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National Service and Inclusion Project

Inclusion: The active engagement of people with disabilities as service members in all levels of national and community service

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Participants: Patricia Lee & Mitchell Garlick

Photo of Patricia LeePhoto of Mitchell Garlick

Program: Self Advocacy / AmeriCorps, New York
Service: Educated community members and professionals about disability experience and perspective through public speaking; Mitchell assisted seniors living in institutions.

Interview with Patricia Lee and Mitchell Garlick, a mother and son who joined and serve together, January, 2001



1. INCLUSION:              real audio clip icon

EMILY MILLER: Did you like being in AmeriCorps?

MITCHELL GARLICK: Yeah, It helped me a lot.

EM: How did they help you?

MITCHELL GARLICK: We learn about what they did to me. Heard everything that they said, and they spoke of truth: What happened. If they hadn’t spoken of truth I wouldn’t be here. I'd be stuck in a residence all my life.

PATRICIA LEE: They helped you to speak up for yourself? They understood you? What did we try to tell people when we spoke at presentations?


EMILY MILLER: What are your rights, the rights you want to have in your life ?

MITCHELL GARLICK: Your own house. Be with our own peers, and have your friends, and be with everybody else.

PATRICIA LEE: In other words: you want to be treated like other people? Is that what were saying?


2. DISABILITY AWARENESS:              real audio clip icon

EMILY MILLER: Is there something about the program that you feel worked particularly well for you or for Mitchell? As an AmeriCorps program?

PATRICIA LEE: Well to me, it’s the only way, I feel. Because someone else who does not have a disability could not get the message out to people about how they feel and what their needs are. That was important to me. I feel there is a great need to get that message out to people in the community. The people in the community don’t want us living there. They feel we need to live somewhere else. There’s all this “not in my back yard,” and its due to their lack of knowledge about people with disabilities. And the only one who can get that message across to them are people with disabilities. And I think, in order to include people with disabilities in the community, you need to have them more involved in things that involve the community.

3. SERVICE:              real audio clip icon

EMILY MILLER: [Self-Advocacy/AmeriCorps] is a special program because the majority of the people who serve have disabilities.

PATRICIA LEE: Yes. I think we were the only one that received the AmeriCorps grant that used it in this way.

EMILY MILLER: Okay, so for programs where the majority of their members don’t have disabilities, for these programs, do you have any advice for them about how to increase the participation of people with disabilities. Not just to recruit them, but to involve them in a meaningful way?

PATRICIA LEE: I think, by all means, that they should include them. You need to give back. I always feel that you have to give back. And because you have a disability doesn’t mean that you don’t need to understand that and do the same thing. So I think its important that people with disabilities do volunteer work because its self-fulfilling and that makes a person feel better about themselves. And that’s a need that everyone has, and to give people with disabilities that opportunity is an excellent idea.

EMILY MILLER: Is there anything else either of you want to tell me about being in AmeriCorps as people with disabilities?

PATRICIA LEE: Right now, I guess, I can only speak for myself and the growth that I’ve gotten from it. I was terribly afraid of speaking in public, and it made me a whole lot better than I was before. And maybe it’s because I was carrying a good message, and I feel that I affected a lot of people in a positive way. And I also feel that it has given me the chance to go ahead and get some education in the field that I really want to be in, and that’s the human service field.

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©The National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP) is a training and technical assistance provider on disability inclusion. NSIP partners with the Association on University Centers on Disability, National Council on Independent Living, Association on Higher Education and Disability and National Down Syndrome Congress to build connections between disability organizations and all CNCS grantees, including national directs, to increase the participation of people with disabilities in national service.