Customer Story: Lawrence, an Artist at Work

Lawrence wearing a white button-down shirt and standing next to his red-cap mushroom sculptures at a gallery opening reception. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Lawrence wearing a white button-down shirt and standing next to his red-cap mushroom sculptures at a gallery opening reception. Photo courtesy of the artist.

When did you first start making art? How did you know you wanted to be an artist?

“I wanted to do [art] at school all the time, but [my teachers] took it away from me,” says Lawrence. Lawrence’s personal support worker Monica, who sits next to him during the interview, explains that art became a behavior tool used by teachers to reward and punish him. Lawrence’s mom, she notes, allowed Lawrence to draw at home.

What subjects and materials do you use in your artwork?

Through our conversation about his various works, Lawrence mentions brassieres, shorts, kites, fighter jet planes, Christmas trees and pine trees, flower bouquets, hard cover book bindings, and chandeliers. This is just the short list of subjects that inspire his large-scale sculptures as well as small-scale drawings.

Asked why he chooses these subjects, Lawrence says, “YouTube.” In addition to watching YouTube videos for inspiration, Monica shares that she and Lawrence go to Powell’s Books where Lawrence buys books on drawing and sculpting that help inspire his latest designs.

Lawrence shows us pages from a scrapbook with photos of his sculptural works, and it’s clear from looking at the photos that Lawrence is highly innovative in his material approach to interpreting subjects and transforming them into larger-than-life sized forms. For example, Lawrence shares that he hand-stitched fabric together to create a bra that supported breasts formed from flour-filled condoms. Monica laughs lighly as she notes,“they looked very real.”

Lawrence speaks candidly about the subjects and materials he uses in his artwork, revealing the process of an artist intent on understanding his subjects, working out what the parameters of their meaning are, and the impressions they leave upon him. When he sees shapes and forms that intrigue him, Lawrence devotes himself to work out how to modify and reiterate them in a way that he finds appealing and reflects his experience of them.

Monica highlights that much of Lawrence’s artwork is generated from the modification of subjects and materials, resulting in the creation of objects and images that push material and conceptual boundaries and expectations.

What interests you about depicting the human body, and in such a large-scale Format?

Lawrence started making his large-scale sculptures in school as an 18 or 19 year old. Freddy, a sculpture of a male figure, was created from rolled up tubes of paper to make his bone structure. The muscles were made from rolled up newspaper reinforced by fabric, Lawrence and Monica explain. The different parts of Freddy’s body were held together by duct tape and masking tape.

Lawrence becomes animated talking about the large human sculptures, sharing proudly that Freddy “had all his body parts.”

The clothing Lawrence chose for Freddy is significant, Monica says. “He had saggy pants,” Lawrence says, sitting up in his chair and grinning. Monica explains that Lawrence insisted on using new clothes, and Lawrence nods his head in agreement. “They were the largest pants I’ve ever seen,” says Monica about the pants Lawrence used to clothe Freddy. “He bought huge shoes too.”

Two red and white mushroom-shaped sculptures by Lawrence featured in an art exhibition. The larger mushroom has a bright red cap, and the smaller one has a bright red cap covered in white dots. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Two red and white mushroom-shaped sculptures by Lawrence featured in an art exhibition. The larger mushroom has a bright red cap, and the smaller one has a bright red cap covered in white dots. Photo courtesy of the artist.


How and why Do you Modify the materials you use to make art?

Before answering the question, Lawrence stands up and walks over to the shelf where he had placed a stack of sketchbooks before the interview began. He picks them up and brings them over to where we’re seated at a desk. He lays the sketchbooks on the table and begins flipping through pages, showing us the drawings that fill each book.

Lawrence and Monica explain that drawing is very important to Lawrence and his process as an artist. Pencil and color pencil are his primary medium. He favors Prisma color pencils, explaining that they have a wax component that make it easier to blend and burnish the lines and colors in his drawings.

Featured in the sketchbook are several drawings of bridges crossing rivers. The detailed drawings demonstrate a high-level of observation, precision, and lightness in touch. Lawrence’s combined creative and technical ability are evident in the reflections of ducks — the species of which could be easily identified in a bird book — floating peacefully in the rippling water under a bridge. The reflections of the bridge and the ducks in the water are remarkable. It would be easy to assume Lawrence drew these scenes from his observations and impressions made in person rather than from watching YouTube videos and reading books.

