People Helping People: A Celebration of Similarities

Recently I was preparing my presentation for the Lawrenceville Kiwanis Club, a group that already knows Hi-Hope supports adults with developmental disabilities with an array of services. I had to tell them more than the basics of who we are and what we do so I started to think about some wonderful success stories about the men and women we support.

I noticed a theme had begun to develop between each of the stories. Many people notice the differences between themselves and disabled people over the similarities, but I realized we are all very much alike in more ways than we are different.

For example, one client, Donna, works at the Bridge, an assisted living center in Lawrenceville. One of the standard requirements of her job is to be certified in first aid. Our staff offered to assist Donna through the certification process. However, Donna and her employer knew she could do it on her own. She completed the training and passed the certification test without our support alongside the other employees in the class.

Jerry, another client, has been talking about moving into an apartment for quite a while. Brian Reynolds, Hi-Hope's residential manager, asked Jerry to come up with a plan. Jerry worked hard on this. He met with Brian, took out his sheet of paper with his list on it and explained the things he needed to work on to be independent enough to move into an apartment. One of the items was something near and dear to all our hearts: money management, including balancing a checkbook. Sound familiar?

Tracey and Terri have two new housemates. Over the past two months there has been a flurry of activity getting the furniture and bedding purchased, moving the office to another room and decorating the rooms with some frilly, girly decorations. The facilities committee of the board of directors was intimately involved and very quickly realized that Tracey and Terri's rooms needed sprucing up as well. When these two ladies returned from work one day there were new bedspreads all arranged as well as new furniture to replace some that needed to go.

These gals shed tears of joy for being included and celebrated. Don't we all want to feel important? Now these four women are planning a vacation to Disney World. They are planning the costs and saving their money from work. They have even figured out that if they lose some weight all the walking will be easier for them. So their menus have been worked on to help them meet their goals.

Each of these people are adults making common decisions about their lives: how they spend their work and leisure time, how to budget their money, when they want assistance and when they don't. This is nothing monumental. It is normal life for all of us whether we have disabilities or not. We are similar with hobbies, wants, needs and feelings. Rather than noticing what is different, stop and take a minute to realize how similar we are.

For More Information About Hi-Hope Hope Service Center check out our Web site: www.hihopecenter.org. We can also be reached at our address: 882 Hi-Hope Road, Lawrenceville, GA 30043. Our phone number is 770-963-8694.

Alice B. Cunningham is CEO of the Hi-Hope Service Center, a non-profit organization providing comprehensive quality services to adults with developmental disabilities in a caring environment that builds self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment through a variety of individual choices