Meet the People Whom AADD Serves. Here Are Their Stories…

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Before coming to AADD, Merry had difficulty managing her money and was on the verge of losing her apartment because she did not understand that her checking account is also linked to her ATM bank card.  We recognized this was an issue for her when we realized she was not able to pay her bills on time each month.  Our involvement was especially important because Merry is living off only $624 per month, which she relies on to pay what living expenses she can provide for her family.  You can probably imagine the disappointment she felt when a large chunk of her income was going to pay bank fees for insufficient funds due to checks that were returned.  AADD connected Merry with a financial manager to help balance her budget and utility payments.  We also relocated Merry and her children from a dangerous neighborhood with unsuitable housing to a safer environment where she and her boys can have a more stable home life.

Monika Andrews

Monika Andrews, a participant in AADD’s monthly supported employment group was honored by Southwest Airlines and her employer Bags, Inc. for outstanding customer service. Andrews, who has a mild intellectual disability, is very intentional in her efforts to provide for her six children and is happy to be working as a wheelchair attendant at the Atlanta airport.

Southwest airlines received a letter from an elderly couple who faced a small margin of time to get to a connecting flight at the Atlanta airport. Andrews stepped in to assist the couple, swiftly taking them to the correct terminal while chatting with them about her kids to ease their anxiety. The passengers were so grateful for Andrews service that they wrote a letter to the airline. Southwest Airlines, Bags, Inc. and AADD gathered to recognize her outstanding work in a small ceremony at the airport.

CalvinandJanice

Calvin and Janice are a happily married couple living with intellectual disability.  Before Calvin and Janice came to AADD, they were living in an apartment building that had been condemned and did not have running water.  They wanted the same things most of us want in life: to find a job, buy a car and a house, get married and have kids.  Year after year, their Outreach Specialist, Betty Dent, helped them check off their goals one-by-one.  She was with them when they got married and raised their two boys.  She taught Calvin how to drive using her own car, and he achieved the dream of getting his driver’s license in 2010. Calvin got a job at Piccadilly where he has been for 17 years and Janice a job at Popeyes where she has been for the past 15 years so they could have the financial freedom to purchase their own home.  Together, and with the help of Betty and AADD, Calvin and Janice have achieved the goals they set out to achieve 28 years ago.

BettyCoker

Betty has been a part of AADD’s family for over 27 years.   Before we met Betty, she and her family lived in a rundown house and struggled to keep food on the table and their utilities connected.   With AADD’s support, she attained her first job at Kroger bagging groceries and bringing in shopping carts. After working at Kroger for seven years, Betty started at Publix where she has worked hard for the past 15 years. With pride, Betty tells us, “I’m a cashier. I ring up groceries and talk to the customers and welcome them in and welcome them back. I was born for it, really.”  With her fantastic work ethic and a pleasant demeanor, she has formed many lasting friendships with co-workers and former teachers who believed in her.

Letha

Letha is a single mother living with intellectual disability.  Before Letha came to AADD 17 years ago, she was having trouble paying her bills on time and wanted to live on her own in an apartment.  Today, with AADD’s help, Letha has become more independent.  She has received help managing her finances and this year, she was excited to move into a safe, new apartment.  Letha is very involved with AADD, participating in the Women Against Violence and Exploitation (WAVE) support group, parenting support group. and self-advocacy group.

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Stancil, AADD Partners in Policymaking graduate, hasn’t let his blindness prevent him from living a productive and full life, and now he’s working hard to make sure that many other blind citizens have the same opportunities he has had.  Tootle, the second vice president of the National Federation of the Blind in Georgia (NFB), has been a guest speaker of the Bainbridge Rotary Club. Tootle is also president of the Bainbridge chapter of the NFB and serves on the board of directors of Bainbridge Advocacy Individual Network (BAIN), Inc., as its vice president.

faces_of_aadd_Demetrius
Demetrius recently got a job at Publix where he received the nickname “Smiley” because of his contagious smile.  His manager speaks highly of his hard work, telling us, “I wish all our employees were as passionate about their job as Demetrius.”  He is also an active volunteer at his church where he has participated in toy and clothing drives.  He is a recent recipient of the GCSS Golden Goals Mr. Congeniality award for his accomplishment in excellent customer service at Publix.

faces_of_aadd_Kylie
Kylie is a young woman living with Cerebral Palsy. With a passion to improve lives of people living with disabilities, Kylie knew from an early age she wanted to help people in similar situations and provide support. Armed with a psychology degree from Reinhardt University, she interned at Enable of Georgia in 2009 where she taught advocacy and life skills classes. Feeling unclear about her future, Kylie participated in AADD’s Partners in Policymaking, an advocacy training program which opened up the possibility of having a career as a disability advocate. Through her Partners connections, she worked for organizations such as Great Prospects Inc. and the Center for Leadership in Disability. With the help of disABILITY LINK and the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency, she accepted a Special Projects internship with AADD, helping to create activity groups for people with and without disabilities in the suburbs of metro Atlanta. After three months of hard work, she was welcomed to the team and hired full-time.

Camp Scene Photo

As part of our Recreation and Wellness program through the Family Support Center, AADD started a Wednesday Hiking Club for 16 of our participants. They enjoy going to new hiking spots every Wednesday to exercise and socialize with their friends. Many participants have reported that they are losing weight and enjoying getting out in Georgia’s fresh air!

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Phillip, University of West Georgia (UWG) college student, recently completed his person-centered plan through AADD’s Family Support Center.  With his closest family and friends, Phillip identified his strengths and weaknesses and developed a plan for the next five years of his life.  They worked to identify solutions for problems he was facing such as finding meaningful friendships, developing social skills, time management and transportation.  He can’t wait to connect with a coach to help him develop his social skills on the UWG campus, learn how to use his iPhone calendar to detail the tasks that need to be done each week, and start practicing riding the campus bus.  Through this planning session, Phillip and his family have identified his Elegantly Possible Path, the title of his person-centered plan and the beginning of a journey to combat isolation and improve his life.

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Allison’s proudest accomplishment in advocating for her daughter is taking AADD’s Partners in Policymaking course.  She was empowered with knowledge, energy and a supportive, closely-connected community network to help her communicate effectively in order to advocate for her daughter and other individuals living with disabilities.

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AADD’s Recreation and Wellness program began with 55 young adults gathering to play bocce in Roswell and have now spread to leagues across north Atlanta.  Young adults have a wonderful time playing together and are supportive of one another, helping each other participate, whatever their disability may be.

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When it’s too cold to play bocce, Recreation and Wellness groups take the fun inside with games such as Bingo, Would You Rather?, and Left, Right, Center.  Kylie got a new nickname during one of the games – Kung Fu Kylie!  Game goers enjoy a fun “parent-free peer group experience.”