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  • Tue, November 29, 2011 9:09 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Deanna Tharpe, DSAIA Executive Director

    Over the past month, I’ve watched lots of my Facebook friends post daily to “give thanks” for their families, their friends, their health and other (sometimes very creative) things.  When you are named in one of the posts, it just makes your day.    It makes you feel that you have had an impact on someone’s life.  That is how organization leaders should approach thanking our donors and volunteers….by reminding them of the impact of their donation whether it be money or service. 

    As the DSAIA Education and Training Committee works to complete our “Creative Ways to Say Thanks” webinar scheduled for December 7th, we are constantly reminded that showing your gratitude is more than just saying the words.  It is SHOWING your donors, volunteers and board/staff that their contribution was important, that it made a difference.  Impact.  Everyone wants their time, money or talent to have an impact.  So, tell them.  Show them.  Help them to understand that their donation to your walk helped to purchase a New Parent Packet for a new family.  Help them to understand that the hours that they spent serving or cleaning at the annual picnic meant smiles on the faces of the families you serve.  Explain that each minute spent in that board meeting equates to quality programs that benefit individuals.  Make it personal….make it real. 

    To take a slide out of our upcoming webinar: “the deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”  So when you are thanking your donors seven times and trying to do it more creatively and without spending their donation….remember to make it real for them.  Show them their impact.  And, whatever you do, do NOT forget your volunteers, your board or your staff!  We’ve got some great ideas lined up for you in the upcoming webinar.  After all, as we near the end-of-year push for last-minute giving, what better time is there to say thanks?

    The “Creative Ways to Say Thanks” webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 1 pm Eastern and is available for DSAIA members only.  To register, click here.

  • Tue, November 22, 2011 7:19 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Deanna Tharpe, DSAIA Executive Director

    Many years ago at an inclusion conference, Paula Kluth and I were talking about how wonderful it is to see all the parents get “re-energized” by attending.  She said something that has really stuck with me.  She said that we all needed to come “drink from the well” every once in a while.  I wrote an article short after that for my local organization’s newsletter about “drinking from the well” in regards to parent attendance at conferences, meetings and such.  I think it also applies to affiliate leaders as well.

    Coming back from the NDSC convention in San Antonio, I was recharged with enthusiasm from seeing old friends, meeting new ones and extolling the virtues of DSAIA to anyone who would listen.  And I looked around and saw many parents getting that much-needed drink from the “well”.   For affiliate leaders, that thirst may go beyond parenting issues, health concerns and educational strategies.  It may morph into thoughts about the sustainability of their organization, making the most of their resources, and reaching as many in need as they possibly can. 

    That is why Down syndrome support group leaders will find the DSAIA “well” so refreshing.  Bringing your leadership to Washington D.C. in 2012 will mean more to your organization’s continued success than you can imagine.  For those who attend each year and continue to bring more and more of their board and staff, it’s obvious to them that they are investing in their organization when they pay that registration fee.  What about you?  I can’t tell you what you will take home from the conference…I can only tell you that my first DSAIA conference was a real eye-opener.  I attended alone, but I made sure that I brought board members with me the next year.  I knew that I could not obtain this type of knowledge or amount of resources from any other source.  It was almost overwhelming. 

    As groups begin to register for the conference and we open our online community, I think it is time to take the cover off.  So, I invite you to come drink from the well February 29 – March 3, 2012 as groups from all over the country meet to learn, to share and to connect.  Now, if you’ll excuse me….we’re busy filling up the well for you. 


    To register or find out more about the upcoming conference (which includes NDSS' Buddy Walk on Washington) visit today!

  • Tue, November 15, 2011 5:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Mark Leach, DSAIA Board Member, DS-Louisville Board Member

    Today, at 12:30 pm Eastern, the Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action longest running task force will hold its monthly conference call. We invite you to consider joining if you want to play a role in addressing the challenges our community faces with the advances being made in prenatal testing.

    "IDM TF" stands for the Informed Decision Making Task Force. Founded and chaired by DSAIA Board Member Mark Leach after the 2008 AIA conference, it holds a monthly conference call to discuss current events and actions by members concerning prenatal testing for Down syndrome. The name was chosen to reflect the mission of the participants of improving informed decision making in the prenatal testing context.

    Recent headlines make this Task Force all the more relevant. Last month, Sequenom introduced its new, highly sensitive prenatal screening test for Down syndrome in 20 cities. This new test is expected to dramatically increase the number of women who accept prenatal testing. However, as researchers of the test noted, educational materials are needed for both physicians and patients to ensure informed decision making.

