To Anyone With a Disability Who Has Given Up on Love
It is hard for many people to find love, but it can be especially hard for people with disabilities. However, the story of Mike and Rashida, clients of mine at KenCrest Services, is one that can give us hope.
Michael and Rashida met over 25 years ago at University City High school. They both received supports from KenCrest since they were children. Rashida still continues to receive support from KenCrest today. Rashida and Mike were a true example of high school sweethearts. Not letting any of their disabilities get in the way, they instantly became friends and would go on supervised dates to McDonald’s or to a movie. Michael was raised by his aunt, and Rashida came from a supportive family, including her mother, who has served on the KenCrest Board of Directors, and her older sisters.
Michael and Rashida were very protective and supported each other throughout high school. They decided their relationship was more then just a friendship when they attended a prom for people with disabilities. Maybe it was the music, maybe it was the dancing, but Rashida and Mike began dating that night, and they have been together ever since.
After high school, Rashida and Mike focused on becoming very productive by finding employment. For the past 18 years, Rashida has worked as a Sales Associate and Fundraiser at ACME Bala Cynwyd. Michael is a chef at a Germantown restaurant. They have become fixtures at their places of employment and in their community. Rashida was recently named a Brighter Futures Award recipient for raising thousands of dollars for various charities over the years and Michael supported her every time. Together, they enjoy traveling to Atlantic City, attend dances at Carousel House, dining out and going to the movies.
Rashida’s mom Gloria says, “Michael has become an important fixture in our family, and knowing him since he was 17, he is as much our son as Rashida is our daughter.” Rashida and Mike have wanted to be married since they were out of high school, and during their time together, they insisted on it. Some were a little hesitant in making sure that they could make it on their own, but Rashida and Mike knew their love and support for each other could make anything work. Family did not understand any doubts. Rashida’s mother and sisters knew the couple deserved to be married, live together and have a normal life.
After 27 years of their love story, and with family’s blessings, Rashida, 42 and Mike, 43 married on a beautiful spring day in May 2017 at the Bala Golf Country Club in Philadelphia. KenCrest Employment Consultant Monique Thomas, who has worked with Rashida for 13 years and has seen the couple’s love grow, worked on their flower arrangements for the couple that day as her gift to the couple. It ,was a love story on all levels — from the couple’s start with us, to the staff support, to the family, to the proof that love can make anything possible. We all deserve to find our soulmates.
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Photo by contributor.