Last August I wrote about the presentation by Arise Inc, whose board I sit on, at the Everson. It’s called Unique because that’s the name of the magazine that shows all the artwork that was accepted for showing.

This year was the second presentation at the Everson, and it was better than the first. For one, there were way more submissions, which means that the judges had a better opportunity to make sure they selected the best of the best. For another, the artists were more motivated than ever; after all, how many people actually get the opportunity to have their work shown at a museum as fancy as the Everson?

This beautiful lady in the wheelchair is Agnes McCray, and she’s one of the leading faces of Arise and the disabled community in the area. I couldn’t tell you how many awards Agnes has earned because of her dedication to the cause for decades. At last week’s presentation, Agnes was asked to give a speech talking about the Unique presentation and Arise in general, and no one else could have done the job so eloquently.

The image next to this paragraph is the submission of my friend Lynn’s son Jeremy, who also had something shown last year. See how happy he is? I’ve got to tell you that seeing a smile like this is something else, as it touches one’s heart to see how much people who the general public wouldn’t consider as “true artists” enjoy seeing their works in public and to be lauded over by others. A remarkable young man who helps me make a point that I’ll hit again below, that being that all of us know someone, whether we know it or not at the time, who’s got a disability and could possibly be using the services of an organization like Arise.


Arise at the Everson

For me, it wasn’t until a presentation two years ago that I ran into my friend Lynn, whom I hadn’t seen in more than 20 years, and learned that her son used Arise’s services. That kind of thing brings everything close to home in some fashion.

Of course, Arise doesn’t do this out of the goodness of their hearts. In the long run, these presentations are fund raisers for the work that Arise does for the disabled community. No matter the disability, Arise offers them assistance, some more than others. It’s a tough dollar to spend because most of the money that comes in comes from Medicaid and grants, and most of you know that Medicaid doesn’t pay all that great.

Last summer Arise finally started the process of setting up official fund raising functions through its own foundation. The head of marketing and fund raising, Nancy Kronen, has done a wonderful job in her own right in bringing more publicity to Arise by getting more stories in the newspaper and on local TV of the good work the agency has supported and the wonderful stories of children and adults who have found opportunities they might not have had without a little bit of support. Truth be told, as much as everyone else talks about high unemployment, the disabled lead the pack because, unfortunately, disabled people often make others uncomfortable. It’s hard to say because of how true it is.

That’s why events like Unique as so special. It shows that talent knows no disability and won’t wait for anyone to acknowledge it. As someone who’s been on the board for 10 years now, and has always lamented that Arise isn’t known as well as it should be known, it makes me proud to see a bit part of my vision has come true. No, I didn’t come up with Unique, but I was on the forefront of hoping that the organization would find more ways of reaching out to the public.

Anyway, I believe the presentation runs until September 2nd, so I hope you find time to get to the museum to see more of these works in person. They’re as good as I could get them; seems you’re not allowed to use flash in taking pictures in museums (who knew?) and, well, smartphones are only so good. And I hope that you’ll find a way to contribute to Arise in some fashion, especially as the state looks to find more ways to cut Medicaid funding. Think of it this way; every one of us is a major accident away from partaking of Arise services.

Back off the soapbox; enjoy the artwork.

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