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Header: Think differently about disabilities with AWS Foundation logo. Photo of a group of people with and without disabilities posing and smiliing together.
From the CEO
While we have yet to see the typical Midwestern January of snow and sub-zero wind chills in 2022, we have not escaped the oft-referenced most depressing month of the year. I so dread the sunless days of winter that my mantra of “the days are getting longer” starts on the December 21st solstice.

This is the time of the year that the offices at AWS Foundation are aglow, not with Christmas lights but with SAD desktop lights. Whether it is the grey days, the cold, the guilt of already failed resolutions, or CDR (Christmas Debt Remorse), we all struggle a bit with those post-holiday blues. And let’s not forget the challenges compounded with COVID.

There is a reason that January is Mental Wellness Month (not to be confused with May’s Mental Health Awareness Month). Remember, the lack of mental illness is not the same as the presence of mental health.

For the person with a disability, January can be that combination of negative events and conditions in freakish alignment and create the proverbial “Perfect Storm” for depression. 

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Opening Up

by: Andie Mosley
At AWSF, we often talk about inclusive hiring and how an organization has not truly accomplished diversity without including disability. To those outside of our staff, it may seem that we are touting a message in which we do not follow up with action. However, a person with a disability is working at AWS Foundation; me.

I only got my diagnosis a mere three years ago, so my coworkers have given me grace and the privilege of privacy until I was ready to take on this identity openly. While I am not ashamed, it is still new. For a while, I felt imposter syndrome. How could I openly declare I am disabled if, for 29 years, it went seemingly unnoticed? Even now, I’m sure I will get many remarks like “I would have never known” (don’t do this to disabled people, by the way). But that isn’t fair to myself or others like me who may not be able to hide. So, here I go:

I am autistic. 

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Support Educators

by: Joni Schmalzried
I know that it seems like it is impossible to read anything or turn on the TV without hearing about the ‘P’ or ‘C’ word (pandemic and COVID). The world, nation, and our communities are tired. Unlike much of what you read and hear, I promise this is not a political post about vaccines (though, seriously, please get them) or who controls what (my bet is still on the science of it all). I want to take a minute to urge you all to support your local educators.

I am referring to ALL of those in our school systems. Those who keep showing up – regardless of who might be sick in their classroom, who might be at an emotional breaking point, or who might be attacking them for who knows what today. I am aware, as I have been told that everyone doesn't see them in the same way as our front-line doctors/nurses, law enforcement, or health care workers. However, I am very aware that they are the ones keeping kids in school, providing a safe and stable place in an unstable world, and supporting parents who are still trying to work in this critically changing environment.
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