Tena’s Story

When Tena told those closest to her that she wanted to pursue employment, she was told she wouldn’t be able to get or keep a job because of her cognitive disability. When Disability Network met with Tena, they learned she was facing many barriers to achieving her goals for employment, financial stability, and independence. There were also some imminent safety concerns to address. She was not living in a safe environment and did not have control over her own finances.

Disability Network got to work helping Tena get the supports needed to ensure her safety and well-being and achieve her ultimate goal of living life on her terms.

Young woman with brown hair and glasses, holding a white sign that says Thank You!

Disability Network helped Tena believe that the opinion of others didn’t define her life; she could work toward her goals and she wouldn’t have to do it alone.

With the help of Disability Network, Tena regained the legal right to manage her finances. They helped her explore affordable housing options and brainstorm which skills she wanted to learn to be successful on her own. Together, they tracked down medical records, made many phone calls, and filled out complicated forms. Disability Network helped with understanding how to budget for expenses and find a job.

Throughout this process, Tena developed autonomy and independence. She built confidence to speak up for herself and take an active role in managing her goals and resources. She now lives in a supportive community and can make her own decisions and choices.

When asked about Disability Network Tena stated “They’re pretty important because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been able to connect with the things I needed to start my life on my own. I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t be living.” Many of those Tena connected with remain her biggest supporters and cheerleaders today.

Disability Network helped Tena believe that the opinion of others didn’t define her life; she could work toward whatever goals she wanted and she wouldn’t have to do it alone. Disability Network works alongside people every day to reach their goals and live the lives they choose.

Tena’s story is just one example of the impact our work has on the community. Our programming not only helps individuals, but teaches the community through public presentations, guides business owners in implementing disability-friendly and inclusive policies, creates long-term change through advocacy at the state and local levels, and so much more. These efforts have positively impacted the lives of countless individuals and communities – yet there’s so much more work to be done. 

It is our privilege to be the first stop for people with disabilities in Southwest Michigan, but we can’t do it without you. With your donation, we can continue to provide services that empower individuals like Tena to live their lives to the fullest. Your support fuels our mission and drives our impactful work forward!

 Can we count on you to support stories of independence and self-advocacy, like Tena’s? Donate today!

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