What Does the Center Do for My Family?
By Michael Choi, brother of Soo Choi
Sometimes I ask myself this question, "Who is more disabled?" Those who use wheelchairs to get around, or people who are perfectly healthy but do not go out of their way to help those in need?
My brother Myung Soo (Soo for short) was born premature in Korea in 1962. The Korean hospital's incubator was broken at the time and did not provide consistent oxygen or heat. My mother suspected something was wrong with Soo in the coming months as he was not as responsive as other babies his age. In 1965, our family moved from Korea to Chicago, where the Chicago Children's Memorial Hospital diagnosed Soo as autistic.
We moved to Albany, New York, in 1967. When Soo was 8 years old, he developed cataracts in his eyes and eventually became blind. He began commuting to the Bronx Institute for the Blind, then to the Massachusetts Institute for the Blind in Scituate, Massachusetts. When Soo was a young man, he started to receive services from what was then known as Residential Opportunities Inc., which later merged with the Center for Disability Services. Soo has received services from the Center over the past 30 years including day habilitation and service coordination and he currently resides in one of their residential programs, and we have tremendous respect for the professionals in this industry.
The supports and services that Soo receives not only help him lead a more productive and independent lifestyle but benefits the multiple members of our family, the community and society as a whole. I live in California and have raised a family of three children with my wife. Knowing that Soo is well taken care of through the Center has allowed us to coach little league games, drive our children to a dance class or piano lesson, or just go out to dinner. All of my children attended college and have their own career now. They are all healthy and happy. We enjoyed all these privileges because of the Center. The intangible benefit of enabling families to live "normal" lives isn't visible to the community; however, the Center affords that privilege to families. It's a privilege most people take for granted but one that is not automatic to families like mine.
Because of the privileges we were afforded, we feel very strongly that it is important to show our gratitude and give back to the community. What can be more rewarding than helping those who cannot help themselves? It was just a matter of making a decision to do it. For this reason, we chose to give a monetary gift to the Center for Disability Services. Our family's gain from what the Center provides Soo far exceeds what we can ever monetarily give back. My heart is always foremost with the Center, whose mission is to enable and empower people to lead healthy and enriched lives. That includes not only the individuals they serve but their family members as well. What does the Center mean and do for my family? My family's existence depends on the Center.
How You Can Make a Difference
You can follow in Michael's footsteps and give a gift to the Center to help people who cannot help themselves. Contact Kim Heunemann at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518-832-6113 to learn about the many ways you can support the Center's important work.