Friends with Disabilities is excited to share a great video by A. Rashid Deme.

FwD has been featured in Second Wave Media.


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)


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

``Inclusion Starts With You``


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

SERVICE/GUIDE DOGS is the highlight for this month.

Highlight for the month of September - SERVICE/GUIDE DOGS

A service dog or animal is one that helps guide people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person to take their medications, calming a person with anxiety or suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or performing other duties.

Service dogs are dogs are specially trained dogs for patients with disabilities. The hearing dog is a special kind of service dog which are trained to help the hearing impaired and deaf people. They help by alerting the disabled when it hears important sounds such as phone rings, doorbells, alarm clocks and smoke alarms. They are of great help not only within the house, but also outdoors. They alert the handler when someone calls out the person’s name, approaching sirens, and forklifts. Hearing dogs can be recognized by the bright orange leash and collar they are made to wear. Sometimes they even wear a jacket or a cape which can be of any color.

Some service dogs are also trained as mobility assistance dog to help a physically handicapped person. They are trained to open and close doors, pick up things, and even turn on and off the switches. Dogs with larger build are also trained to pull patients in wheelchairs. They do this with the help of a special harness which facilitates them to pull objects.

They are also trained as walker dogs, which are also nicknamed as living canes. They help patients with Parkinson’s disease and other disorders. They assist their owners with the help of their gait and also provide balance while walking. In case the handler falls off, the dog helps to regain position by acting as a brace. All kinds of mobility assistance dogs are allowed in areas where pet aren’t allowed, like in public places and transportations.

Dogs are also trained for assisting people with Type 1 diabetes. They are service dogs trained to smell the odor changes in the body which helps to determine hypoglycemia or low blood glucose. Another type of service dogs is seizure response dog. They help patients with epilepsy or seizure disorder. They help to seek help in case of emergency, block the handler with absence seizures, pull dangerous objects away from the body, and wake up the unconscious patient. They are also trained to use a pre-programmed phone. They also provide physical and emotional support and also carry information about the patient’s medical condition.

Service dogs are also trained to help people with psychiatric disabilities such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, autism, and post traumatic stress disorder. They alert the handler to take medicines, and also help people having hallucinations, paranoia or alerting behaviors. They also act as a brace and help to retrieve objects. Dogs which help the visually impaired people or blind people are known as guide dogs. They help the handler to walk around obstacles. But the disadvantage here is that dogs are partially color blind. They cannot see red and green color, so they cannot help the blind with traffic signals. They even cannot be trained to interpret street signs.


October 15th marks White Cane Safety Day which is celebrated on this date around the world. In the United States, it is a national observance, which was first celebrated in 1964, after the proclamation by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

White Cane Day celebrates the achievements of blind or visually impaired people. A white cane is an important mobility tool for such people as well as the symbol of their independence.

Canes have been used by blind people for centuries, but the white cane was introduced in the early 20th century. Canes were painted white to be more easily visible. For blind people, the white cane is an essential tool that gives them the ability to achieve a full and independent life.

For centuries, a traveling tool has existed giving people who are blind or visually impaired the ability to get around safely and independently anywhere they choose to go: the white cane. This piece of equipment also serves as an indication to others that the user is blind or visually impaired.

  • 1937: Michigan began promoting the white cane as a visible symbol for people who are blind. A bill was written and proposed in the Michigan state legislature, giving the carrier of the white cane protection while traveling on the streets of Michigan. It was signed into law in 1937.

Today, the white cane is recognized as a means for empowering and identifying people who are blind or visually impaired around the world.


Types of White Canes:

Today’s white canes take various forms with slightly different functions.

  • The standard mobility caneis long, white and lightweight. It is used to navigate obstacles from the vibrational feedback provided as the cane is tapped or slid along the ground.
  • The support caneis rigid and helps with physical stability. It is used by people with visual impairments who also have mobility challenges.
  • The ID caneis a small, foldable cane used by people with partial sight to let others know they have a visual impairment. Its purpose is identification, not mobility.

Did you Know? White canes are made from aluminum, fiberglass or carbon fiber, and can weigh as little as seven ounces.


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5047 West Main Street #110
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009