Extending a Hand of HOPE


I am thrilled to share with you that next month I am starting the first Young Women’s SCI Support Group at the respectable hospital, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, one of the leading SCI rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. Together with Stephanie Sablan, a 24-year-old recently injured beautiful lady with a huge heart and desire to help others, we are excitedly leading this group. With our gratitude towards life for having a second chance, we are passionate about supporting and encouraging young women who have sustained a SCI.

Why do I want to get involved with a Women’s Peer Support Group?

My mission in life is to help others, and motivate people to believe, achieve, and succeed, fulfilling their life passion. *I want to bring words of encouragement to people when they’re down; reignite hope when they feel life is over and there is no hope; support young women in their journey when they feel they’re all alone; help them accept their spinal cord injury when they don’t know how they’ll get through it; and, above all, help them embrace their situation to bring many smiles and laughs in this beautiful life that we have.*

What is my deepest reason for starting a young women’s support group?

I was injured and sustained a spinal cord injury at the age of 19. I was young, and I longed to meet other young females in wheelchairs who could provide me support and their friendship. I had the great fortune to meet a few exceptional women. These couple of women were of great support and encouraged me to keep going in life. However, I did not meet a female in a wheelchair close to my age that I could relate to for, unfortunately, several years after my injury… If I could have had a way to change that, I certainly would have done it because it would have meant a lot to me. Even though I didn’t have that connection with anyone, I made sure to let Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC), the hospital I did my rehab at, how important it was for me that I could be there for newly injured patients, especially for females.

I am starting this group, in a way, because THIS is something I would have loved to have access to or being a part of. Unfortunately, I didn’t; I can’t go back nor can I change that. What I CAN do is make an impact on other people (women) and focus on what I CAN do moving forward. Starting this Young Women’s Support Group is a way I can let young women who suffer a SCI they’re not alone and that yes, they will get through it!

What is my vision for this group?

I want to provide young women a shoulder to lean on and a SCI sister they can count on. I want this group to grow with each other as we all support each other in this journey that we travel separately, but ride together in spirit. This group shall be a place to share and discuss the challenges and difficulties of living with a SCI. We will handle struggles we might be facing, as we can’t just not deal with them, but this group will be upbeat and remain positive. Even though most women can talk forever, my goal is to make this group active, and a place where all of us as a group can become exposed to many different things and activities. In a nutshell: we won’t just sit around and “talk.” It will be an active group where we can all roll around together in real life, empower each other, and learn new and fun things!

Stephanie Sablan shares the following:

Why do you want to get involved with the Young Women’s SCI Support Group?

“Being a part of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and the young women’s support group is something I am very proud to be associated with, and an opportunity I highly cherish. I want to help others find the positive in the new lifestyle and journey, as it may be hard to do so. It is important to me that I do my best to give back and “pay it forward,” as Richard Patterson, a major advocate, peer-support coordinator, supporter, and friend always encouraged people to do to help others. The founder of the group and dear friend of mine, Tamara Mena, came to meet me while I was still in rehab to offer her help and support, and since then, she has planted a seed of hope, faith, and happiness in my life. I want to be in this group to give young women, fresh and or well into their injury, what I was given.”

What’s your vision?

“For the group I envision growth and development for each individual and personal fulfillment. I would love to see each member of the group gain something new from one another and apply it into their lives. Even the simplest things such as sharing tips on how to look fashionable but practical in our chairs, is a goal that can easily be obtained and happily accepted. Sharing basic things and simple to many, but that can truly help someone in their journey, is what will make this group special and powerful. We will all be there for each other. Another vision I have for the group is to be able to meet in social settings and become more comfortable and confident about being a person with a disability out in public and society. Confidence is the characteristic I envision the group to emphasize and obtain throughout our journey.” Stephanie Sablan

*Please, if you are interested in being part of the group or if you know a young female (18-35 years old or so), who might be interested in either attending our FIRST support group get-together on: Thursday, May 17, 2012 or being part of the group in general, please share this blog and information with her. For further information and to sign-up to attend the first get-together, please contact Peer Support Group Coordinator, Robert Medel, at SCVMC:

Email:  Robert.Medel@hhs.sccgov.org  Phone: 408 885-2397.

I wholeheartedly believe everything happens for a reason. I’m glad I personally didn’t have this when I was recently injured because this is exactly what is pushing me want to make a change.  Not having a female close to my age as a mentor and friend at the beginning is what keeps on bringing me back to the hospital to help. This is what gave me the opportunity  to meet Stephanie Sablan at SCVMC after I was told she had been hurt and that she could use an encouraging visit. That is where our journey began. Together, Stephanie and I, hope to bring help, support, hope, laughter, smiles, and so much more… Stay tuned!

Never underestimate the power of helping others!

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