As staff, it is always a gift for us to advocate for our students and help them find some path toward resolving conflicts with their peers, assisting them with building new skills at their own pace and helping them scratch for the increments of success. It is true that whether or not we live with a disability, none of us are able to thrive unless we have advocates in our corner. On that note, it was time for the traditional roles to be reversed on the date of Monday, February 13, 2023 when students and staff of the College Experience gathered in the War Room of the State Capitol Building to advocate for the 8.5% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) that will benefit human services workers in the not-for-profit sector of this field.

The fact remains that the entire human service industry has a high turnover rate considering there are other places where people may go to earn more money to provide for themselves and their loved ones. There are even some franchises in the fast-food industry where someone may go to earn more money. There are incremental raises in our field dictated by the government, but they are adjusted to the trend of inflation. Living Resources continues to strive for excellence and has successfully campaigned for bonus funds, especially for those employees who made the choice to get vaccinated to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19 to this vulnerable population. But much of our funding comes from private donors as well as the government. We still have a long way to go but are fortunate to have a decent number of supporters including those in high places such as Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara who has a child on the autism spectrum that has benefited from having loyal staff. In fact, Assemblymember Santabarbara may actually be seen in the second photograph in the center of the crowd wearing a tan jacket!

We are proud of our students for helping us step up to the plate and reminding lawmakers about the importance of holding onto qualified staff who deserve a wage that allows them to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. We want our staff to be able to pay bills with ease and have the financial flexibility to use disposable income to pamper themselves during pockets of downtime!

Everybody deserves those reasonable conveniences, especially those who give all of themselves to help our students and other individuals served throughout Living Resources to reach for the stars.