I’m going to break some rules. I’m going to get personal. I’m going to use the dreaded “I” word shunned by “them”, the serious writers with objective integrity. See I’m doing it already. And again. Oh my…five times in the first two lines.  One finds it’s not easy to stop once one starts. I can see why “they” tell “us” not to do “it”. Great. Now I’m being nonsensical, superfluous, and redundant with my quotations and adjectives. I think I’d better stick to breaking the one rule for now and just get personal. Because finding a place like Project id trying to grow and serve our community is personally an incredible feeling.  One that I would like to share, with you.

Watching a video about Project id and the people involved.

Watching a video about the people involved with Project id.

In their own words, “Project id is a nonprofit organization established to provide recreation, socialization, work, personal development, and transitional opportunities to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Spokane County. Based on a unique combination of faith, business, mental health, and sports principles, our goal is to build a vibrant and thriving community of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We aim to provide education, life enhancing experiences, and treatment support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a safe and nurturing environment.”

To summarize what that means to me, I’d say it means hope, and a little more piece of mind. I have two sons, eight and ten, on the autistic spectrum. Each day, each week, each month brings new surprises, new ways they exceed everyone’s expectations, especially their own. But that future ten years or so down the road feels like it’s right around the corner. They’ll either graduate or age out of school, we don’t know. We don’t know how much they will learn and grow by then. They could keep blowing our expectations out of the water. But that future where they need support continuing into adulthood is a very real possibility. In the end I just want what most parents want for their children. I want them to be able to find happiness in life.

I think that’s enough about me though. There were some amazing people in attendance at the Winter Elegance 2016.  The six inches of snow on the ground that kept accumulating as the evening unfolded didn’t keep any of them away.

The Lincoln Center.

The Lincoln Center.

In from the cold.

In from the cold.

There were people like Brad Pierce, with his dates for the evening, his daughters Tabitha and Samantha.

There were all the people who bid on silent and live auction items.

Bidding on Washington wine country tasting tour package.

Bidding on Washington wine country tasting tour package.

This side of the room gets in on the bidding.

This side of the room gets in on the bidding.

This gentleman decided he wasn't spending enough and overbid himself.

This gentleman decided he wasn’t spending enough and overbid himself.

There were people like Erin Anderson,who volunteered the day of the event to help emcee the live auction when the position became open at the last minute, and all the other volunteers.

Erin Anderson with his wife Carol.

Erin Anderson with his wife Carol.

Recognizing just some of the many volunteers who helped make the night happen.

Recognizing just some of the many volunteers who helped make the night happen.

There were people like The Sweeplings, Cami Bradley and Whitney Dean, who personally auctioned off a package of their music and capped the evening with a performance.

Whitney Dean offers a custom-recorded Sweeplings ringtone as an additional bonus to the winning bidder.

Whitney Dean offers a custom-recorded Sweeplings ringtone as an additional bonus to the winning bidder.

The Sweeplings perform.

The Sweeplings perform.

Cami Bradley sings.

Cami Bradley sings.

And there were people like Rosie Meyers who spent thirty hours working on this quilt.

Rosie Meyers with the quilt.

Rosie Meyers with the quilt.

Tag on the quilt up for live auction.

Tag on the quilt up for live auction.

I found Brad Pierce and his daughters again later in the evening during the live auction, when they were bidding on that very quilt.

Can we dad? Can we?

Can we dad? Can we?

What do moments like this feel like for a father? I think I know, at least a little. It’s probably something like what I feel when another of my boys asks me when we can make sandwiches to give to homeless people again. Or when I took him out for his birthday dinner a few weeks ago and on the way back to the car he asked if we were going to give some pizza to the woman trying to earn a meal selling jewelry on the curb. As tough as some times can get (because he’s still a kid and I’m still a worried dad and we are all human after all), the times when he talks endlessly about the toys he wants, or when he’s not so kind to other kids, I think of those other moments when he can see past himself and see that he can help people. I just want him to be happy.  I want him to think about what real happiness feels like.  And those moments make me think that he’s getting it, he’s learning a way to do that at his young age, when it’s taken me almost four decades to figure it out.

It’s no surprise dad said yes.

Brad Pierce gives his daughter Samantha permission to bid on the quilt.

Brad Pierce gives his daughter Samantha permission to bid on the quilt.

Proud owners of a new quilt.

Proud owners of a new quilt.

Project id is doing amazing work, and they are just getting started.  I spoke with Executive Director Bob Hutchinson about that.

They almost had to shut down because they don’t own their facility.  I hope that problem gets solved soon, and that they are able to grow and fulfill the plans they have.  Because they have big plans for getting our adult population with intellectual disabilities involved in service learning programs and entrepreneurship, and for creating transitional living spaces.  It’s going to take community support for them to be able to actualize their ambitious plans, and from what I saw at Winter Elegance, we are living in a community that values those plans and wants Project id to succeed in it’s mission.