The blog this week was written by Michele Momotiuk, Administrative Assistant at The Arcadia Institute. I began working at The Arcadia Institute in early January of 2012. I was excited to have the opportunity to go back to work at a meaningful place. The mission of The Arcadia Institute is to create opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate fully in community life and to make decisions about their own futures. I felt this is a valuable mission that is self-evident. I believed that inclusion was important because it would not be right to exclude someone for being different.
Over the course of the year, I learned about what real inclusion means. Inclusion is not just about not excluding someone but that it improves and strengthens our community when everyone is included.
Then I attended the 3rd Annual Building a Community of Belonging: A Forum of The Arcadia Institute and Its Partners with guest facilitator John McKnight. I learned about different gifts that individuals bring to their organizations, neighborhoods or families. I learned about how allowing others to share their gifts improves and strengthens our community.
I started the year quick to share my ideas and solutions in our staff meetings. Over the course of the year, I learned that it is more important to listen and really hear what the others are saying. I realized how important this is not just in my job, but in fulfilling the mission of our work. I also learned that I do not need to have all the answers, that it is ok to ask others what they think and want. I have seen how powerful that practice is in building a community.
I see many of examples of the things that I have learned in practice not only at The Arcadia Institute, but also out in our community. Our community continues to improve and strengthen as it welcomes and supports all individuals. I am excited to see what 2013 will bring.