When a series of strokes and multiple sclerosis left DeAnn physically disabled, everything changed. “My life was shut down,” she says. But, DeAnn refused to give up the fight. DeAnn was a tenant of MAHO’s Circle Vistas and now lives in Cotman Vistas; this community is a place where DeAnn has the freedom to keep fighting and living life on her own terms.
According to DeAnn, “When you become disabled a lot of people become ‘handicapped’. You see, I’m not handicapped, I’m just disabled. I fight this chair tooth and nail.” DeAnn has a determination about her that is tangible. For example: even though she can’t feel her legs, she gets out of her wheelchair and practices walking every night, taking laps up and down the sixth-floor hallway.
“I love this place,” DeAnn says, “and, people don’t realize, a place like this gives independence to people that normally wouldn’t have it.” Because of a lack of affordable, accessible housing, people with disabilities who would rather live independently sometimes have no choice but to move in to a nursing homes. That’s what happened to DeAnn, and she can say with confidence, “People would be rather be in an independent situation like this than be in a nursing home.”
DeAnn has spent her free time traveling with gospel choirs and advocating both locally and nationally for people with disabilities and people in nursing homes. She has seen a lot in the process. “If I was rich,” she says, “I’d be broke, because I know where the need is.” People with disabilities need advocates. They need more options. For our tenants all across the Greater Cleveland area, MAHO offers the option of living on one’s own terms. “That’s what I like about this building,” DeAnn says, “The priorities are right. It’s people first.”