Volunteers of America Southeast Louisiana has been part of Debbie’s family for 39 years—because of you and others who have supported our mission along the way.

As a child, Debbie (left) was diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy and an intellectual disability. She lived with her family until she was 17, when they could not take care of all her needs.

Debbie came to Volunteers of America—first as a resident of one of our community homes for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our community group home provided Debbie with a loving “family” environment—and enabled her to receive the round-the-clock support she needed delivered by qualified and experienced direct support professionals.

Our goal with everyone we serve is to help them grow and realize their full potential. At first, this meant helping Debbie learn the importance of independence and caring for her needs. She contributed to her group home family by doing typical family chores like setting the table. And, she learned how to do her laundry and take care of her own room. Over time, this also meant supporting her desire to find a job, learn to manage money and build a life. Eventually, Debbie was ready to move out of the community home and joined our Supported Living Services program.

Debbie was so proud and excited when she moved into her own home in Slidell. That’s when Elizabeth entered her life and continues to be there today—23 years later. Elizabeth is a direct support professional who goes to Debbie’s home and provides whatever help and guidance Debbie needs. Elizabeth helps her with every aspect of her life— doctor’s appointments, banking, grocery shopping, daily living skills and social outings.

Elizabeth and Debbie are family. Like family, Elizabeth was there to help Debbie recover when she suffered a stroke in 2000. Like family, she knows when something isn’t right with Debbie and fiercely advocates on Debbie’s behalf. Never has this been more evident than recently. Debbie was receiving medical treatment for pink eye. Repeated visits to the doctor over months didn’t seem to help, and Elizabeth noticed Debbie was becoming more and more withdrawn. Debbie just couldn’t see well. Frustrated, Elizabeth took Debbie to a specialist and, again, nothing improved; the specialist resisted Elizabeth’s suggestions for alternative treatment options. Undeterred, Elizabeth took Debbie to yet another specialist who correctly diagnosed the problem, recommended surgery and saved Debbie’s right eye!

With restored vision, Debbie’s outlook is bright again; she’s resumed painting, doing crafts, visiting with friends—all the things that bring joy to her life.

Debbie’s story shows how Volunteers of America’s commitment to persons with intellectual disabilities remains constant over time. We stick with people and always provide the appropriate support for every age and stage of life. One thing is certain. We’ll be here for Debbie as long as she needs us. Your generosity makes it possible.

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