Celebrating Pride at Reimagine
By Dr. Glenn Motola, PSY.D.
At Reimagine, it’s imperative that our current and future participants know that they have a safe place to turn to, no matter how they identify, and we are dedicated to welcoming and serving everyone. People with disabilities are as diverse as the general population, and this includes sexual orientation and gender identity.
As the leader of this organization, I am proud to provide a safe space for our participants and their families to feel comfortable to be themselves. My husband and I have seen firsthand how hard it can be to find a community that embraces our children as full individuals, and I always keep that top of mind as we foster an inclusive culture at Reimagine.
It can be difficult to navigate access to disability services, and at Reimagine, we know that any additional barrier to services, whether real or perceived, can discourage a potential participant from reaching out for help. We want our current and future participants, their families, and our staff to know that Reimagine supports the LGBTQIA+ community wholeheartedly. We are part of this community and if you are too, we are here and delighted to serve you.
Our mission is to relentlessly pursue possibilities throughout the lifespan of every person with disabilities, and our vision is to create a world in which all people with disabilities have equal opportunities to thrive in healthy, inclusive communities. Although not spoken of enough, there is a large, proud community of individuals who in addition to being disabled, are also fighting issues of equality and acceptance when it comes to their gender identity and sexual orientation. We honor every person and celebrate them at Reimagine.
The LGBTQIA+ community, like the disabilities community, has faced a history of misunderstanding, as well as separation from their community and limited access to building a full life. These shared histories have overlapped for some, and when both communities come together, it makes Pride Month all the more meaningful for our Reimagine family to celebrate.
Reimagine is grateful for everything that Pride and the month of June represents, not only for the impact on the LGBTQIA+ community, but for its general messages of inclusion and celebration of living life to the fullest, proudly. We know that our staff, our participants, and our Reimagine families live this pride on a daily basis, and we will always take every opportunity to celebrate this important month, and all that it stands for.
Reimagine is pleased to announce the addition of Alex Cochran, a Vice President at Hirtle Callaghan, a national firm that serves as an investment office for non-profits and families, to its Board of Directors. Mr. Cochran brings nearly 15 years of expertise as a trusted advisor to endowments, foundations, and philanthropic families.
“I am thrilled to join the Reimagine Board of Directors as we embark on the next phase of our journey to support the lives of individuals with disabilities throughout Orange County. We have built a world-class facility that is focused on enriching the lives of individuals who are often overlooked. I look forward to building a community that can grow and provide an invaluable service to individuals and families living with disabilities,” said Cochran.
Mr. Cochran is a graduate of Chapman University and lives in Costa Mesa with his wife and two children.
Learning is Forever and For All of Us
By Marsalee Malatesta, Chief of Services, Health and Wellness, Reimagine
On the surface, people with disabilities may seem completely different than people without disabilities. But dive deeper, and you’ll find that people with disabilities are just like you and me in many ways. They need to connect, to maintain relationships and to be nurtured physically, mentally and emotionally. And after more than 20 years of working at Reimagine, I’m still learning daily, but here’s what I’m certain of: We need each other to keep developing into our best selves.
That desire to keep learning is a big part of being able to successfully work with people with disabilities. You have to believe in the value of what you’re teaching them, and they have to believe you want to be there for them. You must have an innate passion for the field and empathy to be able to validate people with disabilities and understand their situations. You need to be all in.
The rewards of this work are doled out in life-changing moments. After a nine-year hiatus from full-time work at Reimagine, I returned to the Orange campus as Program Director. A participant I’d worked with back in 1997 came in for her regular therapies and recognized me. She was elated and so was I. She said I had saved her life – the ultimate expression of gratitude.
Just a few weeks ago, one of my staff had a breakthrough with a participant, who in her late forties, used a new app on her tablet to learn to say the “th” sound, after struggling to pronounce it her entire life. She is still learning, and so are we.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the disruption and lingering uncertainty, we are still making gains. As long as we all stay open to learning, are ready to adapt and stay connected, Reimagine will continue helping participants reach their full potential.
Chief of Services, Marsalee Malatesta oversees day programs and outpatient clinical services for adults with intellectual, developmental and neurological disabilities. Her teams provide social service intervention, nursing intervention plus physical, speech and occupational therapies.