    The IDM TF has played a role in developing and distributing those materials. The group has served as a sounding board for the development of the free book at; has distributed copies of "Understanding a Down Syndrome Diagnosis;" has shared with medical professionals the on-line training module,; and, promotes the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network (

    The IDM TF also serves as a conduit for grass roots advocacy on issues concerning prenatal testing. An example is the support members provided for passage of the Kennedy-Brownback-sponsored "Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act."

    If you are interested in what the future holds for our community and want to get involve in addressing the challenges we face, feel free to e-mail Mark Leach at You will be added to the monthly e-mail alert with the call in information for the next call. Calls run just over an hour and are always lively and informative, with a dose of humor to lighten things up.

  • Tue, November 08, 2011 7:55 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Deanna Tharpe, DSAIA Executive Director

    Downtime.  Do we really have it anymore?  I read a very interesting article on that topic recently.  I guess I had not really thought about it much, but now it’s really on my mind.  The article pointed out that with our continual link to the outside world, “downtime” may become a thing of the past.  Think about it…email, texts, tweets.  They can get to us in some form or fashion at any time of the day.  We are on our laptops or we are constantly checking our smartphone.  Most of us are shackled to Facebook when at one time we had more time away from “input”.

    Teachers have been complaining about this for a long time.  Class after class after class and in between there is no time to plan.  So they are forced to spend family time at home working on lesson plans, grading papers and the like.  I had one teacher tell me that she’d love to have a couple of hours during the school day to brainstorm ways to help individual students achieve more. 

    Even with this in my data storage for years, I never made the connection that I also needed that time to brainstorm.  Going from meeting to project to phone call to email…and during each of these I am texting, checking Hootsuite, writing an article, updating the website.  When do I have time to brainstorm or take that 50,000 foot view of my organization?  Actually – the only time I’ve had lately is the shower!  Oh, you know what I’m talking about….it’s quiet, you’re relaxed and then…Boom!  An idea hits you!  You jump out with shampoo in your hair to get to a pad and paper so you can write it down before it’s gone forever.

    That is why we need downtime.  Because during those precious moments when technology cannot interfere, our brain begins to work.  It’s really an amazing tool, that noggin of ours.  And if we can just give it a little time to work things out, it will.  I know you are busy, but every once in a while you have to take a break from the world so you can help fix its problems.  So here is your homework for the week:  Allot some downtime for yourself at least 3 times and see what comes of it.  If you don’t come up with a brilliant idea, at least you got some peace and quiet.

  • Tue, November 01, 2011 10:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Joe Meares, DSAIA President

    When my four kids were younger, each Easter, I would hide dozens of eggs around our house, yard and woods for them to find.

    Once they gave up, it was up to me to walk the entire course to retrieve the eggs not found or to lead them to the still-hidden treasures.

    This was logical because I’d hidden the eggs and only I knew where they all were!

    If you think of your repository as a great big yard filled with Easter eggs and in some are exactly the treasure you’re seeking, then, please remember Deanna is the one who “hid the eggs”. Deanna KNOWS where all the treasures are.

    OK, I thought of the Easter egg analogy after I asked Deanna for a pie chart with a breakdown of items in the repository and all the pretty colors reminded me of Easter eggs.

    I REALIZE there is a risk in comparing items in our repository to well-hidden eggs, but it’s just an analogy!

    I asked for the chart after visiting with several DSAIA members recently.

    A couple of things I heard:

    An E.D. was looking for something specific in the repository and couldn’t find it. She called another organization and borrowed their document. I asked Deanna to look for the same item and it turns out there are 18 examples in our inventory. This E.D. only saw one example.

    A board president asked me if Deanna was a volunteer or staff. With the belief she was a volunteer, this board president wanted to respect Deanna’s time and seldom asked for help. She also said as a volunteer herself, she doesn’t always have time to find what she needs in the repository.

    To be clear as a crystal egg-- Deanna is staff.

    Deanna’s job is to provide support for DSAIA members. That SUPPORT includes leading you to the treasure- filled eggs in the repository. After all, only Deanna knows where everything is hidden.

    We have over 800 items in our egg hunt now and it continues to grow. There has to be a limit of the categories, so, sometimes finding exactly what you want takes a little digging.

    Helping you find what you need IS Deanna’s job and it’s a service your membership in DSAIA entitles you to.

    I encourage all of you to take advantage and just ask where your golden egg is hidden.

    The colorful pie chart also shows some thin slices. That will be the grits for my next blog and I’m sure Deanna will tell me when it’s due. That too, is her job!

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I want to tell you what WONDERFUL time I had at the conference. I learned so much and came away with lots of ideas for our organization. -Barb Waddle, The Upside of Downs of Northeast Ohio


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