17 Aug LifeROOTS featured in the Rio Rancho Observer
As seen in the Rio Rancho Observer August 17, 2011
LifeROOTS Seeks Daily Triumphs
Ten years ago, Kathleen Cates looked everywhere for ways to help her newborn daughter, Emma, who came into this world with a paralyzed arm.
She didn’t like the answers she got from doctors and others in the health-care profession. But Cates finally found appropriate care for little Emma at RCI.
Emma now attends a public school in Rio Rancho and can fend for herself just fine, says her mom.
“RCI was literally the savior for my daughter,” said Cates. “They did a full evaluation of her. They really gave me all kinds of assurance.”
Ask her today, and Cates will tell you that not only did people not know that RCI existed, many people didn’t even know what the initials, “R-C-I” stood for.
Now – as of June – the nonprofit agency is called LifeROOTS, a name Cates says more befits the organization. She should know. She heads the agency.
Over the years, Cates became very involved in RCI, advocating for her daughter.
Then, in 2009, she was asked to serve on the nonprofit agency’s board of directors.
She did and later, the CEO job came available, and she landed it.
“Since 1958, our organization has played an instrumental role in the community in terms of unique programs and services for both children and adults with disabilities, yet our name never really captured the full essence of what we do, and many people may still be unaware of what we offer to Central New Mexico,” Cates wrote in a prepared statement.
“As LifeROOTS, our goal is to create instant recognition of all that we offer people with disabilities in terms of programs and services to meet their specific needs and give them the tools to both empower their lives and shape their futures,” she wrote.
Disabled people come to the day habilitation center on Golf Course Road in Rio Rancho, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., to socialize, work on arts and crafts, and do other activities.
Cates also wants to start a literacy program from 4 to 7 p.m. each day to help the disabled with reading, writing and computer skills.
One thing LifeROOTS does is provide unskilled labor to places like the City of Albuquerque and the University of New Mexico.
Many people see these jobs as a grind and leave quickly, Cates said. Her clients are more than happy to fill those jobs.
LifeROOTS has 15 clients in Rio Rancho and has room for 24, said Susan Roman, day habilitation supervisor.
Roman started working for what was then RCI about 10 years ago, after one of her clients started in the program.
She gushes about the relationships she has forged with clients and their families.
“The individuals we serve here are wonderful. They appreciate people who care for them. Rio Rancho is a tight-knit family,” Roman said of the facility here.
One of Roman’s pals at LifeROOTS is Elizabeth Vedder, whose son, Bryan, is 57 and loves to take machines apart and reassemble them.
Like Cates, Elizabeth Vedder, sings the praises of LifeROOTS.
“It was like a lifesaver,” Vedder said.
Before she found the old RCI, she put her son on a bus to go to Goodwill in Albuquerque each day.
That was a two-hour ride each way.
“It gives you peace of mind,” Vedder said. She drops Bryan at LifeROOTS and knows he’ll enjoy himself and learn with his friends. “I need a break once in a while.”
There are tough times at LifeROOTS, Roman said.
At those times, patience is a virtue, she said.
“That’s what makes you grow,” Roman said.
LifeROOTS is at 1009 Golf Course Road, suites 105 and 106. The number is 255-5501. Visit them online to learn more about their disability services for children and adults.