Hero & Game Changer
From the moment Kerri Bain joined WeAchieve (CHI) in June 2005, she was recognized as a woman with many talents. She has overcome every obstacle and done so with a fearless spirit. On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, she helped us launch our first Challenge Talk at Wheaton Library. The purpose of the Challenge Talks is to inspire listeners with differing abilities to overcome any roadblocks in their journey. Kerri gave a courageous speech regarding her finding employment at a restaurant and what it took to accomplish this.
Kerri often encourages her peers to go after their dreams and not let the fear of being told “no” get in the way. She is an active member of The Game Changers, our Self Advocacy Group. She also was one of the first people to attend our Virtual Day Sessions. Created during the pandemic, the Virtual Day Sessions offers the people we serve Discovery Groups, Social Hours, Cooking with Ty, Bingo, and many games. Another accomplishment Kerri has conquered was actually hosting a few Virtual Day Sessions, including “Superheroes: Marvel vs. DC Comics.“ She and her mother Susan came up with an amazing session that included reading comics, telling amazing jokes, playing games, and performing magic tricks.
“I became aware of CHI in early 2020 and knew this was an organization I wanted to actively support. From my perspective the people at CHI embody the same core values we hold dear here at City Wide, so deciding to be a supporter was easy and a true pleasure for me and my team.”
— MATT CARROLL, PRESIDENT, CITY WIDE FACILITIES SOLUTIONS
Standing Up for Community
When Mohamed Agabein spoke at the Challenge Talks, it was his first time in front of WeAchieve people. His topic was people with and without disabilities getting together. Mohamed felt the importance of the occasion, an experience to express himself and his views. His voice was heard throughout the room. “I know if I speak,” he says with a smile, “people will listen because I am handsome.”
Mohamed is also part of WeAchieve’s Game Changers, advocating before Maryland decision-makers in Annapolis. “Game Changers has helped me learn about myself,” he says. “I also have learned how to stand up for myself and my friends. My opinion is important to the people in my life and in Annapolis.” Mohamed likes going to DD Day (Developmental Disabilities Day) in Annapolis because “it’s a lot of fun and I meet people who make laws for people with disabilities.”
“Although my daughter has received job coach support from WeAchieve (CHI) for several years, the quality and consistency of hands-on training and personal interest have surged. Her agency job coach calls each month, sometimes twice to check on Laura’s wellbeing. In fact, her employer was unaware early on she had a job coach. Today her job coach is recognized, appreciated, and has access to my daughter’s place of business.”
— LAURA RYAN’S FATHER LARRY
A New Full Life
High school student Leroy Allen spent three months in the hospital recovering from several serious medical issues. Sadly, his mother, after a stroke and renal failure, was unable to provide the loving support and manage his care the way she always had. Those health crises eventually took her life, but not before she was able to help Leroy settle into his new life with WeAchieve (CHI).
Leroy transitioned from the hospital to our Brooke Road residence in March 2017. Our personalized approach to helping everyone we support reach their goals and aspirations worked for Leroy. Today, he has healthy, fulfilling relationships with his grandmother, uncle, and sister, as well as his church family. He has learned new skills and refined existing skills. He has continued his education at Suitland High School, where he has many friends. He also has lived life like other people his age, taking weekend trips, going out to eat and to the movies, and cheering on his favorite sports teams in person — the Bowie Baysox, Baltimore Ravens, and the Washington Nationals. Because of our agency, Leroy has tried new things and met people he might have otherwise never known, as he builds a self-defined life that is rich and full.
“Twenty-eight years is a very long time to have your loved one cared for. We feel blessed to have had the agency care for our son all these years. Communication lines are always open; they’re prompt answering any of our questions. What stands out, though, is their kindness. We’ve been very happy—and I know Tom has been too.”
– MIKE AND CATHY GREENE, SIBLINGS OF TOM GREENE
Healthy, Active & Smiling
Before moving into one of our agency’s group homes, Sean Beynon lived alone with his mother and had limited contact with his father. His mother worked in the evenings and night shift, with Sean staying home alone much of the time. Neighbors reported seeing him walking around the neighborhood alone at night. At that time, Sean lived a very unhealthy lifestyle. His diet was poor and included large amounts of junk food and candy. He became very overweight and developed health and dental problems.
After Sean’s mother passed away, Sean moved into one of our group homes. He quickly became good friends with his housemates and seemed to enjoy the company of others in the house with him. He was also able to reconnect with his father. Residential staff met with a nutritionist, and Sean began to eat a healthier diet with fruits and vegetables. His dental problems were addressed, and he started to smile more. He began to lose weight, and the more weight he lost the more active he became. He began to take part in more and more activities with his housemates, such as going to the movies and going shopping. Sean eventually lost more than 100 pounds and has become very active. He has developed a close bond with the people who support him and the people he lives with. He enjoys regularly taking part in activities with his housemates and talking with them about current events and his interest in history.
