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Advocate for Adults with Disabilities

As citizens, we can achieve change through increased advocacy.

We will lose all the gains of public education, deinstitutionalization, and the advent of home and community based services over the next 50 years if society does not continue to protect the rights of our relatives, friends, and neighbors with disabilities. Quality daytime, employment, and related transportation services for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) is essential in this regard. The cost of these services is a fraction of what is necessary to support persons in full-time care facilities or group homes. Yet these services are equally necessary to provide lifetime care and support and ensure community inclusion and meaningful work for the people served.

What Can I Do?

Your citizen advocacy makes a difference. Here’s what you can do to partner with Merrick:

Help support Merrick’s mission.
Through advocacy we can seek adequate resources, improve access to services, protect service options, and shine a light on obstacles to persons with I/DD achieving their goals and dreams.

Help sustain Merrick’s survival.
Merrick benefits not only from public funding for the services provided, but also from its tax exempt status. As a provider of human services, Merrick is heavily regulated by federal, state, and local law.  It is incumbent upon Merrick and our supporters to preserve and protect this status, but also make sure that the cost of compliance is not so burdensome as to threaten our ability to operate effectively and provide quality services.

Help solve problems and avoid potential pitfalls.
Together we bring a unique understanding of the concerns of the clients served at Merrick and the day-to-day realities of how government funded programs function and impact our relatives, friends, and neighbors. By stepping forward and sharing our special knowledge, we help solve problems and offer insights to policymakers and legislators that serve to prevent unintended consequences.

Give self-advocates, other clients, employees and their families a voice.
Standing alone while taking a position contrary to powerful interests with political influence and financial resources can be daunting. Nonprofits serve as the great equalizer, where individuals come together so their voices are amplified, not only by Merrick and its stakeholders but by our partnership and involvement with other organizations like A-Team Minnesota, MNFAC, and the MN Council on Nonprofits. Moreover, we give a voice to stakeholders who may not be able or willing to advocate for themselves.

Help strengthen democracy and leadership skills within our organization and community.
Involvement in “get out the vote” and advocacy, teaches our employees and clients alike about the democratic process, leadership, and valuable life skills. Serving on committees as part of the advocacy program, making motions, grassroots organizing, and communicating with government officials, helps us learn not only about the political process, but also about compromise, conflict resolution, group processing, teamwork, effective communication, persuasion, and leadership.

Help public policymakers who need – and most often welcome – citizen input.
It is a common misperception that legislators and other government officials don’t care and don’t need our input.  Legislators, in particular, have limited staff and research capabilities and are challenged to know about a broad array of issues often beyond their own expertise. Most policymakers sincerely want to make the best decisions.  Getting the informed views of people close to the issue and impacted by their actions is one way to make more informed decisions.

Learn More

Consult the following tools for more information about how you can become an advocate for adults with disabilities.