Inclusion Matters

JULY 2023

Lives of Distinction

Terry Hicks

The Beautiful Bride to Be

Terry Hicks has been a part of the Advocates family for many years and has much to be thankful for because of it. Though she has received incredible support from the agency in that time, made numerous lifelong friendships along the way, and has many memories to cherish for the rest of her life, Terry didn’t hesitate when asked what’s meant the most to her about her journey with Advocates… “The best part was meeting Jamir,” Terry said of her fiancé.

Jamir, who also receives services from Advocates, had only been a casual acquaintance of Terry’s for some time. However, because of their similar interests and mutual friends through Advocates, they began spending more time together. What had once been a platonic relationship then developed into a romantic one, and the pair has now been dating for about 5 years. Jamir took their relationship to a new level when he asked Terry to be his wife.

“He took me out to a nice dinner and proposed,” Terry beamed. “I was so surprised but very happy.” With their August wedding just around the corner, it’s been understandably difficult for Terry to focus on much else these days. “She’s in full wedding planning mode,” said her newest Mentor, Natalie Dart. “She’s got great planning skills, so she’s taken the lead on the main things like selecting her wedding dress, creating a guest list, and choosing the music.” 

Though Terry is independent in many areas, she and Jamir still rely on those closest to them – including their Mentors – for important things in their everyday lives. The couple depends on staff for transportation, direction with household chores, refining positive communication skills, and staying involved in their community. Terry and Natalie were open about another thing Terry really struggles with, which is an unfortunate byproduct of living with a disability. 

“There’s still a lot of judgment in society,” Natalie commented. “Being fully accepted into society and feeling that acceptance is a big one for her.” Sadly, both Terry and Natalie have felt people’s judgment occasionally when interacting with others in the community. “Sometimes people don’t have patience,” Terry said. “She’ll be ordering food at a restaurant, and we can feel that impatience,” Natalie added. But as any good mentor would do, Natalie is there to support her. “I don’t want her to internalize things like that,” Natalie said.

“I like to let her process it at the time, and then we work through it together later.” Jamir then shared his feelings about the support he and Terry receive from their Mentors, especially in difficult situations such as these. “Our Mentors are here to help us learn, and you can tell that they really care about us,” he said.

Though the occasional negative interaction in the community adversely affects her and despite the fact she needs ongoing support in some areas, Terry described herself as living an overall satisfying and happy life. Jamir’s Mentor, Thomas Neal, couldn’t help but interject on the subject, because of how connected he is to the couple. “She is always, always smiling,” Thomas said. “And that smile is a testament of her well-being.” 

While Terry does have a lot to be happy about presently, she’s also eagerly anticipating the next few months and beyond. “I’m very excited,” she told us when thinking about the wedding and the couple’s honeymoon plans. “I love going on cruises…if we could go on another cruise together, that would make me happy.” Terry and Jamir have long-term goals as well, and have their sights set on moving into their own home in the future. “It can’t happen soon enough!” Jamir joked, commenting on how nice it would be for them to have additional living space. But as Terry, Jamir, and their Mentors all concurred, it doesn’t matter so much where the couple lives, as long as they’re together. “I just want to be with him,” Terry said as she looked at her future husband with affection.

Terry’s other long-term goals include expanding on her work and volunteer opportunities, especially at her church. There, she is instrumental in the overall upkeep of the building and goes above and beyond when it comes to cleaning. She also hopes to do more through Syracuse’s Parks and Recreation Department, where she recently helped to create a beautiful mural outside city hall. When she’s not busy giving back to her community, some of Terry’s many hobbies include getting manicures, spending time with her friends, going to the movies, attending musical performances, and being outdoors – especially at the beach. And perhaps best of all, Terry enjoys doing something that’s been a major part of her life for the past 5 years...“I love going on date night with Jamir!” she exclaimed.

