met John, who came to Minute Man to meet my friends and talk about using computers. It was called a focus group and he wanted to know how easy or hard it was for us to use computers and get on websites. I learned a lot. Now I go into the computer lab at Day Hab and am saving to buy my own in the future.

And a Board Director

I am also very proud to be a member of the Minute Man Arc Board of Directors because everyone can’t be on it. I have a mentor, Liz who talks to me about the agenda before the meeting and helps me at the meetings if I need her. It is an honor. We learn about the programs, and talk about how to make things better

Contributing to the community

I think the other board members like hearing what I have to say. I also get to vote which feels good because everyone doesn’t get a chance to vote on certain things. It is a good way to let your voice be heard.

Even if you are a person with a disability, you can still be on a board. No one can turn you down because you have a disability, but you should be prepared. You can go to a training like I did or maybe just try it out and go to a meeting first to see if you like it. Whatever you do, you should know about the different issues facing people with disabilities today.