By: Stephanie Svolos-Schmidt
Since 2004, Jim Brower only spoke of wanting two things: the first, a job in the community, and the second, his own car.
As Jim has a driver’s license and owned cars in the past, he was eager to drive again. When I first met him, he had been trying to purchase cars by himself, but was taken advantage of. As his Service Coordinator, one of my first advocacy responsibilities was to assist Jim with obtaining a large deposit back on a vehicle he intended to purchase. Despite warnings from many of his natural supports that he could not afford a vehicle at this time in his life, Jim persisted in looking for a vehicle he could afford.
At the same time, Jim frequently stated that he wanted a job in the community. He was working at the Arc’s Sheltered Workshop and felt this wasn’t the right place for him. In January 2007, Jim realized one of his dreams when he obtained a job with Sodexho which operates the food service at Mohawk Valley Community College. Jim works two days per week, follows the college school schedule, and has three major breaks every year. He loves his job at MVCC and wants to continue working there until he retires!
This past summer, Jim saw a scooter for sale while out with his residential habilitation worker, Sheree. “He asked me to look at it with him, and I was admittedly reluctant, wondering about affordability and safety. Speaking with my Director, Renee Rich, helped me to see things through Jim’s eyes, so I agreed to give it a shot.”
While Jim fell in love with this scooter, I felt that it wouldn’t be safe enough for him since it could travel up to 90 miles per hour. Jim was disappointed, but we continued the search for a scooter with a smaller engine. Within days, I found a scooter for sale that had a top speed of 30 miles per hour, had very few miles on it already, and was lower in price: it was perfect for Jim! On July 7, 2009, Jim became the proud owner of a 2009 Kymco scooter.
This scooter has provided Jim with more independence to travel in the community and satisfied his desire to drive again. Jim is now able to access many places in his community. He is able to attend church regularly, shop at his local grocery store and has easier access to his pharmacy. He spent the summer practicing riding his scooter, and when he feels more confident, will utilize it to visit friends.