Friday, May 17, 2013

Shelly's Long and Winding Road

Meet Shelly.  She arrived at Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) in 2010 after traveling a long and winding road in her 47-year-old life.  Born in neighboring Hancock County, doctors diagnosed Shelly with cerebral palsy at 6 months old.  Shelly reports that her mom treated her no different than she treated her brothers and sisters.  She was homeschooled for the first several years before getting her first wheelchair at the age of twelve.  Then, with some assistance, usually from other classmates, she went to school with kids her own age, graduating with her class. 

Shelly prides herself on being “like everyone else,” having been married and divorced.  After her divorce, she lived in several nursing facilities.  Shelly says she was “the youngest person there,” and there wasn’t anyone with whom she could relate to or socialize.  All facilities met her needs but offered Shelly few opportunities to get out and be an active member within her community.  Shelly didn’t get to go out and do things she enjoyed, which left her feeling unhappy, bored, and unfulfilled.
In time, she arrived at WFC, moving into the Supports forCommunity Living (SCL) housing, a perfect fit for this very bright and active woman.  Today, she lives an independent life, including working part-time at Hugh Sandefur Industries at its Owensboro location.  Because of the severity of her cerebral palsy, Shelly needs assistance with most of the everyday activities you and I take for granted – like getting in and out of bed, brushing teeth, getting dressed and undressed, and eating – which she receives from a Direct Support Professional (DSP); but once in her electric wheelchair, Shelly is on the go!  Like many of us, Shelly has activities and hobbies she enjoys, such as shopping, watching her favorite TV shows and going to community events.  She also runs household errands on her days off, and usually finds something fun to do in her spare time.

Yet, Shelly wanted more.  She looked for a way to contribute to her community and to Wendell Foster’s Campus, in addition to working three days a week.  She joined the WFC’s Residential Government that meets quarterly to give residents a voice about anything related to their Campus community, i.e. wheelchair crossing safety, activities, policies, etc.   She also joined WFC board’s Human Rights Committee that meets monthly.  She even spends her work lunch breaks helping at the front receptionist’s desk greeting Campus visitors.  Yet, none of these activities got Shelly off Campus or kept her actively involved.
Shelly would often ask if we in the Marketing & Development Department needed any help with any projects.  As I began planning the 2013 Spread the Word Campaign in the fall of 2012, I remembered Shelly’s offers and the wheels started turning on how to integrate Shelly into the No R Word program.

Before long, Shelly would soon be adding a new item to her personal resume:  Volunteer Campus Advocate.
In the Next Blog Entry:  The Female Dynamic Duo -  "To my pleasured surprise, Shelly excitedly latched onto the idea, and we agreed to get together after the first of the year and talk about what our “dog and pony show” would look like."
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