Elaine Russell

“As a matter of fact, I advocate for others,” she said.

Elaine was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, cerebral palsy and brain damage. She joined Goodwill Columbus’s Sage Senior Services program when Goodwill merged with United Cerebral Palsy of Central Ohio in 2010. “When I first got here, I really didn’t talk much,” Elaine said.

Three years later, Elaine has found her voice, taking opportunities to serve as a leader to her peers through a program called Health Messages. Health Messages trains individuals with developmental disabilities to become healthy lifestyle coaches.  Elaine was introduced to the program through staff in the Health and Wellness Department.

“I’m going to coach people and tell them how to eat better and drink more water,” Elaine said. Elaine credits staff at Goodwill Columbus with giving her the tools she needs to advocate for herself and her peers.

“What I’ve learned since coming here is that no one can tell anyone they don’t count,” she said.

During her time at Goodwill, Elaine has become more active in the community, by learning about her rights and joining different advocacy groups.  Elaine said that along with the leadership opportunities she was given, she also cherishes the support and friendship she has found from peers and staff at Goodwill.  “If they see me getting down they really try to get me back up again,” Elaine said.

“Goodwill teaches you how to be independent, how to be a self-advocate, and how to take care of yourself and feel comfortable with other people,” Elaine said. “I want to be a mentor, I want to be a leader and I’m going to continue to come here to Goodwill.”

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