Annette Gabbedy is a business owner and expert designer and goldsmith. She was also born without fingers, a disposition many might consider a “disability,” particularly in her line of work.
Yet, as you’ll see in the following video, having created and traded her wares for 23 years, Gabbedy sees no reason for this to inhibit her creativity and contribution to society.
As Gabbedy explains:
I tend to really look at people with fingers and think: Well, how can you manage with fingers, because they must get in the way? It’s just your own perceptive of how you look at yourself, and for me, I was born like it, so I’ve never known any different. I’m quite normal. I’m not disabled at all. (more…)
At 14 years old, Tim Harris dreamed of owning his own restaurant. He was born with Down syndrome, so his parents weren’t quite sure what to think. Yet soon after Tim began his first job as a host at Red Robin, it all started to make sense.
“[Customers] were visibly happy to see him and Tim really developed a following,” says Keith Harris, Tim’s father. “People would come to the restaurant specifically when he was working. As we sat there, we started thinking about how we could harness that for Tim’s benefit.”
Years later, thanks to lots of hard work and the support of his family, Tim’s Place is now open for business, serving “breakfast, lunch, and hugs,” according to the restaurant’s web site, the last of which is the owner’s specialty. For all we know, Tim may be the first and only restaurant owner with Down syndrome.
Learn more about his story here:
“I do not let my disability crush the dreams,” says Tim. “People with disabilities, they can get anything they set their minds to. They’re special. We are a gift to the world.” (more…)
In this week’s Acton Commentary, “Disability, Service, and Stewardship,” I write, “Our service of others may or may not be recognized by the marketplace as something valuable or worth paying for. But each one of us has something to offer someone else. All of us have ministries of one kind or another. Our very existence itself must be seen as a blessing from God.”
During a sermon a couple weeks ago at my church, the preacher made an important point about common attitudes toward old people (to listen, click the “Launch Media Player” here and listen to Rev. David Kolls’s message, “Following God Through Transitions” from July 28, 2013). In the same way that we often view those with visible disabilities as passive objects of pity, we often think of those who have reached a certain age as having nothing to offer. This is simply wrong-headed.
We all are important to God. “God don’t make no junk,” as the saying on the T-shirt reads. This isn’t to deny the reality of brokenness and sin. But in the face of these evils, God still affirms and preserves his creation. Life itself is a blessing from God, and mere existence is proof enough that God values people and has purposes for us. Every one. (more…)
In March I wrote about the government’s largest—and mostly hidden—social safety net: federal disability programs. The government spends more money each year on cash payments for these Americans than it spends on food stamps and welfare combined.
This group is so large that if every family receiving disability payments were put into one state it would rank eighth in population, coming in after Ohio but ahead of Georgia:
The total number of people in the United States now receiving federal disability benefits hit a record 10,978,040 in May, up from 10,962,532 in April, according to newly released data from the Social Security Administration.
The 10,978,040 disability beneficiaries in the United States now exceed the population of all but seven states. For example, there are more Americans collecting disability today than there are people living in Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey or Virginia.
The record 10,978,040 total disability beneficiaries in May, included a record 8,877,921 disabled workers (up from 8,865,586 in April), a record 1,939,687 children of disabled workers (up from 1,936,236 in April), and 160,432 spouses of disabled workers.
There are 14 million Americans who are out of work yet don’t show up in the monthly unemployment statistics. The federal government spends more money each year on cash payments for this group than it spends on food stamps and welfare combined. They are part of the hidden social safety net. They are the disabled former workers.
NPR’s Planet Money has produced a fascinating report on the growth of federal disability programs and what disability means for American workers. Here are some of the highlights.
Whether you’re disabled often depends on your education level and what types of work you can do:
“We talk about the pain and what it’s like,” he says. “I always ask them, ‘What grade did you finish?’”
What grade did you finish, of course, is not really a medical question. But Dr. Timberlake believes he needs this information in disability cases because people who have only a high school education aren’t going to be able to get a sit-down job.
Dr. Timberlake is making a judgment call that if you have a particular back problem and a college degree, you’re not disabled. Without the degree, you are.