“It’s in my genes,” said the 65-year-old Columbus woman, who is so busy doing for others that she has to be reminded to use her own cane.
Helen is a participant in Sage Senior Services at Crosswoods at Goodwill Columbus. The adult day program offers activities to individuals with developmental disabilities, age 45 and older, with increased age-related needs.
Two years ago, Helen arrived at Goodwill, disheartened from a lifetime of witnessing those with disabilities be ignored and abused.
“I was in an institution when I was a little girl, and I was mistreated. . . I’ve also sat in other adult day programs where all they wanted me to do is sit and watch TV,” said Helen, frustrated that she couldn’t change things.
Today, she is president of the Participant Advisory Council at Sage Crosswoods. Helen also attends meetings of the Ohio Self Determination Association, a group that believes individuals with disabilities should have the freedom to pursue activities in life that are important to them. Armed with information, Helen now helps her peers learn about their rights.
Even knee replacement surgery last fall didn’t keep Helen from her Goodwill family. From a nursing home, she called in every day. When Helen returned to learn a peer would be having the same surgery, she counseled and comforted her.
“Helen is always willing to talk with anyone about anything. She demonstrates compassion and respect for her peers and always has something nice to say about others,” said Lead Program Manager Alison Harris. “Helen also has started her own journey to build independence and quality of life. She takes advantage of each opportunity offered at Goodwill.”
Personal growth for Helen has come through learning to sew, painting in the Goodwill Art Studio & Gallery and using a computer to type her prayers and listen to gospel music. She also enjoys community outings with a tight-knit group of friends at Goodwill’s Sage Senior Services location in Worthington.
“We sing, we dance . . . you should see us,” she said. “I love it here. They care about us. This is like family.”
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