"People with multiple disabilities are most gifted --- they can teach you so much if you're willing to learn."
Karen Pate continues to learn a lot from people with disabilities. She's a volunteer and co-founder of Dakota Communities, Inc. The organization provides alternative care options for people with multiple disabilities.
Her passion and commitment comes from Betsy, a daughter born in 1964 with profound disabilities. The only way Betsy could communicate was through eye contact and tears. In fact, she cried almost non-stop. Karen, who was trying to care for two other children, realized she needed help caring for Betsy. But Karen was dismayed to learn the only help for her daughter was institutionalization.
Determined not to give up, Karen and a group of other parents created an alternative care facility that's now known at Dakota Communities, Inc. Today, there are 24 DCI homes spread across Minnesota. Nine additional homes are scheduled to open this year.
Betsy passed away in 1998. But Karen says she takes comfort in knowing that Betsy has left behind a legacy of DCI houses --- places that people with disabilities can call home.
*Karen has designated $1100 to The Elizabeth Pate Legacy Fund at Dakota Communities, Inc.