VICKY WRAY: Denver People First, Historian of Colorado Speaking for Ourselves and
Region 3 Representative to National Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered. A true leader!
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO PEOPLE FIRST IN THE FIRST PLACE?
A friend of mine invited me to go to a meeting just to see what it was like. What happened is when I went to the church for the meeting, we talked to Linda who was the adviser then. I wanted to join to know more about what it is all about. My friend got me there.
WHY HAVE YOU STAYED IN PEOPLE FIRST ALL THIS TIME?
It's a really good group to learn about things. That's what it's all about. You can't just turn your back and say you don't know about things or I can't do things. You can.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED IN PEOPLE FIRST AND SPEAKING FOR OURSELVES?
I was kind of shy. I wouldn't say a word. I just listened all the time. I didn't know what they were talking about and so I kept my mouth shut. They were doing the officers and all that and I still kept quiet, even if someone said "Vicky, what do you think," I still kept quiet.
I started out as the representative from Denver to the State Speaking for Ourselves group. I couldn't even read my report. I was shaking and started to cry. I never shake or cry anymore. Now I don't even need notes. I can just say what we do at our meetings.
There is a lot of learning to do. You learn about other people. I learned to be a leader instead of crying. When I was the state representative to SABE, I learned how to get to a hotel by myself. The first time I flew to one of the meetings, it was in Houston. I didn't know anyone and I was alone. I flew alone. Houston was a big airport and I didn't know where to go. I called my People First adviser in Denver and he talked to a ticket person and they got me to the bus. Then the bus passed me by 16 times because I didn't know the bus. Then somebody found me. Now it's easy to find a hotel.
WHAT HAS BEEN HARD FOR YOU AS YOU HAVE BECOME A LEADER?
Sometimes thinking for yourself is hard. It's not easy. It's hard work that's in it. That's how I do things: I listen to others and hear what they have to say and I try and I work at it. It works out if you work with other people.
HOW DID YOU LIKE THE 2014 NATIONAL CONFERENCE IN OKLAHOMA CITY?
It was really neat. I got elected on the national board as the region 3 representative. I will travel by myself to the meetings four times this year. I enjoy traveling and have a lot of fun doing that.
WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
I live in a new place. I have my own apartment. I live alone and I enjoy living by myself. I can see the mountains and the sunshine out my window. I have lived by myself for a long time. My sister helps me with my money and bills.
DO YOU WORK?
I work at Diamond Shamrock. I do the trash, sweep the parking lot and help inside. I been there 11 years.
HOW DO YOU GET AROUND DENVER?
I use RTD, the regular buses. You can go anywhere you want to go on a bus.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?
Window shopping. I love window shopping to see what they have. Especially at Christmas time.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE OTHERS TO KNOW ABOUT PEOPLE FIRST?
Come and see what it is like. If you don't like it, you don't have to join it. We don't want to push anyone to come. Just invite someone to come with you and see what it is like. Age doesn't matter. You can have fun and learn here.
You learn about yourself too! I think it's like 4 walls around you with doors. You can open the door and go in it. Open your heart to let people in and help you and for you to understand them. That's how you learn, that's how I did it.
interview november, 2014 by Anna Collins, san Luis Valley People First Adviser.