|Peter Beckh retired at Abiliities United after
a 40 year career serving people with disabilities.
Peter Beckh’s career path happened to take him into the field of working with people who have disabilities, and he considers it to be a wonderful stroke of luck.
In 1974, Peter received a Masters degree in social work, and though he had never worked with people with disabilities, he eventually took a position at the Golden Gate Regional Center. Such regional centers place children with significant disabilities with various organizations. “My first case visit was to a girl who was blind, and who had no arms or legs. She had to roll over in order to move,” he says. “I put my hand on her while saying hello; I remember she was warm and alive. It was a transformative moment; I realized she was just like me.”
Through his work at the Golden Gate Regional Center, he became familiar with what is now Abilities United, and with a background as a successful administrator he joined Abilities United in 1989 as Associate Director.
“I really liked the people we served,” says Peter, who spent 14 years with the organization until retiring in 2012. “Many have become my personal friends, and they’re a big part of my life.” When Peter celebrated his 60th birthday, the party was at Abilities United.
Peter gets enormous satisfaction seeing the progress that clients make at Abilities United. “For some it’s being able to lift a spoon so that they can feed themselves,” he says. “For others it might be overcoming an overwhelming fear of the water and then learning to swim; for others it’s developing their social skills and getting a job. The look on someone’s face when they get a job, or when they get their first paycheck – they are so proud!”
Peter has the highest regard for the staff at Abilities United. “They are my heroes; they are amazing people. It’s a great place to work because of their spirit,” Peter says and then pauses. “I thought it was a privilege to work here.”
Based on a 2012 interview with Peter Beckh. Written by Bob Thomas and edited by Sally Mickel and Wendy Kuehnl.