Liberty Mutual has been a key funder for us at PYD for over 20 years and is one of the few with a specific focus on helping people with disabilities. They largely fund our inclusion services, allowing us to train 1,323 individuals at 125 organizations in disability inclusion this past fiscal year. Without Liberty Mutual, our learn platform would be nonexistent. Although most of the funding goes toward our inclusion efforts, a percentage also supports our mentoring program, as Liberty Mutual recognizes the importance of disability inclusion and mentoring youth with disabilities.
Liberty Mutual decided to get involved with PYD for one simple reason: to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.
Through research and working alongside us, the insurance company recognizes the magnitude of isolation that people with disabilities face throughout their lifetime, explains Melissa MacDonnell, President of the Liberty Mutual Foundation. With the help of inclusive programs like arts, culture, sports, and athletic play, they believe it helps to break down barriers to life by providing resources to help youth socialize, network, develop soft skills, enter the workforce, and live a self-fulfilling life.
Melissa explained that even at the inception of the insurance company there was a focus on people with disabilities. When Liberty Mutual was founded, its heritage was aimed to help people with temporary disabilities who were injured during workplace accidents. Essentially, it was a workers’ comp company.
In support of the COVID-19 global health crisis, the company took important steps to assist the disabled community during this time. In March when the Coronavirus started to become a significant threat to the public, Liberty Mutual extended their arm to their community partners to make emergency funds available with the goal of ensuring accessibility for all.
Some of their community partners like Best Buddies Massachusetts received grants to provide essential technology necessary for virtual program delivery. The Developmental Evaluation and Adjustment Facilities, Inc. received a grant to help support the sharing of important health-related information to Boston’s deaf community. At PYD we were gracious to receive a grant to help provide technology and resources to our program participants in order for youth to take part in online programming at home.
Melissa hopes other organizations will keep people with disabilities in mind during the pandemic. Even without the current health crisis, it’s very easy for people with disabilities to be left out and isolated.
“I think that when you get a pandemic on top of that, you have people that are naturally being isolated and left out. It multiplies the situation for people with disabilities and makes it a lot harder,” explains Melissa.
She also pointed out the issue that for all youth, there’s going to be academic loss, but for young people with disabilities, the loss will be more significant. The deprivation will be a higher risk for youth with disabilities because the expertise of a homeschooling parent is most likely not the same as those of a teacher or special education professional.
“That’s a big risk for young people with disabilities. I’ve even seen that in my own family. Students aren’t getting the same expertise.”
Thank you, Liberty Mutual for your many years of support to our organization and allowing us to help initiate change in our community to better the lives of youth with disabilities.
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