I don’t know if any of you have spent time at a children’s arcade recently, I have younger family members that now require me to attend Dave and Buster’s after graduating from Chuck E Cheese. I have to confess I enjoy arcade games, particularly one called “Whack-a-Mole”. In it you grab a small rubber mallet and whack the “moles” as their heads poke up through the wooden platform. They speed up and don’t appear in any particular pattern, and they may reappear shortly after you hit them; all of which leads to quicker responses and more frustration.
There are days I feel my job is a big game of Whack-A-Mole. Issues we thought were long settled, like Medicaid funded supports for people with disabilities, the definition of community, funding for affordable housing and even the idea that children with disabilities are entitled to an appropriate education, seem to be at risk in a rapidly changing political debate at the federal and state levels. The demand for our attention, advocacy and investment has never been greater and at the same time we are struggling to cover those weekend shifts. It is truly a time to balance our priorities and ensure we are working as effectively as possible.
The reality is there is not enough time and energy to address every emerging topic, so we must discern what is a real threat and what is political rhetoric. This is the time I depend on ANCOR the most, to inform me of the emerging issues, urge me to participate in advocacy through targeted alerts, provide information on complex regulations and state trends and, maybe most importantly, represent our organizations and the people we support who often don’t make their voices heard above the constant noise of competing political constituents.
We are being heard! From the SOS campaign to today’s Medicaid and ACA turmoil, ANCOR is not only advocating but being asked for their valued opinion by our political representatives. ANCOR has established itself as the expert on disability policy, because we are able to articulate the impact of proposals on the lives of citizens with disabilities and the providers who support them every day. In my 30 year career, I have never seen more at stake or felt my voice was more needed than now. Through our collective efforts we can make a difference. So I invite you to pick up your mallet and start “wacking”, this is a game people with disabilities cannot afford to lose.
Angela King is CEO of Volunteers of America Texas and ANCOR's Board President. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.