Since Ray Graham Association serves nearly 2,000 children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, there are literally 2,000 stories of lives changed, skills gained, independence fostered and so much more that we could share with you.
Each of the individuals and their families that Ray Graham Association serves have stories of successes, advancements and growth to tell.
And we too have something to learn from these very special and unique individuals we have the pleasure of working with every day.
We’d like you to meet a few of these individuals and hear their stories.
It was a fantastic year for the Gateway Gators’ Volleyball Team. The group took their undefeated season to the state championship in Rockford, Illinois and brought home the gold medal! Contributing to the team’s success was Suzanne. With her dynamic, over-the-net serves and consistent passes, she was a huge asset to the team.
The successful season showcases Suzanne’s tremendous improvement from three years ago when she joined the Gateway Special Olympics’ Volleyball Program. Like anyone trying a new sport, it was difficult for her the first year. Fortunately, with determination and hard work, she quickly progressed in all essential areas of volleyball. The consistent effort she has put forth through the years has lead to this year’s medal-winning season.
With her new found talent, Suzanne’s confidence and self esteem have grown. Staff members continue to work with Suzanne to develop her skills and encourage her to try new things. Suzanne shows no signs of stopping. She plans to enhance her skills as she says, “I practice my serves, sets and bumps…and never give up getting better.”
Finding the right job and living independently have been two of David’s long-time, personal goals. In August 2010, David began to make his dreams a reality when he was hired by CiCi’s Pizza as a Dining Room Attendant. For the first time, David began to enjoy his job and feel valued. David’s friendly nature has made an impact on his employer and customers; he often receives customer compliments and some guests return to the restaurant knowing that he will be working. Ray Graham Association is proud of the positive impact David has made at CiCi’s Pizza, and RGA continues to support David through employment assistance.
David’s hard work truly paid off in July 2011 when he moved into his own home. David and his family worked closely with other families and the Disability Ministry of College Church in Wheaton to create STARS Family Services (SFS). SFS opened its first home in 2011 where David lives with three young men and staff support. Today, David enjoys living independently and is learning to become an involved member of his community.
Meet Percy & His Parents
Percy recently moved from his family home into a Ray Graham Association-supported residential setting.
Percy’s father described the family’s situation this way:
“I am eighty years old and my wife is seventy-eight. In the past few years, my wife and I have had multiple health issues; my wife had cancer and debilitating arthritis. I was then diagnosed with cancer as well. My wife cannot drive very far due to eyesight complications from cancer.
Ray Graham Association was able to move Percy to a Day Program location closer to our home that they could provide transportation to – this was a great help. A few weeks ago, Percy visited Sunrise Court in Roselle and loved it!
Ray Graham Association worked hard to get Percy into Sunrise Court and worked with us to do what was best for our family, especially Percy.
He has made new friends and the staff has shown us that they can provide the supports he requires.
Percy is a very important part of our life and we know that we need Percy in a safe place that can assist him at this time in his life.
We are very grateful for all that Ray Graham Association has done.”