The Power of We:
Building Community for All

By Denise D. Resnik, Founder & President/CEO, First Place® AZ

While we celebrate personal and communal feats, we are also humbly aware that we don’t always get it right the first time—or the second. But we keep persevering, knowing we have all the motivation in the world to attain the goal of building supportive home and community options and self-perpetuating ecosystems for people everywhere living with autism and other neurodiversities.

Local communities add authenticity to the uniqueness of any program and property, enhancing the daily, purpose-filled lives of its residents. Whether we’re talking about employment, healthcare, lifelong education or housing, these complex concerns exist within equally complex systems to navigate. Of course, the most important ingredient is people—lots of them—who make up those supportive communities. Without them, there is no power of “we,” a concept coined in a Sesame Street special featuring a cast of wise, endearing Muppets imparting lessons for all ages!

Some points along the way require timeouts to stop and assess before moving forward again; others require changes in direction. But we all need people in our corner we can trust and who will tell us not just what we want to hear but also what we need to know.

This very concept is underscored by an on-site training event where First Place–Phoenix residents and Transition Academy students recently met and worked with officers from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Goodyear Police Department. It was a rare opportunity for all involved to learn from each other how to navigate communities more responsibly, interact successfully with law enforcement officers and understand how to communicate effectively with neurodiverse individuals—the power of “we.”  

As lifelong learners, we can also encourage others to pause, reflect and share so we can all better understand what’s working, what needs to work better and for whom. It’s why we’re advancing plans through First Place’s National Translational Research Consortium underway and poised to qualify and quantify results in select communities across the country.

The overarching goal of this important and timely initiative is to advance research leading to supportive state and federal policy that makes economic sense for local supportive housing and community development—and represent more options for the broad needs and preferences of adults with autism and/or intellectual/developmental disabilities. 

Learn more about the consortium and other promising policies and research during the 11th First Place Global Leadership Institute Symposium, October 19–21, when we’ll connect people, smarts and hearts—and feature exemplary leaders, communities and programs from across the country.

During this pivotal year, when First Place AZ celebrates its 10-year anniversary and SARRC acknowledges its 25th, we’re reminded of those we trusted who championed our cause and rallied others to do the same.

Help us raise the power of “we” to new heights next month. Register here and join us in person (filling up fast!) or via webinar.  

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