The blog this week was written by Dalanna Hoskins, a Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute. Community Brokering is the term that we use for those of us who bridge the gap between an individual and their community. The main gap that we are trying to close, is the exclusion of disabled individuals from their communities. The mountains that cross the paths of the people we work with are applying for jobs, finding a place to live, and finally a meaningful activity where a person can feel they belong and become productive citizens in their community just like “everyone else”. When climbing these mountains, who would have guessed that parents and the families surrounding the individuals would also need “brokering”? I will give you a personal example of what I am talking about. My brother Isaiah Hoskins started the community brokering process a year ago, and let me tell you, it has been an emotional journey. Both of my parents as well as myself, were going into this thinking that the Arcadia Institute was just another peg in the system, that wouldn’t really give Isaiah the tools needed for him to make it in the “real world”, boy were we wrong! My parents are very protective yet caring, and just like all good parents, they want what is best for Isaiah and his life. Growing up we were taught that family is all you have, and anyone or anything outside of that cannot be trusted. Most people out in the world do not have your best interest at heart, nor do they care about your safety, or want to see you succeed. When we first started the process, my parents were totally against the idea of Isaiah riding the city bus, travelling alone, and even the thought of him living on his own was completely out of the question. In the beginning, the plan was to have Isaiah ride the city bus, as long as he had someone with him at ALL times. After three times, getting the schedule down and knowing when and what time to ride the bus, Isaiah wanted to show my parents how independent he really was. After being with my mom working at the church, Isaiah decided that she was taking far too long of time. Isaiah, knowing that he would be late to the bus, decided to leave my mom behind at the church, get on the bus, and get to his destination without moms help! Let’s just say, mom had a panic attack, called dad, dad then gets panic attack. As mom and dad speed their way downtown, lo and behold Isaiah is where he needs. Isaiah gets on the right bus, at the right time, and gets off at his stop downtown, waiting for the next bus safe and sound. The moral of the story is, it takes a village to help a person reach their highest potential. With the help of the bus drivers, the workers of Fresh Fire AME Church, and his community Broker Jennifer Goodwill, we were all able to see that Isaiah is fully capable of accomplishing tasks on his own. My parents also learned that sometimes, it is good to let go. They have not let go all the way, but the seeds were planted and mindsets were changed. It proved that Isaiah can do it and he is not alone in this cold, cruel, beautiful world.