A local organization is bringing awareness to individuals living with disabilities while also fundraising for their new building.
Independence, Inc. is a nonprofit that advocates for individuals with disabilities to have the choice and opportunity to live independently.
Executive Director Scott Burlingame says the main goal of the organization is to remove barriers and achieve dreams.
“We work really hard to help people identify what, how their disability causes some sort of a problem in their life,” said Burlingame. “How can they overcome that? How can they live a better and more fulfilled life?”
Independence, Inc. is hosting their Building Dreams Gala at the Dakota Territory Air Museum this Saturday.
In addition to raising awareness for people living with disabilities, Independence, Inc. is hoping to raise money at their event to help pay off their new building.
“We are also using it as an opportunity to increase awareness of mental health issues, so our speakers are gonna talk about those types of issues,” said Burlingame.
Lindsay Guentzel is the keynote speaker and along with dealing with anxiety and depression for most of her life, she was diagnosed with adult ADHD this year.
Guentzel plans to talk about what she calls invisibility of mental health problems in society.
“If I walked into a room and I had a broken arm and had my arm in a sling, people would automatically go ‘Oh my gosh Lindsay, what happened?'” said Guentzel. “But if I come in the room and I’ve had a really tough weekend or let’s say I didn’t sleep, or my anxiety was acting up or I just felt like I was out of control and manic, my ADHD symptoms were all over the place, no one’s going to see that unless I make it visible.”
She says that she is focusing on being transparent and honest about her experiences, with the goal of helping others cope with mental health issues.
“I think that when people who might be struggling see someone else in a similar situation being OK with that vulnerability, it opens up a lot of pathways for their own journey,” said Guentzel.
Guentzel says that it’s important to acknowledge organizations like Independence, Inc. because they help people feel like they belong.
Burlingame says that Independence, Inc. is a proud part of the community, and the organization is grateful to serve and make the area a better place to live for everyone.
Local comedian and Independence board member, Kyle Erickson, will also be speaking at the gala.
To donate to Independence, Inc., click here.