June 19, 2006
Dear people with disabilities in the state of Indiana,
My name is Ramona Harvey and I am from Evansville. I was born with my disability and have had to deal with issues regarding access to education, recreation, employment, transportation, and accessible housing. I know there are many others in Indiana who have similar problems because I have met them. I have been very fortunate because I have been able to travel and work with people across the country, but in the end, I always want to come home to Indiana. There are other states that have better services for people with disabilities because more money is allocated to those services, but Indiana is my home and I care about the people that live there. I care about you.
Recently, I had an opportunity to go to Alaska and work for a Center for Independent Living there. The offer was tempting, but I really want to make a difference for people with disabilities here in Indiana, while I still have the ability to do so. I want to see Indiana better be able to serve us. It is for this reason that I wanted to serve on the Indiana Council on Independent Living (our state SILC). The role of the SILC is to listen to the people with disabilities across the state and then advocate with the state to make necessary changes.
I was appointed by the governor, to the council, in May and I have served for almost two months now. One of the things I have realized is I am going to need help if our situation here in Indiana is going to change. I can make a difference, but I cannot do it alone. I need your help. I need the help and support of all people in Indiana with disabilities who want the right to live their lives according to their own desires, and not in accordance with what Vocational Rehabilitation or any other organization might tell them they should settle for.
We the people with disabilities, whether we are born with them or we acquire them should not have to settle for seeing our talents and abilities go to waste simply because the services we need are not in place.
Right now, Indiana’s SILC is restructuring and rebuilding itself. We have a great potential to be the leaders we are supposed to be. Things can be done differently then they have been done in the past and we can all benefit. But it will not be an easy road. It is a road that I am willing to go down because I care about you, and our aging citizens who are trying to maintain their independence and not end up in nursing homes. But I need your help. I need you to become involved, to listen, to ask questions, and to demand answers to those questions. I need you to hold me and everyone else on the council accountable for our actions. Indiana needs a strong council and a strong disability community to back it up and demand that their needs be met. This is the only way things will change for us, and so I humbly ask for you help. Because the fact is Indiana could be doing more for us then it is doing right now and that has got to change. But it will not change unless we demand that it does.
Ramona M. Harvey