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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

By Their Side

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Autism, Civil Rights, Developmentally Disabled Centers, Disabilities, Disabled Persons Rights, Down Syndrome, Health, Human Services

Mission: By Their Side guides families and provides advocacy for Marylanders with an intellectual/developmental disability. By Their Side believes everyone deserves respect, choices, and quality of life. We support our mission by -Providing lifelong personal advocacy for those we serve; -Protecting individual's legal rights -Guiding individuals and families through the maze of resources in the service delivery system; and -Assisting families with transition planning.

Results: By Their Side provides lifelong advocacy for 63 Marylanders. 30 families have arranged for additional visits and monitoring. 200 additional members will be served in the future when their parents are gone. With 15-30 years of experience each, By Their Side Advocates are an excellent resource. We have helped to assure members continue to receive the necessary support identified by their parents, even sturdy shoes to prevent falls. We help distant Trustees learn about immediate financial needs. We advocate for health and safety, for example soft meals and dietary evaluation for a member we found attempting to swallow food whole at her day program after her teeth were removed. And we advocate for life preferences, for example we arranged a clean location for g-tube feeding for a member who wanted to work a full day at a nearby art studio. Our advocacy is as varied as the needs of the individuals and families we serve. We are a small non-profit with an enormous mission in the eyes of the parents who have funded our services, and rely on donations to stretch limited resources.

Target demographics: Families and individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities

Direct beneficiaries per year: 90 individuals and their families

Geographic areas served: Maryland

Programs: 1. Lifelong Advocacy Services for Marylanders with developmental disabilities after their parents are no longer able, including annual assessment visits and follow up to identified issues, to assure individual preferences and needs are addressed, life enrichment opportunities are offered, and parent advocacy concerns are remembered. We consult with siblings and Trustees. 2. Advocacy Plan Services: Families may fund additional advocacy services such as visits and monitoring at regular intervals, or short term involvement to assist to resolve a particular issue or facilitate service linkage for example. We provide update reports to remaining family and/or trustees. 3. Sponsor Support: While parents continue to provide advocacy, By Their Side also offers information and referral, and seminars on pertinent topics.

Community Stories

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 5

We have belonged to By Their Side since its early days and have been amazed at how they have expanded their professionalism and programming. Our daughters will definitely be calling on By Their Side to help supervise their brother's care once we're gone. We also learned about the efficacy of having "family meetings" at a By Their Side meeting, and have put it into practice with great success.


Rating: 5

We enrolled our older daughter in By Their Side in 2007, and are confident that it will assist her younger sister in overseeing her personal needs after we have departed this life. Having this resource will enable our younger daughter to pursue her career and dreams, without being solely responsible for such oversight. Not encumbering the younger sibling, so to speak, has been our lifelong goal. We are relieved that By Their Side will have the resources and volunteers to support its clients' needs.


Rating: 5

My daughter has been enrolled in the By Their Side program since 1988. Initially, and to this day, it is greatly comforting to know that when she becomes an active client, caring individuals will diligently advocate for her best interests throughout her life.


Rating: 5

My sister is a developmentally disabled individual who lives far away from me, and my elderly parents are no longer able to advocate for her well being. What to do? By Their Side steps in and makes sure people with developmental disabilities are properly looked after when no one else is around to do it. They are a God send.