Hispanic Heritage Month: how one woman gave adults with developmental disabilities a community  

By: Sahar Chmais

The COVID-19 months have been harsh on many, and non-profit organizations are no exception; especially if it is a business model like Brightside with little money to be made and can put immunocompromised lives at a higher risk.

Christina Trevino, CEO of Brightside, a day habilitation facility in Buda, has been serving adults with developmental disabilities for over seven years. She recently acquired Terry’s Day Habilitation and turned it into her vision, but still has a lot more work to get done.

Christina Trevino and Terry Throop at Prom.

Tervino has chosen this lifestyle for reasons beyond making money or attending a job. Taking care of people is part of Trevino’s identity, which was ingrained in her childhood through  big family gatherings and a sense of love for those around her. Large get-togethers are part of Trevino’s Mexican culture, which she sees as an innate part of her life.

“All that stuff was formative in how we operate now,” Trevino made a connection between her past and current self. “I have a ton of aunts and cousins, all our holidays were rich with people, and to me that’s just life. Being around all the loving family definitely drove how I handle work.”

It seems that Trevino has followed the advice:  “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” Trevino is so taken aback by her work that she could not stop embellishing her job. Meanwhile, when asked about her personal life and hobbies, she was a woman of few words. The 30-year-old has dedicated her life more to her community than to herself.

“Outside of work, I plan for the day hab,” Trevino said. “My living room is covered in plans and crafts. I’m honestly an incredibly simple human; I just enjoy the calmer aspects of life. I enjoy knitting, sitting outside in the yard with my dog, reading. Oh, and I run.”

Trevino grew into the position she sits in. Nearly seven years ago, she wanted to find a day habilitation for a friend who was older than her but had cerebral palsy and a few other needs. That was when she found Terry’s Day Habilitation, worked in it, learned the trade and eventually made it her own.

Trevino enjoys  getting her friends, what she calls the day habilitation attendees, to work while still providing a sense of independence. Not all the friends have family or financial backing, so she began a bake sale tradition. Friends are in charge of baking, setting up, selling and calculating their revenue. After splitting up the money, the friends plan a trip, to the movies for example, and use that money to fund it.

Things are not always this smooth. Trevino has been needing a larger facility for the day habilitation’s attendees— the coronavirus has accentuated this need now more than ever.

The pandemic has slowed down much of her effort by scaling back the number of friends that come to Brightside. On a regular basis, there were about 30 friends who came to Brightside. There are only six now.

Many of Trevino’s friends have health issues that weaken their immune system so they cannot make it in person. Even if more than six friends could attend, the combination of Brightside’s small space and social distancing regulations cannot accommodate the friends.

“At the beginning it was difficult for some friends,” Trevino explained, “they called and cried saying I don’t want anyone to die. Some friends I’m sure are having a blast playing Nintendo at home, but the process can look different for everyone.”

The friends of Brightside have not been completely cut off from getting together and participating in the activities. Trevino and Stephanie Franco, the office manager, have been putting together video chats with the friends. They even make at-home kits, drop them off to the friends every Monday and pick up the finished work on Friday.

The virus has not left much room for Trevino and her friends to get together as they did before, so she is getting creative and planning for the future best as she can. One of the latest ventures will be  an outdoor pumpkin carving event so they hang out safely.

Little can be done during this physically and financially difficult time, but Trevino tries to keep a positive attitude while thinking of the priorities.

“At the end of the day,” Trevino said, “I want my friends to be healthy more than anything.”

 

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