Annual Appeal -- How Access Living makes a difference

I'm writing you because you've been a friend to Access Living in the past—supporting our programs with a donation, signing up for our
newsletter, or attending our annual Gala. As this year comes to a close, I'm hoping that you will be a friend to us again. In these difficult economic times, your support means even more to thousands of individuals with disabilities. Our work truly depends on the support of friends like you.

Will you make a donation today, to ensure our programs continue?

Many people ask me to explain what exactly we do for people with disabilities. The best way for me to explain that is to share Zorytza's story.

We've talked about Zorytza in the past—about her learning and speech disability, and her transformation. When Zorytza first came to Access Living, she was a shy girl who lacked self-confidence.

First, she joined our 16-week workshop for youth with intellectual disabilities, YIELD the Power. There, she learned how to stand up for her rights as an individual with a disability. Next, Zorytza participated in the Empowered FeFe's, a group for young women that fosters disability pride and develops a positive self-image. Following that, she was accepted into the Advanced Leadership Youth Program, a select group that fosters qualities of leadership. Then, her application was accepted to become part of our inaugural Women Destined for Success group. This program allows women with disabilities the opportunity to learn solid, marketable leadership skills.

Finally, Zorytza was hired as an Access Living Staff Associate. This part-time employment program allows individuals to learn and practice professional skills transferrable to any job. What she learned from Access Living's programs, and the empowered people with disabilities she met, inspired Zorytza. She realized that she could do anything that she put her mind to. Years ago, Zorytza had set three goals for herself: finish high school, go to college, and get a job. When we first shared her story, she had accomplished the first two. As she puts it, "I was the only person
in my family with a disability . . . in school, I had to do double work, speech therapy, tutoring."

Now, I'm so thrilled to tell you that she has achieved her third goal.Thanks to her hard work, and the experience she acquired in our Staff Associates program, she now has a job at a tax preparation agency. Incredibly, it is the company's first hire of a person with a disability. Zorytza says about her new job, "My supervisor is giving me more responsibility . . . I'm really excited because the company is giving me the opportunity to grow."

Sadly, Zorytza's parents both passed away in recent years. Though her mother always told her to believe in herself, Zorytza struggled to do that, until she was empowered by the disability community. She says "Access Living opened my eyes and helped me see myself differently. Now, I'm seeing bigger and bigger things . . . I have a job I like and people acknowledge me. I made this

Will you please make a donation today to help people like Zorytza achieve their goals? We can't enable individuals to become self-supporting without you.

Any amount that you can give makes a difference. If you've never donated before, now is the time. Your donation will be doubled, thanks to a generous matching gift from an anonymous
donor! And, if you have donated previously and you can manage to give a little more, the increase in your donation will be matched!

Thank you so much for everything you do to empower individuals with disabilities in Illinois.


Marca Bristo
President and CEO

P.S. Friends like you are truly what allows us to continue our programs and services for
individuals with disabilities. Please make a donation today