Outraged!

As parents of a disabled adult child, Bill and I were confronted with our worst nightmare when our precious daughter, Shantel, called to tell us that last Saturday night, as she laid in her bed listening to a program on her phone, she thought she heard someone trying to get in her bedroom window. She immediately called 911 and reported what she thought was happening. The 911 operator told her they were sending help but did not keep her on the phone as they usually do.

Of course Shantel was scared, so she decided she would take her phone and go lock herself in her bathroom until the police arrived. However, as Shantel was leaving her bedroom and walking across the hall to the bathroom, she heard someone kick her front door in and before she could even get to the bathroom, some thug, said “Shantel its Damien”, and within minutes he had her by the throat and started choking her. She said she couldn’t breathe and thought she was going to die. She started trying to hit him and did everything she could to try to escape his grasp. She fought so hard that the intruder hit her in the face knocking her to the floor. Shantel began screaming so loud that her neighbors upstairs ( a brother and sister that share an apartment together, and who thankfully help her from time to time and check in on her to make sure she is alright) heard her screams and one of them started down the stairs to see what was happening while the other one called her cell phone which caused the intruder to grab her phone from her and run out of her apartment.

As the intruder was fleeing Shantel’s apartment, the brother and sister upstairs, and two other people saw him, and were able to identify him as a person that lived in the apartment complex in the past. They pulled him up on Facebook and showed his Facebook page to the police.

The police took Shantel to the police station and took pictures of her face and throat and Shantel said she was at the police station until 5:00 in the morning. However, Shantel did not call Bill and I until Sunday afternoon to tell us about all of this. I asked her why she didn’t call us Saturday night when she was at the police station and she said “I’m an adult now mom (23), and I didn’t want to worry you and Papa.” OMG, I told her “we are your parents and we want to know when you are in danger, or when something happens to you.”

I asked Shantel how she knew this intruder since he told her his name and she said he did live across the courtyard from her and he would say hi to her if she was walking to or from the laundry room, office, or mail box. She said he never came in her home and she really never had any conversation other than one day he was sitting on his patio and saw her as she passed by and said “hi, my name is Damien.” Then after that if he was out on his patio and she was walking by he would say Hi…

This whole thing of course has traumatized Shantel, and both Bill and I are just heart-sick about all of this.

I asked Shantel if she was scared to live there now and she said “a little, but I know I have to get past that because this is what I can afford, and my neighbors above do help me, and it is close to my best friend Jaz, and even if I moved mom, the same thing could happen…”

Of course as her parents, both Bill and I are OUTRAGED about all of this. It takes a special kind of scum of the earth to hurt a disabled blind person. I have to tell you as her mother, I would love to know who did this to my precious Shantel and if I ever came face to face to him… God forgive me, but I would do what ever I could to make sure that scum of the earth NEVER had an opportunity to do this again to anyone.

I am the mother of a disabled adult child, and I voted, and because of that, I have every right to voice my opinion, and my opinion is if you make fun of a disabled person, bully a disabled person, attack a disabled person, or support anyone that does… YOU are deplorable, and YOU are the scum of the earth, because then YOU helped set the stage for this to happen to my disabled daughter,  and if this post offends you, tough shit!!!

Stay Tuned!

 

 

 

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Kindness

As most of you know our daughter, Shantel, lost both eyes to cancer when she was two years old. If you follow my blog you also know how hard she has worked to become a strong, independent, contributing member of society. She is entitled to receive Social Security Disability benefits (which isn’t even enough to pay the rent and utility bill for her small one bedroom apartment), and she receives a small ($77.00) monthly food allotment which she can only use for what she can eat. She cannot buy personal care items, cleaning items etc. Only what she can consume… I don’t know how they expect anyone to live on that… And for those that say “get a job” well, again if you read and/or follow my blog, you also know how hard Shantel works at trying to “get a job”. She has two college degrees, and a licence to sell health, life, and medical insurance in the state of Arizona, and still she can’t get a full-time job even answering phones in a Call Center… But, Shantel is determined that she is not going to live on Social Security benefits for the rest of her life. She is tenacious, and she never gives up. She recently was offered a sessional position in a Call Center working through the end of the year, helping people choose the Medicare plan that is right for them… She gave up her Social Security benefits and food allotment card when she accepted this temporary position hoping it will turn into a full-time job, but if not, at least it will give her more work experience for her resume…

