Welcome to the Independence Northwest Customer Stories Project.
The purpose of this project is to tell the stories of the people Independence Northwest is lucky enough to serve and support with living full, independent lives. We believe that hearing/reading the life stories of those who receive our services will deepen community understanding of the uniqueness of home and community-based brokerage services. As our system continues to wrestle with changes, we must keep the principles of self-determination front and center.
We hope you enjoy the stories! And if you’re interested in having your story told, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kelly Quinlan has a first-hand understanding of how Oregon brokerage services help in establishing and maintaining a good quality of life for adults with intellectual disabilities. A prolific writer, with over 50 short stories and author of a self-published book of personal memoirs, Kelly is a vivacious 36-year-old woman known for her bubbly personality and unique style of dress, which includes wearing legwarmers year-round. She loves spending time with her best friend, playing board games and making movies to post on youtube. Energetic, with a great sense of humor and a variety of interests, Kelly says, “There is a lot of flavor in my life right now!“
Molly Drummond is one of the original plaintiffs in the Staley lawsuit, when several Oregon families sued the State of Oregon in 2000 for unreasonably denying necessary services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The court case resulted in a settlement from which Oregon brokerage services originated. At the time, Molly, and five thousand or so adults with developmental disabilities who lived in family homes, were entirely without disability services.
Hello I’m Fèngxiān 院 凤仙 Yuan. I’m 26 years old I graduated from Portland State University in the Spring of 2020 with my Certificate of Career And Community Studies. I was adopted in 1997 at the age of 20 months from Nanning, China in the Guangxi Province. I grew up in Denver, Colorado with my adoptive parents and my two non biological adoptive sisters who are also adopted from China.
“It’s part of human nature to have a disability. We’re just like other people that don’t have disabilities—we’re just people, and we’re people who are part of the community,” says Eleanor Bailey, a disability rights advocate and customer at Independence Northwest Brokerage. Eleanor is passionate about improving the lives of individuals with disabilities through advocacy and her history of involvement in disability rights issues extends back to her childhood.
In 1990 Claudia Walker and Bill Fogleman were expecting their second child. “We did not know Jackson would be born with a disability. The pregnancy was almost identical to the first, down to how many days overdue, weight and length of the baby and length of the labor,” Claudia recounts. “Jackson obviously did not pass his APGAR scores that are performed on infants at birth. And he had a heart murmur.
When asked to describe a typical week, Kristina Tangney, a 34-year old customer at Independence Northwest Brokerage said, “I meet with providers one or two days per week, and then I have to go to physical therapy, different therapists sometimes in the week… When I’m just by myself, I like to read, watch TV, color… those are the main things that I do. I have dinner with my parents sometimes.” Kristina often “dog swaps” with her parents, where the family dog, Goldie, stays with her several times each week.
Henry Meece, a 25-year-old customer of Independence Northwest brokerage, can be found jam-skating at the local rink, paddling on a dragon-boat, competing in Special Olympics sports, snowshoeing, and snowboarding– when he’s not riding his skateboard to work. In March 2015, Henry was interviewed on ESPN after winning a gold medal in the 2015 X Games in the first unified dual slalom race, and in 2013 Henry’s athleticism took him to his birthplace of Korea for the Special Olympic World Games where he won a gold medal in slalom snowboarding. Henry has completed three marathons. He is proud of his athletic ability, and the interesting life that he leads. He thrives on a rigorous day-to-day schedule that he has shaped with the help of his mom, his brokerage, and his providers. He says his brokerage supports give him “something to do” and help him “stay active, make friends,” and lead an “independent life.” His mom says, “I would say of all the people we know, Henry is the most active.”
Paul Allen gets his hair and beard trimmed at Connections Salon in NW Portland but he goes to the salon more frequently to visit with clients while his cousin, Tim Newth, cuts and styles their hair. Paul says he likes to “Chat. Talk to people.” One customer is Governor Kate Brown, who Paul’s cousin has known for 18 years. “The Governor knows Paul—she’s known him for years. Do you remember how excited the governor was to see you?” Tim asked Paul. Paul answered, “Kate Brown—Salem.” Tim said, “She wanted to give you a hug… but you missed out on the cue!” Paul and his cousin Tim then joked about whether or not they were gossiping.