David (2012)

Disclaimer: The following was transcribed from a letter in the Capper Foundation Archives. The choice of words used at the time this was written may not reflect current Capper Foundation inclusive language and views.

David (2012)

by Jim Leiker, Capper Foundation President & CEO

Over the years, parents have shared their concerns about the future of their child with a disability – what happens when he or she graduates, leaves school, and begins seeking meaningful employment, especially in today’s difficult economic times? It is a question that we all ask ourselves as our children mature, but for families of children with disabilities, it is an especially challenging issue considering that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 12.5% compared to 7 .6% for people without disabilities, according to the US Department of Labor.

This is why, after months of intense research, careful planning and thoughtful input of our Trustees, Advisory Council and constituents, we made a decision to broaden the mission of Capper Foundation. We now provide services across the lifespan and are Building Abilities and Growing To Serve More People! I have often been asked by parents what our organization can do to help their child upon their graduation from high school. Many young adults continue to need supports to gain additional skills, enhance their independence and increase their chances of employment.

Through a variety of opportunities, adults with disabilities served by Capper Foundation are becoming wage earners, obtaining personal satisfaction in performing important work, and are helping themselves live a more independent life. We believe our founder, Senator Arthur Capper, would be proud to know that the legacy he began on Christmas night in 1920 to “Do More For The Children” continues today and extends to teens and adults too because of your generous, long-standing support.

I’d like to share a story about David, one of the adults who benefits from services at Capper Foundation.

David is fifty-four years old, blind, and has autism. He was placed in Kansas Neurological Institute {KNI) at the age of three. There, he learned to communicate, attended school – including the Kansas School for the Blind, formed lifelong friendships, and developed an interest in playing the piano. David lived a caring, nurturing and protected life 24 hours each day, 365 days each year.

Among David’s many abilities is his extraordinary capacity to remember names, dates and places. For example, when asked when one of his favorite retail stores in Topeka closed, he can recite the date, the year and the specific day of the week. While at KNI, staff believed David could live independently if he had appropriate supports and services.

So, at the age of 36, thirty-three years after he was placed in an institution, David moved to an independent living home and today, lives on his own.

Routines are very important to David being able to function appropriately. One of David’s routines is weekly banking. David, accompanied by his attendant, visits the bank every Tuesday. If a holiday falls on Tuesday, staff begin reminding David several days early that his banking will have to be done another day. With assistance, David grocery shops, attends the YMCA, movie theaters, checks out talking books from the library, enjoys listening to The Young and the Restless on television, and prefers Susan Boyle’s music. He prepares some of his own meals and uses a microwave oven to heat them. Two days each week, David has complete privacy, with no staff involvement, and on those days is often invited to join his guardian and landlord for a meal. He also works as a paper shredder – a skill which allows him to earn personal spending money. David is also talented playing the piano – in fact, I encourage you to view a clip on our YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/RmU0xEliw9k.

In addition to home and community supports, adults with disabilities are learning skills in our Small Engine Repair Shop, Custom Furniture Making Shop, Cooking Kitchen, and our Business Support Center (bulk mailing, printing, copying, kit building), so they can, like you and me, earn money, gain meaningful employment and live an independent life.

Dave playing piano