A Conversation with Rosalie Elaine Perry Ability360 Independent Living Advocate, Pinal County
Photos by Loren Worthington
In each issue of LivAbility, we introduce an Ability360 employee, providing insight into 360 programs and services and the exceptional people who make them possible! Rosalie Perry represents a single thread, that when woven into the fabric of Ability360, enhances the agency’s strength, vibrancy and effectiveness. Rosalie graciously answered LivAbility’s list of Getting-to-Know-You questions, allowing us to introduce her to you from a very personal perspective.
How long have you been with Ability360?
Almost 15 years, I started as a student intern with the Community Integration Unit.
For people outside of the organization, what do you do?
I work directly with people with disabilities, supporting their efforts to adapt/maintain an independent lifestyle and achieve their independent living goals. I assist with scheduling and facilitating monthly independent living classes and present on Ability360 programs, particularly in and around Pinal County.
I co-chair the American Indian Disability Summit committee, which organizes an annual conference that celebrates its 13th year in 2017; an outgrowth of the recognition that Native communities need to network and share information about disability issues. It started with a Talking Circle of which I am one of the original members. April Reed, Volunteer Manager at Ability360, and I started a Women’s Self-Confidence Group. We have successfully facilitated two 7-week support groups for women with disabilities to become empowered and improve their self image in a supportive, caring environment.
Is there a work achievement you’re especially proud of?
I enjoy working with a diverse population. I was humbled to be the first recipient of the Marcus Harrison Jr. Leadership Award in 2008. This award, established to recognize the former Chief Executive Officer of Native Health in Phoenix AZ, is awarded annually to an individual who demonstrates exceptional advocacy for Native Americans with disabilities.
What brought you here?
As a person with a disability (spinal cord injury), I felt it important to understand not only my goals and achievements, but to assist others with theirs.
Will you share a little something about yourself/ your family?
I am American Indian and very proud of my heritage. I am the oldest of five siblings. My husband Richard and I have five grown children ages 38 to 19 years and nine grandchildren. I enjoy reading autobiographies of famous people. I love classic rock; Journey and the Beatles are my favorite groups. Someday I hope to visit Liverpool.
Will you tell us about your best day ever?
Graduation Day, May 10th, 2002, the day I received my bachelor’s degree in social work. The months leading up to this day were full of many hours of lectures and discussions, studying into the night with very little sleep, tears of frustration that turned into tears of joy once I realized that all that hard work was worth it, graduating magna cum laude. I credit my husband/ tutor for helping me see the light at the end of the tunnel.
What are people most surprised to know about you?
Maybe the soft exterior they first see, when in reality, I can be as tough as nails when it comes to those I love and serve.
Is there a movie or TV show you drop everything to watch?
The television series “Frasier”. I record the syndicated series every night and dare anyone to change the station when I am watching it.
If a mega-fortune fell into your lap, what would you do?
I hope that never happens! It would only complicate my world.