Educate to Empower
I can’t be the only one who gets frustrated sometimes with lack of follow through. I find myself frequently sending emails, placing phone calls and leaving multiple messages only to never receive a reply or only get a reply when I feel like I am being a complete nag about something. Either way it often leaves me feeling irritated. Many times, those encounters are with insurance providers, medical professionals, equipment vendors, or repair people regarding Shamus. While I understand they have lots of people they are trying to accommodate, I also want them to recognize and demonstrate how important Shamus’ needs are to us (whether it be for his wheelchair, his leg braces, his medications, or his appointments, etc). Once in a while there is that outstanding doctor who will call us directly, help us navigate the challenges of insurance and squeeze us in for an urgent appointment. Those are the ones we hold onto and cherish! Their follow through and follow up when requiring timely documentation or communication becomes almost as important (or in some cases equally important) to their medical expertise.
It can be the same in day-to-day communication. It feels rare to have the immediate follow through on a request or follow up response to an email, text or voicemail. So when Shamus sent his letters to the town of Saratoga and a local business related to accessibility of their building (see Advocate – Ainsley’s Angels of America (ainsleysangels.org)) I wasn’t holding my breath on a response from them. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the code enforcer of Saratoga Springs who responded almost immediately with a phone call, then follow up email and written letter responding to Shamus’ concerns. Although he found no specific code violations he was sympathetic to Shamus’ request and encouraged him to continue to pursue the issues. He informed Shamus how appreciative he was of the well written letter and told him he’d keep an eye out for his resume if Shay was ever interested in a career in code enforcement! The code enforcer took the time to communicate with American’s with Disabilities Act personnel in the nation’s capital, and said that each iteration of the ADA has made more progress because of citizens like Shamus continuing to push for accessibility. The letter back to Shamus concluded with “I applaud you on writing to me. Citizens like you make my job meaningful and purposeful. Thank you for that and please stay in touch.” He spent 15 minutes on the phone with Shamus and I talking through the situation and provided great education to both of us.
To date that is the only response Shamus has received to the 4 letters he sent, but it is that letter and phone call that give us hope in open communication and dialog. Shamus isn’t done yet. He is taking preliminary steps with his English teacher and the advisor to our school’s National Honor Society to begin a letter writing campaign to create the change he seeks! Stay tuned for details on that, and in the meantime, if you receive a call, text, email or letter, take a few minutes to respond and follow through, you will most likely make some one’s day!
#TogetherWeShall Follow Through