Caring for Lisa

Lisa Alvarez

Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered.

Jesse and Barbara Alvarez are typical of many parents who have a child with disabilities – they feared what might happen to their only child, Lisa, when they were no longer able to care for her.  Those fears eventually led the family to Mosaic.

When Lisa was born in 1982, the doctor told her parents that she had cerebral palsy and would be “developmentally delayed.”  Her mother, Barbara, said she was naïve and thought by working hard Lisa could “catch up” to others.

Lisa was 3-years-old when a new doctor used the words “mentally retarded” to describe her. That terminology, rarely used today, hit Barbara hard.

“That was the first time I had heard those two words,” Barbara said.  “That was 28 years ago and I remember that moment like it was only yesterday. He was telling us our little girl was less than perfect.   I willed myself to show no emotion.  I was stoic on the outside, but inside I was shattered.  Eventually, painfully, we accepted the fact that our beautiful little girl was mentally challenged.  But to us, she was a perfect and beautiful little girl.”

Barbara focused her life on her only child. Yet, as Lisa grew and matured, there came a time when love and parental devotion were not enough. Lisa got bigger and stronger, and could become aggressive when she was angry or frustrated.

Jesse and Barbara began searching for help. The first two organizations they placed their daughter with could not meet her needs; one didn’t even try. Then, they heard of Mosaic. “Fear knocked at the door.  Faith answered,” Barbara says.

Thanks to Mosaic, Lisa has a new life. She lives just a few minutes from her parents and has an active life, going out to shop and eat, going to the movies, and volunteering.

More important than being busy, however, Lisa is happy. 

“She is safe and she is cared for,” Barbara said.  Mosaic is “less like a business and more like a family … I know all the people who work there and it is a comfortable feeling, a feeling of family, of caring.” 

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