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TACCD Celebrates 25th Year with Notable Awards

Provided to the Tribune
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Tahoe Area Coordinating Council for the Disabled recently honored 2006 Distinguished Champions of the Disabled. From left, seated, are Judge Suzanne Kingsbury; David Kelly, TACCD president; Coco Kelly and Paula Lambdin. Standing are Gordon Bonner of TACCD, Dr. Scott Southard, John Steinbach, Dave Borges, Dr. Bruce Daugherty, Chief Don Muren and Dan Thrift. Not pictured are Rachel Brunsman, Debra Dannenfelser and Dr. Todd DeGialanni.
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May 2006, recognized and proclaimed Disability Awareness Month by Mayor Hal Cole and the South Lake Tahoe City Council, reached a fitting climax during a celebratory luncheon where Tahoe Area Coordinating Council for the Disabled recognized and honored the 2006 Distinguished Champions of the Disabled.

Long recognized and respected as advocates for and supporters of the rights of persons with disabilities, facilitators of low income housing for seniors and the upcoming low income housing project for disabled persons, transportation rights and accessibility issues, TACCD sought nominations for recognition of suitable individuals or businesses and met May 22 to present the certificates.

During the very moving presentation ceremony, the advocates, supporters and defenders identified this year were presented with a beautiful certificate by president David Kelly and secretary John Pillsbury acknowledging their dedication to ensuring the best possible quality of life for individuals with disabilities. Kelly offered heartfelt tributes to each recipient during the presentations; and acceptance speeches were equally sincere and insightful.

The following recipients were chosen for this distinctive honor:

— Debra Dannenfelser, nominated by a client who said, “She is kind and caring and patient with me and I appreciate the extra time she takes and the respect she shows to me.”

— Dr. Bruce Daugherty for his multi-faceted humanitarian endeavors and for exhibiting such a caring and understanding nature, treating everyone as an equal and with enormous respect, no matter his or her disability.

— Dr. Todd DeGialanni because “he cares about me as a person, about my life and my happiness…. and always listens to everything I have to say.”

— Judge Suzanne Kingsbury has proven herself to be a strong, no-nonsense, yet compassionate judge. In her work environment she has labored diligently to level the playing field in a variety of ways for persons with disabilities. As only one example, there have been many people involved working together to start the Mental Health Court, but if Judge Kingsbury was not willing to support the cause and donate her own time, this special court would not have happened. As an individual, she shows her humanitarian side by respecting every human being in simple things like taking a moment out to make a disabled person feel important, something that is remembered for a lifetime.

— Kiwanis Club of Lake Tahoe, represented by Dr. David Borges, club president, for supporting TACCD for more than 20 years. A key project has been to continually help disabled people to achieve true equality in the South Shore area. A few of their endeavors include providing disabled parking signs, supporting Special Olympics, and developing, designing and distributing a disabled handbook. This last effort has evolved into hosting a Web page to help visitors and citizens alike know where they can find accessible lodging, restaurants, entertainment, etc. in the South Shore area (www.tahoeareacoordinatingcouncilforthedisabled.com – currently under construction).

— Paula Lambdin, director, El Dorado County Department of Human Services for her respectful, kind and empathetic manner while exemplifying her commitment to the advancement of full inclusion, dignity and quality of life for all members of the community.

— Don Muren, chief, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, has worked diligently to ensure that his officers and staff are fully responsive to the needs of disabled citizens and visitors. Further, that they understand that the police department is an integral part of our community and should respond appropriately when requested, no matter the level of need. Chief Muren has taken an active interest in solving the problems of seniors and disabled and has facilitated ADA training for his officers and staff.

— Dr. Scott Southard is a man who has continually served the Team Tahoe Special Olympians by providing free annual physicals so the athletes can safely compete in their sport. He is known as the doctor with a heart, a friend, and a respectful advocate.

— John Steinbach, general manager, and Rachel Brunsman, group services manager, Embassy Suites – the only fully accessible hotel or motel on the South Shore – have repeatedly provided free rooms, set-up and equipment for a myriad of groups who provide training and insight to community members and service providers who impact the lives of persons with disabilities. They have done this with a consistent thoughtful, courteous and highly professional manner.

— Dan Thrift, photographer, Tahoe Daily Tribune for always being there whatever the need, with no thought to his own inconvenience, representing the Tribune with professionalism, friendliness and a respect for things that are important to the local citizenry and visitors as well as the people themselves.

— Substitute Personnel & Business Services for their continued dedication to helping people with disabilities become an integral part of the community, for assisting with TACCD secretarial needs, and for absorbing the costs of regular TACCD mailings and monthly telephone service.

It was announced earlier that due to budgetary constraints, TACCD may not have been able to hold this year’s recognition luncheon, but when that concern was expressed, Substitute Personnel & Business Services came to the rescue, agreeing to host the occasion. The Substitute is celebrating its 30th anniversary in business, providing temps and direct hire employees to South Shore employers, and bookkeeping and payroll services for local small businesses. Their Supported Employment Division assists disabled persons in getting and maintaining mainstream jobs which allows their clients the opportunity to feel the accomplishment and self-respect of being a productive member of society. Coco Kelly, owner, said, “I’d much rather fund this important recognition event than send out a mass mailing with free pens celebrating our own 30-year anniversary. Considering the options, the recognition of these important people holds much more weight in my heart.”

Please send donations to enable their continued good work to TACCD, 2572 Lake Tahoe Blvd., No. 2, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150.

David Kelly, Tahoe Area Coordinating Council for the Disabled president, made the following comments at the luncheon to recognize and honor the 2006 Distinguished Champions of the Disabled.

I recently heard a story that explained the best way I’ve ever heard about how a non-disabled person can best attempt to understand how a disabled person feels.

A disabled client came into his provider’s office. Acknowledging that his provider had tried many times in the past to understand what he was feeling and dealing with, the client held up his hand in the direction of the provider, asking him to describe what he saw.

The provider said, “I see your hand. What’s up?”

The client said, “No Ð really look, and tell me what you see.”

The provider said, “Okay, I see your palm and the creases where your fingers bend. And I see your life line and relationship line, although I don’t know which is which. I see the swirls of your fingerprints….” And he continued on to describe what he could see.

When he was done, his client said, “Now, when you can see my knuckles and the hair on my fingers, my fingernails and the freckles and the veins on the back of my hand, then you will see what I see.”

I wanted to use this story to explain how difficult, no – nearly impossible – it is to see from a non-disabled point of view how it is to live as a disabled person. And, I wanted to thank all of today’s award recipients for working so hard to take a giant step toward understanding what it’s like to be disabled and for going above and beyond what is required by basic human kindness to help enhance one or more of the lives you have so deeply touched.


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