Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thank's Butler

It was an amazing two days in Butler. I spoke in a wonderful theatre on campus of the local college. It's always an intimidating ride, rolling backstage in a real theatre with the large black curtains, the curious markings on the floor and the dressing rooms. I joked with Joe that I should go back at breaks and change my shirt, a costume change to keep them interested. There in center stage, up near the front, was a table and a glass of water. I sat there and pulled out my notes and readied myself for the day. By the time I'd got my tea set up, had my notes arranged, it was time to start. There were 350 in seats waiting. I swallowed my nerves and began.

From the start the audience was warm and welcoming. During question times they were also inquisitive and challenging. I love an audience that will talk with me. At times it felt more like a fireside chat than a lecture to 350 people. I realized I was having a good time. The next day I was back in place and so were they and we began again. The first day was on sexuality, a fun workshop, today was on abuse prevention - a much darker topic. I worried, needlessly it turned out, that 'they won't like me' when the stories aren't funny. But again, they embraced the material as I went along.

Somewhere during the day I was talking to Manuela about the upcoming AGM for Vita and about the statistics she needed from me for the report. I told her that I had emailed everyone and would have them for her quickly. At lunch time I hooked my computer up and was able to use the college's wireless provider to check my emails. I had most of what Manuela wanted and was stunned by the numbers. We'd offered Relationship Training and Abuse prevention to over two hundred people with disabilities within the agency last year. That's OVER two hundred. I knew that we'd been busy but that number blew me away.

There was more fire in my gut when I started again in the afternoon. I was talking about abuse prevention in Butler but I was DOING abuse prevention back home. I wasn't just someone who talked about an idea, I was someone who was actively doing something. It felt good. I knew it could be done. I think that shone through my presentation because when I finished, 350 people stood and applauded.

I never know where to look when this happens, it doesn't happen that often, because I know that they are not applauding me. I know that they are standing up and applauding as a signal that they too get it, that they too want a safe world for people with disabilities.

We got in the car and drove home, sitting quietly for a long time. Somewhere about 50 miles along Joe took my hand and said, "Good day, huh?" And for some reason, I began to cry.


Fab - who often posts comments here wrote two blogs about the Butler presentions including a nice one about Joe. If you'd like to see her take on the two days please visit


FAB said...

Dave I am so glad your trip was as rewarding for you as it was for us! We are grateful for the work you do and your gift of sharing. Yeah we applauded beacsue we got it, but we got it because of your gift!

Anonymous said...

Dave and Joe, you both are truly blessed. Having seen you work together several times I would absolutely concur with fab. What a man.

Tonya Marie said...

Thanks Dave, I am a changed person. I attended your conference in Butler and you brought about so much emotion in me that I am compelled to do something about it. I will not stop until I believe I have made a difference in the lives of those with developmental disabilities. I feel like a spinning top right now; once I settle down and pick a direction I will think of you and your incredible courage to see me through. And by the way, I was applauding to let you know YOU did a fabulous job. I wish nothing but happy days for you and Joe. I can't wait to see you again. I would like to shake the "hand" of the man that changed my life. :-)

Anonymous said...

Dave and Joe - I have been blessed by you BOTH over the past two days. You made me laugh; you made me cry; but most of all you made me THINK! By the end of each day listening and talking with you - I was exhausted and invigorated. I have been working in this field for now more than half my life. I've made many mistakes - oh the mistakes, but I only hope that I am learning from them. I will take what you have shared with the conviction in my heart to bring change in this little part of the world called Butler County.
Thank you and bless you. I can't wait for you to return and share your gifts with us again.
Aunt Laura

Anonymous said...

Dave and Joe, I cannot begin to tell you how much your 2-day training in Butler County has impacted my life. I am still fairly new to the field of developemental and intellectual disabilities but I have had a passion for it since I was a young child being that I have an uncle with Autism and I just found him to be fascinating. My fascination is the reason I went to college for Psychology, during my undergrad I did my own research on developmental and intellectual disabilities. From that moment on I knew this was the field I needed to be in. I had some family members and professors tell me I was crazy because there isn't much money in the field but I always responded with, "I'd rather go to a job that I love everyday, then make a ton of money and hate it" I started by working at a MH/MR summer camp in Luzerne county, then out of college I did direct care, now I find myself as a Supports Coordinator in Butler county and I must tell you I LOVE what I do. I LOVE waking up every morning knowing that the things I do daily at work are making differences in the lives of those that I serve.

I just wanted to thank you because you're training inspired me to do so much more. It made me think about things that I had never thought about before; you make me laugh, you made me cry, and you confirmed to me that choosing the path I did to work with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities was my calling in life. Thank you so much for the life changins experience you have given me, my co-workers, and everyone else who was lucky enough to hear you speak while you were here. You and Joe are incredible people and I wish nothing but the best for you both, you deserve it!!! Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart!