501-362-7526 info@maysmission.org 604 Colonial Drive, Heber Springs, Arkansas 72543

Issues with Accessibility

Not long ago, a friend of mine was killed in a terrible motorcycle accident. I had known Randy for nearly twenty years.  He and his wife were wonderful people – fun loving and a joy to be around.  It is always a difficult time saying “goodbye”, as well as trying to comfort a grieving family.

To switch gears for just a minute, one would assume that with the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) this summer, access and design of modern buildings would be accessible to all.  But, alas, that is not the case.

As we entered the funeral home, the ramp was a little rough and difficult to negotiate, but we made it.  The line was long with a myriad of people waiting to get in.  My wife & I greeted Randy’s wife and two sons, exchanged a few words, and shed some tears.

As the crowd moved along, I peered through the window toward the casket and then glanced from side to side.  Getting down the center aisle would be no problem.  Getting back via the side aisles would be a completely different story.  My wheelchair just would not fit down the narrow walkways.  Was I going to wheel all the way to the front of the parlor and fight my way back through the crowd like a fish swimming upstream or just sit this one out?

Well, funerals are one of my least favorite events to attend, so I decided to take the second option.

Either way you put it, though, one would think that in this day and age, after nearly thirty years of the ADA’s existence, a place commonly used by a variety of people would be accessible to all.

In instances like this, I strongly encourage you to eagerly and politely advise the establishment of the inconvenience they have caused and ask that it be corrected sometime in the near future. 

Encourage builders and contractors not to simply build by code, but to have someone experienced in disability issues examine plans before they are finalized.  It would make it easier, less costly over time, and more convenient for all.

If you would like more information on accessibility, please write, call us at 888-503-7955, or email us at info@maysmission.org. We can gladly provide you with our brochure “Making Your Community More Accessible”  for free. Thank you for supporting people with disabilities and please share your experiences in the comments section.

We have only begun our work…

As our founder E.W. Mays said, “We have only begun our work.” Great strides have been made over the past four decades – about the time Mays Mission was founded. We have seen the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and most recently, the Americans with Disabilities Act. Yet statistics show a vast majority of disabled individuals cannot find employment.

We feel that most employers meet the disability before they meet the person – that is to say that we, as humans, have a terrible habit of “judging a book by it’s cover,” assuming that an individual with an obvious disability is not suited for employment or simply cannot do the job. How wrong we are.

We encourage you to ask an employer if they have considered hiring the disabled. You could be the one that makes a difference in the life of a physically or mentally challenged individual.

If you would like more information, please call us at 1-888-503-7955 or email us at info@maysmission.org. Let’s all help make an employer aware of the potential of people with disabilities.

Persistence is the key

Over 54 million American citizens are physically disabled which makes them the largest minority in the United States. Two-thirds of these working-age adults are not working, yet the overwhelming majority of them (79%) desire employment. What’s the problem? Why are these people unable to find employment? According to a recent Harris survey, commissioned by the National Organization on Disability, 81% of disabled Americans desiring employment feel that their disability or health problems limit their access to jobs. That is a valid concern.

It is up to each individual to analyze and assess their own situation and explore the viable and reasonable employment opportunities that are available. Some individuals are concerned that employers may see them as incapable of employment. Again, it is up to the individual to present themselves as capable and worthy of employment. Most of all, be present! Able-bodied or disabled, if a potential employer sees that one is consistent and persists, he or she is more likely to get that desired opportunity to prove themselves. At Mays Mission we believe that persistence is a key issue in obtaining gainful employment and encourage employers in our community to hire the disabled.

Thank you for supporting people with disabilities. For more information on how you can help, please call us at 888-503-7955  or email us at info@maysmission.org today. And please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section.

Always room for improvement

Mark Twain once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in the face of fear.”

When it comes to disabilities, especially the newly injured, fear is definitely a factor in the way people behave. It’s not just the fear of the unknown, it’s also the fear of perception – how will and what will others, my friends, my family and people I meet feel about me? Those born with disabilities often grow up knowing that there’s something “different” about them and often adjust very well because it’s all they have ever known. Yet still, there’s a yearning to be like everyone else.

People as a whole cannot take away disabilities, only God can do that. Yet there are things we can do to make people more comfortable with their various situations. Luke 6:31 says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you (NIV).” This is so true. And, if just for a moment we could put ourselves in the position of the disabled, I think we would have a whole new perspective on how we treat them. This is not to say we are doing something bad – just that things could be better.

Think about how you act and talk when around people with disabilities. Do you talk to them like they are a little child – a high pitched voice and looking as though you are coaxing a smile from a baby? Or totally the opposite –you ignore them and speak to people accompanying them?

There’s always room for improvement in everyone. Think about this and practice Luke 6:31. People with disabilities desire and moreover deserve to be treated like everyone else. Doing this will help mainstream them into a community where everyone feels equal.

