MISSION: UCP WORK, Inc. is dedicated to providing services to residents of the Tri-Counties with developmental disabilities, so that they may work and live as contributing citizens within the community of their choice.

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Empowering Individuals with Disabilities through People First Facilitated Advocacy Meetings

By Rae van Seenus on Dec 13, 2019 at 04:42 PM in UCP WORK, Inc. Blog

Empowering Individuals with Disabilities through People First Facilitated Advocacy Meetings

At our UCP WORK, Inc Applied Abilities Programs in both Santa Barbara and Santa Maria, weekly People First Facilitated Advocacy Meetings are held, for all individuals served, to voice their concerns about what might be happening in the public as it relates to their safety and rights as persons with disabilities.  This may involve letter writing to local and state legislators, as well as, discussion of one’s civic responsibilities. The other key objectives are social integration, allowing for a safe space for participants to express ideas among their peers, voting on upcoming events, fundraising and to address concerns in the program as a whole. Meetings are held every other Thursday, with 20-30 people in attendance.  Santa Barbara is lead by Eddie Chavez and Santa Maria is lead by Lindsey Martino, acting Presidents for 2019-2020. 

Empowering Individuals with Disabilities through People First Facilitated Advocacy Meetings

Santa Maria’s meetings are known for their strong fundraising efforts.  The group host bake sales in front of their local Albertsons to raise money and purchase toys to donate to “Toys for Tots”.  According to Maria Prince, Director of Applied Abilities Programs in Santa Maria, “I like the fact that the participants empower themselves.  Lindsey is particularly proud of the group and a huge advocate. As they were dropping off toys at the Santa Maria Fire Department this year, Lindsey explained the mission of the group and it was quite touching to see her so informed and passionate about something she is involved in.” 

People First Facilitated Advocacy Meetings Eddie Chavez

In Santa Barbara, Eddie Chavez writes a meeting agenda each week, complete with action items and announcements, and prior to distribution, submits it for approval by Matt Dursum, Director of Applied Abilities Programs in Santa Barbara. Often, Eddie takes matters into his own hands and goes out to explore the community on foot to research potential hazards affecting the disability community. “I go and look around the city for issues, like any cracks in the sidewalks or tree lifting, because those two things are dangerous to wheelchairs.  Then I go to City Hall to speak with the Mayor and eventually it’s resolved at the City Maintenance Yard.”

People First Facilitated Advocacy Meetings Rocio Preciado

Other council members of the Santa Barbara People First meeting include: Rocio Preciado, Secretary; Elise Maurer, Treasurer; and Gabby Madrigal, Advocacy Representative from Tri-Counties Regional Center.

For more information about the People First Facilitated Advocacy Meetings in Santa Barbara, contact Matt Dursum at mdursum@ucpworkinc.org, and in Santa Maria, contact Maria Prince, mprince@ucpworkinc.org

People First = everyone matters and you regard people's well-being and success as a priority