Joe Newman has a lot to be proud of. Not only has he reached a milestone – turning 100 – but in his ten decades he has accomplished a huge amount. When he and his wife Sophie – co-founders of The Logan Center in South Bend, Indiana – gave birth to a daughter with cerebral palsy, there wasn’t much support around. What was expected for these disabled children was for their parents to give them up and institutionalize them. But for Sophie and Joe, this was not an option. They wanted more for their daughter, Rita Jo. And so, with a mere $24 to invest, they founded The Logan Center.
Along with a few other parents who were raising children with special needs, the organization today has helped thousands of disabled individuals, enhancing their quality of life and offering them much-needed services so that they can continue to live at home and not be institutionalized. When the Logan Center was first founded, there was little alternative help for those raising children with disabilities. The few parents involved in the center’s development made a pact – should one of these children be left an orphan, the other parents would ensure they would not be institutionalized and that alternative assistance would be found.
Joe has worked hard throughout his life for his beliefs. He was, in his day, a Social Security pioneer, promoting the idea of a social safety net. In this vein, he founded The Nation, a monthly discussion group and also voices his opinions through the Robyn Report that is aired on the radio every Tuesday at 5pm. Today, it is his hope that social responsibility is carried through for this generation and future ones, as he fears that America is fast moving away from this ideal.
While he has been without his wife and daughter for many years, Joe has not let this push him to the outskirts of society. He pushes on and makes every effort to make the world a better place “for billions of people he’ll never know in a fate that he’ll never get to see.” That alone, should be an inspiration for us all.