Why is it important for you to be able to make these changes to the subjects and materials you use?

Our conversation deviates from talking strictly about art into one about Lawrence as a person who is driven to make art because of who he is and the experiences that have shaped him.

Monica helps explain that it’s important to Lawrence that he get positive feedback about his artwork, as well as his physical appearance. It is important to him to present himself well and to be liked. He wants to be seen and known, she notes.

Lawrence and his sibling grew up in a home where they both experience tension because of how they chose to identify themselves. With time, Lawrence and sibling moved out of their family home and into their own respective apartments.

Like his sibling, Lawrence is learning to navigate his identity, sharing his desire to be accepted and valued for who he is and who he is becoming. He expresses feeling liberated by having the ability to explore his identity. Yet he is aware that not everyone celebrates people who identify the way he does, and some people may even take advantage of him.

After moving out of his family home and into his own apartment, Lawrence has learned more about himself, the kind of relationships he wants to be in and the friends he wants to have, and how to discern healthy relationships from unhealthy ones.

When Lawrence first lived on his own he had a small apartment and no real space to make his art, Monica shares. With time, Lawrence found a larger apartment with studio space that makes it easier for him to store, organize and find his art supplies, to do his research, and to create.

It is clear from the photos and drawings Lawrence brought to the interview that being able to make changes — in his art and in his life — is significant to him as an artist and as a person. Repetition, variation in scale, minute details, and mass quantities fascinate him. One might even call him obsessed. As humans, we can all become preoccupied by a particular thought, subject, person, or thing from time to time and have to learn how to work through those thought patterns. Lawrence’s artwork lends itself to thinking about how a creative, innovative person can commit themself to working out complex thoughts and feelings in a positive way through art making.

Through his artwork, Lawrence explores the many questions and observations he has about the world, the subjects that pique his interest—spurred on by his frequent and earnest questioning of “why is that?”

what inspires you as an artist?

“His creativity happens every hour of the day and only stops when the project is complete,” says Monica with a slight smile.

“He is inspired by the music he listens to when he’s making art,” says Monica. Lawrence says that music makes him want to create, run, and laugh. He especially likes listening to The Stylistics because he loves hearing the man sing falsetto, Lawrence shares. “[The voice] sounds feminine,” Lawrence says with a big smile. He is fascinated by the practice of having to concentrate on making a certain sound, or a particular range of sounds, in order to make it. “He had to practice to get that voice,” Lawrence exclaims, adding that he likes to sing while making art.

Are their other artists you like to spend time with and who inspire you?

Monica shares that about ten years ago Lawrence was a part of a community of artists that supported him on his artistic path. “Lawrence was always allowed to go early [to] and stay late [at the studio],” she says. “Artists stayed overnight while he finished works. He made lots of friends in the art community. Most of them were young college students who worked at Project Grow. It provided him with a different kind of freedom in expression.”

“The art community [Lawrence] used to have has dissipated,” Monica shares, noting that it became a more regimented program. While this art program Lawrence use to be a part of is desriable and beneficial to many of its participants, Lawrence decided it was no longer a good match for him.

Lawrence wearing a white button-down shirt and black pants stands in front of a white gallery wall with the decal “We." the title of the group exhibition he was featured in at the Portland Art Museum. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Lawrence wearing a white button-down shirt and black pants stands in front of a white gallery wall with the decal “We." the title of the group exhibition he was featured in at the Portland Art Museum. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Relationships and friendships are also important to Lawrence and his growth as an artist. At the Q Center, Lawrence met his friend Claire. He shares how Claire helps him remember that “I’m okay the way I am. It’s okay to be Lawrence. God has given [me] a wonderful talent.” Lawrence turns to Monica and asks her to confirm if Claire is his friend. Monica reassures him that Claire, and people like her, are indeed examples of a good friend. Have you exhibited your work before? Where?

Monica shares that Lawrence exhibited his work in a group exhibit called “WE.” at the Portland Art Museum. It was at this exhibit that someone bought his mushroom sculpture, she shares.

How Have you grown as an artist over time?

Over the past ten years, with the desire to read on the computer, Lawrence has taught himself how to read. He now is able to read the subtitles of the movies he watches. But his primary motivation for learning to read was to be able to do his own research for his art online. Now he can read books that describe different artistic techniques, as well as books about the subjects he likes to create through his art, such trees.

