Written by Laura Bennett, Director of Programs
Picture it. Harrisburg. The year 2000. Fresh out of grad school at the age of 22, and I would take the first job I was offered – working for a nonprofit association whose members provided services to people with intellectual disability and autism throughout the (very large) state of Pennsylvania.
I didn’t fully understand what an association was, what membership in an association meant, or what my job was supposed to be. I would learn quickly.
One of the first things I did was drive around the state with my boss and meet several of our members. Some were providers who offered group homes to individuals with intellectual disability, some were insurance companies and attorneys who worked with families, and some were community members who supported our mission.
And I asked all of them the same question – why are you a member? I really wanted to know. What were they getting out of it that they couldn’t get some other way, and for free? Some of their answers were expected – we support the mission; we like the discounts on trainings; we like networking. All good and predictable reasons. But one answer stayed with me – and continues to all these years later. “We need each other. We are you, and you are us.” It was that simple.
For those of you over 35, you might have picked up on my earlier Golden Girls reference. Besides its irreverent, boundary-pushing humor, I love this show because no matter what challenges Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia faced, at the end of the day, these ladies knew they had a group of people who would always be there.
In our togetherness, Virginia’s brain injury community could have an extraordinary impact. Imagine 1,000 BIAV members connecting and advocating for the same purpose – to improve the lives of ALL people impacted by brain injury – individuals, family members, caregivers, and professionals.
It’s not too late to join BIAV for our 2020 membership year. We need each other.