Dear California Hands & Voices Family,
Happy New Year! I hope that everyone has had a chance to rest and recover from the unprecedented year that we have had in 2020. In the past year many of us were forced to deal with unexpected changes. For our children, especially our Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children, they needed our guidance at a critical point in time to help them adapt and transform their home and learning environments. Kudos to you for consistently pivoting to the vast changes, hanging in there, advocating, and learning new skills! Your resilience is a model that will leave a lasting impression. For families who have experienced a loss, whether it’s financial, spiritual, or human, we have been challenged to see beyond our current obstacles and hold on to the hope that no loss is in vain and that everything serves its purpose. My heartfelt care and compassion goes out to all of our families in need. Lastly, the world as we knew it has changed and we are no longer able to ignore the injustice some of us experience first hand. I hope that amidst the feelings of unrest and wherever you stand on the spectrum, that you know that California Hands & Voices is here for you to provide non-judgemental support, and that you feel that this is a safe space for you and your family.
Moving forward! This is what I have been looking forward to saying! As an organization, California Hands & Voices is dedicated to supporting all families with children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in a respectful and non-judgmental manner regarding language opportunities, communication tools or educational approaches. Because we are a Parent-Driven organization, we understand that the priorities of our families may have shifted. Along with that shift, we want to create opportunities for us to better understand your needs and how we can help you connect to the meaningful resources, networks, and information that improve communication access and educational outcomes for your children. We will be taking a closer look at our organization and in our leadership to focus on opportunities to infuse Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the work we already do. We intend to expand our outreach to find innovative opportunities to reach out to our most vulnerable populations including those individuals from underrepresented populations who reflect the rich diversity in our communities. We are on this journey together, and we hope you will give us an opportunity to learn from you.
I am so honored to serve as your President of California Hands & Voices and I am so proud of our team who breathe life into our organization. We are looking to expand our team to provide increased outreach, improve the quality of services for our existing programs, and strengthen our connections to the community. If you have a talent to share and are interested in becoming a part of California Hands & Voices, please reach out to . No talent, time, or treasure is insignificant and no matter what we will find a space for you to be involved and feel included! WE NEED YOU TO GUIDE US IN OUR JOURNEY so that we can live out our mission to provide outreach activities, parent/professional collaboration, and advocacy efforts focused on enabling ALL children who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing to reach their highest potential.
Thank you for being a part of our California Hands & Voices Family! I wish everyone a Happy and Peaceful New Year!
Rosabel Agbayani, MPH
California Hands & Voices Board President