My name is Maria; I am a single mother of 5 children, one boy and 4 girls and have been an employee of Dreamcatchers Empowerment Network since 2003. I am very grateful and proud to be a part of the Dreamcatchers team and I don’t know where I would be without them.
I came to Dreamcatchers through the Department of Rehabilitation after a major car accident I had in January 2002, which dislocated my right knee and I lost my left arm. After the accident, I was in the hospital and rehabilitation for 4 months when they told me that there was nothing else they could do for me and sent me home. I left the hospital in a wheelchair and was told by my doctor that I had a 10% chance of walking again, just thinking about this scared me and I didn’t know how I was even going to get out of the wheelchair to get into bed, as there were always nurses to help me in the hospital.
In November 2002 I asked my oldest daughter if she had finished filling out all of her college applications, she said that she hadn’t because she wasn’t going to college. This surprised me and when I asked her why she began to cry and looked at me and said, “Mom I love you and I need to stay here and take care of you.” It was at that moment that I decided it was up to me to get better. Every day after they all left for school I started to do my exercises and worked on them all day long. One morning, without thinking, I got up and was able to transfer from the bed to the wheelchair without struggling. I couldn’t wait to tell my children, it felt like the longest day of my life waiting for them to get home. As soon as they walked in I told my oldest daughter “you are going to college” and I showed them how I was able to move from the bed to the wheelchair and take a few steps. She was my motivation; I could not take away her dreams to go to college. What seemed like a huge accomplishment to me was not enough for my daughter, so I started doing things around the house. I had to learn to do things with one hand, this was hard but I did it. Things were getting better, I was able to cook and have dinner on the table when they returned from school.
When I arrived at Dreamcatchers I was afraid at first and didn’t know what I was getting myself into. My daughter was with me, I told her that I didn’t think this was for me. My daughter looked me right in the eyes and said, “Mom, you came this far, don’t give up. You are an amazing Mom; believe in yourself because your children do.” When I walked into the office of Dreamcatchers I wasn’t scared anymore.
The Department of Rehabilitation authorized a work adjustment which I did at the Dreamcatchers’ office. The work was hard for me, I had never worked in an office and I didn’t know how to type or how to use a computer. To my surprise I learned how to type on a one-handed keyboard. As I was finishing my work adjustment, I was offered a job as a receptionist for Dreamcatchers and the first thing that came to my mind was my oldest daughter. I took the job, it was part-time, but it didn’t matter because now I was able to show my children that I was able to take care of myself. Yes, I was walking, but not much and was able to drive myself to work.
Dreamcatchers is the best thing that could have happened to me. In 2010 I went from being a part-time employee to full-time employee. I’m very grateful and proud to be a part of Dreamcatchers. As stated before, I don’t know where I would be without Dreamcatchers.