The first thing you may notice if you saw me on the street; my wheelchair.  Crippled, confined, and dependent—common adjectives to identify who I am—before I even say a word. As members of a community, we instinctually seek to help others in need. I have learned that sometimes help is found in unexpected places. Fortunately, my community is largely willing to advocate for my unique accommodations. The advocacy I was privileged to receive transformed my ambitions into an appetite for public service. I aspired to be a demonstration that all of us are capable of offering a brick in the foundation our community. Our hypothetical individual who labeled those common adjectives would be surprised to know I am an advocate. Perhaps the realization would inspire a call to action for themselves. People may surprise you. 

Disability awareness is somewhat ironic to me. I’m a central valley native and this is my home. Out in public however, I sometimes feel like a visitor. A spotlight is cast on me everywhere I go. I am very aware of my disability and so is the public. If anything, my wish is to be treated as an ordinary person. I am not special, nor unique. I am just a guy. I read books, watch T.V., go out with friends; all of it. I attended college and achieved a certification to become a paralegal. I worked for my local police department and eventually moved to the Tulare County courthouse. I was fortunate to intern under our public defender’s office. 

Like you, I have my own hobbies. I am fascinated in biology and medical science. I run a small home-lab where I explore microbiology through a microscope and carry-out amateur experiments. I read about Physiology and discover more about life. After all, life is a privilege. I inherited my curiosity from my father. My father—just like me—may surprise you. As an auto-mechanic a certain unsaid reputation follows. Blue-collar could be viewed as a lesser or uneducated occupation. This is demonstrably false. My father is the smartest man I know. I am lucky to have learned from him. 

I’m also lucky to be employed at Central California Legal Services. I have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only be an advocate, but advocate specifically for persons with disabilities. I assist our clients with social security, IHSS, and other public benefit matters. Here, this wheelchair has become a badge of honor for me. My hope is that our disabled clients feel understood and welcomed. I am supremely fortunate and privileged to serve our diverse community. 

I would like to leave you with this: 

“I believe things cannot make themselves impossible. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.” 

–Stephen Hawking

Landon Garrett

Public Benefits Paralegal | Central California Legal Services

Disclaimer

Your use of this website, including posting comments will not create an attorney-client relationship. You should neither act nor refrain from acting based on information obtained from this site. None of the information contained on this site is privileged or confidential. The information contained on this site does not necessarily reflect the opinions of this firm or any of its lawyer, employees, or client. This information present on this website is based upon the law of the State of California.

Facebook Comments