Summer Newsletter 2021

Updates, Resources, and a Dance Party!

July 2021
A letter from Dawn Dixon
ConnectAbility, Executive Director
Summer is here and at ConnectAbility we are thrilled to welcome you back into our offices in early August! We will begin to have support groups, workshops, Club Connect and other activities in our space, with safety protocols in place. Be sure to check your inbox in August to stay up to date with our in-person events! 
We will also be hosting a Flash Back to the 80’s and 90’s Dance Party event at Morgan’s Wonderland on August 28th for our ConnectAbility members and a guest. This event will be a celebration of our coming back together as a community of people who truly enjoy being together, learning, having fun, and supporting one another.
We look forward to seeing you soon. Until then, stay safe and connected!
Dawn Dixon

Jose Ricardo Serrano

Rosa Serrano is above all, Jose Ricardo’s mother and his primary caregiver. She is also like his therapist because she does everything possible to teach him how to say, pronounce, and write words. She teaches him to distinguish objects and what they are used for.
“It has taken a lot of patience and time, but God has given me the patience and wisdom to help him. My wish and my dream is for him to be able to talk and walk again. I know he won’t be like he was before because I know his brain will still be affected in some way. He suffers from a lot of headaches.”
Rosa says her Care Coordinator, Vinerys Rodriguez, has been an angel to her and her son. Vinerys supports them by always caring and checking on Jose and his progress. She considers that a sort of medicine for her son.
“I don’t ever stop thanking God because my son continues to recover little by little. The doctors told me my son wasn’t going to be able to talk nor walk, but for God everything is possible.
Always trust in God and reach out for help at ConnectAbility. Speak with them. They have been a tremendous support. God has put them in our lives to offer their support to help us continue the fight to help our loved ones.”

Always Best Care Senior Services

Always Best Care Senior Services has been helping thousands of families with non-medical in-home care and assisted living referral services since 1996. Owners Wendy & Patrick O’Kane, who are San Antonio residents, have been taking care of families in our community for over 4 years with warm, compassionate, and professional care when seniors and members of our community need it most.
“It is the biggest blessing to work with ConnectAbility, who go above and beyond in providing truly excellent assistance to the clients they come alongside, and together we have experienced wonderful outcomes for clients we have partnered with to serve. This foundation profoundly changes lives for the better and inspires us to bring excellence in all we do!”
Always Best Care is a bonded and insured company with thoroughly screened and trained caregivers. They are ready and willing to serve all your special care needs today. Their hearts are big; Texas-sized big, and they love to share that joy with all they serve.
Debbie Trone – CALM, CDP, ADC – Director of Business Development
Debbie’s passion for senior care, patient advocacy, and a specialty in dementia care, has grown Always Best Care to incorporate care to not only seniors, but also those needing assistance at various stages of life with physical and cognitive needs.
With a background of Directing Assisted Living and Memory Care Facilities, she specializes in coordinating and establishing care for those residing at home and community settings, to ensure the highest level of care and exceptional standards of service when care is needed.


  • 2 cans chickpeas
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, diced
  • 8 roma tomatoes, diced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


1. Rinse the chickpeas and kidney beans.

2. Finely chop the onion and parsley

3. Dice the cucumber and tomatoes.
4. Combine everything in a large bowl and stir in the lemon juice and olive oil.
5. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
The salad is best if you make it a few hours before serving. Just store it in an airtight container in the fridge.

Together we are creating a Virtual Cook Book that features easy and healthy recipes.
We would love to include yours! Send yours to!

Taylor'd For You Fashion Show

The annual Taylor’d For You Fashion Show celebrates a range of boutiques and designers while empowering people of all ages to embrace style trends tailored to their body types. This year, the show will be virtual. One of the designers presenting her collection is Kay Simpson, owner/designer of Fashion-ABILILTY. Her stylish clothing is individually adapted to the needs of women with mobility challenges.

Fashion-ABILITY models will include several people from the ConnectAbility community!

  • Shelia Brown, Support Group Coordinator/Peer Mentoring Coordinator
  • Mona Patel, Executive Director, San Antonio Amputee Foundation
  • Amber Gorman, Cerebral Palsy and Spina Bifida support group


Meditation can help you find peace, strength, and resilience. There are many types – try and see what work best for you!
Knowledge Series

Knowledge Series: VIA Updates

In this Knowledge Series discussion on June 29, 2021, we heard from VIA and VIA Transit to discuss: What’s Happening Now & Upcoming Changes.

The presentation was led by Sylvia Castillo (Manager of Paratransit Operations) and Mike Dominguez (Community Engagement Specialist).

