Bethel, CT – Ability Beyond celebrated its cultural diversity Thursday during the 2nd Annual Breathe Equality Cultural Festival, a community-wide event that brought people together to entertain and engage.
“Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging have been core values of our organization since our founding nearly 70 years ago,” said Jane Davis, the Chief Executive Officer of Ability Beyond. “The cultural festival gives us an opportunity to celebrate and share that diversity with the community”.
With African dance demonstrations from Mount Vernon based The Revelators, foods from around the world, refreshing specialty drinks, displays of historical artifacts, hair braiding and even trivia prizes, the festival included something for people of all ages. Scores of people from surrounding communities attended the event.
The Cultural Fair culminated with our guest speaker, OJ Yizar, the Executive Director of the Westchester/Putnam Career Center Network. Yizar spoke about the need for mental health practitioners to take care of themselves so they can provide the best services possible to our consumers. She also praised the ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts undertaken in the past two years by Ability Beyond.
“Thank you for taking an active role to make sure that all people are treated with equity,” she said. “And kudos to not only being change makers while also empowering your employees to do the same.”
The festival began as an initiative of Breathe Equality, an employee group formed by Ability Beyond two years ago. The organization’s leadership team, recognizing that a large percentage of our workforce is made up of Black individuals, put resources behind the formation of this group and sent a strong message in support of equality for all employees. The employee group is part of a larger DEIB organizational effort called Ability Stronger that we will continue to expand in the coming year.
“Our employees are the backbone of our organization,” Davis said. “They are our everyday heroes who provide compassionate and quality care to the people we serve. We want to ensure they’re celebrated and recognized not only for all they do, but also for who they are.”