Wake County non-profit helps people with disabilities gain confidence, skills

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- People with disabilities often don't get the same chances to get involved in the community.

Heather Waliga found a non-profit in Wake County that's giving them the chance to try new things, develop new skills, and become the best at something they love.

A simple task like counting pennies is changing life for the better for West Johnston High School student Cody Helms.

The 22-year-old lives with mental retardation.

"My biggest fear was what was I going to do with him? I wanted him to be independent and not just hang out somewhere for the day until I got off of work," said Cody's mother, Angela Simmons.

Simmons worries about her son's future after high school started to fade last year after she found the Garner-based non-profit, Able to Serve, Inc.

The program runs three days a week, helping people with physical and mental disabilities in Wake and Johnston Counties live actively in the community.

The group does everything from community service projects to learning valuable life skills.

"He helps more at home and wants to take on more responsibilities," said Simmons about her son's progress.

Carlton McDaniel started Able to Serve, Inc. twelve years ago with one wheelchair-accessible van and a goal to help people like his older sister, Gerrie, live more productive lives.

"We go to restaurants and learn how to order. We go to grocery stores and learn how to find what's on what aisle. The small things that we take for granted are the things that happen here," said McDaniel. "The initial goal is to get them to where they're comfortable with who they are, and sometimes that means sharing abilities you've never done before because you've never had that opportunity."

26-year-old Michael Rubins never thought he would get those opportunities.

Thanks to Able to Serve, Inc., Rubins has a newfound confidence and a chance at a more independent life, despite living with Cerebral Palsy.

"I've learned a lot about people and regardless of whatever your ability is, God has a plan for you. Everybody has a purpose," said Rubins.

McDaniel wants to expand the program to 5 days a week. Able to Serve, Inc. relies solely on program fees and community donations. For more information, click here.

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