New Honorees Announced for the Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame

Recognizing outstanding individuals and organizations that transform lives through mentoring.

Collage of three 2017 Hall of Fame Honorees — Dior Vargas, Stacy Abrams, Rooted in Rights logo — with Susan Daniels. Photo Credit (Abrams): Clare Cassidy

The National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) has announced that 25 individuals and four organizations will be inducted into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. The honorees — nominated by their mentees — were selected based on their dedication to mentoring and their impact on the lives of youth and adults with disabilities. Those selected represent a wide range of backgrounds and mentoring styles in national and regional programs across the country.

The Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame was established by the NDMC in 2015 to honor those who are making a significant difference through mentoring and to raise awareness about the importance of mentoring for individuals with disabilities. The Hall of Fame’s namesake, Susan M. Daniels, devoted her life to improving the lives of others with disabilities.

Picture of Susan Daniels wearing a red bowler hat, looking to the side with a sparkle in her eyes and a soft smile.

Rayna Aylward, NDMC Co-Chair, stated “As a person with a disability who achieved enormous professional and personal success, Susan was a passionate champion of mentoring and was herself a mentor to hundreds of individuals (including me). We believe the Hall of Fame carries on Susan’s legacy in affirming the importance of mentorship to ensure inclusion and opportunity for all. Each year we are astonished anew by the fantastically diverse mentoring models and relationships reflected in the Hall of Fame’s honorees.”

“….the Hall of Fame carries on Susan’s legacy in affirming the importance of mentorship to ensure inclusion and opportunity for all. Each year we are astonished anew by the fantastically diverse mentoring models and relationships reflected in the Hall of Fame’s honorees.”

Nominations for the Class of 2017 Hall of Fame inductees were submitted between January and May this year for both individual mentors and mentoring programs. In nominating Dior Vargas for an individual honor, a mentee wrote: “Dior is selfless and extremely generous in the frequency with which she makes herself vulnerable to put others at ease who are just beginning their path of mental health treatment or disclosure. On the flip side, she is a fierce advocate who will not only push an agenda within mental health spaces to be inclusive of people of color, but is unafraid to engage communities of color about the harmful results of their stigmatization of mental health.”

Picture of Dior Vargas
“…is selfless and extremely generous in the frequency with which she makes herself vulnerable to put others at ease who are just beginning their path of mental health treatment or disclosure.”

In being notified of their nomination, many of the individuals described why they think mentoring is so important. One honoree, Stacy Abrams — who works at Gallaudet University and is the creator of the #whyisign campaign to support families on their signing journey — wrote: “We cannot underestimate the power of mentoring and providing support….and I hope that I, as a mentor, ALONG WITH OTHERS IN THE COMMUNITY OF SIGNERS, can truly provide deaf children & their families a unique way of seeing the world through their hands.”

Two pictures of Stacy Abrams with t-shirt with #whyisign on the front. Picture on left Stacy’s hands are closed. Picture on right Stacy’s hands are opened and moving toward the viewer/camera. Photo Credit: Clare Cassidy.
“We cannot underestimate the power of mentoring and providing support.”
Rooted in Rights logo: The word “ROOTED” is on the top line in an aqua blue with “in RIGHTS” below in white. The bottom line has “Disability Rights are Human Rights” There is a tree growing out of the “T” in the word “ROOTED” as the “trunk” with the roots being below the T and throughout the word “RIGHTS”

The NDMC also received nominations to recognize organizations with mentoring programs or networks that grow the mentoring impact exponentially. This year, the Hall of Fame will induct Rooted in Rights. Their Storytellers Project recruits people with disabilities who want to tell stories through video, and mentors them as they write and direct their own projects. The stories that are told are entirely up to program participants, with Rooted in Rights’ staff of creative professionals providing guidance in structuring the story for a social media audience. Storytellers are able to hone their own self-advocacy voices, while also learning practical skills in video production that are applicable to several fields that they could pursue professionally. Lastly, the Storytellers’ videos are distributed via the large Rooted in Rights social media channels, so their work is seen by tens of thousands of audience members all over the world, which is a valuable addition to an individual’s portfolio.

One participant mentored through the Storytellers Project is Jensen Caraballo, who told his story of institutionalization to educate the public on the 200,000+ young people living in nursing homes. The video is embedded below.

“I was in the foster care system at the time and they decided to place me in a nursing home even though I didn’t want to be there.”
Over 200,000 non-elderly people with disabilities in the US currently reside in nursing facilities.
After graduating high school ... that’s when I decided to fight for my freedom. I regained my freedom after 2,135 days.
Hear our cries for freedom .. and join us as allies in the Independent Living Movement.” — Jensen Caraballo

Congratulations to Dior, Stacy, Rooted in Rights and the rest of the Class of 2017 inductees to the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame!

You will learn more about them in the coming weeks through a series of up-close #DisabilityMentors posts.


Class of 2017

The NDMC Recognition Committee selected the following individuals and programs for the Class of 2017 of the Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame:

INDIVIDUALS

ORGANIZATIONS


About the National Disability Mentoring Coalition: The mission of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) is to increase the awareness, quality and impact of mentoring for individuals with disabilities across the nation. Member organizations share core values and align with the Coalition’s objectives to streamline communication, standardize and systematize data collection, reduce duplication of efforts, increase mentoring opportunities, and improve outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities. Learn more about the NDMC, review its Membership, and visit the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame at www.disabilitymentors.org. You can also follow NDMC on Twitter or email us at dshields@forwardworks.net.


This #DisabilityMentors publication is a space for individuals to share stories and testimonials to elevate the importance of establishing a national disability mentoring policy and increase funding to enable more mentors to raise expectations, build confidence and positively impact youth and adults with disabilities.


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