Featured Services

Nelson Advocacy Inc. is an advocacy company. We advocate for and serve our clients in many ways.

Housing

Ray Nelson is a licensed REALTOR with Nest Realty in Fredericksburg. Ray works with residential, land, and commercial clients and properties.

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Special Education Advocacy

Ray serves as a special education advocate for families of children with disabilities in public school systems across Virginia.

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Drum Circle Facilitation

Ray is a certified Drum Circle Facilitator and organizes drum circles for his community.

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What our clients say about us.

Here are some examples of what our clients think of our service.

My wife and I cannot recommend Ray enough. This was our first home buying experience and from the very first moment we met with Ray he made everything so easy. He gave sound advice, he was never pushy and no question we had was stupid. He took the time to make sure we knew exactly what we were doing every step of the way. Ray has a wealth of knowledge and was able to break things down for us in a way that was very easy to understand. My parents were so impressed with our experience that they are now looking to Ray to help them with their moving plans!

Johnny B.
Real Estate Client

Without Ray's help, my son would have drowned in an inappropriate environment. Instead, he is back to learning and loving school! Thank you!!!!

Amanda G
Special Education Advocacy Client

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Recent Blog Posts

Take a gander at our most recent blog posts.

Black Lives Matter at Nelson Advocacy

BlackLivesMatteratNelsonAdvocacy

Black Lives Matter at Nelson Advocacy

Every socially aware company in the world has released some feel good supportive statement about BLM and ending racism. Many of these statements are simple pablum designed to sell something or promote some mythical value these companies claim to have had despite all evidence to the contrary.

This is not that statement.

I will detail what we have done, what we are doing now, and what we plan for the future to end systemic racism and ensure that Black Lives Matter.

The past

As an education advocate, I have witnessed  systemic discrimination first hand. Not only have I seen rampant disability discrimination against children of every race, I have seen specific and targeted racial decisions made against individual black students. I have documented and reported incidents where entire groups of black students were targeted en masse. I have seen video of my African-American clients assaulted by SROs (School Resource Officers) in our schools for doing nothing more than raising their voices. I have watched and fought against unequal punishments at multiple schools in multiple school districts where black students were punished for the same actions for which their white peers received no punishment at all.

It broke my heart.

And after that, it made me angry.

So here is what I will do with my anger.

The Present

While I am an educated person, I do not and cannot know everything. As a white male, I have benefitted from privilege my entire life, even though at times I did not see it.

I know this.

I have always known it, even at times when it was uncomfortable to admit.

So now I am reading more to learn. At the moment I am reading "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates and "Disrupting the School-To-Prison Pipeline" by Bahena, Cooc, and Currie-Rubin. Although I have worked for years to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline for my kids, I now realize that more targeted systemic action is required.

I am also reviewing my case files to see if there are instances where follow up actions are possible. My focus is always on the child first, and since I charge by the hour parents cannot always afford to deal with all the problems that exist. So to that end I plan to use the hours in my Advocacy Fund to help parents file additional complaints or write letters to address systemic race and disability based discrimination.

I say "race and disability based discrimination" for a reason. As an example, a non-disabled black student is 2 times more likely to be suspended than a non-disabled white  student. A disabled white student is 3 times more likely to be suspended than his non-disabled white peers. However, a black student with a disability is 5 times more likely to be suspended than a non-disabled white peer. These kids are hit hardest by the exclusionary discipline system we currently promote in schools.

The Future

This is where we are not sure what to do. This is our company, and Kelly and I make the decisions. That said, we are not people of color. We need feedback and guidance. We will soon send out a survey to our mailing list asking for feedback on our proposed future actions. We will also post it here when it is done.

It is important to us that we include the voices of those we represent in our actions. As the autistic adults as A.S.A.N. proudly state "nothing about us without us." We are willing to be guided by the voices of those who experience racism every day. If we don't listen to the folks who are affected then we will never solve the problem.

Right now we see a few major issues that need to be addressed.

  1. Remove SROs from schools.
  2. Extend the reporting time for Office of Civil Rights discrimination complaints from 6 months to 2 years.
  3. End exclusionary discipline practices in schools.
  4. End restraint and seclusion in schools.

These are the first 4 that come to mind. We will expound on them in future blog posts so folks can understand why they are important. However, we are open to other ideas.

Help us be the advocates our community needs, because if black lives don't matter then no lives matter.

Black

Lives

Matter.

The care and feeding of your M.A.S.C.

Howdy! You’re reading this because you probably received one of our masks and have some questions. The video above will answer most of your questions, but read on for anything it might not answer.

1. Your mask can be washed in the washing machine.

We prewash the fabric we get so it should not run or bleed once you get it. That said, if you want to wash it on its own first that probably isn’t a bad idea as I purchase the fabric. I don’t make it.

2. Your mask will fit a filter.

There is a 3″ gap at the top of your mask that you can use to insert a filter. Filter materials vary, but many folks use either coffee filters or shop towels. I’ll make a video showing how to insert a filter later, but for now just know that you can insert a filter if you like.

3. Your nose piece is replaceable if it wears out or falls out.

Just turn your mask inside out and look on the back side of the masks. There is a seam sewn in the middle of the mask. Lift up the flap and insert the nose piece through the middle section above the seam. I use pipe cleaners for the nose pieces, but a small piece of low gauge wire works too.

