Access 2 Independence is consumer controlled Non-Profit. Our employees have disabilities themselves and share their life experiences to better show our consumers how they too can achieve Independence.
Ms. Asha Cooper was a 42 year-old single mother of one, looking for a way to get back into the workforce when she first contacted Access 2 Independence in November of 2015. When we first spoke with her, we learned about the difficulties that she had been enduring over the past several years. Until eight years ago, Ms. Cooper was an active and energetic member of the workforce, where she held several positions for over twenty years. All of this changed when she began experiencing several illnesses in a relatively short period of time. Faced with the challenge of Lupus (among several other illnesses), Asha had been struggling to reclaim the confidence, and skills necessary to regain her position as a contributing and energetic member of working society. What is more, Asha was forced to cope with the end of a 22-year marriage that could not withstand the challenges that she would ultimately face.
When Ms. Cooper contacted Access 2 Independence, we were tasked with helping her forge a path to a different life of independence. Instead of dealing with irate customers at Greenpoint Mortgage or investigating fraudulent activity with accounts at Total Systems, Asha had to learn how to use the popular screen reader, Voiceover on her Apple iPhone and iPad. She had to work very hard to get back in the groove of working on a computer; this task was made tremendously more enjoyable and rewarding due to Asha’s always-positive and relentless need to approach each meeting with a laid-back and fun-loving attitude. Although there were trying times due to illness, Asha was always determined to get involved in her community; she frequently participated in community events, attended local National Federation of the Blind meetings, and even spent some time volunteering at A2I! This was especially meaningful, because she was able to be in an office setting once more. While Asha did not live to fulfill her ultimate dream of getting back to work in an office setting, she achieved a great deal and remained very active right up until her subsequent passing due to illness in August of 2017. One such example of her dedication was that she had begun an empowerment platform by way of her Periscope channel. Asha’s videos were all about raising awareness about Lupus, and about the expression of her faith and gratitude for all the blessings that life had to offer her. Until the end, she remained a source of inspiration, joy, and encouragement to live each day to the fullest, and to always be thankful for the gift of life, by doing everything possible to make a life of independence for oneself. For these and many other reasons, Access 2 Independence remembers the life and legacy of Ms. Asha Cooper
Ms. Taylor was referred to us through the MFP nursing home transition program. She had become friends with a nurse that work at her facility as well as her family. So much so to the point that they had been taking her out of the nursing home almost every weekend and had gotten to where she could no longer spend overnight stays with them per policy. We worked with her and the family to coordinate transition to live with them in their home. This family was rather large, Multigenerational, Living in one residence. They were in the process of converting a garage into a living space. With the funding from the MFP program we were able to make this into an accessible living space for Miss Taylor. Since Miss Taylor has left the nursing home she has become active in a local church as well as a recognizable member of her community. She can often be found in her power wheelchair, this was also purchased with MFP program ,caregivers found it used, out and about in the community.
With the assistance access to independence in the MFT program we were able to help Miss Taylor leaving the nursing home in return to the community Live with a family. This is greatly improved her Life both socially and emotionally. She has become a much more vibrant person and is getting to enjoy her independence.
Mr. Adolphus Smith came to Access 2 Independence(A2I) in 2016 after being referred to our organization by Homeless Resource Network. He had finished his goals with their organization. I met with him for the very first time at his apartment along with his supporter Cheryl Kolb. I conducted his intake and opened him up as a consumer of A2I. He explained to me that he wanted to start receiving his SSDI but he had been told for years that he did not qualify. I informed him that he has paid into the system and did qualify through being disabled. He has vision impairment, works part time and did not qualify for health benefits. He was working about 32 hours per week, I explained to him that I was working while on SSDI and he needed to reduce his weekly hours to 25 hours per week so he would not earn over the total income allowed monthly to qualify. I explained to him the we needed all of his medical documentation explaining his vision impairment. We arranged for me to become his Power of Attorney in order to assist him with acquiring Social Security paperwork. He went to his eye doctor and arranged for them to fax his medical records directly to Social Security. We had to make several calls via speakerphone to different SSA offices around Georgia to track down his records and ascertain his next steps in this process. We finally got all of his paperwork to the right office for processing and evaluation. He was sent a letter of rejection. We did an appeal of that decision and about three months later he received his award letter. He is now receiving SSDI benefits and associated medical insurance benefits. Mr. Smith was very patient and full of questions for myself and the SSA. He is now receiving benefits and working towards other goals for 2018. His story is success through continued effort and dedication of completing his set goals.
Mr. Houston aka Eddie had a stroke some years prior to entering a Nursing Home. He'd given up on life and had spent a year living with his elder sister and her spouse who was not an Eddie fan. This lead to his condition worsening and he needed surgery to correct which also meant he'd need rehabilitation. While at a facility in Columbus, GA he was referred to MFP program. His sister being his best advocate assisted Access 2 Independence(A2i) in transitioning her brother back into the community. This would be Eddie in his own residence living independently. After a considerable amount of effort on the part of his sister and A2i he found semi suitable arrangements, great location but not accessible.
This is where the real challenges came when dealing with property owner/management. A2i worked closely with property and our contractor to get the modifications approved and completed. His was extensive due to the property and personal needs. A2i modified all doorways, his bathroom and even had risers built for a sectional sofa, found at a great bargain by his sister.
since Eddie has returned to the community he's reconnected with his children and even his grandchild. He's also improved mediphysically, been able to improve his ability to transfer and walking distance.
A2i and MFP has been able to bring great change and meaning back into Eddie's life. Eddie has even worked as a volunteer with A2i. He's worked as a Peer supporter sharing his experience with Nursing Home transition and ultimately living Independently.