THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: FINDING MEANING IN COMMUNITY

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Annette Howard would never call herself a hero, but to many children and their parents, she is. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, Ms. Annette moved to Georgia in 1993, not knowing exactly where the move would take her. What she did know was that she wanted to find a community — a place that was positive and family-oriented — a place where, despite the fact that she was disabled she would be able to contribute. The search for the "right" place took a while, but finally eight years after her initial move to Georgia, she received a call about an apartment that was available that was suitable to meet her needs with her disability. She enjoyed her time there, but four years later, found she needed to move once again. This last move landed her at the Legacy at Walton Village, on the advice of a friend who told her the community "felt like home".

After she got settled in, she became involved in the community events there, but more importantly, she found she was able to use her gifts and talents. Loving and helping people had always been her passion.  She started volunteering in the Adventure Center in her community, helping to tutor children in reading and even cooking meals for the kids regularly. "Every day was an adventure of joy," said Annette, "as I became loved by the children in the community who followed behind me like a mother duck with her ducklings." She began to babysit for the parents whose children were sick or who could not afford child care. "Ms. Annette is one of our very faithful volunteers," said Yolanda Shackelford, Adventure Center Director. "She often walks kids to school in the morning and helps pick up the kids from school in the afternoon. She volunteers in the classroom at least three times a week unless she is in pain, and regularly stays after events and on the nights when the kids go to the Awana program at a local church to help clean up. She is a gem."

It's hard to believe by all that she does, but Ms. Annette is confined to a wheelchair. "Coming into the world, I had a complicated birth and was later diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy," said Annette, "but I didn't let it stop me. Regardless of my limitations, I still have a lot to give. I am here for my little children in my community and behind them all the way. I am thankful that I can share my gifts and talents."

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