Day 3 of the NCIL 2014 Conference opened with Concurrent Workshops and the opening of the Exhibit Fair. The exhibitors have an opportunity to show off their products and services. Many of them are NCIL members with businesses that assist with the lives of people with disabilities. As stated in the Conference program the conference would not be possible without the support of the exhibitors and sponsors. As a member of NCIL, I say thank you to all of them for their support and sponsorship.
Then there were two programs held for all conference participants. The first was a movie screening. The movie was titled Homesick: Living with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. This is an hour long documentary by Susan Abod who went on the road and found out how people are coping with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and dealing with the struggles of finding safe housing. To find out more about this movie go to: http://homesick-video.com
After the movie it was time for the Annual Awards Luncheon where we celebrate and honor our award winners! The Regional Advocacy Awards are presented to advocates for their outstanding work in all ten Regions. Then there are the presentations of awards named after Independent Living historic figures who made a difference in the movement and are memorialized with this honor. There is the Diana Vietz Award presented in honor of a young woman who empowered young people to be active in the movement. This year there were three young recipients from around the country. Then there is the Frank Harkin Award named after the brother of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and presented each year by him.
Prior to Sen. Harkin presenting his brother’s award to the recipient, NCIL, ADAPT and USICD presented him with a special gift for his work and legacy on disability issues. This was his final NCIL Conference as a US Senator. He attended the March on the 29th and now the awards luncheon. The three organizations commissioned artist Jill Jacobs who is a mother of three children, two with disabilities. The portrait is a side profile of Sen. Harkin in his thinking mode with the flowing disability American Flag behind him. (To see the portrait go to my Twitter feed)
Sen. Harkin was visibly touched by the gift and the warm wishes by all at the NCIL Conference. His emotional speech was not one of goodbye it was first and foremost a thank you to all of the people who have and continue to be in the fight for the rights of people with disabilities. Sen. Harkin was as always a true statesman in his speech but at the same time the local “Joe” next door and just as warm as a “grandfather” encouraging his generations of family members to continue the fight.
This year’s Frank Harkin award was presented to Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) although she was unable to attend as the senate was working on Appropriations and she is the chair of the committee. Sen. Harkin returned to the podium and proceeded to give a “Rally” speech; a speech dedicated to firing up the crowd for one final push on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). He is dedicated and focused on getting the US Senate to ratify this treaty in the 113th Congress.
Sen. Harkin’s final words to the participants were that we are not saying goodbye to him for he will not be far; he will continue to remain a soldier in the fight and be right by our side in the battles to come.
The NCIL Annual Meeting was held directly following the Awards Luncheon. This is where the business of the organization is handled. Election for offices, resolutions and information are discussed, debated and voted on by the membership. Each individual member in NCIL has a vote. Like all other organizations NCIL has bylaws and rules that govern the business.
To see a list of the new NCIL Board go to the website.
The evening events started with a cocktail reception held in honor of the wonderful NCIL 2014 Sponsors. This year’s sponsors are listed on the Conference website. THANK YOU to all of them for their support and continued outreach to NCIL members.
The final event of the evening was the annual ADA Celebration party. This is a get down funky party where everyone eats, drinks and dances to one of the BEST bands ever! The room is packed with NCIL conference participants, there is a great spread of food and beverages with a nice size dance floor where ALL are welcomed to get down and boogie oogie oogie!
I had a blast dancing with everyone, but especially my guy Micah of Ohio who taught me a few new moves! Like Cinderella, I left after a few hours on the dance floor and before the DC METRO trains stopped running at midnight!
Information in this post:
Make sure you see the other posts in this series – 2014 NCIL Conference Day 1 -4
To see pictures go to my Twitter feed & the pictures section of this blog!
Diana Vietz Award: https://ncilforms.wufoo.com/forms/diana-vietz-memorial-award-2014/
NCIL 2014 Conference Program: see list of sponsors on p. 26 : http://www.ncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/2014-Program-LR.pdf