Last week was the final meeting of the now disbanded City of Boca Raton Advisory Board for People with Disabilities. It was a holiday party, albeit a sad one for many in this photo, men and women who have dedicated years of service to the city and to the community by serving on this board, and by using our collective voices to be heard above the din of the jack hammers and cement trucks all around us building a new, “better” Boca Raton. The irony is that’s exactly what we thought we were doing as well. Funny, isn’t it? Now it is over and done.
I’ve been on this board for twelve years, meeting every first Thursday of the month to discuss issues impacting so many disenfranchised members of this community, folks who have no voice other than ours to ask for things like beach access mobility mats or universal playgrounds where kids with disabilities can play alongside their able bodied friends. We gave scholarships to FAU, Lynn and Palm Beach State students with disabilities. We bought library books that help families find resources available to them, or to perhaps learn how to cope with a child who can no longer walk, or a returning veteran dealing with PTSD. What an honor. We put on disability employment awareness events at Town Center, and ice cream socials for families living with challenges, both intellectual and physical, at Mizner Park. And it was from within the ranks of this group that we launched the Boating & Beach Bash eight years ago.
I was honored to have chaired the board for two years. But I was most honored to serve alongside some extraordinary people whose lives have been touched by disabilities and who have touched my life with their grace, compassion and kindness to others. We’re not the losers here. It is the City of Boca Raton that loses out on this executive decision. They will be hard pressed to ever find another group more dedicated and passionate about making a difference and working for the city for free.
Going forward four boards will now be combined into one. All together there are 43 disenfranchised folks from these boards. Only 11 will be allowed to serve on the new multi-themed entity as envisioned by the city. The new board will meet quarterly to determine which special interest group within the ranks of the new board has the loudest voice and can get anything done in such a constrained, limited environment. It stuns me.
I’d like to thank Deputy Mayor Robert Weinroth for attending this meeting last night to thank us for our service and for getting this final group picture taken by his lovely wife, Pamela.
Over and out.
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