Abby’s Story

Abby’s Story

Wayne and Susan Johnson lived most of their married life in Harligen, Texas.  Wayne grew up in South Texas and Susan was an “Army Brat” and lived all over the place – Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, etc. even Germany. They have three girls, Emily who is 38 and lives in Liberty Hill, Texas with her husband and two sons; Rachel who is 36, lives near Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and four children; and Abby who is 34 and lives with us here at the Mary Lee Foundation.

After marriage Wayne worked as a loan specialist, farmed with his brothers, worked as an Associate Pastor/Worship Director for a local church and after moving to Austin taught special education life skills.  Susan was a stay at home mother when the girls were small and then went back to work as an art teacher.  Wayne has since retired and Susan is currently teaching art drawing and painting in Austin.

When Abby was born, she was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Cri Du Chat syndrome.  Cri Du Chat, sometimes called cat cry syndrome, is characterized by intellectual disability and delayed development, a small head size, low birth weight, weak muscle tone and distinctive facial features.

After Abby graduated from high school at 22, the Johnson’s looked for a living situation where Abby could live and be served.  They wanted her to be able to be as independent as possible.  They had signed Abby up for Texas assistance living programs about 10 years earlier and two weeks prior to graduating high school she was accepted into the Home and Community Based Services program.  Wayne and Susan found the Mary Lee Foundation to be an inviting and safe environment for Abby.  After meeting Leigh Dunson, Southpointe Director, and a short trial visit, Abby had found her adult home.

Moving Abby to the Mary Lee Foundation was a leap of faith for Wayne and Susan.  Once they saw all the services provided and the activities that Abby has been able to participate in (Special Olympics, Best Buddies, trips to the museum, ballet, parks, etc.), they knew they had found a “gem”.  The biggest comfort that they found was that Abby was happy.

The Johnson’s have been big supporters of the Mary Lee Foundation.  The Foundation isn’t reimbursed for trips, activities, home furnishings, technology, all important aspects to their clients’ quality of life.  In the past year, Wayne and Susan have raised over $1,500 through Facebook fundraisers. “The organization always needs additional funding to fully support their clients”, says Wayne.  Wayne has also recently agreed to join the Board of Directors. “Abby loves it here, and I’ve grown to love the staff and clients over the years.  I jumped at the opportunity to be part of a Board that can help improve the quality of life of its clients.” says Wayne

If you would like more information about the Southpointe Program, please call (512) 442-6077.

Tiffany’s Story

Tiffany’s Story

Tiffany grew up the middle child with three brothers in a small town in Illinois.  Her father served 30 years in the Air Force.  In 1987, she set out on her own path and joined the Army.  For 18 years she served our country proud, even volunteering for Operation Desert Storm, what Tiffany calls a “life defining experience.”  After leaving the military in 2005, she moved with her family to Houston where she started a very successful career in SAP consulting.  She worked for Capgemini, a global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation.  Eventually she would go out on her own as an independent contractor earning six figures and racking over a million miles traveling around the world.

Tiffany’s life changed in March 2016 when she was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm which ruptured and caused bleeding in her brain.  While in surgery to fix the aneurysm Tiffany experienced a stroke.  She was left with short-term memory problems, balance and hand/eye coordination issues and contracture of the fingers on her left hand.  Following her stay in the ICU, she moved to South Austin, where her parents had retired and went to a couple of neurology programs while she waited for an opening at the Mary Lee Foundation Rehabilitation Center (MLFRC).  According to Tiffany it came highly recommended as one of the best brain injury rehabilitation centers in the country.

Providing services to survivors of Traumatic Brain Injuries and Neurological Disorders since 1991, the MLFRC provides individual and group therapeutic services for both 

inpatient and outpatient clients. The MLFRC aims to focus on the skills necessary to regain independence through client-centered, community re-integration therapies and activities.

In January 2018, Tiffany was accepted into the MLFRC program.  She spent about a year in the program.  Upon graduating, Tiffany moved into Mary Lee Foundation’s affordable housing where she volunteered her time in the Leasing office and in the weekly Food Pantry open to all of our clients.  She did such a good job that she was offered a job in the Leasing Office as their Office Aide.

Tiffany recently enrolled in college to work on a degree in business.  She feels that Mary Lee Foundation really helped her restart her life after her traumatic brain injury.  A proud veteran, mother of three and grandmother of four, Tiffany is a great example of the work being done here in South Austin.  If you would like more information about the Brain Injury and Neurological Disorders Program please call (512) 443-5777.