For the third installment in our series of board member blog posts, we’d like to introduce a woman who has been with the Joseph Maley Foundation from some of its earliest beginnings. Ivette Bruns shares her stories about why she loves JMF, and some of the ripple effects that she sees our programs making in the lives of children.
How long have you been a board member?
I have been involved since before JMF was founded with the first disABILITY Awareness Program at St. Monica School. I’m not sure if I was active on the board from the beginning – although it feels like I have been.
What image comes to mind when you think of JMF?
There are several images that I see at once: Joseph playing with string, my children returning from helping with Junior Board Service Day at Bradford Woods, a Puppet Troupe performing in front of elementary school children eager to ask questions, a young girl with Down syndrome in a cheerleading uniform cheering with such a huge smile, and individuals with the Back on My Feet program running in the JMF Run, Walk, Roll.
What’s your favorite JMF program, and why?
I am partial to the disABILITY Awareness Program. Not only does it increase a child’s understanding of various disabilities but it strengthens the foundation that our differences should be celebrated. The fact that over 30 schools in the Indianapolis area participate in the disABILITY Awareness program is a testament to its impact and positive influence on the children in our community.
What do you most look forward to for JMF in 2019?
The growth of JMF over the past 10 years has exceeded my expectations and I have no doubt that the growth and momentum will continue to take JMF to greater heights. It is a common goal of many board members that the impact of JMF extend beyond the borders of our city. I can see that goal easily accomplished.
JMF runs on the idea of “family-first”, is your family also involved in JMF?
My children have been involved with the JMF Junior Board since it was formed. Knowing the Maley boys in their classes at school, and sharing in their friendship made being involved with JMF an unconditional certainty. I was even able to convince my 24-year-old son to sub in for me at the Chili Cook-Off last year. My husband often states that he is “voluntold” for JMF activities, but he has helped with and participated in the Run Walk Roll for many years.
How would you encourage others to get involved with JMF?
There are so many people who are involved with JMF because they know someone, attended a JMF function, or because they or their children were impacted by a JMF program. The ripple effect is amazing. The change in people, once involved, is tangible. I encourage people I meet to attend just one JMF function. I believe that is all anyone needs to become quickly sold on this amazing and inclusive organization.
Finally, this is our year of stories – what’s your favorite JMF story?
During our initial disABILITY Awareness Program, we focused on not only physical disabilities but invisible disabilities. In the younger grades, one of the activities was to play with a gooey substance as we talked about tactile sensitivities. We also talked about auditory sensitivities. There was a young boy in the group who could identify with this, and was so relieved to find out that many others felt the same sensitivities that he did. Eventually, as the activities continued, several others in the class seemed to become more empathetic to the experiences of their classmate. The children learned that we all have different abilities, and that those differences should be celebrated. This acknowledgement that I saw in several of the young students helped me realize how important this program, and this organization, are. Making an impact, no matter how small, can have such a great ripple effect. I saw this effect in these young children, I see it in my own children, and I continue to see it in the JMF Junior Board.