We are proud to introduce you to Jennifer Gilleland, a 2011 Texas Conference for Women attendee and 2005 Texas Conference for Women scholarship recipient. Jennifer, who has cerebral palsy, founded the Ray of Hope Disability Support Group in Uvalde, Texas, and is in the process of securing 501(c)3 status.
Of her experience at the Conference, Jennifer says:
“To me, the Texas Conference for Women was validation that hard work and dedication pays off. It’s nice to have your potential noticed as well.”
Find a Ray of Hope
by Jennifer Gilleland M. Ed
The belief that events or circumstances will have positive outcomes is defined as having hope. I consider myself a pretty upbeat person with a positive worldview. A song is playing on my computer called “Lift Me Up” by Kate Voegele; the song speaks to me, as though it was written for me. It’s a simple reminder that everything is possible as long as you believe. I have never considered myself an inspiration to others, I have just done what I was taught to do, which was work twice as hard as everyone else to accomplish my goals.
My cerebral palsy has given me my share of struggles and heartaches, but this disability is a part of me. Through the years, it has taught me the power of resiliency, determination, patience, and laughter. Sure, I’ve been tried and tested, rejected more than I can count, fallen flat on my face both literally and figuratively, yet I keep getting back up hoping for change. My favorite stuntman, Grady Bishop, reminded me not to wait for leaders; be one. For me, there’s no greater high as a counselor than when a client realizes something more about their self. However, I know I can make a bigger difference in the community.
After my mom had her legs amputated, I noticed that accurate information about assistance was hard to come by. For example, filling out the correct paperwork, counseling services, and rehabilitation services are all important issues for people with disabilities that may be overlooked. I quickly realized that my mom was not the only one experiencing these problems while volunteering at the St. Henry de Osso Family Project. I knew something had to be done, and thanks to this wonderful organization I was able to do just that.
So, on behalf of the staff and volunteers of St. Henry de Osso, I am happy to announce that our support group services have expanded to include the Ray of Hope Disability Support Group [RHDS]. We aspire to achieve a lasting and positive impact for people with disabilities, their families and caregivers by contributing to the public good. The group meets in the Briscoe Family Center located at 114 E. Nopal Uvalde, Texas on every other Tuesday at 5:30 pm. In an attempt to raise awareness as well promote growth for Ray of Hope, this Spring I organized the annual Walk & Roll a Thon with a portion of the proceeds going to three important causes the Ray of Hope Disabilities Support Group, St. Henry de Osso Family Project, and the Victory Junction Gang Camp. For further information please contact Cheryl Sandoval, M.A. LPC, and CART at (830) 278 – 3438. Come join us as we share stories, struggles, accomplishments, resources, growth, and find a ray of hope.