If you would like to make a difference in the life of a person with disabilities email us at info@maysmission.org or call us toll free at 1-888-503-7955 today. Thank you.

Assisting In Education!

Of all the programs offered by Mays Mission for the Handicapped, scholarships to people with disabilities is one of the “crown jewels.” Not many people would even notice that it probably takes more funding to educate someone with a disability than their able-bodied peers. Specialized equipment, dorm room or apartment modification, tutoring and attendant care are just a few of the excess costs that have faced some of our previous and current scholarship recipients.

            The easy road in life for these people might be contentment with a high school education and mediocre employment. Yet, with hard-nosed determination and true grit these individuals are extremely determined to face the challenges and hurdle the obstacles that have been set before them and pursue their dreams.

            We have been offering scholarship opportunities for more than 30 years. People with disabilities have the same desires as you and I. They dream and set goals just as you and I do. We have assisted a quadriplegic studying aerospace engineering, a totally blind man studying law, numerous individuals studying education and a wide gamut of other fields of study.

            One of the most difficult jobs to do is to choose just who will receive a scholarship. All those whom applied seemed very worthy of assistance and we wish them all the best. To those who were chosen we also wish the best and hope to bring you success stories about each of them in the months and years to come.

            For more information on our scholarship program call us at 1-888-503-7955 or email us at info@maysmission.org and request our free brochure, Preparing for College – Grants and Scholarships, to pass out to schools in your area. Thank you.

Marie’s Faith in Action pulls her through . . .

About three months ago, I had an unexpected phone call from a person that has been active with Mays Mission for the Handicapped for over fifteen years. It was Marie. She had called us to apologize for not staying in contact.  Marie had just suffered the loss of her brother and a few weeks later she was hospitalized because of a near death experience and God’s grace pulled her through.  

I then learned what a special person Marie is. Marie grew up without a family. Over eighteen years ago, she started P.A.V.E. Ministries with her church. P.A.V.E. Ministries is a pen pal ministry to help incarcerated individuals know the Lord and become better people. With the help of the Lord, she writes to over 40 pen pals. Marie hand types each letter to each pen pal and adds scripture and art work to each mailing. She receives no government or public funding.

Mays Mission helps her to reach out to even more individuals with the help of our Faith in Action program designed to assist the disabled community. Marie sends newsletters, calendars, notepads, bookmarks and address books, which are made right here by our handicapable staff at Mays Mission. Marie says, “If you help yourself, God will help you. Just like God has helped me help others find him.”  Mays Mission looks forward to helping Marie and others in the future…

If you would like more information on how you can help, please contact Mays Mission at 888-503-7955 or email us at info@maysmission.org. If you know of more ways to help like Marie does please share in the comments section. And thank you for supporting people with disabilities!

The ADA 30 Years Later

July 26, 2020 will mark the 30th anniversary of one of the most dynamic and monumental pieces of legislation for people with disabilities in U.S. history.  On this date in 1990, then president George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ADA is made up of five separate sections; Title I covers employment, Title II covers public services, Title III covers public transportation, Title IV covers telecommunications and Title V takes on miscellaneous issues. 

While the ADA is the most comprehensive example of legislation for and about the 54 million people with disabilities living in the US, still many do know about or understand the ADA.

Employment issues continue to be problematic.  While 32% of Americans with disabilities aged 18 to 64 are working, two-thirds of those unemployed would rather be working. 

Mays Mission for the Handicapped was born out of the desire to provide jobs for people with disabilities and continues today.  Our “on-the-job” (OJT) training offers employment opportunities to the disabled in areas of press operations, pre-press, lettershop and bindery, data processing and light assembly.

“We are committed to increasing job opportunities to and for people with disabilities,” said Mission president Sherry Mays Niehaus.  “Through OJT, speaking engagements and direct mail appeals it is our goal to train the disabled and educate the public that, given the opportunity, people with disabilities can become productive citizens.”

Email us today at info@maysmission.org for free brochures on the ADA and “Making Your Community Accessible” that you can distribute in your community. Thank you!

Don’t count them out!

What do these men have in common: Thomas Edison, Ludwig van Beethoven, Albert Einstein and Jim Abbott?  Before we get to that, let’s talk a little about “equality.”  Now, I am not talking about getting all excited about race or gender, but thinking more along the lines of simply being human. 

When the Pilgrims left England in pursuit of freedom, they found themselves in a new, untamed world.  Although there were many similarities to the land they left behind, there were struggles ahead to establish what they once knew as “ordinary life.”  The land needed to be cleared for homes and farming.  Trades and businesses needed to be established so the new inhabitants could carry out the chores of settling towns and cities.  The tasks ahead were monumental.  Had so many not put forth a great effort, they surely would have failed.

