Inspiring Stories

Office for Persons with Disabilities

As a young man in his twenties, Jerry Smith was living a pretty normal life, which included a successful construction job in Boston. Everything changed in an instant in 2008, when Jerry was involved in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the diaphragm down. “You can lose it all pretty quick when something tragic happens,” he said. Fortunately, the Office for Persons with Disabilities (OPD), a program of Catholic Social Services, was there to help.

The OPD assists persons with disabilities, their families, and caretakers throughout the Diocese of Fall River. They serve people of all ages and all types of disabilities, through case management, advocacy, referral and information services, benefits applications, and more. The wide ranging services Jerry received provided a new lease on life. These included temporary shelter, handicapped-accessible housing, a personal care attendant (PCA) to help with everyday needs such as shopping, cooking, and cleaning, and vocational services.

Today, Jerry has his own ADA-compliant apartment in New Bedford and a van he can drive himself. He is filled with hope and ambitions for his future. “I’ve been in a wheelchair since 2009. But, the chair doesn’t stop me,” he said. “I’m in the middle of starting over and rebuilding everything.”

Your gift to the Catholic Charities Appeal sustains the work of the Office for Persons with Disabilities, and gives people like Jerry the greatest gift of all: the renewed promise of a life filled with possibility.

Office for Persons with Disabilities
2017-2018 Statistics
Number of unique contacts: 667 – This includes phone calls, meetings, and appointments for individuals requesting assistance from across the Diocese of Fall River.Agency consults: 301
Advocacy: 54Diocesan Outreach: 4
Community Outreach Cases: 14Workshops: 2 – The office provides workshops in areas regarding estate planning for persons with disabilities.
Case management: 305PCA surrogacy cases: 63 – The office offers surrogacy for PCA services in emergency cases, and for some clients, complete service coordination and case management.
PCA’s employed: 115Committees: 3 – One of our disability advocates is a board member of: Spiritual Connections in Fall River; Bridges to Faith in New Bedford; and Spiritual Explorations in Taunton.
Clients receiving food delivery: 6

Follow The Catholic Foundation on Vimeo to view this video in Portuguese and Spanish!

Make a Donation