“My two brothers have been a part of WeAchieve (CHI) for years. They treat my brothers like family and provide them with wonderful life experiences. I know that my donations to the agency are used to help those like my brothers build their life skills in a friendly and nurturing environment. Thank you!”
— LIAM MOY
Committed Donor & Business Leader
In May 2019, Matthew Carroll decided to leave his position in corporate America to start his own business, inspired by the idea of becoming a contributing member of local communities and their outreach programs. As a business owner, he wanted to do more than just show up for photo opportunities. He wanted to make a measurable difference in people’s lives that he could see and feel. He also wanted to work with others who felt the same way. So he set up his new company, City Wide Facility Solutions, with the first rule on our books that a major portion of all profits must be donated to charity.
Matt and his wife felt great about the idea of contributing to a well-run organization. They only had one problem: they weren’t sure what that organization was or how to find it. By happenstance, while prospecting for new business in February 2020, Matt was introduced to Daphne and WeAchieve. He learned and was inspired by how the agency impacts clients’ lives, and truly wanted to contribute in any way he could. Within days, COVID hit the US, and changed everyone’s plans for the future were put on hold. Somewhere along the way Daphne and Matt connected again, and discussed challenges presented by COVID. Together they were able to come up with a solution that kept their people safe and gave everyone a feeling they were going down the right path.
Since then, while so much in our society has changed, the relationship between the agency and City Wide has become stronger and more valued. They feel great about being able to contribute to the agency and its mission, and look forward to continuing to do so as their business grows, with the hope of making even bigger impacts as the years progress.
“I’ve really appreciated your focus on what the people you support want. When Bill really wanted to go to the beach, you made it happen. When the staff realized he’s a nut about ferris wheels, you got him a miniature that spins, lights up, and plays music. When he expressed an interest in healthy eating, you got him involved in meal planning, food shopping, and meal preparation. You listen to him, validate his interests, and show him the next thing you all can do to help those interests — and Bill — blossom. Bill has been with WeAchieve for about 35 years. As a family, you need to have trust, and we do.”
— LAURA BREEDON JENKINS, SISTER OF BILL BREEDON
Learning & Growing
Bill has been with WeAchieve for about 35 years, living in the agency’s Cresthaven home, attending our meaningful day program … and steadily blossoming. Thanks to the agency’s caring and responsiveness, Bill’s limited language skills for example, have come a long way. Though at age 10 he couldn’t say yes or no, today he quotes staff members and uses language correctly, continually expanding his language and expression.
Bill wants everyone to eat healthy food. It’s his way of keeping everyone safe and well. Staff have tapped into this interest, bonded with him over it, and encouraged it, making healthy eating one of his goals. They involve Bill and incorporate his interest in healthy eating into outings, menu planning, and preparing dinners together. Yet food is just one of Bill’s interests that the WeAchieve staff validate and nourish. Throughout his years with the agency, staff have listened to what he wants to do and what he thinks, then helped him take those interests to the next level.
“My sister Chrissy has gained so much confidence through participating in the online activities that sprang up in response to the pandemic. Rather than living completely shut in and shut down, Chrissy and others were able to log in and join friends for discussions, chair exercise, music, games, and video lessons. Even though their in-person socializing had to be cancelled to keep everyone safe and healthy, Chrissy could still see smiling faces on her computer screen! Chrissy’s family is so grateful that CHI continued to see to the social needs of her community. It has made such a difference to her today! Thank you!”
— CATHIE SCHORN, SISTER OF CHRISSY BRIEF
Long-time Burger King Employee
Joe Proctor has worked for Burger King for 20 years, and at the Burger King in Leisure World, Silver Spring, for the last five. “I wipe down the tables for people,” he says proudly, and works with his WeAchieve job coach to learn any new tasks that come his way. “She shows me what to do.” Joe especially likes earning a paycheck and working independently, and he enjoys taking the bus to and from his job.
The process of matching Joe’s strengths with Burger King’s needs was simple. His coach worked with the Burger King site’s manager to customize a position exactly right for him. Joe’s coach then helped him complete and submit his application, prepared him for his interview, and helped him practice the necessary job skills. With WeAchieve’s support, Joe was set for success from the start, benefiting Burger King, as well — for 20 years!
“I’m very happy at my job at Burger King. I like earning a paycheck and working independently, and I like the people. WeAchieve helped me get the job and prepared me for the interview. I’ve been working at Burger King five years!”
— JOE PROCTOR
A Full Life Among “Family”
When Tom Greene first moved into his WeAchieve residence in 1994, he was apprehensive. This was a new place. Different. But soon, the WeAchieve staff helped him feel comfortable. Tom’s WeAchieve residence became his home, and the people he lives with became his family. Here there’s always something cooking in the kitchen, and a deck out back to enjoy. Here is where Tom thrives.
Tom’s parents Cathy and Mike credit the WeAchieve staff’s kindness, openness and excellent support services with helping him steadily grow intellectually and developmentally, and come into his own. “More than 25 years is a very long time to have your loved one taken care of. We’ve been very happy — and we know Tom has been too.”