Now, when we think of people with disabilities, countless citizens desire to put forth the effort, yet many are not given the opportunity to prove themselves.  Countless numbers are prejudged by physical appearance, a speech impediment or something perceived as an “obviously disability.”

Did you know that Thomas Edison was thought to have a learning disability and didn’t learn to read until the age of twelve?  Beethoven became deaf at about age 26 and composed some of his greatest works thereafter.  Albert Einstein had a learning disability and did not speak until age 3. He had a very difficult time doing math in school. It was also very hard for him to express himself through writing.  Jim Abbott was born with one hand.  He was an “All America” pitcher for the University of Michigan.  Abbott was drafted into the major leagues and eventually went on to pitch a “no hitter” for the New York Yankees against the Cleveland Indians.

All these men were given an opportunity to prove themselves despite a handicap or disability.  And, that’s what we do at Mays Mission.

Now, would you go out and encourage an employer to give people with disabilities a chance?  They would appreciate it and you will feel better for giving someone the opportunity to succeed.

If you would like more information on how you can help please call 888-503-7955 or email us at info@maysmission.org today. And thank you for supporting people with disabilities!

Get Active

What does the future hold for people with disabilities? No one can say for sure. Each disability is so unique as is each individual. With the new age of electronics and research, one never knows what cure or innovation may be just around the corner.

Some find it easy to wait on the “miracle cure” while others are anxious to get on with life the best they can. I believe that’s the way to go! While not all people with disabilities can get out and work or be active in some way, those choosing to be “couch potatoes” are going nowhere fast. Choosing to be inactive and non-productive only accentuates the body’s potential to atrophy or get larger – and who needs that?

If you, or someone you know, has a disability, encourage them to be as active as possible. Exercise and fresh air is good for the body and spirit as well. It always amazes me how a little dose of sunshine can rejuvenate a depressed and weary soul. Combine that sunshine with some fresh air and a little exercise and see what a difference it makes. You may not be ready to run a marathon or participate in the Olympics but you will have a better and more refreshing outlook on the life that you live. Give it a try!

If you would like more information on how you can help, including our free brochure “Recreation is for Everyone” call us toll free at 1-888-503-7955 or email us at info@maysmission.gov today.

Share your experiences in the comments section and thank you for your support!

Heat Protection Safety

Many people with disabilities, along with the elderly, need to take precautions against heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  Not only is this group likely to be susceptible to heat related illnesses but they also may fall into a category of not being able to afford the high costs of air conditioning.

There are ways to keep cool, such as fans and the intake of fluids, which we often take for granted.  A dip in a tub of cool water can lower the body temperature significantly.  A stroll in a mall during the heat of the day is a soothing break from the scorching summer sun.  Sometimes we don’t stop and think of the obvious and inexpensive.

Hundreds of people die each year due to heat related illnesses.  If you have relatives or friends who are disabled or elderly make sure to check on them often, especially when temperatures peak ninety-five.  Make sure they have plenty to drink and circulating air.  A simple phone call may be the difference between life and death.

For more information on how to beat the summer heat, write, call or email us at info@maysmission.org for our free brochure “Heat Wave – Heat Protection Safety.”

We would love to here from you! Let us know what you think or if you have any thoughts on heat protection safety in the comments section below and thanks!

It’s okay to ask questions

I have always been one to encourage people with disabilities to keep in touch with their medical professionals. It’s easy to become complacent and think you are doing okay.  Taking a doctor’s advice has been a good thing for me and probably been to my advantage.  However…

I had an annual appointment with my rehab doctor several months ago.  Upon telling him that my shoulders, elbows and wrists had been hurting, he began checking my “range of motion.”  Everything seemed normal.  He asked a few more questions.  He then asked what I would think about moving to a “power wheelchair.”  Note that I had “pushed” a manual wheelchair for 46 years.  Back in the day, those of us with spinal cord injuries were told that we needed to push to keep up our upper-body strength.  I mentioned keeping up my strength to the doctor.  He said something I’ve never heard any of my doctors say before; “We were wrong about the upper body strength.”

I didn’t share this story with the intent to mistrust or lose faith in a medical professional.  The story was told to encourage you to ask questions when you don’t understand treatment or therapy.  Talk to your doctors and therapists.  It’s okay to ask for further explanation for your own peace of mind. 

Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section. And if you would like a free copy of our brochure “Recreation is for Everyone” call us at 1-888-503-7955 or email us at info@maysmission.org today. Thanks!

David Marrs: Superhero!

A lot of our donors know that David Marrs is an integral part of the Mays Mission Production Team and has never let his disability hold him down. But you may not know that David Marrs is also heavily involved with the Heber Springs Chamber of Commerce as a volunteer in our community.

