Cheryl Mayfield is one of the founding Board Members of Avenues SLS (since 1997), and lives in an accessible mobile home she purchased with the assistance of some housing grants. Cheryl studied for her AA degree at LA Valley College & Mission College, wrote a children’s book called “Way”, with Dennis McGee, has presented at a variety of Universities and State Conferences, and has worked for over 20 years as an Ombudsman for a large SLS agency, consulting with Circles of Support while advocating for and seeking to find ways to help us listen to individuals who do not communicate using traditional methods.
Cheryl also happens to have cerebral palsy and needs daily support to get out of bed, get a drink, eat, get in and out of her wheelchair, and do most physical things that the rest of us take for granted. Cheryl, however, has always focused on the positive.
Cheryl shares: I have discovered the power of my story and opinions. Most people in my situation receive basic “custodial” care in large segregated facilities. The quality of care, the amount of choices, ownership, and self-determination is much less in a facility than it is when you live in your own home or apartment. People in facilities are in a “program” and are told what their needs are and what goals they should have. I have lived in these situations in the past but now live in my own home where I hire, supervise, train and schedule my own staff. I am in control of my life and have the resources I need to live the life I want. In order to help others to be able to realize their dreams, I spend time advocating for services, system change, and self-reliance. I support higher wages for people who assist me with daily living needs as well as people who assist with meeting my goals and helping me dream of the future. I support the rights of people who are limited by “systems” to challenge and change the system. I hope to inspire administrators, staff, and people like me to reach for their dreams and jump hurdles that are imposed by “regulations”.
One of Cheryl’s favorite quotes is from Hellen Keller: “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
According to Cheryl: I now have a chance to experience that adventure. So please, DON’T invent any more rules for me. But, please do help me to make up my own as I go.
Cheryl’s faith, strength, perseverance, insight, and supreme loyalty towards her friends have been a wonderful example for us at Avenues SLS as we have walked together to develop positive relationships with the people we support and the people who support them.