“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
The Massachusetts Families Organizing for Change (MFOFC) Family Leadership Series focuses on supporting families and individuals to live in their communities as naturally and typically as desired. Applications from families with children or adult family members of any age with any disability who are Department of Developmental Services eligible are encouraged.
The first MFOFC Family Leadership Series took place in Southeastern Massachusetts from October 1990 to March 1991. As the result of this successful leadership training, the Family Leadership Series is now sponsored annually in Massachusetts by the five regional chapters of MFOFC: Central, Metro Boston, Northeast, Southeast and West.
The Family Leadership Series has a three-fold purpose. The first is to offer information about “best practices” for people with disabilities. The second is to assist families in creating a vision for their family member and a process to achieve the vision by incorporating that information. The third is develop family leaders who will advocate at the local and state level to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.
The Family Leadership Series is organized into three (and in some regions, four), two-day workshops.
The Series focuses on:
Initiative and Leadership – family members are given information on the background of the family support movement, leadership, advocacy and the significance of self-advocacy, how to effectively advocate for change and ways to influence funding and delivery systems.
Creative, Progressive and Innovative Ways to Provide Support – how to help our family members and our families to live quality lives. A number of presenters offer their perspectives on a broad range of topics: Inclusion in schools; supported employment; positive practices; community living and family support.
Creating A Vision – families are supported to “imagine better” and to create a vision, with and for their family members, that guides their leadership and advocacy. What advocacy is necessary to ensure the visions that are developed and what is effective advocacy?
Policy Making at the Local, State and Federal Level – family members receive information on how to develop networks with professionals and families, how to access and control resources that affect family stress and satisfaction and how to use legislative change to procure resources.
Food and overnight lodging for each family is paid for by the Department of Developmental Services and other state agencies, organizations and businesses. Respite/child care/nursing for family members is arranged on an as needed basis.
Families who attend the Series are required to do the following:
- To attend each of the two-day sessions;
- To participate in activities/experiences during the sessions and to complete assignments/reading between each session.
We expect that, upon completion of the Series, families will continue to advocate for and work to create change for their families and will be willing to help other families in their areas to do the same. The Series organizers provide support to families as they continue to do this. Events are held to re-connect the Series participants from time to time.
Families who have completed the Series have had a tremendous impact on systems change for families and individuals with disabilities in Massachusetts. Family members have been active in policy and decision making locally, regionally and statewide and some have decided to do legislative advocacy work. Some families have been involved in community organizing and advocacy on a local level. Others have used their talents and skills to create change for their child with a disability and/or their families.
Quotes from participants:
“It was just over a year ago that I took part in the MFOFC Family Leadership Series. I’ve wanted to thank you so many times for helping me to discover the tools I needed (or already had, but didn’t know) to believe in myself and in my ability to better advocate for my daughter and many others.” ~ Jocelyn Duff, Executive Director, The Talia Duff Foundation To Cure CMT4J
“Use anger and indignation as kindling, but let your vision be the flame and us as the keepers of the flame.”
“I’m not hearing as much ‘You can’t.’ I think part of that is because there’s been a change in
me. I’ve moved to more of the ‘Why not?’ People say no because they don’t don’t know, they’re afraid. So I take responsibility to educate people.”
“I look at the vision as a guiding light for us. At first, my vision was in my head. It’s moved to becoming a part of me, inside. The vision has guided our decision making. Alot of times you don’t even think, you just do it.”
“We can transform while we are just muddling through. We can do amazing things in the quiet corners of our ordinary days.”
Family members come together to attain a
“Game Changing Perspective”
and the tools to make extraordinary things happen
What past participants have said about this extraordinary opportunity:
“The Mass Families Leadership Series was an eye-opening experience that changed my life on some many levels. It provided me with concrete steps to “grow” as an effective advocate, mother, and most importantly, as a human being. More importantly, I gained a community of people committed to creating, advocating, and supporting the legislative aspect of what it takes to fund those services our family members require. I encourage any of you that might be considering participating in the Mass Family Leadership Series to go for it!!!!!!” ~ Christine of Reading
“Wow. The understanding, discovery and empowerment that I gained from this series, the leaders as well as the other participants, has had a lasting effect on me and now my community. Learning how to effect positive change and focusing on what I can do was energizing. Now I have new skills and direction. All the amazing participants and speakers inspired me. If you get the opportunity, do it. I wish I could do it again! Pat of Stoughton To be honest, I expected to find the Family Leadership Workshops depressing. Boy was I wrong! They were not anything like a touchy-feely support group. The leaders and the activities were wonderfully helpful and I learned a lot. Moreover, the other participants were people I was happy to be with, one of the most intelligent groups I’ve interacted with in a long time.” ~ Eileen of Newport
“The Family Leadership Series was a total game-changer for me and had a tremendous positive ripple effect not only for my child with special needs, but my entire family. Each segment, from leadership to creating a vision to advocacy opened my mind to a completely new way of being. It was as if I had been given a roadmap where before I was simply overwhelmed, exhausted and confused. I left the series feeling powerful, inspired and connected to myself, my child, my new friends and the greater community. My husband attended too and I feel like it brought us closer together. All I can say is, if you’re thinking of doing it – do it. You will earn the time and energy back many times over.” ~ Cristin of Somerville
“Extraordinary, moving, touching and inspiring. I learned about the history of the family movement in the disability world, the true power of a vision for our loved ones, and my critical voice in the legislative process. You really can… ‘Be the change you want to see’ (Mahatma Gandhi)” ~ Rich of Medford
“The Leadership Series not only educated me, it made me think differently. It was great to leave with our visions – I am convinced that there will be a better future!” ~ FLS Graduate