Allow me to introduce you to Mickey and her daughter Jesse…
“I just want everyone to know how amazing she is…. Proud words from a proud mom, And Mickey is a very proud mom.
Today Jesse is thirty-eight; she has shiny, shoulder-length dark hair, bright eyes and an inquisitive yet friendly air about her. Her face lights up when her mother enters the room. And there is no doubt that Jesse is the light of Mickey’s life
Meeting Jesse today, it is difficult to image how challenging her early days were. Jesse was born prematurely. Weighing less than 2 pounds, she experienced breathing difficulties as a result of a collapsed lung; she suffered from sleep apnea, stopped breathing, etc. A series of medical complications resulted in Jesse spending months in the hospital.
“Even premature, she was a beautiful baby and so determined!” Mickey shares. “We loved her so much.”
Living in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Jesse’s parents brought her to a neurologist when they became concerned that Jesse wasn’t speaking, crawling, or reaching other milestones. At 18 months, Jesse was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, likely as the result of her collapsed lung which deprived her brain of oxygen.
Multiple surgeries helped to improve her mobility, and Jesse received early intervention services from a service provider in Bay Ridge. She attended school in her neighborhood and graduated in June 2002.
Following high school, Jesse began attending programs at UCP in her Brooklyn neighborhood. When Jesse was in her early 20’s, she and her mom relocated to Long Island to be closer to family. She then began attending UCP of Long Island’s Adult Day Program. She has been attending ever since.
What I love about UCP of Long Island,” Mickey thoughtfully explains. “Is they invest time in each person, to find the things that each person enjoys. They spent time with Jesse to discover what she likes to do – then they encouraged and supported her. Not all programs do that.”
Continuing, Mickey said, “I knew she liked to draw, but who knew she had this talent?”
Mickey references Jesse’s abilities as a painter, which were uncovered in UCP’s Brushstrokes Program. Among other things, Jesse paints a picture that becomes the family’s annual holiday card.
“Brushstrokes was the best thing that ever happened to Jesse – she has good friends in that program, she loves the staff, the creativity — she simply loves it.”
In addition to painting and drawing, Jesse loves music, especially salsa music – at home, she dances around the living room. She swims, attends the theater, and enjoys going on family vacations. Jesse is also devoted to her dog, Cindy.
But most especially, Jesse loves her family. She has a large, adoring extended family, including nephews Jose, Matthew, Alex and the newest member of the family, Benson.
“I know every parent of a child with a disability worries about what will happen to their child when you are no longer around,” Mickey shares. “Jesse has such a loving and supportive family; our family has already made plans for her future care. I know she will be in good hands.”
Jesse and Mickey are integral members of the UCP of Long Island family. Jesse spends her days surrounded by friends who cherish her, and Mickey is an active and present UCP parent, and an inaugural member of UCP’s “We Are Family” parent group.
UCP is honored to support Jesse, and to provide the supportive care that helps her live her best life. A life that includes the activities she enjoys, friends, the development of new skills and talents, and – thanks to her devoted family – many vacations!! Similarly, we remain a resource for Mickey and for Jesse’s entire family, as they continue to do what is best for her.
UCP-LI wants every child and adult with a disability in all our programs to receive the individualized support they need to live their best life. But we need your help.
We serve over 600 children and adults with a wide range of disabilities – that’s a lot of dreams to support. But with you by our side, we can continue to ensure every UCP parent can watch their son or daughter thrive and know that their child is receiving the personalized care necessary to maximize his or her potential.
Please help us by making your donation today. You may also text LIMITLESS to 631-857-4299 or donate online at ucp-li.org/donate.
Thank you for remembering the people in UCP-LI’s care as you celebrate your holidays. Please accept our warmest wishes for a joyous holiday season and a very peaceful 2024.
President & CEO of UCP of Long Island