Amazingly enough I found my way to this place completely by chance and at the same time specifically on purpose. I think that’s the way the best parts of life work. My “godbrother”, who is 2 years younger than I am, was born with cognitive impairment and cerebral palsy. I remember being in the house with him as a child and knowing that everyone in the house including my godbrother was in immense pain. Why – I didn’t know. Three other smaller children in the house from infant to toddler – all seemed vaguely to act like they were in trouble. I remember my godmother rubbing her son with sandpaper. I remember that the doctors told her that it would help stimulate his nerve endings. Still I didn’t understand – I just knew that all were incredibly stressed and that I had heard whispers of divorce from my parents. Flash forward to junior high. My family and my “godfamily” moved to Austin. He was not with them. I don’t really remember knowing where he was. I just knew the family was happy….and sad…all at the same time and that I loved them as much as I loved my own family.
Flash forward again through college, through working and living in NYC, through a marriage and a child and then back to Houston. Once again, we were all here, except my “godbrother”. As an adult, I now knew, that he lived in a home with wonderful caregivers who all but adopted him into their own families, a loving family that visited often and a really joyful life. As an adult, I now knew, what my “godparents” decisions had to be. I won’t go into to whys and hows and explanations. We fight hard to help families stay intact, to provide support for people with disabilities to live in the community, but for my “godbrother”, just know that it was a decision that had to be made. Organizations such as ourselves, Family2Family, Texas Projects First and Houston Center for Independent Living exist for this reason today.
So, I find myself in the midst of a job search. I decide after having worked for a very large Madison Ave. law firm…that maybe I need to be thinking about the greater good….and I apply for as many non-profit administrative assistant positions as I can find. This was before the internet, when we still actually looked at the phone books delivered on our doorsteps. I must have sent at least 50 resumes in the mail. The only phone call and interview I received was, you guessed it, from UCP and my mentor, Manny Mones. I remember walking through the doors of the old building and feeling an overwhelming sensation of coming home, at ease, at peace, and knowing that I would be getting the position. And I did. My “godmother” came to take me to lunch soon after and asked me as we were driving away from the building if I remembered it at all. I didn’t – she told me that my “godbrother” had come to UCP, when we were children and I had come with him. That’s explains a lot…probably more than I actually can imagine or more than some might even believe. From as a child, to first working here to now – the programs we offer now so much more than when my “godbrother” and I were children.
And I am still here 16 years later – as the Development Director now. I can’t imagine being anywhere else. This place – now Easter Seals – is so special. I have seen so many families, clients, children, adults, with the support of immense goodness, have shared in the ups and downs, and good and bad in the past 16 years. All for the greater good – the life lesson I received is so much bigger than me. All for a reason, all for a purpose and sometimes, if you are lucky, just by chance.
By Kelly Klein, Development Director, Easter Seals