Though Natalie has only been with the agency for a few months, she has already seen some of Terry’s progressions and prides herself on being a member of her support team. “I love being able to help achieve her goals,” Natalie said. “She’s in a really good place right now, and it’s my job to try to keep it that way.” Terry’s legal guardian - family support, Patty Oatman, who is also a Mentor for Advocates, shared how much she and Terry value people like Natalie. “Simply amazing people have come our way, thanks to Advocates,” Patty said. “Having a developmental disability doesn’t mean you don’t develop…Terry has been through things like illness and mental health issues, and her Mentors have helped her to overcome a lot of these things and get back on track.”

Built on a solid foundation of people who care about her,

Terry is set up for a lifetime of success. “She’s like family to me, and I have her best interests in my heart,” Natalie said. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds in store for them.”

From all of us at Advocates, we send Terry and Jamir our sincere congratulations, and we wish them nothing but happiness, love, and success for years to come!

If you have a caring family member or friend who is looking for meaningful work and the opportunity to support someone as inspirational as Terry, please encourage them to apply on our website. We look forward to meeting them!

Upcoming Events

FLAME Concert

Advocates and ARISE are co-hosting a concert featuring FLAME the Band, which is comprised of talented musicians who have a disability. The FLAME concert will coincide with an inclusive evening of great music, dancing, and food provided by local food trucks that the whole family is sure to enjoy! 

FLAME truly inspires people of all ages! They tour throughout the United States, performing classics and some of their own originals. Their mission is to change the world through their music and performances. "FLAME’s performances help change how the public perceives people with disabilities and increase the awareness and acceptance of all people, regardless of their differences.”

Formed 20 years ago, FLAME gained popularity in several notable publications and television broadcasts. We hope that you, your friends, and family are able to join us for what's sure to be an unforgettable experience! This event is open to the public. Please be sure to bring your appetite and your favorite lawn chair! 

Click here today for your tickets!

Advocates Annual Family Picnic

Our Family Picnic is Almost Here!

Advocates' Annual Family Picnic will be held on Wednesday, July 12th from 4-7pm at Onondaga Lake Park's Willow Bay Pavilion. There is still time to register!

People & families receiving services from Advocates are invited to join us for an afternoon full of food, fun, music, entertainment and an opportunity to connect with old friends and meet new ones!

We hope to see you there!

Click here to register for this event!

Advocates-Sponsored Syracuse Mets Game

Dine For Dollar$

We've reached the midway point of our Dine for Dollar$ fundraiser to benefit the many people we support.

Our next event is right around the corner!

Friends of Advocates are invited to join us on Thursday, July 20th at IHOP, located at 4211 Route 31 in Clay. Enjoy scrumptious omelets, eggs benedicts, pancakes, burgers, or salads – whatever your heart desires! 

A portion of your bill will be donated directly to Advocates in support of services provided to children and adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and their families. Invite your family members and friends to dine with you. Your commitment to join us is crucial to making our fundraising goal a success. Our host, Nicholas Courgi, will be available that day to hand out coupons at the door for dine in or take out meals.

On behalf of our individuals, families, and employees at Advocates, we thank you for your consideration and anticipated support! We hope to see you there!

Check out IHOP's Menu!

Movie in the Park

Click here to register for this event!

Advocates Trainings

Click here to register for these and other trainings
Agency Updates

Advocates Partners with American Red Cross

You helped save a life!

Advocates and the American Red Cross held a blood drive on June 22nd at Advocates' office in Liverpool. We had 17 caring people donate, which resulted in:

There is no way to put into words how much your blood donation means. From the local emergency teams tirelessly working around the clock to save lives, to the patients who are desperately trying to recover, to their loved ones anxiously waiting good news, your blood donation means everything. We sincerely thank you!

If you missed this drive and would like to donate at an upcoming event near you, please click here.

Happy Independence Day!

Independence is at the core of our mission. We would also like to thank all of our employees for helping the people we support to live enriched and independent lives! It is by your dedication that we are able to achieve our mission.

We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable 4th of July!