From the moment Catherine was born, Merle and I contemplated her future and what would happen to her when we’re gone or can no longer care for her. We know Christina will always look out for her baby sister, but our dream for Catherine is for her to live on her own with a caretaker, continue her education and make a meaningful contribution to society. Which is why when I discovered My Possibilities, I knew they had to be this month’s Profiles of C.A.R.E. feature. My Possibilities is an organization that provides full-day, full-year educational programs for adults with disabilities. This is our dream, realized.
My Possibilities began with three determined mothers and a business plan written on a Starbucks napkin. Charmaine Solomon and her two friends all had children with special needs who were about to exit out of the school system and were trying to determine their next steps. Discouraged by the lack of quality continuing education services in their area, they decided to create their own.
They met with other families and individuals who would be using the service to figure out what they’d want in quality programming post-high school. After two years of research and preparation, they rented space in a strip mall and began executing their unique program that focused on continued education, independent living and connectivity to community employment.
April Allen has been serving adults with disabilities for almost 20 years. She’d known about My Possibilities since its inception and followed their rise to become the first full-day, full-year program of its kind in Collin County. Now, as their Director of Programs, she has the privilege of overseeing the continuing education, vocation and therapy programs.
“It’s beautiful to have all the facets of what our founders wanted to incorporate. And to see it all come to fruition 11 years later is just remarkable. Many of the people that we serve, they don’t necessarily go off to a junior college or four-year university. Some of them may not even be able to do a trade school, but they need somewhere to go that’ll keep them connected socially, educationally and vocationally.”
My Possibilities understands the challenges an adult with disabilities must face and provides them with motivation, support and a super HIP name.
“In our industry, it’s very common that when adults enter our world of IDD (intellectual or development disorders) services, they’re often referred to as clients or consumers. There’s a kind of cold medical connotation to these terms. So, when My Possibilities started, they wanted to identify them differently. They came up with HIPster and it’s become an integral part of our brand. Hugely Important People – that’s what HIPster stands for because that’s exactly how each person is defined when they walk into our building.”
My Possibilities takes a holistic approach to every HIPster enrolled in the program. They offer an array of continuing education courses, from academics to electives, health and wellness along with performing and visual arts classes. They have on-site speech, music, behavior and even massage therapies available. And they’ve also partnered with the Texas Workforce Commission to help HIPsters find jobs and provide the support to maintain them.
“While we’re trying to make a space in continuing education, there’s no graduation from our program. HIPsters range anywhere from 18 to 78 years old, so our services are set up truly to serve the individual as long as they need it or until they’re ready to move on. We’re here to meet the needs of the different milestones they hit in life, the decades that they live through. We’re here as a life-long partner.”
Written by: Tamara Devers