Knowledge Series

Knowledge Series: Staying Healthy in Summer Sun

In this Bridging the Gap meeting on June 7, 2021, Dr. Brett Helmonds, D.O. shared information about staying safe in the heat of summer. He discussed: – CDC Recommendations – Heat Related Illness (Heat Stroke v. Heat Exhaustion) – Sunburns – Sunscreen – Dehyrdration – Pool Safety – Sunglasses


Exercising at Home

Contributor Andre Greene

Social distancing, self-quarantining, and the closure of many gyms made it more difficult to exercise over the past year. Even as more people get vaccinated and opportunities open up, there is great value in exercising at home. The heat of summer is already starting here in San Antonio, with temperatures too hot to safely exercise outside. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can incorporate exercise into your everyday routine at home.

How often do you exercise?

Daily exercise can improve your strength and mobility, decrease pain, and even improve independence according to Alejandra Garcia, physical therapist for Results Physiotherapy.

It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. As yoga teacher Adriene Mishler says, a little goes a long way. 

According to exercise and physical therapy can help ease depression, stress, anxiety, and aid in the management of chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

By finding new ways to get moving and stay motivated, you can take charge of your mood and well-being and regain a sense of control during this time of great uncertainty.

Garcia suggests the infographic below for some general chair exercises to help stay active and strong. 

Garcia recommends consulting your physician before starting any new exercise program. According to the Cleveland Clinic, patients who need assistance to move, are at risk for falls, have a movement disorder, or have a neurological injury with a functional deficit should continue in-person physical therapy, if possible. 

Exercise can be a form of Self Care

If you use exercise to keep up your energy and spirits in trying times such as these, you might be less inclined to turn to unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking too much, which can wear down your immune system.

Each week in our Events emails, we share yoga and meditation videos from the free Youtube channel, Yoga with Adriene. There are over 500 videos with varying lengths and focuses. Many of them focus on taking care of yourself, however you are today. Even a few minutes of mindful movement will benefit your overall wellbeing. 

The playlist below has seated yoga practices. 

Exercise outdoors

Scripps Health promotes getting fresh air while you exercise, by going out for a walk near your home, or at a park or trail near you. Just make sure its a location where you can keep at least six feet of distance between yourself and others. Wear a mask if social distancing is difficult.

It is not safe to exercise outside when the weather is very hot or humid, so as summer approaches, you may need to schedule your outside exercise for early mornings or evenings.  Be sure to bring water with you!

Exercise with others

Daily exercise, even just a few minutes, is good for your mind and body. But sometimes it’s hard to get yourself motivated. You can find support and accountability by working out with others!

Whether in-person, through Zoom, FaceTime, or even just in spirit, knowing that someone else is exercising with you can be very motivational and fun!

ConnectAbility offers several exercise groups via Zoom each week that are free to join.

Annie Muñoz Parkinson’s Exercise Group

11 – 11:30 AM on Wednesday and 12 – 12:30 PM on Saturday

This exercise group was created in memory of Annie Muñoz.
You do not need to have Parkinson’s to participate.
To register, email Shelia at
Hatha Yoga
11:45 AM – 12:45 PM on Wednesday (Except the 3rd Wednesday of the month)
Reduce stress and increase strength by joining the breath, mind, and body.
This practice is for all levels and will include standing, balance, and seated postures.
Meeting ID: 962 1932 6157
One tap mobile +13462487799,,96219326157# 
Dial-in: +1 (346) 248-7799
Meeting ID: 962 1932 6157
Chair Yoga
3 – 4 PM on Thursday
All are welcome to join this seated yoga practice. No experience needed!
Meeting ID: 929 7029 4308
One tap mobile +13462487799,,92970294308#
Dial-in: +1 (346) 248 7799
Meeting ID: 929 7029 4308
Sign up here for our weekly Events emails to get reminders about these weekly exercise groups and more.
Knowledge Series

Knowledge Series: Texas Adult Protective Services

In this Club Connect meeting on 11/11/20, we welcomed a guest speaker from Texas Adult Protective Services (APS). Lisa Senteno shared information about how APS can help you and your loved ones.

Knowledge Series

Knowledge Series: Disability Rights Texas

In this Club Connect meeting on 3/3/21, we welcomed two guest speakers from Disability Rights Texas. Jeanie Hanzal spoke about Vocational Rehab (VR) and Cicely Reid spoke about Support Decision Making (SDM) / Guardianship and Self-Determination.


