The plan started as scribbled notes on the back of a napkin one day over coffee in 2006. Those doodles would eventually become a game plan for creating a new livelihood for hundreds, if not thousands, of adults with special needs.
A few mothers of high school graduates with special needs expressed that they wanted something more for their maturing children than a life sitting in a room watching television all day.
So, the concept became concrete for My Possibilities, a Plano-based non-profit that serves as a pioneering leader in vocational education for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The group’s dream became reality in 2008 when they raised $200,000 and opened the doors to 10 students.
One founder, Charmaine Solomon, has continued her faith-led journey; she is currently chairman of the board and a licensed professional counselor at My Possibilities. Charmaine and her family relocated to Plano in 1999 with her husband’s job at Cadbury, which is owned by Dr Pepper.
Charmaine’s now 32-year-old son, Kyle, sustained a head injury in an accident as a baby while the family was living in her native South Africa.
“When my world changed [after Kyle’s injury], I wanted to help others and not follow my own path,” she said. “I fight for rights of people with special needs and spend most of my time defending the underdog.”
Those attending My Possibilities range in age from 18-75 and are affectionately called HIPsters, or Hugely Important People. Charmaine regularly strolls the corridors of the newly opened Campus for Higher Learning off the George Bush Tollway; the eyes of HIPsters light up when they spot her, and subsequent hugs and “high fives” are abundant. The new campus serves 450 students a week.
“Simply put, Charmaine is Wonder Woman,” according to Michael Thomas, executive director. “She has volunteered between 30 to 50 hours a week for 10 years and has never been paid a penny.”
Charmaine is also involved in several community service organizations where she spreads the word about the program. At Chase Oaks Church, Charmaine participates in a special needs Bible study and a marriage mentoring group.
“As a person of faith,” Charmaine added, “things work out the way they should. Everything comes back together.”See all of the 2018 Girl Bosses >