Friends With Disabilities is expanding its services to Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Paul Mayfield will be the Executive Director of the Grand Rapids site.
He is in the process of seeking funding and recruiting participants.

If you know anyone who is interested in donating or joining , please contact Paul Mayfield at 248-460-6070.


FwD  is a  501 (c) 3 non-profit Community Benefit Organization, (CBO).


“Inclusion Starts With You”


To reach out to the community of individuals with disabilities in order to educate and promote inclusion.


‘Live Chats with Paul

It will air monthly with  topics and information that is important to our participants.

ZOOM LIVE  is right for us because:

  • It will provide us a great way to interact with our participants
  • It will give us a stronger connection
  • It will play in real time
  • Bring participants questions or comments into the broadcasting itself
  • Provide updates in a timely manner
  • Increase interaction with current participants
  • Broadcast for longer period
  • Its what the participants wants.

FwD Testimony


Individuals over the  age of 18 with a physical disability!

A disability is a natural part of the human condition, a state we can move in and out of as our life progresses. Disability is something people experience, not something they are. People experience disability on a continuum, from mild and temporary, to severe and lifelong.  Many people who experience disability might not consider themselves ‘disabled.’  For these reasons, we describe disability as a functional limitation, rather than a specific diagnosis. One in four Michigan residents has such limitations.  There is currently a disparity, or inequality, in health status between people who have disabilities, and people who don’t.

For example:

  • Nearly half of people with disabilities describe their health as fair or poor. Only 8% of people without disabilities describe their health this way.
  • People with disabilities acquire many chronic conditions (like diabetes, heart disease, and depression) at about three times the rate of people who do not have disabilities.
  • People with disabilities report significantly higher rates of obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity.

These disparities exist in part because there are barriers for people with disabilities in obtaining the information, activities and services that are necessary to achieve and maintain good health.

(Michigan Dept of Human Services (MDHS)- Strategic Plan2016-2018)

Resource Based:

FwD will provide a resource base that will create an atmosphere  where everyone will feel comfortable and cared for. The overall goal is to provide an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to live a gainful life while struggling through daily challenges.



  • CREATE an overall positive and exciting environment through activities and events.
  • LEARN more about disability issues.
  • TEACH the greater community proper etiquette when dealing with special populations.
  • BUILD connections and support systems that will foster life-long relationships.

Community Resources

1.  If you are in need of food and delivery please call: Loaves & Fishes
(269) 343-3663

2.  Kalamazoo Mental Health Assistance (medicaid and/or Medicare)
(269) 373-6000

3. (Now accepts EBT)
For Food pick-up & delivery  1-800-925-6278

People with Disabilities’ Bill of Rights

We believe that all people should enjoy certain rights. Because people with disabilities have consistently been denied the right to fully participate in society as free and equal members, it is important to state an affirm these rights. All people should be able to enjoy these rights, regardless of race, creed, color, sex, religion, or disability.

  1. The right to live independent, active, and full lives
  2. The right to the equipment, assistance, and support services necessary for full productivity, provided in a way that promotes dignity and independence.
  3. The right to an adequate income or wage, substantial enough to provide food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities of life.
  4. The right to accessible, integrated, convenient, and affordable housing.
  5. The right to quality physical and mental health care.
  6. The right to training and employment without prejudice or stereotype.
  7. The right to accessible transportation and freedom of movement.
  8. The right to bear or adopt and raise children and have a family.
  9. The right to a free and appropriate public education.
  10. The right to participate in and benefit from entertainment and recreation.
  11. The right to equal access to and use all businesses, facilities, and activities in the community.
  12. The right to communicate freely with all fellow citizens and those who provide services.
  13. The right to a barrier free environment.
  14. The right to a legal representation and full protection of all legal rights.
  15. The right to determine one’s own future and make one’s own life choices.
  16. The right to full access to all voting processes.

Letter from the CEO

Can you believe that we are already into the  last two weeks of July!  This  is a busy summer for our participants, with our planned events and activities.

Our participants are a  testament to  the importance of being connected, socializing, and interacting with others who understand their limitations as well as their abilities.

There is a strong confirmation on the impact that we are making with our monthly activities and events. Listening to the participants share their personal stories about the challenges they face  while living with a physical disability  and stepping up to assist where we can as an organization.

There is a new way of doing, planning, and scheduling events and activities. There is no “ NEW Normal” , but they are new ways to reach others and connect. As we explore new ways to stay connected, we must always remember to be inclusive of those with physical disabilities.

People with physical disabilities are being challenged in the Kalamazoo area with transportation needs.

Picking up prescriptions, going to the doctor or store can be an overwhelming experience. Some might say, why not take a “uber” . Let’s remember , to be eligible to utilize a uber, you must have a credit/debt card, and  the funds.

Friends with Disabilities  must continue to share  with our  community , the many barriers our participants face, such as financial resources, lack of  knowledge of available community resources, trusting organizations  and stigmas!

We are still hopeful that the VIRUS is behind us, and we can continue to increase our participants and volunteers. 

Friends with Disabilities will continue to develop partnerships and collaborations with other organizations  to make sure “voices” are heard by all and  they can continue to live more abundant, inclusive lives.

 Thank you! Together, INCLUSION, starts with US!

Sharmese D. Anderson
President and CEO

Month of September Topic: LUPUS

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that develops when the overactive immune system attacks the body’s tissues and organs, including the skin, brain, heart, lungs, blood cells, and joints. This chronic, incurable condition is life-altering but, if you suffer from lupus, there can be relief from the discomfort through carefully customized holistic care.

Understanding Lupus

Lupus presents in many ways and the severity of this autoimmune condition varies for every patient. Symptoms of lupus can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Confusion

Unfortunately, the symptoms of lupus can mimic many other conditions, making misdiagnosis of this disease common. A telltale sign of lupus that aids in diagnosis is the presence of a butterfly-shaped facial rash that forms along the cheeks and nose, though this symptom does not occur in all cases.

The most common type of lupus is called Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and it affects many different parts of the body. Cutaneous lupus is another form of the condition, which can cause a skin rash or lesion with exposure to sunlight. There is also a form of drug-induced lupus which is caused by an overreaction to certain medications, but the symptoms of this disease typically disappear once the problematic medicine is stopped.

Living with Lupus

Anyone can develop lupus, though there are some people who are more likely to develop the condition, including women between the ages of 15 and 44, particularly those of African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American descent.

Living with an autoimmune condition is a challenge and, at many times, it can be a depressing existence. Allowing lupus to charge along undeterred, however, is giving up. And this disease does not have to control your life. Your body’s immune system is attacking healthy cells by mistake. While mistakes cannot always be fixed completely, they can be minimized to cause as little destruction as possible.

Doing your best to address lupus can prevent the condition from developing into an even more serious health problem. Left untreated, lupus puts people at risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and stroke.

Lupus sufferers commonly experience flare-ups, which is when the symptoms of their disease get worse for a time and then improve. Though lupus is a chronic, autoimmune condition that has no cure, it is possible to minimize flare-ups and improve a patient’s quality of life through holistic treatment.


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5047 West Main Street #110
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009