The Family Legacy – Sharing Their Stories

Parent Advocate Despina Bourbakis thanks Peggy Martin (right) for all her work on behalf of individuals and families in the DD service system.

Parent Advocate Despina Bourbakis thanks Peggy Martin (right) for all her work on behalf of individuals and families in the DD service system.

DODD Family Advocate Peggy Martin Recognized for Service

Last week, the DODD Family Advisory Council (FAC) welcomed several exciting speakers — including families themselves — discussing topics of interest to the statewide developmental disabilities community. The meeting also was the last one with Family Advocate Peggy Martin at the helm. She will retire in November.

Before introducing the many presenters on the FAC meeting agenda last week, Family Advocate Peggy Martin underscored the importance of the group representing the needs and interests of all families in the statewide DD service system. She observed,

Reaching out to and listening to the families in our system is absolutely critical.  The Department values families. We continue to learn from you, and we have all respected each other in the process of meeting — throughout the 12 years our Family Advisory Council has been in existence. I thank you for all you have taught me. Knowledge is power!”

DODD Director John Martin added a few thoughts on the subject, noting, “The amount of change our system is facing now and in the immediate future is huge, and it is stressful to families. We know this, and you tell us this. So, at the Department, we must consider how to manage change so that it’s not too stressful for families.  We appreciate your support in working with us at these meetings and others, and your input is crucial as we work through all the plans and issues ahead.”

Presenting more family insight were long-time advocate and sibling Dean Fadel, and his brother, Jeff.  Dean and Jeff displayed the easy give-and-take of close siblings with and without disabilities, and they both offered this advice,

Don’t wait too long to take an active role in your sibling’s life. Don’t wait until they’re an adult and then start trying to get to know them.  It’s best when you can grow up together.”

In addition, a group of extended family members and support staff presented, “Everyone working together for Marsha.”  Marsha Mace’s story has been featured in Pipeline Quarterly, Summer 2014, and helps to illustrate the concept of family host homes (shared living) as a strong residential option.

Meeting attendees also stood up to share a few words on the subject of Peggy’s retirement, and there were many heartfelt stories of critically needed assistance and caring.  Comments included:

People at state level departments are usually ‘not there’ for families — especially families in small rural communities.  But Peggy was there for me!  She drove out in person to help me. I was in crisis, and couldn’t have managed without her.”

Thank you for remembering that ‘family’ includes brothers and sisters! When people ask me about who they should talk to about a brother or sister in their family who has a developmental disability, I always say, “Have you talked to Peggy yet?”

Family Advisory Council is open to anyone with an interest in Ohio’s developmental disabilities community.  Meetings are hosted at Columbus Developmental Center. The next meeting will be in early 2015.

For more information about FAC, contact Michele Kanode at michele.kanode@dodd.ohio.gov.

Brothers Jeff Fadel (left) and Dean Fadel relax before their presentation to Family Advisory Council.

Brothers Jeff Fadel (left) and Dean Fadel relax before their presentation to Family Advisory Council.

(Right) Beth Roberts, parent advocate, shares her story with the group, adding, “Thank you for being so welcoming, and making us feel valued and important.”

Beth Roberts, parent advocate, shares her story with the group, adding, “Thank you for being so welcoming, and making us feel valued and important.”

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