Janelle was abandoned at an orphanage in Seoul, Korea at the age of 3 months. At one year old, Janelle was adopted by a loving Santa Clarita Valley family. Despite her disabilities, she graduated from High School, passed some Early Childhood Education classes and became a teacher’s aide at a preschool in SCV. She also excelled in numerous Special Olympics sports and represented the United States at two World Game Competitions – in 1999 and 2003. At the age of 27 her life was further challenged when, at the age of 27, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Her determination to succeed and to live life to the fullest with her resilient nature has earned her the nickname of being “one tough cookie”! She doesn’t want anyone’s pity nor does she want to be segregated from society by being in a rigid institutional care facility, locked mental hospital, or in a sheltered workshop. She simply wants to live life the best she can, as we all do, and reach her maximum level of personal achievement and independence.

Janelle contributes back to the community and regularly volunteers at St. Bonnie’s Animal Sanctuary; bakes cookies for her neighbors, and she often donates her recycling to homeless shelters. She proudly holds a part-time job at local Fitness Gym (and doesn’t ever like to miss a day at work) showing that people with intellectual disabilities can get and maintain integrated employment alongside non-disabled co-workers. Janelle is an active community participant who enjoys church activities, acting in a drama club, and she demonstrates outstanding sportsmanship at Special Olympics competitions. She traveled to Sacramento and met with legislative representatives to advocate for Social Change and the needs and rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to further promote their acceptance and inclusion in society.

Janelle has positively touched the lives of all those who have come in contact with her. She has had a remarkable effect on others and has reciprocal relationships with friends (both with disabilities and without disabilities), co-workers, neighbors, her support staff, acquaintances in her neighborhood, and the community at large. Janelle is not only a kind and considerate individual, but she is also VERY appreciative and thankful for those who help her live her life to the fullest. She is empathetic, compassionate, polite and full of love, giggles, and laughter.

Avenues SLS’ year-end giving campaign was created to tell the stories of our Avenues friends to further educate our community on how your donations support and encourage their efforts through volunteering and community interaction. You can help Janelle continue to give back her community by supporting her volunteer efforts and her personal philanthropy. Please make a donation today, Text the word Fuel7 to 71777
Donations received are tax deductible and will go directly into the Avenues SLS transportation fund. Thank you.