Emmaus Homes Advocates at State Capitol for Disability Rights Legislative Day

The E Advocates at the State Capitol

By Christina Ingoglia, advocacy director, Emmaus Homes

In mid-March, 60 Emmaus Advocates (E Advocates) — the grassroots advocacy effort at Emmaus Homes in St. Louis — showed up at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City for Disability Rights Legislative Day (or DRLD), hosted by the Missouri Developmental Disability Council. Among the group from Emmaus Homes were clients, direct support professionals, a board member, and more. This year’s theme was “We Are Here.” The Emmaus Advocates joined in chanting this slogan along with the hundreds of others who attended, too.  

One of Emmaus’ clients, Jeffrey Foust, spoke at the rally, and Board Member Susie Parker spoke as well. Foust shared why paying his staff a market wage is important — they ensure his ability to have choices, get out in the community, and live as independently as possible. Parker expressed concerns about staff pay across Missouri as well, and she talked about the best ways to advocate, what she’s learned, and the relationships she’s built with legislators on both sides of the political aisle.

Jeffrey Foust speaks at the rally.

In addition to attending the empowering rally, Emmaus advocates went to 14 appointments with state senators and representatives. The advocates had positive interactions, and legislators enjoyed meeting our client self-advocates and the staff who support them.

Staff and clients also got to hang out with and take pictures with Miss Missouri 2023, Hayley Leach, and her brother, Matthew Leach. Hayley’s platform focuses on autism acceptance and awareness. She’s influenced by her brother, who is on the autism spectrum. They also spoke at the rally.

The DRLD rally is on YouTube. Jeffrey Foust’s speech begins at 39 minutes, and Susie Parker’s speech begins at 1 hour 5 minutes. 

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