Teresa Larsen’s article is sure to resonate with many individuals no matter the generation or career they have chosen for themselves. Standing up for what you believe is not always easy— that’s an understatement if ever there was one. Recent circumstances surrounding the pandemic certainly speak to this and ring true more than we like to
To vaccinate or not. To wear a mask or not. To gather or not. These are all decisions that for many of us have recently been governed by someone other than ourselves. Advocacy is like that too—not always the popular decision or the one we want to hear, but to keep people safe and provide a foundation for change it is necessary.
I smiled when I read her reference to Geraldo Rivera. His work was a deciding factor in my career decision as well. As a sophomore in college with a Midwest background, I could not, absolutely could not believe after reading his reports that human beings were warehoused in these conditions. The decision to go forth with working with
people who deserve better was made almost on the spot. Prior experiences during grade school with special education children, taught at the end of the hall in our grade school, was also a contributing factor in deciding to help the underserved achieve a life in which they get to make real-world decisions that also come with consequences to choices made. The concept of mainstreaming is an important one on many levels.
Mainstreaming as it was called back then, eventually carried over into employment. In disability
circles, this is often referred to as the gift of “purpose.” Many factors over the years have
influenced employment for people of all disabilities but without advocacy would we have gotten this
far? Fraser’s Day Services featured in this magazine is testimony to the abilities of those we
support and their ability to contribute to society.
Teresa heard the calling, as did I and thousands of others. Almost fifty years have passed and
advocacy lives on because of people like Teresa Larsen and fellow advocates which expand outside
our state Protection and Advocacy office. We toast her years of service and dedication to the
numerous legislative sessions, investigations and countless
midnight hours to get the work done. No one can capture and document the results of a meeting quite
like Teresa. All the while maintaining an objective stance—at least on the surface.
Teresa, as you look at retirement later this year remember it all. The struggles and the successes.
Remember and KNOW there are many of us proud to call you mentor, colleague and friend. We join the
many who are thankful you followed your career path and made the choices you did.
You truly chose a difficult path and as the poem by Robert Frost says; “And that has made all the
Best wishes to everyone as we soon enter our Holiday Season. Thank you to our contributors who
provide necessary in-kind and financial support to our mission. This past year has taken
a toll and you have made MANY things possible through your support.
CEO & President, Fraser, Ltd.