Joe's Story, Through Struggle Comes Strength

Imagine your entire life changing in an instant. One moment you are a homeowner who has a job that keeps you on the road for work, who spends weekends cooking for family and friends; then, in a split second, everything changes. Joe has lived with that reality every day since 2001 when he experienced a major stroke. The transition from a fully able-bodied person to a person with a disability who requires assistance completing routine tasks and getting around was difficult for Joe. Following an acute hospital stay, he moved to a nursing home where he thought he would have to live the remainder of his life.

Joe connected with The Arc in 2017 when we were building a new home for individuals with an acquired brain injury. Joe enthusiastically agreed to move out of the nursing home and into a real home, which happened in December of 2017. In March of 2018, Joe became part of the Peer Support program at The Arc that helps people with acquired brain injuries to become more independent, integrated, and productive in their communities. The Arc matched Joe with Kerry as his Peer Support Mentor.

After getting to know Joe, Kerry understood that his wheelchair was a barrier to having easy access to his community. Joe and Kerry were determined to find a motorized wheelchair so Joe could better access his community. Joe, who served in the United States Air Force in the 1960s, obtains assistance from Veteran Services in Revere. That connection led to a woman who offered to donate a motorized wheelchair that previously belonged to another veteran.

Since receiving his new wheelchair, Joe has reconnected with his community. Joe attends church on Sunday, is an active member of the Knights of Columbus and the American Legion, attends the summer concert series in Leicester, participates in the Creative Minds art group, and cheers at a number of the Worcester Braveheart’s baseball games. Joe has not only connected with his community but found his voice at a local brain injury support group. Recently, Joe spoke with legislators at the Massachusetts State House about the need for services during Brain Injury Advocacy Day.

Joe is thriving - he has greater access to his community, new friends, and is quite popular around town. The Arc’s Peer Support Program has forever changed Joe’s quality of life positioning him to look forward to every day with optimism and enjoyment.

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