Greater opportunities is on a progressive pathway forward and working on different projects to align with our strategic mission; which is to empower people with developmental disabilities to achieve greater self-sufficiency and lead richer lives. In the last year, there has been some addition to our management team; the addition of our CEO, Bill Coker, Director of Operations, John Onofe and SLS coordinator Mar Eaton.
Indeed change brings out growth across the organization. It has been an exciting change for the organization as it strives to change its vantage point in the role we play in the service of individuals with disabilities.
We have implemented new guidelines, policies and procedures and restructured our programs to be proactive and not reactive to the needs of our participants while maintaining a sensitive approach to individual goals and needs. The outcome of which you will be reading below.
Thank you for taking your time to read about the exciting happenings at Greater opportunities and we look forward to connecting with you. 
Department Highlights:
Independent living Services
Stuart Smith
 A portrait of achievement.

Stuart is a very talented and motivated man. He is soft-spoken and polite with a wry sense of humor. He has been a participant in the Greater Opportunities Independent Living Services program for over 15 years. He has successfully held down his job with Trader Joe’s since 2006 and has been living comfortably and independently in his own apartment in Mountain View since 2008. Not only does he attend church every Sunday but he volunteers there as a server as well. He has many friends within the church and is well liked by all who encounter him.
Stuart is motivated to better himself every day. Stuart enjoys learning about and achieving skills in art, music, and cooking.
Stuart began drawing in the 90s, starting out by drawing things for friends. He enjoyed this immensely and has since studied painting techniques with various mediums such as charcoal, watercolors, and acrylics. Stuart has become quite the accomplished painter. He has been selling his pieces each year at our annual fundraiser. He also sells homemade Christmas cards through his Facebook site (find him under “Stuart Smith”).
Stuart is also an enthusiastic guitar player. His mother was able to get him a free guitar from a friend and from there he taught himself how to play. He learns from listening to CDs and trying to figure out the parts of the songs by ear. Some of his favorites are Rush, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and also 70s and 80s music. Recently, Stuart has been taking guitar lessons and composing his own guitar pieces. Stuart is also interested in learning harmonica.
Another passion of Stuart’s is cooking. Stuart treats cooking as an art and likes to add his own touches to recipes. One of his favorites is Portuguese chicken.
Stuart is very independent and capable but no man is an island as Stuart has been receiving support from his one-to-one skills trainer, Sarah. Sarah has successfully supported Stuart in his life goals and achievements every step of the way for over 10 years. Stuart and Greater Opportunities are very thankful for her service.
We at Greater Opportunities are very proud to support Stuart and have him in turn continue to achieve and inspire us.
Supported Living services
Debbie Bigelow
“…I don’t ever want to be normal!”

“If having a developmental disability makes me this happy, then I don’t ever want to be normal!” These words were engraved in my heart and soul after hearing it from Supported Living Services recipient, Debbie Bigelow at last year’s holiday party. Despite having anxiety; she courageously walked to the stage, proudly stepped up to the podium and introduced herself to the crowd. She went on to express how happy she was from all the accomplishments she was able to achieve due to the immense support she receives from the program.

Debbie was dually diagnosed with Autism Disorder and atypical psychosis. She used to get fixated on an idea or thought; as a result, she gets obsessed about it. In addition, she has bilateral, mild hearing loss and wears hearing aids. In the past when Debbie used to live with her family, her family made all the decisions for her, and Debbie was unable to self-advocate and make informed decisions. Her mom and conservator Sandy was concerned for Debbie's safety as Debbie had challenges with safety awareness and no safety skills to protect herself!
Finally, Debbie and her family enlisted San Andreas Regional Center for assistance and on July 2013, she became a recipient of supported living services at Greater Opportunities.
Armed with a comprehensive support plan, supportive family, and compassionate SLS team around her; Debbie thrived!

