By the NYSILC NY State Disability Rights Hall of Fame Albany Volunteer Team
The 1st ever NYSILC Disability Rights Hall of Fame Event was held on April 26th 2018 in Troy, NY. A big theme of the night was honoring the people who had helped to open up opportunities for others. You can go to NYSILC.ORG to get all of the information on that event. This blog will tell you about something amazing that happened behind the scenes of this big night.
When talking to various people who volunteered and attended this event, two points became clear. The themes were struggle and success. It is hard to put into words how much people in the disability community struggle. The victories that they see often take a long time and a lot of effort. Anyone in any NY community could step up and make a difference in their own way, but not everyone does. People who went the extra mile for themselves and for the people in NY are the ones who were being honored on this night.
Volunteer opportunities at the Hall of Fame event were created for people with and without disabilities from all walks of life. Brad Williams of NYSILC was approached with the idea and challenge of creating opportunities for people who needed or wanted them in Albany, NY. Mr. Williams is a man who has a huge workload. He really did not need to spend extra time on trying to create opportunities for other people at this event. That was not the original intent of the Hall of Fame This event was supposed to be a lifetime achievement award ceremony. In addition, he already had plenty of people associated with him that he could ask for help if needed. When challenged with the idea, Brad cared enough to find the time to make sure that everyone was included.
Since November of last year a huge effort was made to create opportunities for those in Albany, NY who needed or wanted them. Money and time was put into attending events in Albany, NY that were focused on volunteer work. College students who are in programs dedicated to working with students with disabilities were invited to volunteer. Students attending workforce development classes were invited to attend. It didn’t matter if you were heading for your GED or heading for your Master’s degree, Brad wanted to play it forward by having your unique skills helping the event. He didn’t agree with every single idea that you had, but he would listen and talk to you until you both could find something that worked for everybody. He didn’t act like he was too elite or busy to listen.
Flyers were handed out about volunteering. A training conference was held when requested. Time was put into making and distributing inspirational flyers to the people who showed interest in volunteering. These efforts were to mentor those volunteers into seeing what they could do for others at the hall of fame and what the hall of fame could also do to help the volunteers. The people who did volunteer got a thank you letter, experience, inspiration, and a nice meal.
Honoring someone with a lifetime achievement award is a huge deal. To honor those same people by living up to their name and opening up doors for others is also amazing. On April 26th 2018, NYSILC volunteers were invited to start or to continue their journeys towards their achieving something great in their lifetime. It wasn’t easy to open up these opportunities. Brad and others put in the time and effort to make sure that the community in Albany, NY was included. It is easy to throw up your hands and say that you have nothing for someone to do. Elite leaders are able to tap into people’s potential and create opportunities. Even as busy as he is, Brad never acts like he is too good or too busy to help someone. He finds a way to make sure that everyone is always included and appreciated. We cannot thank Brad Williams and NYSILC enough for going above and beyond for us volunteers.
For a quick highlight video of the NYSILC NY State Disability Rights Hall of Fame click here-