What’s David’s deal? He’s the CEO of The League for Disabled People in Baltimore, which created its own nightclub (among many other things for its members).
His drink: Hazelnut coffee
My drink: Coffee with cayenne pepper (that's my jam)
Random topics that came up: Polar Bear Plunge, implicit bias, MacKenzie Scott, white privilege.
“Welcome to Club 1111,” David said to a young man who had just gotten off a bus outside the club. “What’s your name?
“Billy,” he responded.
“And where are you coming from?”
“Cumberland,” Billy responded. The city was two-and-a-half hours from Baltimore, so this was a major time investment for Billy.
David thought the conversation had run its course, but Billy wasn’t finished.
“And I’m here to meet a woman.”
Like most visitors to Club 1111, Billy is disabled. Club 1111 exists just for people like him -- a once-monthly “nightclub” that gives them a chance to come together, dance and socialize.
David’s the CEO of The League for People with Disabilities, which holds the event in Baltimore once a month - or held, since is committed to providing the “opportunity to gain independence, increase self-sufficiency and to improve the quality of life.” I reached out because I loved the idea.
To many (including me), a certain quality of life is usually a given. And I don't think about disabled people's quality of life in that way. Who doesn't want to connect with others, to have fun, maybe even dance? I don't think about it often, but I did when I talked with David.
"Disabled people are people," he told me as we sipped our coffee. "They happen to have a disability. You need to see the person.”
That kind of tautology -- "disabled people are people" -- usually isn't necessary unless the underlying point is being missed. In this case, it all too often is. David was gently admonishing us all that we can forget that the disabled have the same human needs we all do. Connection. A break from the usual. Fun.
Club 1111 is, like almost everything else these days, entirely remote. The League still holds virtual clubs once a month, and they get people joining from all over. It’s not the same, of course, but David’s committed to finding those people -- those moments -- that are the reason the club exists.
At a recent virtual Club 1111, The participants and volunteers will dance or hold up signs. David features them as they catch his eye, highlighting the people who are excited or embracing the moment. As he scanned, he saw one woman moving -- it was only her arm, waving back and forth. She was dancing.
Just a person, doing her own dance. David brought her to the middle of the screen, so everyone could see her.
Fact about David: He was the first ever male graduate of American University’s Nursing School.
Fact about the world: According to the CDC, 26% of people in the U.S. are disabled in some way.
Want to feel good? Check this out.