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Local Nonprofit Spreads Message of Empowerment Through Social Media, Website and Employees
Our Monday Maine Maven today is Darryl Wood, the executive director of Life Enrichment Advancing People, Inc., better known locally as LEAP.
The support required for individuals is based on functional needs and is developed through Person Centered Planning.
Providing individualized support to people in Central and Western Maine, LEAP works to empower persons to lead joyful lives with dignity, independence, and autonomy.
Darryl has a medical background in nursing. He is interested in leadership and best practices for nonprofits, as well as supporting people with IDD.
On a personal level, Darryl loves to spend time with his family and in the outdoors. An avid sportsman and woodlands wanderer, he maintains a Maine Guides license, in hopes that someday there is part of a living in that.
1.) Darryl, you have been working with LEAP for over 15 years. How did you first get started with this organization?
I came to LEAP in 1997 after working as an administrator in assisted living for a number of years. I had become dissatisfied working for a large company with an inflexible management style that often limited person centered decision making in working with families and patients.
A nurse consultant I was working with at the time suggested I check out LEAP. What I found was a company where the management philosophy and values seemed to match the nonprofit mission. I applied and was hired as an intermediate care facility administrator.
Since that time, I have had a variety of roles in administration, training and staff development- eventually ending up as the organization’s executive director.
What forms of marketing and PR do you use to share your key messages? Do the Web and social media play a role in disseminating information about your services?
Mostly our marketing has been done locally, through word of mouth and through the events we organize.
It’s not like we provide a commodity, we provide a service and we support people, so our approach is different and has to be very well thought out.
I am fond of saying our best marketing plan is our employees, how they do their work and speak about the company. That being said, we are evolving into a new era, where we need to be more visible, share more stories and generate more income form more diverse sources. This will require a better plan for getting the word out.
Currently we use our website www.leapcommunity.org, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest as social media sites. We do like to share what we do, as well as link people to what is going on nationally for people with intellectual disabilities.
3.) At NMC, we stress that trust plays a major role in brand management. How do you and your staff at LEAP encourage your target audiences (donors, volunteers, and the people you serve) that they can trust LEAP?
We stress leadership principles at all levels of the organization- collaborative decision making, transparency and attention to mission centric thinking.
We feel honesty begets trust, and hard work earns respect. Trust is earned one person and one accomplishment at a time. The stories we are able to show are usually the result of a lot of behind the scene efforts.
When people pay attention, they will see the difference LEAP makes in how we support people.
4.) After many years of experience working in this field, have you noticed a change in the way the media covers stories about people with cognitive or developmental disabilities?
If so, how has it changed? If not, how would you like to see it change?
I think so. People with cognitive or intellectual disabilities are being seen and depicted as valued people with a lot of benefits to society.
I believe we are all people of varying abilities, and the more we focus on what people can do, versus what they cannot, the more empowered they feel, and it shows up in many ways.
The old stereotypes are fading away, and people are accepted and portrayed more and more in the media for who they are as an individual. If you are born with a significant disability, usually that is a lifelong condition which requires some level of support to live and function.
LEAP tries to help people thrive, to give them a reason to get up in the morning and look forward to the day.
I also think that empowered people are better self-advocates, and so will not be silent to the injustices of the past if they are attempted to be resurrected.