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Nonprofit Gives Voice to Underrepresented in Storytelling Project

May 11, 2024

“Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn’t mean he lacks vision.” – Stevie Wonder

Black Hills Works, for one, does not lack vision. Founded in 1958, the nonprofit, which serves about 600 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is the only one of its kind in the region. With the support of an SDHC grant, it is publishing a book featuring at least 65 individuals – South Dakotans whose stories are rarely told.

The organization will launch the book, Journeys of Hope: 65 People With disABILITIES Share Their Stories of Hope, Purpose, and Possibility, with a public panel discussion May 16 from 4-6 pm MT at the Suzie Cappa Art Center, 722 St. Joseph Street in Rapid City.

During the event, individuals featured in the book will be available to share their stories. Dr. Andrea Serna (President) and Kristina Roth (Grants Officer) of Black Hills Works Foundation will facilitate the discussion.

Roth hopes the book will build understanding and expand relationships in our state between people of all abilities. “Individuals with disabilities contribute to our communities in countless ways,” she said. “Their stories are our stories. They show us repeatedly that intellectual abilities do not determine how meaningful and complete someone’s life is.”

Since its inception, Black Hills Works has sought to amplify the voices of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities by providing individualized supports so those it serves can realize their potential and live as independently as possible. Historically, South Dakotans with disabilities have been excluded and ignored. This project will allow citizens to hear their stories and engage with them.

Serna is eager to share the book, and the “incredible tenacity” of the individuals it features, with the public. “Journeys of Hope is an amazing testament to the lives of 65 differently-abled citizens who call our great state home,” she said. “My hope is that this book touches the hearts of everyone who reads it, and in turn, fulfills each storyteller’s unique purpose on earth to make us better. We have already seen how much this project means to the 65 individuals whose stories have been told. Join us on May 16 to hear this directly from some of them!”

Copies of Journeys of Hope will be given free of charge to all individuals featured in the book, as well as to family members, area libraries, and others upon request. Copies will also be available at the Black Hills Works Foundation office in downtown Rapid City.

To learn more, please visit Black Hills Works or call (605) 343-4550. You may also contact SDHC at (605) 688-6113.

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