New Mexico Department of Health – Dorothy A Success Story

New Mexico Department of Health – Dorothy A Success Story

Individual and Family Success Stories: Dorothy: A Success Story
By Dave Farbrook

Dorothy At Work
Dorothy at Work with Dos Amigos 2004

Dorothy’s success story began in late 2003 when she moved to the Espanola area and wanted to expand her connections in her new community. As part of this goal, she hosted a Personal Profile meeting in her home. A Personal Profile meeting is a gathering of friends and family members centered on exchanging ideas for developing a “snapshot” with the individual about what the individual feels are valuable personal goals in life. When Dorothy stated that she wanted a job, her support team was quite surprised since she was almost 60 years old and had little previous community work history. With her team’s support, she worked at Dos Amigos, a local restaurant, for almost a year. The staff and customers always looked forward to seeing her at the restaurant.

Dorothy 2007
Dorothy 2007

Today Dorothy continues to meet her personal goals. She is actively employed, volunteers with charitable organizations such as Knights of Columbus and her church, and is an active member of her community. Dorothy said that she loves her job so much she would like to look into another part time job in her community.


Dorothy and The Raels 2007
Dorothy and The Raels 2007

Dorothy Meets the Raels
Dorothy is a Native American from the Taos Pueblo. When she first came to R-Way, in Espanola, a developmental disabilities services provider, she was very apprehensive. She was happy to be closer to her family but she was unsure as to how the move to Espanola and to R-Way would impact her. She attended the Day Habilitation program services there, but she decided that she wanted a change in her daily activities. When she met Mike and Anna Rael, a home-based provider family, she soon opened up and was encouraged to make friends and do things on her own. She really appreciated the special care she received from them. According to Leslie from R-Way, “It’s amazing how one caring family can influence and change one person’s life so dramatically.”

More recently, during a Knights of Columbus formal state convention banquet dinner, Dorothy received the Knights of Columbus appreciation award for her volunteer work. Mike and Anna also received the “Family of the Year” award for their commitment and participation in home-based services. When Dorothy is at home, she is involved in many different tasks such as cleaning the house and decorating her room. Anna is also teaching Dorothy how to sew. Dorothy likes to play games, and goes to play Bingo every Monday night. Once a month she helps with the concession stand for the Knights of Columbus civic activities. Dorothy also likes to go shopping with the Raels, and finds bargains at Kmart, Target and Wal-Mart.

Dorothy’s Family and Childhood When Dorothy was a little girl, her mother used to bake pies and breads in the outside kiva ovens in front of their house. Dorothy liked to help her mother make plum pies and cookies. Dorothy’s sister now has the original family recipes that her mother used years ago. Dorothy also recalls when she would see her brother dress up for the Indian dances.

Dorothy remembers his head dresses and his dance costumes. Today, her brother is very prominent in the village and participates in the Indian ceremonies. The villagers have a special feast day on September 3 called Saint Geronimo’s Day, and Dorothy’s family participates in the fiesta every year. Her family receives many guests during the festivities, and Dorothy helps her family by helping to prepare food. On the plaza where the dancing takes place, Dorothy shops for jewelry from the ‘chozas’ or booths and everybody knows her. “I talk to my friends in the houses,” Dorothy explains.

Part of the Family
At home, Dorothy is proud of the fact that her room is spotless and neat. Dorothy’s brother gave her a blue cross, and one Christmas he gave her a beautiful wooden angel that he had carved from pine. Anna and Mike Rael said that Dorothy came to live with them in November of 2003. Previously, she lived in a group home.

Anna said that when Dorothy first came to live with them, she noticed that most of Dorothy’s clothing consisted of T-shirts. The first family outing they planned was to take Dorothy shopping for outfits. “We bought her different styles and colors of clothing,” Anna said.

Anna also said that she felt confident that Dorothy “…would find her way as part of the family.” It took several months before Dorothy settled into her room and learned that her privacy was respected. Dorothy soon learned to be more open and talk with the Raels about how she feels. Mike Rael said that now Dorothy is relieved to be able to talk to them about her troubles. Dorothy now knows that she is like a family member in the Rael’s household.

Dorothy’s Plans for the Future
When asked what she would like to do tomorrow and in the future, Dorothy smiled and answered in an amused voice, “Tomorrow I would like to go back to work.” Dorothy works at OK Travel Center. It is a new job for her, and Las Cumbres helped her to get the job at the travel agency when her employment at Dos Amigos ended. Dorothy works in the mornings and her duties consist of cleaning the counters, shelves and other furniture in the center.

Dorothy made friends with the other staff at the OK Travel Center and she mentioned Chris as a special friend to her. According to Anna and Mike, Dorothy puts most of the money she makes from her job in a savings account of her own. She buys her own clothes, and according to Anna, “She bought her bed and dresser with her own money. In fact, she bought all of her own bedroom furniture and we helped her to do that. Dorothy has really blossomed into who she really is.”

New Horizons for Dorothy and the Raels
The Raels and Dorothy are making plans to move to Las Cruces. According to Dorothy, communicating with her mother who lives in Taos is most important. Dorothy likes to visit with her at least once a month and calls her often. When asked what will happen when Dorothy and the Raels move to Las Cruces, Mike smiled and said, “The drive will just take a little longer for a visit.” Mike continued, “Family is very important to Dorothy and we support her. Dorothy is an integral part of our family and she expresses her love for our family. And we love her, together we are a family.”

Dorothy was given an award by the Developmental Disabilities Supports Division (DDSD) Directors Meeting in 2007 for Successful Community Citizen of the Year. She was recognized for expanding her possibilities as a community member and following the goals she set for herself.