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Rice retires from Madison City Disability Advocacy Board

Madison City Council recognized Claudia Rice and Don Gardner for their service to Madison City Disability Advocacy Board (MCDAB). A charter member, Rice chaired MCDAB for four years. (CONTRIBUTED)
Madison City Council recognized Claudia Rice and Don Gardner for their service to Madison City Disability Advocacy Board (MCDAB). A charter member, Rice chaired MCDAB for four years. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Charter member Claudia Rice has retired from Madison City Disability Advocacy Board (MCDAB), which she chaired for four years.

Rice and fellow retiring board member Don Gardner were honored at the Madison City Council meeting on Feb. 23.

In 2008, Rice first asked City Council to consider needs of people with disabilities. When Paul Finley was elected mayor, he asked Rice to attend a focus group.

“MCDAB was born. I became its first chairman,” Rice said. MCDAB’s objective is “making Madison a more inclusive community for people with special needs.”

MCDAB’s Day Services and Housing Committee hosted community-wide meetings “to bring together people interested in addressing the dearth of services for adults with disabilities. Services for adults in Alabama are meager at best. That needs to be made known to the gatekeepers to facilitate change,” Rice said.

From those meetings, the non-profit organization, Exceptional People In Community (EPIC), was formed. “EPIC is working towards starting day programs and eventually housing for the ever-growing adult community,” Rice said (epicalabama.com).

MCDAB also helps the families, who “face unique challenges and circumstances. Their voice needs to be heard,” she said. With MCDAB’s team approach, each member has a role in all accomplishments.

MCDAB sponsored a human resources seminar about hiring and accommodating people with disabilities. “We showed many success stories,” she said. Also, MCDAB founded a Space Camp scholarship for a student with a disability.

Rice graduated from Athens State University. In 1987, her family relocated to Madison from Virginia for her husband’s job at Intergraph Corporation. They have two adult children with disabilities, so she no longer works outside the home but volunteers in the disability field. Previously, she worked for SEAC (Special Education Action Committee).

Rice thanked the city “for supporting MCDAB for many years. I hope they will continue during years to come. It was a great learning experience and pleasure to serve on MCDAB. I also thank every MCDAB member, past and present, for their invaluable service.”

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