Bill and I could not be more PROUD of how hard Shantel works to be independent, and it just absolutely breaks my heart when I hear how sometimes people that she is forced to depend on to get her to and from work, to and from the grocery store etc. can sometimes be so unkind.

Shantel uses Dial-a-Ride when she can, meaning if she has the time to schedule Dial-a-Ride in advance… But, sometimes she is forced to use other transportation services like cabs, which are very expensive, so she recently started using Uber which only charges her $11.00 to take her to work and $11.00 to take her home from work as opposed to paying $28.00 for the same distance using a cab. And the $11.00 charge for Uber includes the tip!

Shantel told me Uber offers two types of services. Regular Uber and Uber assist. Uber assist drivers are trained to help people with disabilities and are required to offer to walk a blind person to their door. The only drawback to using Uber assist is that like Dial-a-ride, there is a bit of a wait time if you can’t schedule the service well in advance… Regular Uber drivers are not “required” to walk customers to the door. However, Shantel told me that every time she has used the regular Uber service, the driver has always offered to walk her to her door which she very much appreciates. One of the regular Uber drivers even told her that if she can’t get Uber assist in a timely manner not to worry about it because most regular Uber drivers will get out and assist a blind or disabled person to their door. He went on to say “if they don’t then they have to be a complete moron…”

Why am I sharing all this with you, you might ask? Well last week, Shantel was called into work early so she had no choice but to call the regular Uber service to take her to work. When she got off work that day, she needed to stop at the grocery store to get her food for the following week. She called the regular Uber service to take her from work to the grocery store. That driver walked her into customer services where she asked for someone to help her select her groceries. Then, after she purchased her groceries, she called for Uber assist but was told she would have a long wait time. Since she had some cold and frozen food in her bags she decided to call the regular Uber service. That driver, a woman, picked her up at the grocery store, drove her to her apartment complex and told her the ride was over and she needed to get her groceries and leave the car. Shantel asked the driver if she would help her to her door, which is approx 75 yards from the parking lot (not a real long way, but a long way for a blind girl carrying four bags of groceries, her purse, lunch bag, and trying to use her long cane…). The driver told Shantel it wasn’t her job to help her to her door and that if she wanted that kind of service she should have called Uber assist!

Now, I understand that that Uber driver wasn’t “required” to help Shantel…or any other disabled person… But for the love of God, what happened to kindness, understanding, empathy, and compassion for our fellow human beings…?

Both Bill and I have spent most of our lives doing things that “were not our jobs”, or were not our responsibility etc., but we always try to step up and do the right thing when we see someone in need.

I can’t even begin to explain how it made me feel when Shantel told me how hard it was for her to make her way to her apartment carrying four bags of groceries which made it impossible for her to use her cane so she had to try to follow the walkway with her foot until she got to her door. Then she had to put all the groceries down so she could find her key in her purse and open the door. Then she had to go back outside and try to make sure she found all her groceries off the door step because some food rolled out of the grocery bags… It broke my heart and still brings tears to my eyes as I write this just thinking about what all Shantel has to go through just to get through her day doing what so many of us take for granted.

I started writing this blog years ago, mainly for Shantel, as a way to document our lives for her so she can read back on our lives when I’m gone. Because of course, being blind, photo albums would be of no use to Shantel.. But sometimes, like today, I share this story as a way to bring awareness to others of the difficulties people with disabilities face each and everyday, and to perhaps encourage you, if you don’t already, to step up and do the right thing next time you see someone in need, even if it is not your responsibility. It costs nothing to practice kindness!

Stay Tuned!

