“There’s a defining moment in life when you have to decide if you have the faith to make the jump,” Scheri tells us. She is a petite woman from Chile, and her story is indicative of faith and consistently learning to “make the jump.”
Recently, Scheri received a car through World Relief’s vehicle donation program. It was quite a victory for her, because Scheri is handicapped and uses a wheelchair, which has made transportation a challenge.
In addition to limited physical accessibility, another challenge for disabled people in the U.S. is finding jobs that can adequately support them. For Scheri, this has been even more complicated because she is a Dreamer, a term that describes individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children and may be protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA. Scheri’s parents brought her to the U.S. when she was two years old. Now, she is 29.
When DACA was implemented in 2012 Scheri says, “it was like I was in an ocean and finally came up for a breath of air.” Finally, she could work legally and find a job to support herself, even though she is still not eligible for disability services as a Dreamer. Despite this improvement, Scheri is still frustrated and unsatisfied with the instability of her status and the way some politicians use immigration and policies like DACA as a way to further other interests. “We are not a bargaining chip!” she exclaims. Scheri talks about how hard it is to live your life when immigration law is constantly changing and you are never sure when you will still have a work permit and when you won’t. Dreamers are forced to live in the “now,” to work with what is right in front of them. But though her long-term goals have been affected by things she can’t control, Scheri still has several short-term goals that keep her motivated.
Scheri tells us that her independence has always been very important to her, and it’s easy to see why. In 2016 she left a difficult situation at home and set out on her own for the first time. She lived in several different shelters while she continued looking for work that would cover all of her expenses, and recently moved into her first apartment.
After finding a job and an apartment, the next challenge was transportation. Before receiving a car from World Relief, Scheri took the bus to her job at Walmart. But even in this challenge, there is a victory that she is really proud of. At first, the bus stop was some way down the road from the store, which meant she had to navigate snow and ice to get from the store to the bus stop, and waiting for long periods outside even caused her to get frostbite. Scheri worked with the store manager to get the bus stop moved closer to the building, ultimately helping other employees and customers who were taking the bus to the store.
Scheri learned about World Relief and their services for immigrants and refugees from a friend at her church who works for World Relief, and she found out about the car donation program while working with Sasha, one of World Relief’s employment counselors. Sasha helped Scheri complete the process to receive not just a car, but one that was designed specifically to allow her to drive with her disability. Mobility Works, a company that outfits cars for drivers who use wheelchairs, made the modifications to the donated car. Scheri describes the changes, saying, “Now there are some levers up by the steering wheel, so that I don’t have to use my feet to drive.” Her church helped pay for part of the adjustments, and she paid for the rest.
Now, Scheri has her own apartment and is continuing to work for her independence. She gives other people rides to work or home whenever she can, because she knows what it is like to not have the freedom that your own transportation affords. She is also attending community college and is only five classes away from getting her Associate’s Degree. After that she hopes to transfer to Aurora University to study psychology. “I want to help other women who are also going through struggles and be a shoulder for them, because of the emotional impacts that I have had in my own life,” she shares.
But for now, Scheri is grateful and excited about her new car. It gives her the freedom to travel to school and work without having to rely on public transportation, and it also allows her to bless others in her life by giving rides to friends and coworkers. “Also, I think the car just goes with me,” she laughs. “I love my little blue car!”