|Today I want to talk about an important part of the work we do at DHS that doesn't get a lot of attention, and that's our role as advocates for Oregonians.
As we provide services to people, we are also championing their cause, whether that means finding the best placement for a foster child, going the extra step to ensure that people have all the benefits they qualify for, or explaining to the Legislature the importance of tobacco prevention programs.
We are all constantly working to help people both directly and indirectly.
And, as we know, we don't do this work alone. Every single program we work with has a vast array of people who strive to ensure that the system is fair and that people are well cared for.
One of those advocates was Scott Lay, a former DHS employee who became a stalwart advocate for people with disabilities in Oregon. Sadly, he passed away this summer and it is a huge loss for our community.
Following a diving accident in 1969 resulting in quadralepegia, Scott began working toward creating an Oregon where people with disabilities could work and live independently in their chosen communities to the fullest extent of their desire and ability.
He worked at DHS as a policy analyst in the mid-1990s, and then went on to be a tireless advocate.
Whether testifying in Congress or serving as chairman of both the Oregon Disabilities Commission and the Oregon Home Care Commission, he spent his adulthood advancing dignity, autonomy, full inclusion and equality of opportunity for people with disabilities.
Scott was -- and remains -- an example of how the work we do is not driven by the job, it's driven by the mission.
And as I have often said, we do not do our work alone. It takes the entire community to help keep people safe and independent. We are fortunate that in our work we have so many passionate advocates and community leaders. Sadly, we also mourn the loss of Scott, one of the real champions.