THRIVE Network celebrates the ADA’s 25th anniversary

The THRIVE Network, a nonprofit organization that enhances the lives of people in need by offering programs and services to help them reach their full potential, had an art exhibition at Shops at the Loom in Bushwick from July 24 to 31 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“When you look at all of the human rights movements over time from civil rights to equal rights to women rights to voting rights, it all started from a group of people saying that enough is enough,” said Charles Archer, co-founder and CEO of The THRIVE Network. “I think the celebration of the ADA is just a part of that movement” advanced by parents, guardians and advocates “who believe that people with disabilities deserve the same type of opportunities.”

THRIVE Network launched its celebratory exhibit, “HERE: between yesterday and tomorrow,” on Friday, July 24 at 6 p.m. with an open gallery viewing curated by Stephanie George. The exhibit featured a collection of local artists’ never-before-exhibited works of art alongside works of art from artists at the Arte Moose Collective and Land Gallery programs for adult artists with disabilities. Ricky Gordon, a jazz percussionist who has played with musicians like Wynton Marsalis and Carolina Slim, performed live at the event’s kickoff.

“We had a nice crowd of supporters and people who were inside the Shops of the Loom who asked questions and were able to learn about us,” Archer said. “We were very pleased with all of the people who come support us in all of our endeavors.”

The exhibit was meant to be a reflection on the existential question, “What does it mean to be here?” Viewers were invited to view “here” as a place, declaration and moment that rests between history and visions of the future.

The theme was portrayed through a collection of intimate portrait drawings, colorful abstract paintings, futuristic installations and re-purposed textiles. Depictions of historical sayings, weavings composed of household materials, and a sleeping bag were displayed as objects that fill human existence with meaning.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, monumental civil rights legislation that paved the way for organizations like THRIVE Network to come into being, protects people with disabilities. The act ensures equal opportunity for people with disabilities and prevents them from facing discrimination in employment, government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities and transportation.

Archer founded The THRIVE Network in 1996 as The Evelyn Douglin Center For Serving People in Need, but 20 years later he realized that the program’s services should not only be limited to disabled people.

“For the first 20 years of the organization, we really focused on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Archer said. “However, for the next 20 years under THRIVE we are looking at how we can serve people in the place of their need, not just the disabled.”

Archer renamed the organization THRIVE with a goal in mind of also helping senior citizens, people who are homeless, and others who are in need of assistance.

“I’m always excited to see people who receive our services excited and just joyous to see their art displays and be out among everyone else,” Archer said. “Those things are always the best part of all of our events.”

The event’s proceeds will benefit The THRIVE Network’s consumers.

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