By Benni Versaci
President, Spectrum CMC
One of our Social Work interns, Nicole, who is with us learning the ropes to be a Support Coordinator went on a visit to meet Danielle and could not contain her enthusiasm when she came back to the Spectrum office. She wanted to do anything and everything for Danielle. I had to ask her to slow down so we could go through everything one at a time. Nicole kept mentioning Danielle’s book. When she slowed down, she explained that a visit like this is what she hoped social work could be. Meeting Danielle and doing whatever she could to help her achieve her hopes and dreams is exactly what she wanted to do. Danielle definitely made an impact on Nicole.
Danielle has been receiving Support Coordination services from Spectrum CMC for several years. I felt the same way Nicole felt after my first phone call with Danielle. It was this first interaction with Danielle when she called to vet our agency to be her Support Coordination agency. By the end of the phone call we were fast friends. I just loved her exuberant personality and eagerness to express what she wanted out of the Supports Program.
So having this history with Danielle, I needed to know for myself what was in this book that she was talking so much about. I arranged a visit to Danielle’s house and was welcomed by Danielle and her family. We talked about so many things and then I was given a copy of “Danielle’s Book” to read and understand more about Danielle’s journey.
Danielle is a 34 year old woman with a bubbly personality, who loves being around her family and friends. She enjoys life by making deep connections with others and having intimate conversations. She likes being around people who are patient, kind, sweet and helpful but she especially likes being around those who take time to understand her. She wants others to know that she is a nice person who cares about other people and looks out for others. She likes to write, talk on the phone, go out to dinner with family and friends and play basketball with Special Olympics.
Her book is a diary of how it feels to live with a disability and her journey through acceptance of the wonderful person she is. She tells me that her goal is “to change the world for the better”. She says. “I am proud of me”, but this wasn’t always the case. She describes that it was difficult to come to terms with her differences and she has had to overcome adversity but she explains that her supportive family and friends have helped her understand that her differences are nothing to be ashamed of. In her book she explores the differences of all people. She states, “everyone should believe in themselves”.
Acceptance is a common theme in her book. Having others accept who she is, has helped her accept herself. Having an understanding of her differences, led to a curiosity of other types of disabilities. There have been times Danielle has felt down but she wants to be a role model for others who may have difficulty accepting their differences so that they too can say, “Yes! I can do anything”. In the book she speaks on her feelings of travel, war, about people less fortunate and a host of other life observations and is always thankful for those who have supported her.
Danielle has had the same job for 18 years, she has mastered the public transportation system and in the future she would like to live independently. Right now she enjoys spending time with her friends, parents and adorable nieces and nephews. She says her biggest job is to help others realize how everyone's differences make them special.
As the owner of a Support Coordination agency, I would like to think that we have made as much of an impact on Danielle as she has made on us. Thank you Danielle for being such a special part of our Spectrum family.