THE MISSION OF THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATION ON DISABILITY IS TO EXPAND THE PARTICIPATION AND CONTRIBUTION OF AMERICA’S 54 MILLION MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES IN ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE.
making in Difficult progress Times ong>2002ong>was a challenging year as our nation struggled to regain its momentum following the terrorist attacks of the previous fall. ong>Theong> war on terrorism, a struggling economy and preparation for further international conflict concerned all Americans. N.O.D. has long documented that this nation’s disability community, comprising 54 million citizens, is disadvantaged by high rates of unemployment, poverty, and a need for better civic services and access to them. Our community has felt the economy’s pinch particularly hard, whether through tightened personal budgets or reduced government and support services. Despite a strong record of accomplishment going into our 20th anniversary year, N.O.D. was constrained by an economy that devastated many nonprofits. Our long-time policy of not accepting government funds made the upheaval in private sector giving (much of which, appropriately, was redirected toward disaster relief) particularly intense. We curtailed our budget to finish the year in a positive financial situation and with a more hopeful outlook for 2003. We are inspired by N.O.D.’s Board of Directors, who played a particularly strong leadership role in improving our finances, thereby facilitating our important programs and our ability to achieve our mission of full participation in American life for people with disabilities. Thanks to the Board’s efforts, several major donors to N.O.D. increased their gifts or accelerated pledged donations at this pressing moment. ong>Theong> Board also decided for the first time in N.O.D.’s history that we should seek support from the U.S. government; we submitted grant applications that are expected to materialize in the new year. N.O.D. began its third decade by launching one of its most important programs to date, our Emergency Preparedness Initiative, which will help people with disabilities and emergency personnel work together for maximum safety. That program is closely tied to our revamped Community Partnership Program, which endeavors to make people’s lives better where it counts — in the towns and cities where they live. We were delighted to salute Venice, Florida as the first winner of our national Accessible America Contest, and we hope Venice’s achievement will make it a role model for communities nationwide. Every day, all across the country, people with disabilities are striving to participate in and contribute to the life of their communities and the nation. All of us associated with N.O.D. — Board members, staff, and volunteers nationwide — are proud to be at the center of America’s progress for people with disabilities. Sincerely, Michael R. Deland Chairman Alan A. Reich President