There is a local organization in Anniston, AL called The Arc. They help mentally retarded or disabled children and adults in the community, whose entire lives revolve around the support of others. The participants individual situations vary, but most are quite sad, and find the only relief from their humdrum lives in participating with The Arc and its activities. Take Melissa for example. She doesn't look a day over 30, but is actually 42. She loves to talk, yet has trouble communicating because of her mental disabilities. She lives with her brother and mother, yet they are also mentally retarded. No one has a job, and because her mother smokes so much, food is scarce. The highlights Melissa’s life are coming to church, and going somewhere with The Arc. I've known her for a long time, and with such a sweet soul, it's crushing to see her situation, and meet others in similar predicaments. The Arc helps people like Melissa, some much worse off, and urges them to 'DO SOMETHING.'
Yet, of course, money is scarce. There have been many times where Melissa couldn't go on the field trip with everybody because she didn't have the money.
Yet not only do I see the funds as an issue, but the message people without disabilities are sending. They may not be able to express it themselves, but the participants of The Arc really feel neglected. Many say they just don't have the time; to donate some money is one thing, but what I've realized through knowing Melissa is that all they really want to do is help. They want to assist in doing something productive. As ironic as it sounds, they find joy in helping other people. Whatever it is, no matter how long, or for whatever reason, they will support it because they want to belong.
If not but a few times, maybe even just once, I want to show people like my friend Melissa that they aren't alone and they do have purpose.