Secret Garden Presents At Domestic Violence Conference

Barrier Free Living’s Secret Garden will be presenting at the The South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA) Annual Domestic Violence Conference November 2-3, 2015 in Columbia, SC.

Secret Garden Team member Jules Perkel, LCSW will be part of a roundtable covering “Perspectives of Disability & Domestic Violence: Available resources and overcoming challenges of accessibility.”

The South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault is a statewide coalition made up of the 23 domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy organizations in South Carolina. Since 1981, SCCADVASA has been a leader in representing the critical needs of survivors and their families. View a brochure here: SCCADVASA Brochure

Learn more here.

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A New Tomorrow

Akila McKay, a featured speaker at Barrier Free Living Apartments ribbon cutting on September 24, 2015, is grateful that her baby (due any day) will be born into a safe home.

“When I was five months pregnant he (her abuser) assaulted me, chocking and hitting me. I found the courage to have him arrested,” says Akila, who is living at BFL apartments with her daughter and is preparing for her new child due this in October. “I can now put feeling scared in my past. This building (BFL apartments) is a representation of a new tomorrow. I’m grateful for the people who make this a beautiful peaceful environment.”

BFL Apartments reflects the City’s ongoing efforts to expand supportive housing for its most vulnerable residents, and is BFL’s first permanent supportive housing development. The two six-story buildings will provide 120 apartments for the homeless, including the disabled and survivors of domestic abuse.

New York City’s Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) joined Barrier Free Living (BFL), Alembic Community Development and Foxy Management to celebrate the grand opening of Barrier Free Living Residences for Families and Individuals in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx on September 24, 2015.

Photo: Akila at left with Denise Shaw BFL Apartments Director of Social Services.

Photo by Lorin Taylor

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Dancing With The Stars’ Noah Galloway Inspires People With Disabilities

The night Noah Galloway lifted his Dancing with the Stars partner Sharna Burgess into the air with one arm was a truly triumphant moment.  It was the impact of his performance on a fellow veteran, however, that Galloway counts as his most monumental achievement.

“I did the one-handed lift that was never done before on the show. When I picked her up I heard people jump to their feet and cheer,” says Noah who lost his left arm above the elbow and his left leg above the knee in Iraq. “The next day however I realized this is bigger than I am.”

The morning after the show, Noah learned that a fellow veteran, who had been stuck in depression, was so moved by his ability to beat the odds on Dancing with the Stars that he broke his isolation and asked for support.

“It’s so motivating to know you are doing something that really helps others,” says Noah, who took third place with his partner Burgess in Dancing with the Stars Season 20 last year. “A friend told me that I am affecting guys that have served (in the military) in a way that I don’t realize. And I thought Wow.”

Noah says he is humbled by the fact that he has become an inspiration to people with disabilities worldwide. He is currently a champion of the No Excuses Charitable Fund which empowers injured veterans through support of physical rehabilitative services.

“You do not know what you are capable of until you are forced to do it,” he says. “Each day something is going to get easier. You are going to adapt. Our body and our minds are resilient.”

After his injury, Noah went through a period of depression and had to cope with a lot of anger.

“I felt alone. I hid it from everyone. I didn’t let anyone into that world. I was afraid people would see me as weak. But so many people go through that,” he says.

It was by opening up and sharing his pain that Noah healed. He began working out again at the gym after the injury which ultimately led him to obstacle course races.

Noah became a national hero to people with disabilities in 2014, when he appeared on the November 2014 cover of Men’s Health magazine. (See our interview here.) He the first reader to be selected for the magazine’s cover, and was named the publication’s “Ultimate Men’s Health Guy”. He has been a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Today Show.

Noah is working on a biography and says he is grateful for all the opportunities that have come his way since his injury in 2005.

“I want to keep growing, and to bring more awareness to people with disabilities and to veterans. I hope I can still reach and inspire people to do a little more. To give back and challenge themselves.”



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Barrier Free Living Breaking Barriers Newsletter

The Fall 2015 Breaking Barriers newsletter, with a focus on the agency’s new BFL apartments and the ribbon cutting event, is available to download.

Download the PDF here.

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