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Today is not simply your first day as a NYWRAC trainee but it is another “touchpoint” with The Empowerment Center.

Who here recently has been connected to The Empowerment Center… in the last five years, last six to ten years, eleven to fourteen years, since its beginning?

Who here is newly connected to The Empowerment Center… in the last two to four years, last year, within the last month?

How did you initially find The Empowerment Center? Was it when you sought the opportunities that you anticipated this NYWRAC training would provide you? Was it through Coalition’s technical support and outreach? Was it through one of the “touchpoints” of The Empowerment Center’s Circle of Support? Was it because of a referral, some written information you saw, one of the websites or its links? Or are you here because of one of our community interaction and betterment projects?

I would like to thank Elaine Levin and Jim Rye for asking me to come today. I want to thank all of you who have helped with the details that have gone into putting this training together, which I hope we won’t take for granted as the training progresses.

I am happy to be here with my friends as you are my community of advocates who are very important in my life. And I welcome the new faces as I am sure that you will quickly become part of this community.

The way you first heard about The Empowerment Center is called the “touchpoint” according to Jonathan Tisch, guru of the hospitality industry and Loews Empire.

Because everyone here has learned about The Empowerment Center sometime in the last 15 years as The Empowerment Center is about 15 years old, you all have recent first hand experiences of The Empowerment Center’s “touchpoints”.

I would like you to think about your personal “touchpoint” with The Empowerment Center. How did you initially connect, and how did this draw you in? It did, because you are here. And I know that you are brave. You had to be, because you are here.

But for a moment, I would also like you to rethink the experience. How might it have been easier, more efficient, and maybe more effective? You might not be able to answer this now, but I hope that you will answer this question and find a way to share it with us.

Why? I believe you will still need to start another connection with The Empowerment Center at another time. Why? Because everyday is a new day with new needs and different abilities. Each time you will be reconnecting at a different “touchpoint” and it needs to work for you. This is true not just for you who are brand new to The Empowerment Center or our advocates and trainees but it is true for seasoned advocates, the managerial staff and for me as well.

The second level of how you connect is how you help others make connections. Because we are people who interact with others, and some of you are paid to do this, it beholds us to rethink the connection experiences to make it easier, make it more efficient, and more effective. Why? Because let’s strive to have less tolerance for mediocrity. Let’s reframe the experience and look at it fresh each time so that we can learn and make it better and easier.

Our job is to be advocates - to improve our own lives and help others as they strive to improve their own. All of us at The Empowerment Center are advocates. And we are a community of advocates.

Our community at The Empowerment Center is a very powerful system. I am constantly reminded how unusual it is. The way we see things, the way we bear witness to the events we personally have experienced and share as witnesses with others in their experiences. We live by the 8th commandment of not bearing false witness and support the 6th amendment of the United States Constitution of the rights of the accused. We understand that those who cannot be a witness easily can be stripped of their rights. We understand these things because we have lived them.

It doesn’t’ stop there. In fact what we have learned will always be with us to motivate us and to connect us with each other in profound ways.

What’s key is connecting with each other and finding the “touchpoints” to reach out to others. We at The Empowerment Center have an unusual powerful system in a similar style of Tufts University of Boston. We have the tradition in which each class of trainees has helped the ones that came after. This means that our advocates are now here to help you as you will be there to help those who come after you.

You are the link for the continuing connection that forms our community. So, in a very real sense, this isn’t simply your first day as a NYWRAC trainee, it’s your first day as an advocate-in-training.

In the style of Tufts University of Boston I would like to welcome NYWRAC 24th class of Advocates-in-Training.

NYWRAC’s 24th Training

Eva Scholle, The Empowerment Center’s President and Co-Founder

April 6, 2009

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