For an organization that serves over 400 of the most developmentally challenged residents on the Eastern Shore, including Kent and Talbot County, United Needs & Abilities continues to struggle with name recognition. That might be partly due to UNA’s name change in three years ago when it decided that the Epilepsy Association of the Eastern Shore was far to limited in defining their work, but it also may be the result of the stigma that comes when serving those with cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, autism, intellectual disabilities, epilepsy and other mental and physical impairments.
Board President Debbie Horner Palmer and Executive Director Michael Dyer want to start changing that mindset. Debbie, who suffers from Epilepsy herself, and who has played a number of leadership roles in the organization over the years, is determined to end this historical blind spot on the Shore by using her own story as a way to focus attention on the needs and aspirations of those with developmental disabilities. Michael, who has worked in management positions at Perdue Farms before taking on the day-to-day management of UNA, is also driven by the same goals as the organization sees new challenges in funding and outreach during a time of governmental austerity.
The Spy sat down with Debbie and Michael to talk about the mission of United Needs & Abilities and its unique role on the Shore at Bullitt House last week.
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