The Rewards and Exhaustion of Advocacy
Mary Collechi, 34, who uses a wheelchair due to a brain injury from a stroke, kept having problems with her personal assistance agency. “They weren’t sending good staff, or they would call and say, ‘We don’t have anybody.’ And then they’d mark it down as me denying services,” she says.
Colorado’s CDASS program allows some Medicaid recipients to hire their own attendants, but people with brain injuries weren’t eligible. So Collechi lobbied the state legislature and won, allowing her and other Coloradans with brain injuries to take control over their long-term supports.
The win was exciting, but the grind of advocacy took a toll. “I was burned out,” Collechi says. She took a step back to focus on wellness, gardening and adaptive sports, and then got a job as a cashier at a local golf course — something that never would have been possible before she was able to manage her own PCAs.
Having taken a moment to breathe, Collechi says she feels rejuvenated. She recently testified at the state legislature for the expansion of Medicaid access to services like acupuncture, massage and physical therapy, and also lobbied her national representatives to make sure people with disabilities aren’t forgotten in pandemic stimulus legislation. “I’m just watching out for everybody,” she says.
** This post was originally published on https://www.newmobility.com/2020/09/redefining-possible-revisited/