“[A]rt making provides a positive, healthy focus on channeling unpredictable creativity and a desire to be known,” shares Monica.

Have you exhibited your artwork before? Where?

Monica and Lawrence share that he exhibited his work in a group exhibition called “WE.” the Portland Art Museum. Monica turns to Lawrence to confirm that it was at this exhibit that he sold his mushroom sculpture. He nods in agreement.

How does it feel to exhibit your artwork?

“Really happy,” says Lawrence.

Do you sell your work? If someone wants to buy your artwork, how might they do that?

Monica and Lawrence both share that he sells his work through Art Store at Portland Art and Learning as well as through exhibitions, such as “WE.” at Portland Art Museum. “At the Art Store,” Monica explains, “they provide materials and Lawrence gets a percentage of the sale. He often uses this to buy art supplies in bulk from the store.”

Close-up image of a bouquet of blue flowers individually made of paper by Lawrence. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Close-up image of a bouquet of blue flowers individually made of paper by Lawrence. Photo courtesy of the artist.


Why do you like buying your art supplies in bulk?

Lawrence smiles at this question and says that he likes, “Livin’ large.”

Glue, pencils, paints, and puzzles are on his list of supplies he buys en masse. To help him cut down on costs, Monica has helped him organize his new apartment to make finding supplies easier so that he’s less inclined to buy a new set of paints or pencils.

Personal support workers, including Monica, help Lawrence stay organized, be creative, and save money. In the Marie Kondo era we find ourselves in, I believe most of us can appreciate the need for support in cleaning out our closets and organizing our things in order to de-clutter our lives and relieve stress.

Organization has helped Lawrence in several ways. He notes that “it’s hard to create when dealing with depression.” His supports help remind him to go on walks, exercise regularly, and to eat healthy, all of which help support his overall health and ability to create.

Lawrence casually leans against a building with his hands in his pockets, smiling at the camera. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Lawrence casually leans against a building with his hands in his pockets, smiling at the camera. Photo courtesy of the artist.

How have brokerage support services helped you live independently and pursue a career as an artist?

Brokerage support services and direct supports, such as Monica, have been instrumental in helping Lawrence implement a health and safety plan. His personal agent (PA) and personal support worker (PSW) help Lawrence set goals and outline steps to achieve them. Together they have worked on finding an apartment that suits Lawrence, activities that he will find fulfilling, opportunities to make money, and meeting people who appreciate him for him, like his friend Claire.

Lawrence desires to be in a loving relationship, have a family, and a home with an art studio, he says. He wants to be surrounded by creatives and people who look at and appreciate his art work. “Not weirdos and druggies,” quips Lawrence, who struggled to meet people and create healthy relationships when he first moved out of his family home and into his own apartment.

Monica shares that Lawrence is learning when it is appropriate to walk up to strangers on the street to ask for feedback, and when it is not. He is also learning, as many of us are, to take criticism better. “He always wants people to be happy, and to receive him well,” says Monica. Taking feedback—however constructive it is meant to be—can be hard.

“He’s a very black-and-white thinker,” says Monica. Throughout the interview Lawrence actively asks clarifying questions, often wondering “why is that?” in an effort to understand people’s behavior, thinking, as well as commentary about his artwork. For someone who might experience the world as black-and-white, Lawrence’s artwork is anything but clear cut, straightforward, or easily labeled and explained. Much like Lawrence asks, “why is that?” his artwork invites viewers to ask similar questions of his artwork. Why is that? A seemingly small and simple question prods one to explore the nuanced complexities of human existence, experience, and expression.

Lawrence smiling widely, clasping his hands together in front of fern and moss covered boulders on a nature walk. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Lawrence smiling widely, clasping his hands together in front of fern and moss covered boulders on a nature walk. Photo courtesy of the artist.

What is next for you in your artistic pursuits?

Lawrence was recently chosen to participate in the 2019 Field of View (FOV) Residency at Public Annex, which will provide him with studio space and access to an artist mentor to work on his project of choice. The residency also provides artists with a stipend and culminates in a gallery exhibition. The 2018 FOV residency was exhibited at Wollf Gallery in Southeast Portland in February 2018.

Lawrence is in the beginning stages of the residency and is still learning about what it will entail. He is excited to have the opportunity to make and share more art.

At Community Pathways, we look forward to seeing where the FOV residency takes Lawrence artistically and how it will help bolster the public’s knowledge about his artistic practice. We wish him the best!

