This month KDHX’s Nonprofit Spotlight focuses on basic community needs. LifeBridge Partnership empowers people with disabilities to develop skills for independence and to actively participate in the community.
“I did a zipline. There is the misconception that people with disabilities can’t do stuff like that but you can do anything you put your mind to no matter if you have a disability or what,” said LifeBridge Partnership participant Reid Williams.
Williams has been with LifeBridge Partnership since he was just a kid in Boy Scouts. Back then it was called St. Louis Society for the Physically Disabled or simply The Society. He thinks the recent name change makes sense.
“LifeBridge helps me get out into the community and, just what the name says, bridges the gap between people with disables and quote able-bodied people to show the community that we’re people too, you know?” Williams said. “I’m actually the most outgoing person you will ever meet. Not to toot my own horn, but I have the gift of gab.”
LifeBridge Partnership’s programs for children and adults are all about inclusiveness and integration. Mike Harrison became a volunteer after surviving an accident that could have left him severely disabled.
“Fundamentally we as humans are a communal society and if you go a day without interacting with another human being, it’s not the best day that you’ve had,” Harrison explained. “The most important thing for helping out the participants is just being present and really just being a friend to them. Whether it be one of the younger kids or one of the adults, their personal stories and who they are affect me and selfishly I feel like I’ve grown more as a person because of my involvement with LifeBridge.”
Karen Schuster was a volunteer for many years, working one-on-one with a child at summer camp and then serving on the board, before taking over the role of Executive Director.
“There’s obviously the direct support for our participants in making whatever they want out of community life possible,” Schuster said, “but I think our presence in the community and the interactions that we have help people learn about and understand a little bit better what disabilities are all about and the fact that people with disabilities have a lot of abilities and, you know, enjoy community life and want to be a part of it just like the rest of us.”