Our HERO

This is a picture of our beautiful daughter, Shantel. For those of you that may not know, Shantel had cancer in both eyes and had to have both eyes removed when she was two years old, leaving her blind for life. Bill and I spent our lives helping Shantel accept her blindness, and learn to live blind in a sighted world. The beautiful smile you see on her face has never faded throughout all the years of challenges she faced and overcame. I never saw Shantel spend one minute complaining, or feeling sorry for herself, and she never wanted anyone else to feel sorry for her either.

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Bill and I fought long and hard to ensure Shantel had everything she needed to get through her school years from Kindergarten through earning two degrees in College. We had to attend endless Individual Educational Plan (IEP) meetings, to get everyone on board with what would be expected of Shantel in the classroom, as well as what would be expected of the teacher, and the support team hired to braille Shantel’s books, worksheets, test papers, etc. All this was done to ensure Shantel’s rights were upheld in the classroom so she had a fair and level playing field to compete with her peers. I can tell you nothing we fought for, and won, to support her needs came easy, but neither Shantel, or Bill and I would ever give up.

Now, fast forward… Shantel is 23 years old, lives in her own apartment, and all Shantel wants is to obtain gainful and meaningful employment. She does receive Social Security Disability benefits which isn’t even enough to pay the rent on the one bedroom apartment she has, and she receives a very small food allotment card. Shantel could sit home and just draw her Social Security and food card benefits, but she wants to work. She spends her entire day applying for jobs, and going on interviews, only to be rejected over and over again. Keep in mind, she has not one, but two degrees, and can’t even get hired to work in a call center. All she needs to do a job working with computers is a voice over program installed that will read the information on the screen to her. Then she can do the very same job that any sighted person can do…

Finally, after months and months of searching, Shantel signed on with a temp staffing agency. The temp agency was able to get her a seasonal job in a call center not far from where she lives. Both the temp agency and the call center company know she is blind and agreed they could accommodate her needs with the voice over software. She is earning $14.00 an hour even as she goes through a six-week training class. Shantel was overjoyed to say the least. Of course she will need to give up her Social Security and food allotment benefits while she is working but she can have it reinstated if she gets laid off. She doesn’t even mind the fact that the training classes are from 4:00 p.m. till midnight which means she has to pay for a cab to take her home every night because Dail-a-Ride stops running at 10:00 p.m. I can tell you I pray her home every night because I’m so worried about her being out all alone at that time of night. Bill and I live over an hour and a half from Shantel or I would go pick her up and take her home myself.

When Shantel’s training class started, the very first thing she was told was that they did not have the voice over software installed on the computer she needs to use for training. They said it has been ordered but has not arrived yet. This is NOT good at all. Shantel cannot learn, and keep up with the class if she doesn’t have that software on her computer. The instructor told her to “just sit and listen and do the best she can to keep up… ” That is exactly the type of thing Bill and I had to fight the school system about when Shantel was still in school…. Promises made that were not kept and Shantel was the one that paid the price. As her mother, it just sends me over the top because it’s just not right!

I talked to Shantel yesterday, and she told me “mom, you’re not going to believe what happened last night at work.” I asked what happened, and she told me that the voice over software has arrived but now the ITD department said they are not going to install it twice which means they will not install it on the training class computer, only the production floor computer she will use once she completes her training.” Then she went on to say the training instructor said Shantel needs to repeat the six-week training class because if she goes out on the training floor at this point she will not be able to handle the call volume because she has not had a computer to practice on… Are you kidding me!! How is another six-week training class going to benefit Shantel if ITD won’t put the voice over software on the training class computer? I told Shantel to get a meeting with the training instructor and her supervisor/manager and the production floor supervisor/manager and ask if she can have someone on the production floor give her one-on-one training on the computer she will be using that has the voice over installed in it… I don’t know why, after all these years, it still amazes me that people that are managing companies, and people, can be so lacking in common sense!!