For more information about Lawrence and his art work, please contact his PSW Monica Laws. Community Pathways can put you in contact with Lawrence and his support team. Call us at (503) 935-5243 ext. 228. To learn more about the 2019 FOV Residency, visit the Public Annex website.

Customer Highlight: Tino's Employment Story

I took my mom and dad’s word to heart and did it. I’m where I’m at now. I have a driver license, I have a job. I can go where I want—because I’m a grown up.
— Tino
Tino wearing his red Lowe’s vest at work, smiling and giving two thumbs up.

Tino wearing his red Lowe’s vest at work, smiling and giving two thumbs up.

Valentino, or Tino for short, sat down with us recently to share his employment story. For the past eight years, Tino has worked at Lowe’s where he currently serves as a full-time Delivery Load Puller and Assistant to the Delivery Driver. But Tino hasn’t always worked full-time at Lowe’s; he worked his way up to his current position over time.

Before he got his start at Lowe’s, Tino shares that he worked as a Busboy at Black Bear Diner for five years. He was motivated to start looking for a new job because, “I was not getting paid enough,” he says. With a goal to find a new job and earn more money, Tino sought out support from a job coach through supported employment services offered by United Cerebral Palsy (UCP). The job coach helped Tino learn how to search, apply, and interview for jobs, “because I didn’t know how,” he says.

With the job coach’s support, Tino began applying for jobs at Walmart. When he didn’t hear back from Walmart, Tino explains, he continued applying for positions online at Home Depot and Lowe’s. “Lowe’s jumped on it real fast and wanted an interview,” Tino says about his online application experience. “I was shocked at how fast it went.”

Tino was initially hired by Lowe’s as a Front End Seasonal Loader, working a few hours per week. After a period of time, with the encouragement of his co-workers, Tino asked his manager if he could work part-time and was soon promoted to a more permanent position. After working part-time for six months, Tino asked to work full-time, “because I wanted to do something more athletic, like lifting appliances.” At first, Tino was told no because there were no available positions at the time. When a Deliver Load Puller position opened up, a manager notified Tino directly. Tino applied that day and was hired for the full-time position he has today.

Promotions did not come immediately to Tino, as his story shows. He emphasizes that it took hard work and dedication to get to where he is today. It also required a willingness to speak up and ask for help in finding and interviewing for jobs, as well as asking for more responsibility on the job.

Portrait of Tino wearing a yellow baseball hat with a Pikachu pattern and a matching yellow t-shirt.

Portrait of Tino wearing a yellow baseball hat with a Pikachu pattern and a matching yellow t-shirt.

Persistence was key to Tino’s success in securing his first position as a temporary seasonal employee at Lowe’s, and then working his way up to a permanent full-time position. Even when he was not hired or did not get a promotion right away, Tino kept applying for jobs and following up with managers to show his interest in taking on more responsibility at work while still working hard at the job he had. By taking this approach, Tino gained the respect of his co-workers and managers who have become important sources of support to his professional growth and sense of belonging.

Tino notes that he was shy at first but remained persistent because he really wanted to work full-time and was confident in his work ethic. Asking for a promotion can be hard to do, Tino acknowledges. But he was encouraged by his family, friends, and co-workers who said, “You can do it. Go for it.”

Ask what kind of challenges he has experienced in regards to employment, Tino says the main challenge he faces at work is dealing with disgruntled customers--a challenge anyone working in retail and customer service can relate to. “[Customers] can be a little upset because they didn’t get what they wanted,” Tino says about customers who share negative feedback with him. Tino explains that his approach to handling these situations is to acknowledge the customer’s experience and to follow up with his managers so they can take action and make necessary changes.

Asked what job advice he would pass on to other employees, Tino shares that his dad taught him to, “Listen to your elders and have that hard work ethic,” adding that his dad tells him to, “find something to do instead of standing around. If you’re done [with a task] and don’t have something to do, pick up a broom and start sweeping.” Tino notes that he receives praise from his co-workers and managers for his work ethic and feels appreciated for his contributions to the team.

Asked what advice he has for employers, Tino says that it’s important for employers to show appreciation for their employees and to help people with their needs, “like if you say you need a little help or don’t understand something.” He acknowledges that not every single need can be accommodated but within reason Tino believes employers should be willing to train people who are willing to work hard and be a part of a team.

