Deborah T. Jackson
Age 56, Renal Osteodystrophy (Renal Bone Disease)
Photographed by Anna Costalas

Losing the function of my kidneys at the age of 23 was a life changing experience.  A few years later the ability to walk was gone due to renal-bone disease. My life prior to becoming disabled – married with three beautiful daughters, a renter or living with family and working as a cashier for The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, was quickly affected.

I discovered a Center for Independent Living (CIL). As a CIL participant, I learned the distinction of being disabled and being a person with a disability. This opened the door to become employed with this same CIL, and where I provided the same support that was given to me.

Years have passed with much growth, understanding, self-examination, trials, triumphs, and even failures. My upbringing in a family of strong-willed black women, and a close relationship with God have been instrumental in helping me transition from being one needing support to being someone who provides support for my family, others, and those living with disabilities. Through the grace of God, I’ve reached a pinnacle in life that others can achieve in their own lives, whatever that is for them. I am now a homeowner instead of a renter. I have three daughters working in their own professions and five wonderful grandchildren. I have gone from unemployed and underemployed to working professionally as the Director of Independent Living Services for a Center for Independent Living (CIL) in Maryland.

“Life is perfectly set by the seasons:  Times of Spring when new life is blossoming; Summer, when the sky is the limit to what can be achieved; Fall, when things are changing but life is still beautiful; and then Winter, when life’s changes can make things seem cold and empty, but the purity and beauty of life shines forth as glistening white snow. Life may change and never be the same, but living life is good!”