Baldwin County Citizen Advocacy began in Milledgeville, Georgia in 1983 when a group of people gathered in the parlor of Carolyn Larson to discuss the idea. A member of the group, John Gamble, had learned of an idea developing in several Georgia communities that he felt would be a good thing for our town.
What he learned of was Citizen Advocacy and the small group of people meeting that night immediately set about finding a way to make this happen. Citizen advocacy is about bringing the needs and interests of a person with a disability to the attention of a community member who, with our support, will respond to those needs through a freely given, usually long lasting relationship.
Few people around the state believed that could happen in the home of one of the world’s largest institutions. The thinking was that people in Milledgeville would think that institutions take care of the needs and interests of people with disabilities, and that no one would think that personal relationships were needed. That small group of founding members begged to differ and set about hiring a coordinator who began making matches.
After more than a quarter of a century later, the board and staff of citizen advocacy like to think we have disproved that thinking. We think that because the people we know who have been in relationships now for years - one which has lasted 25 years; many many of them over 10 years.
As we celebrated the milestone of twenty-five years, we decided to change our name, but not our way of doing things. We are still finding people with disabilities who have concerns, who have been reduced in voice, credibility or capacity, and we are still finding ordinary citizens to become their advocate. We are just doing that now in more places where people believe that personal relationships are needed by us all. And, we are doing that with our new name - Oconee Area Citizen Advocacy.