Joe was born in 1941 and has had a very interesting life. Many people know Joe as Lisa Markey Giraldi's "brother." That's because when Lisa was going to San Francisco State in the 1980's Joe unofficially "adopted" Lisa and her family as his own after meeting her at a recreation program for people with disabilities where Lisa was a staff member.
Throughout the years, Lisa and Joe have remained close, spending all holidays together and going on numerous trips to Disneyland and Tahoe, as well as going out camping. In 1994 Joe moved from San Francisco to Marin and began receiving services from PDS. For over 10 years Joe worked at Fresh Choice restaurant doing food preparation and other tasks, with support from PDS. When that restaurant closed in 2005 Joe started working at Pasta Pomodoro setting tables.
Joe's hobbies include avid television watching (especially the weather on the news), collecting TV Guides, and traveling.
In 2001, Joe presented his story, "Joe's Journey from Institutionalization/Segregation to Inclusion" at a Self -Determination workshop sponsored by Regional Center of Orange County. He talked about being institutionalized at a young age in a state hospital. He described what it was like to grow up without any family involvement or many "normal kid activities" and then to transition into the active, community based lifestyle he enjoys now with many friends and people who love him. As part of his payment for this presentation, Joe and Lisa were each provided with flights to Los Angeles, their own rooms in a hotel and a day at Joe's favorite place in the world, Disneyland.
Fulfilling his lifetime dream of living in his own home, Joe now lives his own apartment with a roommate and staff members from a program called Casa Allegra to help him out.
Joe has certainly come a long way and is still going strong!
UPDATE! In 2011 Joe turned 70 and decided to "retire" from PDS. Because of his close relationship with Lisa Giraldi, PDS was in many ways created for Joe. From loving Joe and getting to know his needs and desires so well, Lisa was able to apply what Joe taught her to the guiding principles of PDS. Joe's spirit and inspiration will always remain with PDS and his legacy will benefit others with developmental disabilities for many years to come.