David has been volunteering with the Chamber for several years now pitching in at local business grand openings and community events like the local fireworks extravaganza over the Fourth of July every year and big tourist attractions like the upcoming local Springfest where David assists locals and tourists alike in the attractions. David is on a first name basis with many local politicians and business owners because of his volunteering efforts.

The folks at the Chamber of Commerce have made David an ‘Ambassador’ as a representative of Mays Mission and is a past recipient of the Chamber of Commerce ‘Super Hero’ Award for his volunteering achievements. Mays Mission for the Handicapped is proud of David and his community heroics!

David meeting Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin at a recent Chamber of Commerce Banquet

Everything happens for a reason.

Everything in life happens for a reason.  So often we as humans just don’t understand why.  Sometimes disabilities are a result of our own mistakes such as drinking and driving or merely not thinking before acting.

When one is born with a disability or is genetically predisposed to a disabling condition we all too often go to God and ask “why?”  In our finite way of thinking we often see the disability as something negative, only thinking of ourselves.  This is not to say that we cannot question God or pray and ask Him to deliver us from our illnesses. 

My grand-nephew, the grandson of my brother, was born with Down syndrome.  My brother, in his first reactions, questioned God wondering how such a thing could happen.  After much thought and a grieving process he found peace.  In his prayer time, while seeking God’s comfort the thought came to him; “Has God ever made a mistake?”  Without a doubt, the answer had to be “No!”

In the New Living Translation, Romans 8:28 says “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  It didn’t say “some things,” it says “all things.”

Even though disabilities happen, and whether or not they ever disappear, our lives touch and affect others.  Whether it’s for inspiration or to cause us be thankful for what God has given us, everything has its purpose. 

If you would like more information on how you can help the disabled in your community call us Toll Free at 1-888-503-7955 or email us at info@maysmission.org today. Thanks!

You can help a disabled child attend summer camp. Contact us Toll Free at 1-888-503-7955 or email us at info@maysmission.org to find out how.

What Is An Assistance Dog?

Assistance Dog

The ADA defines a assistance animal as any guide dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government. Assistance animals perform some of the same functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself.

There are four types of assistance dogs.

Service Dog:Aids individuals who are mobility impaired by performing tasks that are physically demanding and frustrating.

Hearing Dog: Trained to alert people who are hearing impaired to important sounds.

Seeing Eye Dog: Enhances the independence and safety of a person who is totally blind. The dog leads its master and prevents her/him from any mobility dangers.

Therapy Dog: Enhances the quality of life for people through pet facilitated therapy and interactions.

Assistance dogs usually complete six to eight months of advanced instruction. The skill and personality of each dog is evaluated by trained staff.

Assistance dogs come from carefully selected stock. As puppies, they are placed with volunteers to begin the first stages of training. The puppies, with their puppy raisers, participate in everyday activities including errands and trips.

Step-By- Step Applying for an assistance dog

1.Send a letter requesting an application to the school nearest to you. Your letter should include your age, disability, and the affect your disability has on your life and how an assistance dog will help you. You will then receive an application packet to complete.

2. Complete and return the application packet.

3. You will be contacted approximately 90 days after your application has been received. At that time, you may be scheduled for a personal interview.

4. Applicants who meet guidelines will be invited to the nearest school for a personal interview with instructors. Selected applicants will be informed within 2-3 months of their acceptance as candidates in the program.

5. Candidates are chosen to attend a training class based on their position on the waiting list and the availability of trained dogs.

6. Candidates must attend the two or three week training course. During the course, a candidate will learn how to correctly use an assistance dog and will be matched with a dog that best suits his or her needs and personality.

Commonly Asked Questions About Assistance Dogs in Places of Business

Q: I have always had a clearly posted “no pets” policy at my establishment. Do I still have to allow assistance animals in?

A: Yes. An assistance animal is not a pet. The ADA requires you to modify your “no pets” policy to allow the use of assistance animals by a person with a disability.

Q: Can I charge a maintenance or cleaning fee for customers who bring assistance dogs into my business?

A: No. Neither a deposit or a surcharge may be imposed on an individual with a disability as a condition to allowing an assistance dog to accompany the individual with a disability, even if deposits are routinely required for pets. However, a public accommodation may charge its customers with disabilities if an assistance dog causes damage so long as it is the regular practice of the entity to charge non-disabled customers for the same types of damages.

Q: I operate a private taxicab and I don’t want animals in my taxi: they smell, shed hair and sometimes have “accidents.” Am I violating the ADA if I refuse to pick up someone with an assistance dog?

A: Yes. Taxicab companies may not refuse to provide services to individuals with disabilities. Private taxicab companies are also prohibited from charging higher fares or fees for transporting individuals with disabilities and their assistance dogs.

Q: What are the laws that apply to my business?

A: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities.

If you would like a copy of our free brochure “What Is An Assistance Dog?” call us Toll Free at 1-888-503-7955 or email us at info@maysmission.org today. Thanks!