I asked Shantel if she thinks all she is going through to have this temporary job is worth it? Shantel said “mom, 70% of blind people never get a job, I’m going to be in the 30% of the blind people that do get a job. I don’t want to live on Social Security and food allotments, I want to be financially independent, and this job at least is paying me $14.00 an hour, and I’m hoping it just might work into a full-time position. But if not, at least I’m gaining more work experience…” My heart bursts with pride for her.

Papa and I love you Shantel, we are so VERY proud of you. You face more challenges in one day than many people face in a lifetime, and you never give up! YOU are our HERO!!!

Stay Tuned!

CONGRATULATIONS!

This morning started out with rain and storm clouds looming on the horizon here at Quail Creek State Park.

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But as the day went on the sun came out and Bill and I received the BEST news! News we have been waiting for, and praying for years to hear…!

Finally, after graduating college with a degree in psychology and another in general studies, and after sending out many, many, resumes, and going on many, many job interviews… our daughter, Shantel, was offered a job as a Customer Service Representative at Optum. Optum is a Health Care Solutions Company that is part of Untied Health Care. They have one of their offices in Ahwatukee Arizona, not far from where Shantel lives. Optum provides Health Care Solutions to companies and members, and the company takes pride in making navigating the Health Care system easier.

Shantel was offered the position at Optum several weeks ago, but because she is totally blind, she needs a voiceover software that reads information on the computer to her to allow her to do her job just as any sighted person would. That said, the company, Optum, had to get approval to purchase the non-budgeted voiceover software. Once all the necessary approvals were obtained, the accommodations department at Optum had to work with their Information Technology department to make sure the voiceover software is compatible with the company software, and that it meets all the HIPPA privacy requirements. Shantel just received notification today that the software has been purchased and installed and they asked her to begin her two-week paid on-the-job training on November 2nd.  She will start at $11.00 an hour with pay increases and incentives along the way, and because Optum is part of Untied HealthCare, of course she will have an insurance/benefit package as well.

Bill and I are over the moon excited for Shantel. We have every confidence that Shantel will make Optum an excellent employee. When Shantel graduated college with her degrees, she made it her full-time job to find a job. The problem she kept running into was that she never had a job before. While she was in school she applied over and over at all the usual places teens find work but she was never hired. We knew if someone would just give her that first chance to prove herself she would be off and running in the workforce earning her own way in the world.

I can’t tell you how many prayers I’ve said asking for Shantel to not only get a job…but that she would be lead to the right job for her. A job where she would be accepted and respected and given the opportunity to earn her financial independence. I have very positive feelings about this job for Shantel, and both Bill and I are feeling blessed and so very, very, thankful that Shantel is being given this opportunity!

Good Job Shantel and CONGRATULATIONS.

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Papa and I love you so much and we are so very, very PROUD of you!

Stay Tuned!

 

She Got Them!

It took a lot of hard work, and a bit of extra time, but I am so happy to share that our daughter, Shantel, received her two Associate Degrees from South Mountain Community College today.

One is an Associate in Arts Degree, for Psychology, shown below…

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And the other is an Associate in General Studies, show below…

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Shantel, Papa and I are so very proud of you, and the hard work and effort you put forth to earn these two degrees. We know accomplishing this goal was the first step in following your dreams, and we hope you will go on to continue your education as you can, and that all your dreams come true… We love you to the moon and back and so much MORE!!!

Stay Tuned!

Way To Go Bro!

Some of you may have noticed I have not posted anything since January 15th. Big thank-you to everyone that inquired about my whereabouts… I wasn’t feeling well for a while, but I’m doing better now. Then I got some depressing news about two people I care about…. Bob, the man who comes to spend everyday with his Sister at the Care Center where my mother lives is in Intensive Care. This is Bob in the tan shirt pushing his sister in her wheelchair. Bob is 87 yrs old himself and has Parkinson’s…

Bob

Bob

Bob didn’t show up at the Care Center for a few days so the Care Center called the police to do a well check on him. Thank God they did because they found him on the floor unresponsive, and rushed him to the hospital. He lives alone, and has no other family other than his sister, Annie, at the Care Center. As of this post, we don’t know how he is or even if he is still alive thanks to HIPA laws. All I know is the Care Center said after a certain period of time passes with no contact for his sister, they may be able to get the hospital to release information about Bob. He is in my constant thoughts and prayers.

