People First of Toledo Supports Self-Advocates

Courageous Community Services has been serving Northwest Ohio since 1963. CCS was created by families with loved ones with disabilities to provide a safe and engaging outdoor recreation experience. CCS continues to operate Camp Courageous each summer and is also home to People First of Toledo. 

Since 1998, People First has been offering support, education and community building for individuals with disabilities who are self-advocates. They provide moral and practical support by assisting with applications and recommending resources.

 People First is an international organization with forty chapters in Ohio. The local chapter meets at the Ability Center on the third Thursday of every other month. Meetings run from 6-7:30pm.  The Ability Center and Manahan (formerly Josina Lott) have been longtime, instrumental partners with People First. 

Quinn Thomas, facilitator, publishes a monthly newsletter for CCS with an emphasis on People First. These newsletters focus on advocacy for adults and school aged children. People First meetings are for individuals 16 and older.

Self Advocacy

“The term ‘self-advocate’ can mean something different for each person,” Thomas explains. “For me it means making sure your own voice is heard while boosting the voice of others.” 

In 2020, meetings were held via Zoom. As the group transitioned back to in person meetings in 2021, they selected a hybrid option for all meetings. This allows those who may not be able to be present physically to still participate in meetings on a Zoom platform. Closed captioning is provided at all meetings, including for those attending in person. These meetings are open to everyone, whether they have a disability or not, as well as those who are self-diagnosed.  As the facilitator, Thomas works with CCS’s five elected board members to decide on topics for upcoming meetings and planning.

People First also hosts social events, such as holiday parties and Wednesday Walks. They collaborate with organizations such as SALUTE and MemoryLane Care Services. Each year, People First provides scholarships for individuals to attend Synergy-a conference for businesses to connect with Developmental Disability boards and organizations as well as individuals with disabilities. Synergy is a wonderful opportunity for all individuals, of all abilities, to learn about different topics, develop new skills and broaden their network.

In January and February, 2024, People First hosts a story-telling workshop, in collaboration with Toledo Lucas County Library-Waterville Branch,  for self-advocates to learn to tell their story with a purpose. Thomas looks forward to helping attendees learn to communicate their own lived experiences in a way that empowers others and demonstrates self-advocacy. This workshop will run January through February.

Attendance at each meeting costs $5, or $50 for a full year membership. For more information on People First of Lucas County,  find them on Facebook or on the CCS website at

Recent Articles