Harold Harris was born and raised in Newark, NJ. Before moving to CAU ten years ago, Harold resided in Somerville, NJ with his sister. During this time, Harold was receiving services from another agency in Somerset County, NJ as he went to a day program in Piscataway and Bridgewater. Although he rotated between three different programs, he was not satisfied. Upon his acceptance into the CAU community, Harold began working in the cafeteria at CAU’s main office. Evidently, Harold loves his job as an assistant cook as he has maintained this position ever since. He credits the encouragement of other members for his dedication to this position as he learned how to use the cash register and cook new recipes over the years. While Harold loves his job at CAU, he is eager to obtain outside employment in the food service industry.
When Harold first became a CAU member, he was introduced to Sidney Katz, current President of Helping Hands, who encouraged him to join self-advocacy. Harold explained, “I wanted to learn how to be an active member so I joined Helping Hands.” Currently, Harold holds the title of Sergeant of Arms, a position he has acquired intermittently throughout the years. Over the past few months, Harold has increased his responsibilities by conducting interviews for the main office in order to indentify qualified direct care staff. To further his knowledge and as a means to become a notable representative of New Jersey’s self-advocacy movement, Harold was chosen for the 2012-2013 Partners in Policymaking class through the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities.
As classes commenced this month in Trenton, Harold is excited for what’s to come. Thus far, the 2012-2013 class has discussed topics such as bullying, the living conditions of developmental centers, and the Olmstead decision. Harold said he enjoys, “meeting new advocates, making new friends, exchanging stories and ideas and most importantly, learning more about disability rights!” Harold’s enthusiasm is refreshing for new advocates who are interested in applying for Partners in Policymaking in the future. Harold anticipates that his experiences will allow him to serve as a role model for members who are unsure about joining the movement.
Joyce Cargle is from Wayne, NJ. Before Joyce became a member of CAU in 1994, she resided in a sponsor home in Roselle, NJ with a woman named Ruby Owens, who worked for the Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities at the time. Joyce decided to join CAU as a means to become self-sufficient and expand her resources to find the right job. Joyce has moved many times since she became a member, but she currently resides Elizabeth, NJ. Initially, Joyce worked as a clerical assistant at Prudential until she took a job offer from CAU in 1997. Joyce is a part of CAU’s cleaning crew in which she cleans the office, and occasionally, provides assistance in the kitchen. Although Joyce loves her job and enjoys the people she works with, she makes her membership in Helping Hands Self-Advocacy group, a priority.
Joyce joined the self-advocacy movement because she wanted to learn how to speak up for herself, meet new people in the community and learn about her rights as a person with a disability. She also believes it’s very important to encourage voter participation in the disability community as she makes it a point to assist other members during each election. Like other self-advocates at CAU, Sidney Katz and Sam Jenkins, a former CAU member, persuaded Joyce to join. Since her inauguration into the group, Joyce has served as Sergeant of Arms, Recording Secretary and her current position, Corresponding Secretary. As a result, Joyce has been given the opportunity to attend Partners in Policymaking, Project Take Charge, NJ Self-Advocacy Project’s Statewide Conference, DD Awareness Day at Six Flags in Jackson, NJ and the SABE bi-annual National Conference.
The issues that Joyce feels very strongly about as it relates to the disability community is to end bullying against people with disabilities and to close developmental centers. Joyce’s experiences within the movement has allowed her to become a confident individual and try things she never expected such as acting in CAU’s community play, Seussical Jr., in which she played the role of a Who, Wickersham and an Officer of the Court. Joyce ended the interview on a positive note as she said, “I am not ashamed to say I have a disability because God made me what I am today”. This proclamation exemplifies the transformation of one’s self-worth through the power of self-advocacy.