JR is a person of whom we are especially proud because of the courage and spirit that he possesses even in times of terrible adversity JR has been with PDS since its inception in 1990. He has no family whatsoever and PDS, for all these years, has been at the center of his circle of support. JR was born with cognitive and physical problems in addition to a serious seizure disorder. While he was able to walk and talk, simple tasks that many people take for granted such as tying his shoes or pouring himself a drink, were always difficult for JR because of balance, dexterity and other problems. However, JR is the kind of person who sets his mind to something and makes sure that it gets accomplished, even if it does take a long time.
In 1995, JR had been living in a group home, working 12 hours a week at Costco and enjoying himself playing video games, going on vacation to Mexico, attending Costco parties and eating lunch out everyday in restaurants with support from PDS.
Suddenly, JR began having uncontrollable seizures. As a result, he was placed in a drug-induced coma and was not expected to live. Because JR was in the hospital for so long, he lost his "spot" in his group home, and had no one but his friends from PDS to support him through this ordeal. Because of PDS's commitment to JR, all of the PDS staff, participants, and board members volunteered time to continue to visit him daily, including Christmas, playing music to him, cutting his fingernails and toenails, talking to him, touching him, posting signs and hanging balloons.
PDS kept JR's coworkers at Costco informed of his status and supported them throughout his recovery as well, delivering messages and flowers from them to JR. Having compromised with our funder that these new "services" were only partially billable, for financial reasons, the Board decided to expand PDS to include one more person to take up the financial "slack" in order to be able to hold JR's full time "spot" open for when (or if) he got well.
When JR finally came out of the coma, PDS staff and participants were there. PDS worked intensively with JR's speech, physical and occupational therapists to help them get to know JR and to teach them how to best help him benefit from therapy. The rehabilitation hospital allowed PDS to take JR to Costco to visit his coworkers and to remind him of his former life. The rehabilitation personnel and PDS staff rallied together to keep JR in Marin when he was threatened with being placed out of county and worked as a team to find a home for him in Marin.
For months after coming out of the hospital, JR could not speak or walk. However, he did return to work at Costco for 6 hours a week with a 1:1 PDS job coach, doing part of his job from a wheelchair. Eventually, because of his incredible drive and determination and loving support from his friends, JR regained his abilities to speak and walk and he has since traveled to Disneyland with PDS, danced the night away at his Costco parties and continued to be the vivacious, charming man he has always been. JR is enjoying life, living in his own home, with a roommate and paid staff support from Casa Allegra Community Services. We are so grateful to have him back and while we may spoil him a little bit too much with junk food and hugs, it is wonderful for us to be able to show him how much he is loved and how proud of him we are.
- August 2008