Things were looking pretty bleak for Sally. It was 2020, we were in the middle of a pandemic, and she had just arrived in the Capital Region from Guyana with her mother. To make things more difficult, Sally has a congenital defect causing a total loss of hearing and an irreparable cataract impairing vision in one eye. That’s when she and her mother learned of Living Resources’ Traditional Self-Directed Program.

Denise, Sally’s support staff, noticed that Sally enjoyed coloring books and crayons, so she began introducing different mediums for Sally to explore. It was readily apparent that Sally was extremely creative with a true gift for art. When painting ceramic figurines, Denise encouraged Sally to experiment with mixing colors to create various skin tones and Sally took off from there. She began taking private painting classes twice a month and was soon enrolled in the Living Resources Art Program in Rotterdam three times a week.

Her art instructor Lily noticed how quick Sally is to learn new techniques, saying, “She has always been extremely independent in art class. She never hesitates to get the materials and source images she wants.” During a recent lesson, Sally picked up the skill of block printing before the demonstration was finished, completing the project by herself. Now, not only does her artwork decorate her home and that of friends and family, it has been shown in two Living Resources art shows.

People close to Sally marvel as she reveals her gifts and continues in personal growth, becoming more independent both around her home and in the community. At home, she helps with laundry, cleans the dishes, and delights in helping make making delicious holiday treats.

Although Sally initially communicated through improvised gestures, she has begun learning American Sign Language (ASL) through videos and printed material with the support of her staff. Now, Sally uses a combination of ASL and picture images to independently order meals in restaurants. She is always eager to swipe her debit card and sign for any purchases she makes.

Sally has continued to inspire others with her independence, creativity, and appreciation for the beauty around her. Her easy smile and sign language applause say it all!