In the words of Hercules, “A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.” While Day Solutions Foundation advocates for inclusion of the developmentally disabled, and disability awareness, the momentous support of our local superheroes makes the work nothing short of invigorating. Each day, local military service members, police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical response teams work diligently to ensure the safety and protection of Jefferson City residents. However, it is their benevolence outside of those duties that truly astounds. Each month, the clients of Day Solutions are visited by local businesses and organizations to learn more about jobs in our community and have the opportunity to talk face to face with some of the people they look up to.
With hearts of gold, many of the disabled adults we work with aspire to someday have a job helping people, a job in which they can be a hero. For them, the hero uniforms are easy to recognize, and provide a feeling of trust, safety, and comfort. Earlier this year local National Guardsman, SPC Ashton Maasen, with the Infantry Battalion, came to visit us on his day off,for our Military Appreciation Day. That day, our clients learned the proper folding of an American flag, colored pictures of the flag for soldiers, and made care packages including notepads and other basic care essentials. SPC Maasen, who is currently serving a one year deployment in Qatar, took care of delivering the packages overseas. It’s individuals like SPC Maasen, and other local agencies have done such a service to us by taking time out of their day to come and visit, but they also frequently open their doors allowing us to come and visit them. Going on outings to our local fire departments and getting to climb up in the fire trucks, or taking a tour of the police department and hearing the police sirens are highlights for many of our clients.
Earlier in the year, 21-year veteran of the JCPD and School Resource Officer, Les Martin, came to Day Solutions and spoke with clients about the job of a police officer, shared what an officer carries on his belt, and the importance of not touching them, and talked to us about personal safety. Officer Martin to us after his visit, “The unique thing about being a school resource officer for as many years as I have, is that I knew a lot of the clients from the school system, and several of them remembered me. It’s great to get to see how far they have come and to know that programs like this are here for them.” The Jefferson City Police Department is well known for their support of developmental disabilities through their participation in Special Olympics Torch Run, Polar Plunge, Over the Edge, and other individually ran programs. The police department also provides crisis intervention training to officers to help them better prepare for appropriately handling diversified situations in the field, including those involving individuals with developmental disabilities or other mental health issues.
As it turns out, Day Solutions is not the only group that highly values our local superheroes. This sign, spotted at our neighborhood Hy-Vee, says it all. Hy-Vee put up two of these signs, a couple of months back to offer front row, VIP parking to local superheroes including Veterans, Active Duty, EMT’s, Police Force, and Firefighters. So, if you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of one of your local superheroes today, do me a favor, give a wave, crack a smile, open a door – however you choose to share your gratitude, share it. It’s well deserved.