Five years ago, Veronica Martinez and her daughter, Jackie Garcia, were living in a small, crowded apartment in a neighborhood in the Bronx. The Center for Family Support (CFS) advocated for Veronica and Jackie and today their life is vastly improved.
“CFS has changed my life,” explained Veronica. “They helped us find a new home and then move to this new location. Together, we shopped for furniture and soon our apartment became a real home,” she continued. Today, mother and daughter live in a bright, clean apartment in an area where they can take a walk, attend community events and become part of a neighborhood.
As Mother’s Day approaches, Veronica and Jackie reflect on their special relationship and the strong mother-daughter bond. Both receive services from The Center for Family Support, (CFS) a non-profit in the NY and NJ metropolitan area that assists individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live meaningful lives. Each has mild intellectual disabilities and Jackie has a hearing impairment.
With support from CFS professionals, Veronica learned to make yellow rice and sausage, which Jackie has labeled as her favorite meal. Lydia Rodriguez, Veronica’s Community Habilitation specialist, has also taught her how to make many tasty meals, and how to make a list and then shop for the ingredients. This Mother’s Day, to give Mom a break, the two plan to treat themselves to breakfast at IHOP and watch a movie together, which is something they both enjoy.
Veronica recalls Jackie’s first steps and her first word, “Mama” with pride. She is grateful for the gentle supports that Center for Family Support provides and feels CFS has changed their lives for the better.
In addition to daily household responsibilities, Jackie and Veronica care for their two parakeets, Zach and Weezy, named after characters in a show, Dragon Tails. They have had the birds for about three years and Veronica said they provide Jackie great companionship and that she loves to let them out of their cage to play with them.
They also love to watch ‘Dancing with the Stars’ as Jackie loves to sing and dance. Recently, Veronica threw Jackie a huge surprise party, complete with a DJ. All of their close family and friends attended, including her godmother, father, and CFS staff. Jackie sang to her mother in front of everyone, resulting in a proud and memorable event for mother and daughter.
Jackie attends a Saturday Program and was just selected to work for the Summer Youth Program starting in June. They both receive Service Coordination, Community Habilitation, Home Care and Parent Training from CFS.
A hobby that Veronica and Jackie share is their love for shopping, be it food, or clothing, or items for their apartment. They also enjoy watching movies on TV or an occasional trip to the theater as a special treat. Their new neighborhood provides outlets for all of these activities in a safe environment that they can navigate on their own.
Because of CFS, Veronica and Jackie are living the life they have chosen for themselves as independent adults. “I think that is what life is all about. Being able to find joy in the little things and sharing them with someone as special as your daughter,” said Veronica. “CFS has helped me to do this and I am very grateful to everyone for their support and caring.”
Click here to watch a video about how CFS helps Jackie and Veronica to live a happy, independent lifestyle together.