Full Community Inclusion award recognizes KFI's accomplishments in providing supports for people with disabilities to live, work and be part of their communities.
KFI was selected to receive the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disability's (AAIDD's) 1999 national Full Community Inclusion Award. The Full Community Inclusion Award recognizes "culturally responsive programs that have succeeded in full community inclusion and participation" of people with disabilities.
Angela Amado, Ph.D. nominated KFI for this award. Dr. Amado is Executive Director of the Human Services Research and Development Center of St. Paul, Minnesota, a highly regarded author, respected leader, and past Chairwoman of AAIDD's Community Services Division.
In her nomination Dr. Amado said that "KFI is an exemplary model in 5 unique and significant ways:"
- KFI has not let obstacles prevent them from pursuing their vision. They pride themselves on being able to do what other agencies say they cannot do.
- They ask, "What would we want if we were the consumer?" and believe that services should reflect what anyone would want and need.
- They have realized that money is not the obstacle, refuse to let regulations and funding mechanisms be their scapegoat, and realize that the greatest changes – like values and philosophy – cost nothing.
- They have realized that space determines services. They do not own or rent space that allows groups of people to gather and therefore services must occur in the community.
- They assist people to be part of the social fabric of their community through personal relationships, valued social roles, and participation in community organizations.
Dr. Amado said about KFI, "They stand as a model for belief and philosophy leading the transition from centralized, congregate services to completely individualized support and full community inclusion." She added that, "Today, KFI has no segregated or group activities or programs, owns no buildings, operates an inclusive preschool, and supports individuals to live, work and be part of their community." She concludes that "KFI is an exemplary model and has served as an inspiration to other agencies in their state, region and nationally. As one of their supporters notes, they are the 'real thing.'"
Included in Dr. Amado's nomination packet were nine letters of support from people who know KFI's work. Dr. Lucille Zeph, Director of the Center for Community Inclusion, University of Maine wrote, "KFI reflects the values and spirit of this prestigious award in their daily efforts to support individuals with developmental disabilities to become true members of their communities." Donald Trites, Ph.D., then Program Manager for Maine's Developmental Disability Services, added, "... having worked with the core values that underlie KFI, I give them my highest recommendation for the long standing commitment they have made, for their continual struggle to learn and grow...This is an organization that deserves AAIDD's recognition."
The mother of one of the people KFI assists wrote, "What initially impressed me was the comment that my son's apartment was 'his home', and that KFI would provide guidance and support for him to maintain his residence." The guardian of someone served by KFI added, "People do not have programs; they have lives. KFI staff are encouraged to work collaboratively to develop the kind of supports that each person needs to be truly individually connected to his/her community."
Those connected with KFI believe its success proves that any organization can reconfigure itself to become more responsive and respectful of the needs and desires of people with disabilities and can do it in a cost effective manner. AAIDD presented the Award to KFI at its annual conference in New Orleans in May 1999.