E-Advocates #5 

Building Bridges: Collaborative Efforts at Coffee with the Legislators
November 07, 2023 | By Christina Ingoglia 

On November 6th, four St. Charles State Representatives attended the Gateway Coalition’s Coffee with the Legislators. Representatives Wendy Hausman, Dave Hinman, Richard West, and Travis Wilson heard from service provider members of the coalition, including Emmaus Homes.

Emmaus Homes’s DSP-of-the-Year Kelsey Marhanka and Wentzville client Sean Rogers co-presented about why our services matter, the challenges faced around DSP (Direct Support Professional) wages, and how Emmaus has enabled Sean to live his best life. He shared that he’s on the lookout for a new girlfriend, but appreciated how staff helped him explore a previous relationship by setting up dates and encouraging him to live his best life. Developmental Disabilities Rights Board (DDRB) Executive Director Denise Cross spoke about the importance of SB 40 boards like DDRB and how personal property taxes currently fund critical services across the area and Missouri.

Other presenters focused on the need for increased state funding for Direct Support Professionals like Kelsey, who provide an essential service to people with developmental disabilities. The event, hosted at Community Living, led to positive and hopeful discussion with these St. Charles legislators. We are so grateful for their time and attendance. They were also able to share their legislative priorities and how best to engage with state-level elected officials. Rep. Hinman said that it’s important for all providers to get involved and build relationships with the elected officials in the areas where they are headquartered and where they serve people with disabilities.

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