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Phoenix Rallies for Support at Virtual Day at the Capitol

Advocates joined together to rally for support of disability services.

Disability Services Day at the Capitol certainly looked different this year as the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to move to a virtual format. But, that didn’t stop us from advocating for disability services when those who depend on us need it the most!  

This annual day of advocacy brings together disability service providers from across the state – all joining for the same cause and greater good of the community. And even though it was virtual, the sense of community was still there.

The day started out with advocates virtually gathering for the rally that included over 500 people, including self-advocates, family members, and organization representatives. 

Among the speakers, several legislators joined us for the rally to show their commitment to disability services, including Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Human Services Jodi Harpstead, Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, and several other legislators.

Not able to make it to the rally? Our trade association, ARRM, streamed the entire rally on Facebook! You can view the live stream here.

Sharing Our Stories

After the rally, advocates met with their legislators virtually to share their stories and garner support from the legislators for disability services. Many constituents also shared their concerns about the closing of their home or workplace due to the COVID-19 pandemic—a trend that is already happening across the state.

Phoenix advocates met with nearly all the legislators who represent our homes either on Disability Services Day or throughout the week. Several of our Program Managers and Assistant Program Managers joined in on these conversations to share with legislators the impact COVID is having in the homes, giving them a first-hand account of how it’s impacting our staff and the individuals they support.

“I was encouraged to hear about Rep. Tou Xiong’s brother who has Autism and his understanding of the interruption in his routine that COVID presented with day programs being closed,” said Program Manager Karen Miller. “That real life experience always helps our cause.”

A special thanks goes out to family member Liz McCambridge. She has tirelessly advocated for disability services and Phoenix year-after-year. She and her sisters met with Senator Wiger and Representative Lillie, who represent our Furness home where her three sisters live. “It will be my 13th ARRM Day at the Capitol. The need is greater than ever.” Thank you Liz for all you do!

This year’s legislation from our trade association, ARRM, responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the individuals we support and their staff have been forgotten up until now. Major legislation was introduced regarding passing emergency COVID relief funding for home and community-based service providers (HF 1175/ SF 1319), providing state funding for meaningful wages for Direct Support Professionals, and providing a rate adjustment for ICF/IDD services (HF 740/SF 562). Learn more about the legislation here.

As Assistant Program Director Kaylee Larson summed up her conversation with Senator Kent, “She was so incredibly nice and really seemed to have a heart for what we do. She definitely made a lasting impression with me!”

We thank all the Phoenix staff, family members, and individuals we support who joined us on this monumental day!