NRA President's Message July 13 2020
Dear National Rehabilitation Association Members and Friends,
I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to you during these unprecedented times. Like many, I am overwhelmed as I reflect back on the last six months. This year started with an intense excitement as 2020 was destined to be a year of clear vision, and I vowed that this would be an awesome year. I was both humbled and honored to become the President of the oldest rehabilitation organization and had a year of activities planned. For me, the year started with a flurry of activity. I was motivated to continue on the path that had been set by the dynamic past presidents of NRA. I am still eager to serve the members of the National Rehabilitation Association and look forward to our work together as we enter the second half of the year.
It seems like January came and went by so quickly, and to be honest, it is a blur at this point. I welcomed the month of February with many obligations. Past Presidents wanted to be more involved, members requested updates since the Executive Director position remained vacant, and chapters were requesting information about NRA and the focus of our organization. Then, in March, the world as we knew it changed as the coronavirus precipitated much uncertainty. Our conversations were consumed with words like quarantine, masks, social distancing, and pandemic. It seemed like overnight, parents became teachers regardless of their formal training or lack thereof, while others became isolated due to living alone. Moreover, rehabilitation professionals were thrust into adapting to the stay at home orders and providing Telehealth services and rehabilitation counselor educators adapted to teaching remotely. Tragically, millions of Americans became unemployed.
Of course, we are still discovering the full impact that coronavirus has had on our country. However, as rehabilitation professionals, we do know is that coronavirus is disproportionately and negatively impacting individuals with disabilities. Unfortunately, many persons with disabilities may have lost or had changes in supports as a result of the pandemic. As we began to work through the coronavirus, the video of a Black man dying under the pressure of a White police officer stirred protests and unrest across our nation. After years of systemic, systematic
oppression, and racism, the world was forced to face its past and present disregard for the lives of Black Americans and other minorities.
It would be easy for us to become victims to the challenges that we have confronted in the first six months of this year. I am sure many of us have been personally and professionally impacted by the events in the last six months. One could easily allow the doom and gloom of these times to usurp our hope and motivation. To be perfectly honest, I have had moments of this
Like many, I was mentally, physically, and spiritually bankrupt. However, we do not have to allow the world’s situation to infect us. Each of us holds power to impact, shape, and even change what is happening in the world.
It is my hope that 2020 is a year of significant change. The global crises that we have encountered should inspire all of us to become more knowledgeable about the inequities in the world, stronger advocates for equity in service provision and treatment, and social change agents that fight to positively change the world. As noted in the communication shared with NRA members on June 13, 2020, the NRA Board of Directors is taking the time to listen, learn, increase awareness, and create an action agenda to help create a society free of social and racial injustice. While we did have to cancel the in-person conference this year due to the pandemic, the Board of Directors are working to provide a virtual opportunity for education and training for the membership. More information will be forthcoming later this month. Moreover, we are taking inventory of our policies and practices to ensure those policies and practices are equitable.
I plan to host a leadership meeting in August to ensure we have the input from our chapter and division leadership. Lastly, NRA wants to hear from you, our members. How can NRA help to facilitate a healthy dialogue regarding the coronavirus, its impact on individuals with disabilities? Moreover, how would you like to receive information regarding the intersection of disability and the social construct of race? Please email your thoughts and ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know if you are interested in presenting a virtual workshop to share your knowledge. Finally, in an effort to keep the membership abreast of the progress, I will provide a Presidential Fourth Friday Update on the NRA website and all of our social media platforms.
Remember, we are stronger together; and together we will get through these challenging times.
DeAnna Henderson, PhD, LPC, NCC, CRC
2020 NRA President