Tino advises employers that ongoing training for employees is important to their continued success at work, like when “you got a routine and something new crops up, and you need a little more training to handle the new situation.” He especially appreciates managers who are polite to their employees.

Tino wearing a yellow baseball hat and a yellow t-shirt with a red and white Pokemon ball logo.

Tino wearing a yellow baseball hat and a yellow t-shirt with a red and white Pokemon ball logo.

Being a part of a supportive work team has been an important part of Tino’s employment experience. “We’re a solid team [at Lowe’s],” he says, adding that he appreciates the support and encouragement he receives from his co-workers, many of whom he counts as friends. The need for support is mutual. Tino shares how he supports his co-workers by offering a listening ear and words of encouragement when they face their own challenges.

“Lowe’s is like a big ol’ family,” Tino says. “If I’m not okay, they’ll see what’s going on. They love me a lot and want me to be a front end loader again because I work so hard,” he adds, chuckling. “But I’m not going back to that,” he says with a grin.

Asked who supports him in his employment pursuits, Tino notes his first manager at Lowe’s was an important support because they helped train him as a seasonal employee. The manager eventually put in a good word for Tino with the other managers to be hired part-time. Tino gives the main credit to his parents (who are his foster mom and dad, he explains) for the support and encouragement they’ve provided him in working toward his goals. “I took my mom and dad’s word to heart and did it. I’m where I’m at now. I have a driver license, I have a job. I can go where I want—because I’m a grown up.”

Asked what’s ahead for him, Tino shares that he recently won a BBQ grill from entering a raffle prize at work. “I won the large prize,” he says, smiling. Now he’s looking forward to firing up the new grill once the weather gets nicer.

Congratulations, Tino! Keep up the good work.


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Kaaren Londahl, Self-Advocate of the Year

Recently named Self Advocate of the Year by Oregon Self Advocacy Coalition (OSAC), Kaaren Londahl is known throughout the community for the important work she does to advocate for the rights of individuals with a developmental disability in Oregon.

Photo of Kaaren Londahl in northeast Portland.

Photo of Kaaren Londahl in northeast Portland.

Within minutes of meeting with Kaaren, it’s clear why she’s been named Self-Advocate of the Year. Her experience and network are as robust as her enthusiasm for self-advocacy is infectious.

Kaaren is an active board member at OSAC and Independence Northwest, and a member of the PHAME Arts Leader program. She also works at OCDD and PHAME.

“I am a strong leader,” Kaaren states matter-of-factly, smiling as she hands me her OSAC business card and points out her title: Advocate at Large.

Self-determined but not self-important, Kaaren recognizes that by sharing her story she is able to encourage more people to become advocates—“and strong leaders too.”

What or who motivated you to become a self-advocate?

“My mom,” says Kaaren. "In the 1970s, my mom noticed there weren't services for people with disabilities." Kaaren's mother, Pauline Londahl, responded to the lack of support she encountered by establishing an organization called Exceed Enterprises in Milwaukie. “She started a workshop for people [with disabilities] to learn life skills,” Kaaren says, explaining that her mother wanted individuals with a disability to have an opportunity to learn life skills, like cooking and cleaning, as well as to participate in creative and social activities, like playing music and going bowling. Sharing more about her mother's advocacy work, Kaaren notes: “Mom was on the board that closed Fairview.”

note on fairview.png

Why is it important to be a self-advocate?

“We don’t want programs to go away,” she says, noting that funding for support services can change.

Aware of this possibility, Kaaren emphasizes that, "people need to speak with their legislators," to advocate for the services and programs that assist them in living a full life in the community.

When asked what topics she and other self advocates address with legislators, Kaaren shares that, "we attempt to educate legislators about issues that matter to us," including: housing, employment, relationships, and transportation.

In her call for more self advocates to attend Legislative Sessions in Salem, Kaaren points out that some people who would like to attend these sessions are unable to because of limited access to transportation. “If anyone from [Community] Pathways wants to drive people to Salem, that would be great,” Kaaren says, using her network to attempt connecting people with the support they need to achieve their goals.

As Advocate at Large, what are your main responsibilities?

Kaaren shares that she recently joined the Oregon Council on Developmental Disabilities (OCDD) on a trip to Pendleton, Oregon where they met with individuals to learn about their experiences with support services. Their trip, she explains, is a part of a statewide effort to learn about support services from the perspective of individuals with a developmental disability in Oregon.

