Ohio Valley Goodwill was pleased to learn that self-advocate and long-time Goodwill participant, Melinda Gabelman was selected for recognition by Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services with the John Romer Advocacy Award. Melinda received Honorable Mention for her history of self-advocacy on behalf of herself and others with disabilities.
How has your advocacy work, on behalf of yourself or others, made an impact in your community?
Melinda Gabelman has been a strong self advocate all of her adult life but especially, beginning in 2003 when she was a founding member of the Consumer Advisory Council at Ohio Valley Goodwill. Melinda is a long-time advocate, who enjoys educating people about Prader-Willi Syndrome. “People don’t know about it and how serious it is. I think it’s important for them to understand how it can affect people’s lives,” she said. “I am most proud of helping people with disabilities who are learning to speak up for themselves.” Melinda has testified before Cincinnati City Council on accessible transportation, and also met Ms. America and the U.S. Secretary of Labor in 2004 during a visit to Ohio Valley Goodwill and told them about issues people with disabilities face.
History of Self-Advocacy and Recognition
Melinda has been recognized many times over the years for her outstanding self-advocacy efforts including with the 2004 SWORA Advocacy Award, 2006 Sue Breiner Advocacy Award from HCDDS as well as a member of Goodwill Consumer Advisory Committee with the 2010 Superintendent’s Award. Melinda has consistently been an active public speaker in support of Levy campaigns, voting, accessible transportation as well as the rights of all people with disabilities to speak up and be listened to with respect.
In Her Own Words
Melinda shares a little bit about her history of self-advocacy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zjuHLTQce4
Melinda has also been a fixture in the annual PigAbilties event as part of the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon and trains hard to prepare for the event every year. In 2023, in her determined fashion, Melinda chose to train for and be part of the annual PigAbilities event (as well as to encourage others to do so) despite struggling with issues with arthritis in her knees. Melinda’s commitment to her training reflects her personal determination throughout her life to be a leader and an inspiration for others with disabilities.
Ohio Valley Goodwill congratulates Melinda Gabelman on being selected for this prestigious recognition in honor of her history of self-advocacy and personal determination.