Yesterday, I wrote an article for the Carlton County, South Carolina self-advocacy group that meets in Walterboro in our ministry newsletter.  When the group began about ten years ago, the members wanted to have dues.  They are minimal $1 per person, per meeting.  Things went well for a time, then one by one people stopped bringing their dues.  Sure, there were thre or four people who paid their dues, but most of the people “forgot.”

These dues were to pay for parties and other events.  At one party, the people who were not paying dues complained about the refreshments and that they had to help pay for the entertainment.  The members who had been giving regularly were not happy about the reactions of the people who had not been paying their dues.  They decided that it was time to put a stop to the fact that the members wanted parties and events but they didn’t want to help pay.

There was a new vote.  The result was that everyone would be required to pay the monthly dues if they were members.  If someone didn’t pay for one month, then the person was rquired to bring $2 the next month.  If the person did not pay after four months, they were no longer considered members; and they would not be allowed to go on the summer trips and events that are paid by the agency and friends who help sponsor the program.

Feathers were ruffled and people complained.  But the self-advocates stuck by their decision and they have not allowed non-paying members to continue to sponge off of the efforts and dues of a few people.  As a result, their membership has grown and people are actually taking real ownership of this important program.

There are times we feel that we must always help people who are disabled.  However, there are other times that their greatest growth comes from allowing people in the disability community to fail and then grow from failure.  That is, after all the way most of us grow, isn’t it?