The same day I found out about Bob, I also found out that our friend, David, the man who lost one of his legs in a car accident and just recently underwent a very long and complicated surgery to repair internal injuries… has some kind of horrible infection (his roommate died from it) and David is in isolation in his room. This is David.

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No one other than staff (suited in gown, gloves, mask, and shoe booties) is allowed in David’s room, and of course, he can’t come out… I asked how he is doing and was told he is very depressed. I have his cell phone number and I called him but he didn’t answer. I left a message asking him to call me back but as of this post I haven’t heard from him. He is also in my constant thoughts and prayers…

Of course, with both Bob, and David, in bad shape, my mother is very upset with worry about them. We are trying to manage that and keep her from getting depressed…

With all that going on…. I was pleased, proud, and happy, to find out my Bro, Danny, was chosen as a collaborator for a book! Way to go Bro!!!

Here is the book.

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And his certificate of appreciation…

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And his name in print… See under collaborators, second name down, Dan Vezie. That’s my Bro…

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Danny works at Maricopa Unified School District. His main function is running the warehouses that supply the schools within Maricopa Unified School District, but he also went to pest control school and learned how to eliminate pests without harsh chemicals, and was instrumental in developing a pest control method, that is safe for the children, teachers, and environment, within the Maricopa Unified School District. That lead to him being selected as a collaborator for the Handbook On Pests Of Community Environments In The Desert Southwest United States. The book was published by the University Of Arizona!

I just could not be any prouder of you Danny. Love and hugs, Sis.

Stay tuned!

Just Another Wednesday

Wednesday’s are one of the day’s I always spend with my daughter, Shantel.

Up at 4:00 A.M. so I have enough time to cook the bacon,

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and seasoned chicken breasts Shantel always asks me to bring so she can just heat and eat them during the week when she’s ready.

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Shantel can cook many things for herself, but frying bacon and chicken is a bit dangerous for her to do alone, and I don’t mind at all making it for her.

Next, I pack up the usual supply of paper towels and bar hand soap we buy at Costco for her. Shantel says she can never have enough paper towels.

By 7:50 A.M. I’m on the road and heading to Shantel’s apartment with the goods…

When I arrive, Shantel is standing outside and ready to go… As she made her way to the car, I ran inside her apartment to put the food I cooked away.

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Then it’s off to the bank to talk to someone about Shantel’s bank card being comprised.

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She received a call Saturday afternoon from the fraud department of the bank letting her know there had been some suspicious charges to her card, from a Murphy Express in Cedar Park Texas. The fraud department asked her if she wanted to authorize the charges and Shantel told them no. So the bank said they would put a permanent block on that card and told her that she would need to go into her bank branch to obtain a new card… Today the bank dismissed the unauthorized charges and the overdraft charge and issued Shantel a new card…

With the banking issue taken care of we were off and running to Walmart for as Shantel says …”much-needed hair products.” OMG, hair products are the never-ending story with that girl.

After too much time at Walmart (it’s now 10:30 A.M.) the next stop on our agenda was Fry’s Food Store to purchase her weekly groceries… Then, a mad dash back to Shantel’s apartment to put the groceries away so we can get her to school on time for her 11:00 class.

But…. not too fast… because Shantel still wanted to stop at McDonald’s for two Mc Doubles, medium fries, and a large Carmel Frappe that she can take with her to class!!!  She said it’s just enough to hold her over until she gets home and enjoys the chicken I cooked for her…

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It was a fast paced morning, and I told Shantel sometimes I can’t believe that I, a long time queen of planning…., ended up dashing around town with my daughter who is making every effort to turn me into a “last-minute Nelly…” But, like I said…, it was “just another Wednesday…” 🙂 🙂

Stay Tuned

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