She’s worked hard to acquire skills and to achieve the simple things most of us take for granted. Sometimes it takes Sara longer than others to achieve a task, but with the right support, a willingness to accept help and a dogged determination, she is carving out a living that suits her well.
This summer, Sara celebrated her devotion to a man she has loved for 23 years. She and Darrin held a commitment ceremony at the Tiger Shrine Club and invited their families to share the event. The union has been another step in Sara’s journey.
“Sara is very determined,” said Marni Ardrey, Sara’s Support Coordinator at Boone County Family Resources. “When she sets her mind to something, she is very persistent.”
Although Sara, now 42, has been receiving services through BCFR since 1987, she actually moved to Columbia from Canton, MO, 10 years earlier to attend a vocational training program at Advent Enterprises, now known as Job Point. She held several different jobs, but by 1989 she was working full time at The Candlelight Lodge.
Despite having a full-time job, Sara struggled to budget her money and pay bills. Eventually, with the help of her BCFR Support Coordinator, she requested a conservator through the Boone County Administrator and received the financial oversight she needed. Before long, Sara began to see light at the end of the tunnel.
“She quickly felt a huge sense of relief and began to make other positive changes in her life,” Marni said.
Sara moved from a drafty, old apartment into a remodeled eight-unit building owned by BCFR and, again with the help of the agency, acquired Section 8 funding to subsidize her rent. In 2004, Sara’s conservator and BCFR Support Coordinator helped her secure Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicaid, which provided much needed health insurance and enough income to pull her out of debt.
With her confidence bolstered, Sara decided that after 20 years in the food service business, she wanted to try something new. She enrolled in a clerical training program at Job Point. Though her training was delayed several times because of health issues, Sara never gave up and eventually earned her certificate of completion. Even her dad wasn’t convinced she had made the right decision to change careers.
“She proved him wrong,” Marni said, adding that Sara began volunteering at what is now Women’s and Children’s Hospital to get experience. She continues to volunteer, meet with her Job Point adviser and apply for jobs.
On June 30, Sara took one more step in building a life of her own when she declared her devotion to Darrin. The two had met more than two decades earlier when they were both clients of Advent.
The commitment ceremony was truly a family affair: Sara’s stepmother made her a beautiful blue dress, and Darrin’s uncle provided the venue for the ceremony and reception. Darrin’s family made the food, and Sara’s sister, who flew in from North Dakota, provided the cake and flowers.
Finally, Sara’s father walked her down the aisle, a dream come true, thanks to a whole lot of perseverance and the right kind of help. Life is good.