Stephen, a participant in the Residential Services program, has a story to tell and he plans to publish it.
“I’m illiterate, so that’s why becoming a writer is my dream come true,” said Stephen. “A teacher told me if you’re illiterate you can’t be a writer. So I went to a class about oral writing and started making tapes.”
Stephen took the oral writing class at a community college many years ago and has recorded tapes daily ever since. Once he retires from Boone Center, Stephen plans to prove his former teacher wrong by putting together details from his tapes into an oral autobiography and then work with a writer to put it on paper.
One of Stephen’s goals for his autobiography is to teach others about people with disabilities. “When he was younger, people were critical about Stephen’s disabilities,” explained Sheila Wood, Manager of Universal House, Stephen’s home and one of CLI’s residential homes for men. “Now he says he is much more accepted and would like to continue to educate others about people with disabilities. He wants people to remember him and know that people with disabilities can lead a productive life and be successful.”
Along with stories to educate his readers, Stephen’s autobiography will be full of adventures and fun tales, including why his nickname is “Mustang.”
“I got my nickname because I ran track in high school and I was pretty fast. I was just naturally good at it,” said Stephen. His track team was called the North View Mustangs, so the nickname “Mustang” fit perfectly.
In terms of adventures, Stephen plans to cover his extensive travels in his autobiography. He has travelled to every state in the U.S. except Louisiana and Alaska. Ask him what his favorite state is and there is no hesitation—it’s Hawaii. The picture on this page featuring Stephen and Alison Mack, Manager of Kellywood House, is one of his favorites from the trip.
“I wanted to go to Hawaii when I saw ‘Hawaii 5-0.’ I fell in love with it,” explained Stephen. A strong patriot, Stephen said his visit to Pearl Harbor was one of the most memorable stops.
Stephen’s drive to complete his autobiography and try new things has increased even more since he moved into his home. He transferred to CLI several years ago from another agency. Since Stephen arrived, staff have seen him come out of his shell and become more active. “He likes to go out and do things. He just seems happier (than before),” said Sheila.
When people read Stephen’s autobiography one day, he hopes that they enjoy the book and take away one key lesson: it’s that no one, including people with disabilities, should ever give up. “A lot of people give up on the stuff they want to do and don’t have the willpower to do anything,” said Stephen. “That’s wrong.”