“And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
Earning a living can be complicated with an SCI, but not impossible. The ADA has made it so that employers can’t discriminate on the basis of a disability, but it is still difficult to get a wheel, or foot, in the door.
After receiving my IT degree in 2003, I looked for work around the city of Des Moines, but despite multiple interviews with several companies, I only had a couple temp jobs. During college, I worked on my church’s web site and started a couple other sites. Therefore, since God had provided me with these skills, that is what I continued to do.
Working from home is probably the best office for me. One of my major struggles is with pressure sores and I am often in bed, much more than in my wheelchair. Web development allows me to do a variety of tasks for different client needs and stay in one place. It is my dream that I can be financially independent with just VMT, but that has a long way to go. Due to increased sores and time down, web development has become more challenging, but is still something I enjoy.
In addition to working with computers, I also give talks at area grade schools and colleges. It provides fun diversions from the office and allows me to work more directly with the public.
It has been my experience that not many people know how to act, or work with, someone with a major physical disability like mine. Therefore, around 2004, I volunteered to give a disability awareness talk at my local Christian grade school. Since then, I have had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of second and third grade students at Christian schools around my area.
Children, especially in early grade school, are very accepting to someone who interacts with the world in different ways. Their questions show genuine curiosity about how someone with a disability lives. I am thankful I have been able to work with so many kids and always look to increase the number of schools I visit.
In addition to elementary classes, I also work with colleges in classes related to the medical field. My experience has been that this profession can be unsure how to interact with someone like me and I hope to encourage future professionals.
In addition to work, I do several volunteer activities as. One place is CHAMP Camp, after seven years as a camper; I have now had many years working as a counselor. This is a camp designed for kids requiring some type of mechanical breathing assistance. Therefore, some campers have SCI and are quadriplegics like myself, and others have different disabilities like sleep apnea, MS, MD, and more. I also do several roles at my church, such as the newsletter, prayer coordinator, and other positions.