For both staff and clients in Common Ground, as for other social rehab clubs throughout the state, there is always plenty of work to be done. Much of the time, the work is thankless, as I wrote in my testimony before the Appropriations Committee at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on February 18th. Seven of us testified that night in opposition of the Governor’s proposed cuts to important funding that helps keep people out of costly emergency room visits every single day.
Sometimes, the work we do is not thankless at all. In fact, seeing our members, staff and executive leadership get up and testify year after year has been an honor. This year was no exception. One person, in particular was especially brave, testifying on behalf of our friend, a fellow advocate whom had passed away two days prior to the hearing.
Carol G. has been coming to Common Ground for 18 years, and I never miss an opportunity to remind her that if she keep utilizing this service, she ought to be getting out of her comfort zone and doing new things. She always swore that she would not testify. Last year, her seventeenth in the program, I was able to coach her through the first ever writing of testimony. She felt great to have contributed for the first time to an effort in which she had always been loosely involved. This year, she wrote her testimony and testified in front of a committee of legislatures, some of which already knew her on a first name basis! Carol has always worked so hard to make these connections, but now she was really stepping out of her comfort zone. Perhaps now she has earned some time without my pestering.
I have a whole new sense of pride, the likes of which I have never felt, thanks to her and her friends who testified that Thursday night after the passing of our dear friend and fellow advocate. Other Intercommunity staff and clients who testified included Kim Beauregard, Torry B, Benjamin R, Lynn E, Frank E, and Alan C – True heroes living and working right among the rest of us. No matter the outcome in this year’s budget, I will be proud knowing that we never stopped fighting for what we believe in and never stopped pushing to get outside of our comfort zone to change our world, as well as ourselves, for the better.