Some of our behavioral approaches towards others have improved in a good way, often creating new and better communities and belief systems that are making a difference.

However, one of the things that has not changed is the behavior patterns of discrimination.

Unfortunate is the way we as humans choose to behave sometimes, especially given that we are in the 21st century.

Recently, a community or subdivision in Beaufort County, through their HOA, wanted to deny a request for a building permit for a new home.

This denial came to light once several people realized it would be “home” for several consumers of the Beaufort County Disabilities and Special Needs (DSN) program.

The factors involved in their decision were based on discriminatory feelings of “those people ruining their home values or the community.”

There is no place in Beaufort County for people that have that type of mindset. I am fortunate enough to represent a District that has two DSN homes within my jurisdiction – extremely proud, in fact.

If you were to drive around the communities in which these special needs folks reside, you would not know the difference between their home and yours, or mine – because there is none.

I want to compliment each and every one of the staff and the volunteers of the Disabilities and Special Needs throughout the County on their work. I travel across the state and always pass along the things our Disabilities and Special Needs and Community or Human Services Departments are doing, and we are the shining star of South Carolina.

The other night at General Council Session, my colleagues and I heard from three young community members of this program. I marveled at their bravery.

For younger folks, getting up in front of a class to speak can be daunting, but to get up in front of a crowd of 50 to 60 citizens to speak publicly, for some is a real feat.

These young ladies handled it like pros.

As we listened to their stories, they brought us into their lives, their routines, and even their struggles.

Then, a father of a special needs family member spoke. He proudly told the story of his daughter and how thankful he and his wife were for DSN’s program giving her the opportunity to be properly cared for and educated with 24-hour, around-the-clock supervision.

I was saddened by this story and, as a father myself, I quickly empathized for this gentleman.

His plight was that they simply didn’t have the means to give his daughter the life she deserved. Living in an adult home with DSN was a blessing for her and for him.

There is a saying, and it isn’t an old one, I don’t believe, but it fits.

I hope this message gets out to those folks who don’t want “those people” living next door to them: “Don’t be lazy and make judgments about people. Be kind. Ask about their stories. Listen. Be humble. Be open. Be teachable. Be a good neighbor.” – Marc & Angel Chernoff

Michael E. Covert represents District 7 on Beaufort County Council.