Debbie is able to maintain her apartment unit where she has lived for more than 20 years now. With the assistance of her SLS team, she has learned simple housekeeping skills to maintain her home. She managed her anxiety and now goes to social events with a balanced social life.
Ace Hardware recently threw a huge party for her to celebrate her employment of 25 years! “I loved that they remembered and they even gave me a gift card!” , expressed Debbie, shouting with glee.
Debbie focuses on doing the things she loves like reading, knitting, and arts and crafts despite her psychological diagnoses. Her health is in a much better place through healthy and well-balanced meals. She is currently enrolled at Gavilan College and loves learning new things!
Debbie is great self-advocate and is able to make her choices and decisions and still consults her mom, Sandy.
Debbie was recently offered a job at Stanford library; a dream come true! She is truly a remarkable individual. A force to be reckon with and an inspiration to us all!
Debbie, on behalf of the Supported Living Services Program, I would like to congratulate you on your new achievement, and are so proud of you! We cannot wait to see where life takes you next!  – Mary Eaton, SLS Program Coordinator
Day Program Services
We want to honor Day Program Staff, Araceli and one of her participants Tram Le.

Araceli has been with GO for over 10 years. Her patience, dedication and the love she has for her participants are undeniable. Not only does she teach mosaic artwork; she started a day program garden in front of our building, she cooks us Mexican food for holidays, she brings in a piñata for celebrations and she takes her group to various places for volunteering. It doesn’t stop there! She introduced the group to going to the movies every month and they LOVE it!

We appreciate you Araceli !

Tram Le has been with the day program since 2007. Even though she is non-ambulatory and non-verbal, nothing stops her from trying everything. She volunteers at the Alum Rock Park where she rakes the leaves at the picnic area and at the Family Shelter, she helps clean the tables. When not volunteering, she loves doing artwork and her favorite pass time is going to the movies. Tram has learned to buy her own ticket, give the ticket to the ticket taker and knows where to get seated.

We congratulate Tram on all her accomplishments!! 
Greater Opportunities was proud to be part of the gold sponsors of the 23rd Legislative Luncheon with focus on supporting our service provider community via advocacy, friendship, service and support with efforts to bring relief through the legislative process.
Keep the Promise 2019
Greater Opportunities also participated in Keep the Promise Rally which took place on April 3rd, 2019. More than 330,000 Californians with Intellectual and/or developmental disabilities live in out state; they are our neighbors, classmates, coworkers, family and friends. However their support structure has been grossly underfunded and is failing. Direct support staff and quitting the field or working multiple jobs due to low wages, essential programs are closing throughout the state and individuals are forced to live with inadequate support or without support at all.
To the following participants have paid job; we are really proud of you for what you do and the joy/meaning you find in your hard work .

  • The Cheesecake Factory: Elvia, Samuel, KC, Beverly, Kiana, Maria G, Celina
  • BJ's: Eric B, Quyhn, Philip, Heather, Tam
  • PetSmart: Jacob
Inclusive Volunteering .
The idea around inclusive volunteering is simple: making sure that volunteers of all abilities and backgrounds can serve their communities together. It’s about ensuring that everyone can share their gifts and talents to better their community and reap the many benefits associated with volunteering. Many of our participants first learn job skills at volunteer sites like;

  • Roosevelt Community Center: Clean exercise equipment, help in the senior lunch program by cleaning off lunch plates
  • Family Shelter: Cleaning the tables, keeping the room clean
  • Alum Rock Park: Keeping the picnic area clean, raking leaves
  • Meals on Wheels Warehouse: Sorting variety of produce
  • Meals on Wheels: Delivering Meals to seniors
  • San Jose Animal Shelter: Put together litter boxes

Cortez clean-up day!
Many thanks to the Day Program crew and all volunteers for all their hard work on the hottest day of the year! There was a lot of teamwork and elbow grease expended with a well earned pizza and watermelon lunch at the end.
Cortez looks great! Thanks to all!
Greater Opportunities
yearly BBQ
July 12th

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