What have you learned from individuals about their support services?

"A lot of people find it difficult to ask for help," Kaaren says. “You have to ask to get ahead.”

She explains that when asked about their experience with support services, individuals expressed that they do not always know what questions to ask in order to receive the support they are seeking. With this observation, Kaaren pinpoints a frustration many people, regardless of their abilities, face when seeking help: Not knowing who to ask for help, or what questions to ask, in the first place. Kaaren says that more clarification about what to expect from support services would be helpful to individuals and their family members.

kaaren quote.png

What other obstacles do individuals receiving support services face?

"Parents," Kaaren notes. “Parents can sometimes get in the way of their kid.” Even when the 'kid' is an adult, Kaaren explains, a parent or family member can become an obstacle to the individual's support services, “because they think their kid isn’t able to do certain things.” 

When asked what advice she has for parents and family members of individuals with a developmental disability, Kaaren says: “Let your kids do what they want to do.” She pauses before adding, “In a safe way. But let them do it.They have to learn."

From meeting with individuals across the state, Kaaren notices that the number of individuals who attend these meetings is quite small. Asked why this might be, Kaaren says that individuals do not show up to events because they either do not know about them, their providers do not take them, or they lack accessible transportation.

What would you suggest be done to address these concerns and help improve services?

Kaaren notes the following ways brokerages can help improve the experience of support services for individuals and their support networks:

  • Host Brokerage 101 events to educate people about brokerage support services, so they learn what questions to ask.

  • Educate providers about support services, as well as self advocacy groups and events.

  • Promote programs like RideWise, which trains individuals to ride public transportation.

How would you describe the support services you get through Community Pathways?

“I like my services. They're great. They help me. They really help me,” Kaaren says. "You have to navigate things," she continues. "They help me grow. They help me learn about what's out there in the world."

When asked what she values the most about her support services, Kaaren says it's the communication she has with her PA. “It’s nice having another person to talk to,” she shares.

“If you complain,” she adds, “[support services] won’t work. You have to speak up. I may not get everything I want, but I have to work with [Community] Pathways, with my PA Sarah, to get what I do get. It’s important to speak up.”

Photo of Kaaren Londahl standing next to an orange biketown bicycle in northeast Portland.

Photo of Kaaren Londahl standing next to an orange biketown bicycle in northeast Portland.

How would someone interested in self-advocacy learn more about it?

"They should contact me,” Kaaren says with a smile, pointing to her business card.

"OSAC is seeking new members," she adds. [Learn more at]

What would you say to individuals who want to get involved in self-advocacy, but are shy or anxious about attending meetings and events?

“They should contact me,” Kaaren says, pointing to her business card again. “Joining a group gives people a chance to get to know more people who have self-advocacy experience," she adds. "We will cheer lead them on to use their own voice."

Of course, some individuals may still find it difficult to attend self-advocacy meetings for different reasons. When asked if individuals can attend meetings and events with the support of a family member, friend, or provider Kaaren says, "Yes, that's fine," but stresses that, "self-advocates need to speak up for themselves. The provider or parent should not speak up for them. We need to speak up."

What is your advice for self-advocates preparing to speak with legislators?

  • Stick to one question or topic per speaker.

  • Stay on topic.

  • Only speak for a few minutes. "If you speak for too long, people will stop listening."

  • Meet with your team afterwards to discuss what went well and what did not go well, and make the necessary changes to improve.

[Join the 2019 DD Advocacy Days to gain more information, training, and support. Learn more at]

Recently named Self-Advocate of the Year, what are you working on now?

With the midterm elections on November 6th drawing near, Kaaren says she is busy volunteering with Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) to help educate individuals with a disability about their right to vote and the supports available to help them fill out and cast their ballots. [Easy Voting Guide]

“We want people to live an everyday life like anyone else without a disability,” Kaaren says about her experience volunteering with DRO to get out the vote. “I want to follow in my mom's footsteps, because I’m a strong leader.”

Throughout our interview, Kaaren makes the mission and motivation underlying her work as a self advocate clear: “I want people to live the way they want to live.”

Kaaren lives independently in Northeast Portland with her dog. Her sister Dolly and nieces are an important source of support in her life and motivate her to advocate for her own rights and the rights of all people who experience a disability.

Congratulations on being named Self-Advocate of the Year, Kaaren!

-The Community Pathways Team