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

**Message from CEO**

Friends with Disabilities would like to thank our participants for showing strength in the uncertainties of the year 2020. Even though we were venerable to the COVID -19, you connected and communicated with us. It demanded our leadership to act and to do it quickly.

Friends with Disabilities is a part of the disability community and we are with you!

Friends with Disabilities received 168 calls last year regarding immediate needs, such as supplies to remain safe, transportation to pick up medicines, food, and someone to understand and to just talk. May June and July were remarkably busy for the organization. When you find a unique opportunity to make a real difference, you focus on it and constantly reassess results.

 We relied on the resources available in our area as well as using donated items and emergency needs funding.

Friends with Disabilities discovered during this pandemic, that we have unreported needs in services for people with disabilities, especially people of color who are disabled.

FWD unapologetically confirmed that more needs to be done for and by people with disabilities . This is not in isolated to Kalamazoo, but this is an issue in many places around the world.

We must listen to those who are disabled and have them be a part of  the decision-making bodies!

Remember the  only thing that is constant is change, so let us continue building connections! 

Sharmese Anderson, CEO

Paul Mayfield, Operations Director/ZOOMCAST

Highlights from 2020

FwD Podcasts began.
Two episodes are available.

FwD New Website was launched.

5/19 Meet & Greet via Zoom COVID-19 zoom resource Series

6/2 I asked the therapist with Dr. Bernice Patterson
6/9 adapting to the new normal
6/16 Community resource sharing
6/23 staying safe

7/28 how to register to vote and the 2020 census via zoom

8/25 Lakeview park included games and catered lunch

9/11 LIVE Entertainment w/ FwD featuring DJ short-e
and comedian, Don Mayfield
9/29 how to make healthy meals with pantry staples
partnered with community health, equity and inclusion department
at Bronson wellness Center

10/13 Bowling (15) attended
10/29 Galesburg- Ziplining, nature trail bonfire ( Cancellation) COVID 19

11/17 Board Of Directors Meeting appointed
new Vice President, Charmise Knox, and new secretary , Holly Dunigan

12/11 – Holiday Celebration ( ZOOM) (Edye Hyde Evans- Jazz Singer)
(23 attended)


“Inclusion Starts With You”


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


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

Highlight for the month of October - Diabetes and Glaucoma

Diabetes and Glaucoma

Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough—or any—insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells.

Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems. Although diabetes has no cure, you can take steps to manage your diabetes and stay healthy.

Sometimes people call diabetes “a touch of sugar” or “borderline diabetes.” These terms suggest that someone doesn’t really have diabetes or has a less serious case, but every case of diabetes is serious.

Diabetes affects just about everyone, from the over 110 million Americans with or at risk for the disease to the many more people who care for them.

What are the different types of diabetes?

The most common types of diabetes are type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes

If you have type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. Your immune system attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can appear at any age. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin every day to stay alive.

Type 2 diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes, your body does not make or use insulin well. You can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, even during childhood. However, this type of diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.

Gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes develops in some women when they are pregnant. Most of the time, this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born. However, if you’ve had gestational diabetes, you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Sometimes diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is actually type 2 diabetes.

How common is diabetes?

As of 2015, 30.3 million people in the United States, or 9.4 percent of the population, had diabetes. More than 1 in 4 of them didn’t know they had the disease. Diabetes affects 1 in 4 people over the age of 65. About 90-95 percent of cases in adults are type 2 diabetes.1

Who is more likely to develop type 2 diabetes?

You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are age 45 or older, have a family history of diabetes, or are overweight. Physical inactivity, race, and certain health problems such as high blood pressure also affect your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. You are also more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you have prediabetes or had gestational diabetes when you were pregnant. Learn more about risk factors for type 2 diabetes.


The second leading cause of blindness, glaucoma is a serious medical condition that affects more than 2.2 million Americans. The term glaucoma actually refers to a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve. The symptoms of glaucoma come on gradually and you cannot detect them yourself; regular professional eye examinations are the only way to find out if you have glaucoma. With early detection and continued treatment, vision can, in most cases, be saved.


Glaucoma is actually a group of diseases that affect the optic nerve. As the progression of damage to the optical nerve continues, vision loss begins.

What are the different types of glaucoma?

There are four main types of glaucoma:

  • Open angle glaucoma, the most common type
  • Closed/narrow angle glaucoma
  • Secondary glaucoma – due to surgery or other eye diseases such as diabetes, eye inflammation, or trauma
  • Congenital glaucoma –glaucoma that is present from birth or developed within the first year of life due to a number of malformations

Will glaucoma cause blindness?

Not everyone who has glaucoma goes blind. Those with closed angle glaucoma have a greater chance of severe vision loss. Early diagnosis is key, as early treatment can preserve vision. Adherence to treatment prescribed by your ophthalmologist will improve the chances of preserving your vision. Once you lose vision and have damage to the optic nerve from glaucoma, there is no reversing it.

Who is at risk for glaucoma?

Everyone has a risk of developing glaucoma. However, there are several factors that increase this risk:

  • Age –risk increases significantly after age 60
  • Race – African or Hispanic ancestry
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Ocular factors such as farsightedness or nearsightedness, past eye injury, or having a thinner cornea
  • Systemic factors such as diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, migraines, thyroid disease and obstructive sleep apnea
  • Some medications, such as steroids

How is glaucoma diagnosed?

It is very important to have regular eye exams. An optometrist or ophthalmologist will perform a complete exam, and, if signs of glaucoma are present, you will be referred for a comprehensive glaucoma evaluation. During the glaucoma evaluation, your eye pressure will be measured, the thickness of your cornea will be measured, your eye’s drainage angle will be evaluated, and the optic nerve will be inspected through a series of photos. Your field of vision will also be tested in order to see if any vision loss has occurred.

What are the treatment options?

There are several routes for treating glaucoma and compliance with your doctor’s treatment plan is imperative. Treatment plans include:

  • Medication, through the use of drops
  • Laser treatment, which allows fluid buildup to drain from the eye
  • Surgery, which creates a new avenue for fluid to drain from the eye

Current treatments can slow down the damage to cells in the eye so that functional vision is retained through the lowering of eye pressure. If eye pressure is lowered to a safe level, you will still need constant monitoring by an ophthalmologist to ensure the glaucoma does not progress.


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5047 West Main Street #110
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009