“Thank You” Is Not Enough
In March, just before the explosion of virus-related confusion and chaos, I celebrated my 20th anniversary at Arkansas Support Network. I was 19 years old when I started working at ASN as a part-time direct support professional. Outside of my parents, my sister, and a few close childhood friends, my relationship with ASN is longer than any other relationship in my life, and it is, without a doubt, the most influential relationship I’ve ever had. I have grown and developed in ways I could have never imagined in 20 years, much because of ASN. There is no doubt, I am who I am today because of the past 20 years with this organization.
At ASN, I have learned to see the world through a lens of justice and to value the humanity in every person I meet. I’ve learned to believe and trust in the power of community and to recognize the strength in connection and kinship. I’ve come to understand that we are all far greater and more valuable than our worst characteristics and biggest mistakes. I have learned that a person has no rights if they do not have the right to fail or be wrong, and I’ve learned that none of us are free unless all of us are free, all because of my relationship with ASN.
I’ve had the privilege to share space and time with some of the most genuine and authentic human beings on the planet, and I am a better person because of my relationship with ASN.
And I am not alone.
Thousands of people throughout the state of Arkansas have been impacted by the work and philosophy of Arkansas Support Network since the organization was founded in 1988. ASN was born, as Family Support Network at the time, as the result of a group of mothers who refused to accept the traditional education and disability service system as support options for their children. Driven by love for their kids, that group of moms literally changed the world for so many people. They envisioned new ways of supporting people with disabilities and, in doing so, they solidified opportunities for people to be supported and empowered to live real lives in their communities, not just to be “taken care of”. Those women established an organization that has spent 32 years building community for people with disabilities and their families, challenging the assumptions that some people are less valuable than others, and fighting to create a more inclusive world.
Kerry George was one of the founding mothers of Arkansas Support Network and a long-term board member and leader of the organization. She was an educator and a visionary, and she made an important difference in the lives of more people than we could ever count. Kerry spent her life teaching, valuing people, and seeing the possibilities others did not see. Her love for her daughter drove Kerry to explore better ways to support people and, in doing so, created opportunities for so many people to live meaningful lives. Kerry George empowered people to make decisions and to make contributions. She valued people and helped so many find their voice and their power. Kerry assisted in authoring the values and philosophy that have guided ASN for three decades and will continue to guide the organization for decades to come. Because of her contributions, people who would have otherwise lived their lives in institutions and facilities own their own homes, are productive members of the workforces, and have families of their own.
On Sunday, April 19th, 2020, Kerry George passed away. The life she lived was a gift to so many of us, and the differences she made are immeasurable. The entire Arkansas Support Network family mourns the loss of a founding mother, and we are eternally grateful for the contributions she made.
“Thank you” will never be enough to express the gratitude we have for the differences Kerry made, but if your life has been impacted by her vision, compassion, and work, we encourage you to share your gratitude with her family. You can comment here or leave a message on the Tribute Wall at https://www.mooresfuneralchapel.com/obituaries/Kerry-George/.
Thank you, Kerry George, for changing the world for us. Rest in Love!