Gaining my Independence
At the age of 21, when
most young adults are in college and applying for their future careers, I was
applying for Social Security Disability. I was born with a form of Muscular
Dystrophy called CMT. It affects the nerve signals that control muscle
movements causing weakness and muscle loss. At that point I felt as if I would
have no hope at working again and I felt lost.
Luckily for me, unlike
many others, I found an organization in my hometown that had my back the entire
time and made me feel like I was not alone. Independence, Inc. was there for me
when I needed help applying for Disability. Through their Information and
Referral program, I was able to learn the best way to start the long process.
When I needed to find required documents, they knew which ones were best—making
an extremely stressful process easier.
During this time, I was
also blessed to find support in my local Vocational Rehabilitation center,
allowing me to take college classes online. But to graduate, I was required to
do a one-semester internship. As someone who had recently gone on Social
Security Disability, I was frightened. But I knew I had support through
Independence, Inc. During my internship, Independence, Inc. did an
accessibility survey of the location to help improve services to those with
disabilities and help me make it a great place to work. I was able to start
working there part-time while on Disability.
In 2013 I was asked to be
a member of the North Dakota Statewide Independent Living Council by the
Executive Director of Independence, Inc., Scott Burlingame. This was a changing
moment in my life; now I had the opportunity to represent those living with
disabilities in my own state. Over the next year, through encouragement from
Independence Inc., I found employment that has allowed me to transition off of
Social Security Disability.
Now at 25, I am the
Executive Director of a non-profit in my hometown. I know it would not be possible
if I had not made that first phone call to Independence, Inc.
Hogan is the Executive Director of the Minot Public School Foundation and a
member of the North Dakota Statewide Independent Living Council.