Individuals with Special Needs can Help the Community According to People's Care, Pasadena News reports

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Individuals with disabilities are still useful members of society. Pasadena News reports how a client with developmental disabilities improved on their skills in just a few months thanks to the care and encouragement shown by People's Care employees.

Hau Chi Luu with a helping hand from Mabel Perez, Instructor at People's Care, waters plants at Corner Bakery Cafe in Pasadena Wednesday July 31, 2013. (SGVN/Photo by Walt Mancini)

In the future, they can be more independent and can have a future job. They start feeling like they can develop more skills that they didn't think they could do. Some of them were afraid at first, but now they know how to do it.

People with disabilities are useful members of society who need to be pushed and given the chance to prove themselves, a special needs instructor said.

Mabel Perez, an employee at People's Care in Alhambra, welled up and shared with Pasadena News how her clients with developmental disabilities improved their skills in just a few months.

People's Care is a 15 year old company founded by Michael Kaiser whose goal is to provide excellent support and advocacy for individuals to live and thrive in a positive, life-enriching environment.

"In the future, they can be more independent and have a job," said Perez, 36. "They start feeling like they can develop more skills that they didn't think they could do. Some of them were afraid at first, but now they know how to do it."

Every Wednesday, Francisco Osorio, Hau Chi Luu, John McLaughlin and three of their peers volunteer at the Corner Bakery Cafe in Pasadena. They water trees, wipe tables, change trash bags and pick up trash.

The group has been volunteering since February. Angel Torres, the store manager, said he is happy to have these guests socialize, eat and provide service at his coffee shop.

"It helps them because they don't get treated like they have special limitations," Torres said.

As Osorio filled a plastic green watering can, Perez used her left hand to help him with the weight of a full jug. "Good job! Focus. More. More. Good job!" she said before giving him a high-five. Osorio, not a wordsmith, grinned.

Through Perez's translation, Osorio was able to express himself in English.

"I like coming to Corner Bakery because I like to water the plants," he said, with a smile and nod. "At Habitat for Humanity, I like packing screws into bags."

Because People's Care has exposed Osorio to the outside world, he has become more social and independent, Perez said. In the past, Osorio only spoke one word a day on some days, but now he is more communicative, she said. Now when he gets a haircut, he walks up to Perez and shows off his new 'do.

McLaughlin speaks through sign language, another man uses gesture prompts and the rest of the group have varying levels of communication skills. But each of their personal choices and points of views are respected at People's Care, Perez said.

We especially want "to encourage our immigrant community that they have a way to include their family members with special needs to develop their lives more," Perez said. "We are committed to building relationships that support success and community living."

Jun Kang, a visiting tourist from Seoul, watched Osorio, McLaughlin and Luu water trees around his coffee table. Although Kang didn't have an opportunity to speak to them, he was glad to see them, he said.

"I think it's great for them to join the everyday lives of other people," Kang said. "In everything they do, they are very distant from other people, so it is really important for them to participate in the community."

Through People's Care, the group of six do comparative shopping at Target, learn how to cross the street safely, volunteer to dust books at a library, practice ordering their own meals, and volunteer at places such as Habitat for Humanity, Perez said.

Micah Hillis, the manager of San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity in Pasadena, said he was eager to have volunteers from People's Care at his second-hand hardware and appliance store.

"It's enjoyable having them here in the store, and it's nice to contribute to what they're doing," he said. "They bring a different kind of appreciation. What they come here and do -- these tasks might be menial tasks for the rest of us. But they take the time and they create value."

Luu, Osorio and McLaughlin literally created value as they sat at a bench and priced bags of nails and screws. Luu stuck his tongue out in concentration as he pressed the trigger of a price gun to mark his bag of nails. McLaughlin finished tagging his batch with a price gun and waited for his friends to finish.

"They seem a little more comfortable now," Perez said before handing out more compliments and giving another round of high fives. "Francisco couldn't open (small plastic) bags by himself or use a pricing gun. Now he can. Hau couldn't use a pricing machine, and he's still developing that skill.

"It's meaningful because people think they can't do anything, and we're maximizing their independent living skills" Perez shares with Pasadena News.

For more information on this story, please click the link http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_23772263/people-special-needs-can-help-community-says-an or you may get in touch with Zen Vuong of the Pasadena Star-News.

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