The Red Balloon --By Rolf Kotar
As a child or youth attending primary school, did you see a film called The Red Balloon? The story line in the movie is simple. The movie's point is up to audience interpretation. In The Red Balloon, a character walks around in a major city for a day with a red balloon floating directly above. The protagonist's role isn't explained, nor the bouncing red device. One interpretation was offered by my primary public school instructor -- that the balloon represents Christ watching over each of us. People of different faiths could each label the balloon with the name of their higher power. The lack of information, while masterfully presenting a suggestion stimulating deep reflection, makes The Red Balloon a minor masterpiece.
What if the Red Balloon were a symbol for the entire Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition? The balloon, working daily (and on many holidays) could represent thousands of members and other Colorado citizens being sheltered from aspects of government. In reality, we at CCDC help members through both individual and legislative advocacy. Yet can we each count on CCDC to "be there" for help with problems with the human service system in Colorado alone? The problems beginning with first applying for benefits, e.g., social security disability insurance (SSDI), supplemental security income (SSI), as well as Medicare and Medicaid health insurance, can overwhelm a beginner, and ongoing recertification and denials to which we are frequently subjected. Yet we staff at CCDC are not "resting in the air" above each member, without tangible support. This takes more than helium gas inside a floating balloon to accomplish.
Supporting the CCDC "red balloon" stimulates additional thoughts. First, if it's true that CCDC officers and/or volunteers have helped each of us, it seems reasonable to ask our members to reciprocate. What has CCDC helped you with? Would you like giving dollars to CCDC contributing for our Director of Individual Advocacy's help representing you in administrative court to reinstate your Medicaid insurance? Or, perhaps what CCDC Advocates have done is provided meetings for you, offering an opportunity for making friends by swapping stories about community resources and government benefits. This could lead to volunteer work with us for you, yourself, as a certified non-attorney Advocate. It could be that the only benefit of CCDC’s work affecting you directly is a change in state legislation impacting your Medicaid notifications. It takes energy, time, and sustained effort to accomplish these changes.
CCDC is growing. We are now nationally known. As we grow, we offer more to our members. As a member (all CCDC members are self-selected), after completing regular advocacy training, we now offer advanced instruction. After that, one may decide to go beyond and take their knowledge gained at CCDC elsewhere in the community. For instance, one CCDC Advocate chose to enter an undergraduate college, earning a four-year degree. In the distant past, a few CCDC staff members decided to complete law school, with one of them now working at CCDC! One may use CCDC as a jumping off place to go to another nonprofit agency.
Is your "red balloon" watching over you? Are you ready to leap? Are you ready to risk and see if you can improve our world? Is trust possible for you, influencing people and systems in a positive way, helping many? A considered decision, sacrificing a tiny bit of your comfort needs in order to improve conditions for us people with disabilities could make you well known. It will certainly increase your value to yourself. Please explore what you can offer others while not compromising your safety.