4. If your mask is too big:

You can tie off the elastic bands to make them smaller.

5. If your mask is too small:

You can make some extra elastic lengths and tie them in to the existing elastic. Hair bands make great extenders.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned here as I’m sure this will get updated frequently.

The M.A.S.C. Project

A collection of our homemade masks

When the pandemic quarantine started, having everyone at home was a bit of a shock to both my wife and me. Add to that the fact that we were both still working while our son was out of school and you have all the components necessary for disaster. So one of my first thoughts in mid-March was “what am I going to do to keep my son engaged and interested?” That was followed quickly by “how do I keep my somewhat germaphobic son from being afraid and anxious all the time about the coronavirus?

Then I read about crafters sewing masks to help first responders, and I had an idea. Rushing to our basement, I discovered several yards of Thomas the Tank Engine fabric we bought years ago for a long forgotten project. Thinking out loud to my wife, I said “maybe if we make masks out of this material, our son will wear them and feel safe.” She enthusiastically agreed, so she got our sewing machine back from her parents and we started sewing. This was around the end of the first week of April.

So y’all have some history on why I thought of this, I learned to sew as a child. My dad taught me, and his mom had taught him. My dad grew up on a farm so learning skills was how you survived. My grandfather on my mom’s side also taught me a bit after my dad got frustrated. This frustration would normally happen after I bird-nested the bobbin thread because I sewed too fast. Apparently I didn’t follow directions well and rushed through things as a kid. Nobody who knows me now would ever guess that, am I right? So I have this small family tradition of sewing, and I felt I could teach my son to sew and carry it on another generation. Plus Kelly’s mom sews as well, and apparently that is a learned skill in her family too. So even better as we get to combine family traditions into our shared heritage.

That said, the devil is in the details. I have not used a sewing machine since I was in my 20s, and I turn 50 this year. It took a few days of reading the manual and attempting to sew masks before I really got back in the swing of things. However, I did learn how to do some things that had eluded me before, like how to raise the bobbin thread and backstitch quickly without screwing everything up.

Also, the mask types were confusing. I wanted a mask that I could insert a filter into if I chose, but many of them doubled up the fabric so much I broke my needles. Kelly and I researched and tried several patterns before we found one that I could repeat quickly with the needles intact. That took about a week and a half as we cycled through pattern after pattern and broke needles left and right. However, we finally got it right and were able to produce our first masks to give away on April 19th.

The pattern we settled on is by Leah Day and her page is hyperlinked. We like it because it has few cuts and is simple. It also makes good use of fabric and has a child sized pattern. There are a bunch more out there. In fact, Jo-Ann Fabrics has a whole project page dedicated to masks. However, this one is our favorite by far. So we made our first masks and my son went nuts.

Along the way we talked about why we make masks, why they are important, how they keep people safe, and why we were giving them away. We have always taught to Raymond about volunteering and giving back to our community, as that is a family value. It’s also how Kelly and I met, so we both believed in it prior to getting together. This project was another opportunity for us to live our values and help other people. At first our community was family and friends, but as we make more masks we are expanding our circle of giving.

The most amazing thing is how focused and motivated about mask making Raymond has become. Every day he asks me when we are making masks, and I never get an argument when I call him to start working. He has learned to iron, cut materials, and sew, although he is as impatient as I apparently was as a teen. But the best thing is that it gives him joy to make and give these away. So by expanding our giving circle we are also expanding our joy.

Kelly is still learning to sew, but her core competency is managing operations, so she searches out new fabrics, finds discounts, and helps keep the process moving quickly. She also manages to find discount codes like a ninja, which helps us as we are doing this on a shoestring budget.

We came up with the name today. M.A.S.C means “Making A Safer Community” because we are helping folks not spread germs, which helps everyone around us. As of this afternoon we have made and given away 47 masks, and we will probably make 5-7 more tonight. We have spent a fair amount of money on fabric and supplies, but its worth it for what we are able to give away.

So there are two things we need. First, we need to know folks who need masks so we can get them covered. If you know of anyone local that needs masks, let me know. We will go into detail in our next post, “The Care and Feeding of your M.A.S.C.” but we use clean cloth and wash our hands. We don’t have the wherewithal to mail masks out yet. We can donate some to local nonprofits, but we produce 5-7 masks a day max so we can’t outfit an army overnight.

The second thing we need is supplies. We have bought some fabric and geared up with needles and thread, but we can always use more. If you want to make a cash donation of some sort so we can buy more material, email us and we will give you our Venmo, PayPal, or Apple Pay info. We are not a nonprofit though, so it won’t be tax deductible. If you want to donate fabric or other supplies and are local, message us and we will figure out how to link up.

In closing, we are overjoyed at how this project has brought our family together. We all sit around our kitchen table in the evenings making masks. We take turns picking songs to play so the soundtrack always changes, but it is family time that is different than anything else we have done. If you want to do this yourself and need some guidance, hit us up. We are happy to share what we did in hopes it will work for you. In the meantime, we will keep making masks so y’all let us know if you need them. Stay safe and wash your hands!

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