My name is Sage.
In 2010 I was a healthy, happy 30-year-old, living and working in New York City. I was getting ready to take a huge step in my journey, changing my focus from culinary arts to pre-law, when my life flipped over entirely: I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Needing the support of family and friends I chose to leave the city and move back to my hometown of Rosendale, NY to stabilize and begin figuring out my next steps.
Though I returned to an abundance of friends, family and natural beauty in the Hudson Valley, I realized, as my disease progressed, that the area is severely lacking accessibility in a majority of public spaces, private businesses, and almost all homes. Now that I use a wheelchair to get around, just trying to go over to a friend's house or meet up with a group for dinner has become nearly impossible. I never realized how difficult it was to navigate a bumpy and broken Kingston sidewalk, or to find an accessible bathroom in town, until I really needed it. My quality of life in the Hudson Valley continues to suffer because so many of the unique opportunities that the area offers are no longer accessible to me. But accessibility, in general, isn’t the only issue folks like myself face. We also must deal with social inclusion, transportation, respect, lack of information about services and lack of coordination between services.
My partner Mark studied architecture and worked as a community organizer as part of the Long Spoon Garden Collective in Saugerties. His passion for environmental and social justice education granted him opportunities like helping plan camping trips for young adults with disabilities and teaching teens to build an off-grid tiny house.
After sharing my frustrations with Mark, the two of us began to imagine a community effort to make our streets, businesses, and homes more accessible and inclusive of everyone! We began searching for local groups who could advocate for people with disabilities, but soon it became clear to us: if we couldn't find those groups, others probably couldn't either. We talked with friends and folks who live in the Hudson Valley who also have disabilities, and we started to see all of the cracks in the systems we rely on.
In 2019, we founded Thrive HV Inc., a nonprofit with the mission of enriching society by engaging our community to work together to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
Over the next few years, we hope to transform the Hudson Valley by leading groups of local volunteers in learning about inclusion, advocating for change, and building accessibility into their communities. We strive to grow to become a resource in the Hudson Valley that connects people with disabilities to the services that they need to live fuller lives; whether that be finding an ADA compliant contractor, a local support group, or a list of accessible businesses. We know that the Hudson Valley is such an incredible place to live and we want to make sure that everyone, no matter their physical ability, can enjoy it. We welcome you to join us and to help transform our communities.