Spring Newsletter 2021

Spring is Here! Inspiration and New Beginnings

April 2021
A letter from Dawn Dixon
ConnectAbility, Executive Director
We are happy to be ushering in Spring 2021! What a year this has been.
Here at ConnectAbility, we are happy to announce that we have grown!
We are now our own nonprofit organization, and are no longer part of the Warm Springs Foundation. For the past five years, since we began, we have been looking forward to becoming our own organization, and after much growth, that time has come. The Warm Springs Foundation will always support us with the knowledge and passion each Board of Directors member shares with us, as well as with financial contributions. We are very grateful for all of their support in helping us to get where we are today. 
Please take a moment to look at our website: and share any feedback you might have. We always want to improve, and each of you receiving this newsletter can help us do that. 
We are looking forward to the day we can all be back together, and hopefully, that will be sooner than later. Until that time, please continue to attend the support groups and activities we offer virtually. Be sure to check Facebook for upcoming events and if you have a friend or family member that you would like to receive our biweekly email blasts, please let us know.
Until next time – stay safe and connected!
All my best,
Dawn Dixon

Briana Marta

Briana was just 20 years old when she suffered multiple serious injuries in a car accident. Now, nearly 2 years later, she is making incredible progress with the help of her family and all of the medical professionals that have been there through every stage of healing and regaining her abilities.
Her mother, Araceli, notes that between the initial hospitalization and four different rehabilitation centers, there must have been over 100 individuals that have helped Briana and her family. She is especially grateful because she knows firsthand the effort and dedication it takes to work as a medical professional. Her mom, aunt, and brother all worked as nurses, so Araceli saw the hours and workload, and she knows the passion that leads people to do these incredibly demanding jobs in order to help others.
Araceli is also grateful for Briana’s Care Coordinator here at ConnectAbility, Vinerys Rodriguez. They were matched by the hospital while Briana was in an induced coma. Without Vinerys, she wouldn’t have known about many of the resources that have played a huge role in Briana’s recovery.
Today Briana is able to do about 90% of her daily tasks on her own, with assistance and encouragement from her family. Her 5-year-old son is her biggest supporter and he is wise beyond his years, always reminding her that she must keep going and continue to work at getting better every day. He reminds her to do the therapy and other tasks that doctors tell her to do.
Briana’s family is currently working on arranging transportation to therapy, so in the meantime they are using the skills they learned from her previous therapists to keep her moving and getting stronger while at home.
While Briana and her family continue to face the daily struggles that come with traumatic injuries, they remain thankful and determined to make the best of the situation. Briana’s courage and the love and support of her family, friends, and medical team, have turned this tragedy into a beautiful story of human ability.
We look forward to her continued improvement and thank her and her family for sharing their inspirational story of dedication and gratitude.

Yellowroc Construction

Ray Camarillo owns and operates Yellowroc Construction company. He has been in the construction business since 1987.
Yellowroc Construction started in 1975 as a real estate investment firm and went on to do construction work for both the private sector and government entities. In the last ten years, they have downsized their work load and have dedicated their efforts to residential rehabs and additions. They are licensed, insured, and a member in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.
As a partner of ConnectAbility, Yellowroc Construction offers home modification services. They have assisted a number of ConnectAbility Care Coordination clients. 
The services they provide to clients include modifying bathrooms to make them more accessible and installing ramps to provide a safe entry and exit for a client’s home. 
“We welcome all business.
Working for a better tomorrow.”


  • 11 oz spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 3/4 cup cooked lentils
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 2/3 cup tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste


1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook the spaghetti to al dente. Drain water.

2. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and cook onion 2 minutes.

3. Add celery, garlic, chili flakes, oregano, and cook another 5 minutes.

4. Add cooked lentils, broth, soy sauce, simmer 3 minutes.

5. Add tomato sauce, stir to combine, reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 min.

6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Toss the pasta into sauce and stir.
Serves 3-4. Enjoy!

Together we are creating a Virtual Cook Book that features easy and healthy recipes.
We would love to include yours! Send yours to!

Caregiver Social Group and
Self Compassion Exercise

Tuesday, April 13
7 PM – 8 PM
Being a caregiver during any stage in life can be a challenge.
Join other caregivers to take a break and socialize.
Stay tuned for future meeting dates for our Caregiver Social Group and Caregiver Support Group!

Practice Self Compassion

This practice can be utilized in actual caregiving situations and it can also be used as a meditation.

"Everyone is on their own life journey. I am not the cause of this person's suffering.
Nor is it completely within my power to make it go away, even though I wish I could.
Moments like these are difficult to bear, and yet, I will try to help if I can."


Winter Storm Resources February 2021

Food Delivery to Vulnerable Residents, Transportation, Staying Warm, Water Distribution Centers, and Other Helpful Resources

Click here to download this list of resources as a clickable PDF

How did the Texas winter storm impact you?
Disability Rights Texas wants to know. They are asking people with disabilities to complete a brief survey. They will use this information to advocate for much needed change in Texas. Take the survey at:

Food Delivery to Vulnerable Residents

The San Antonio Police Department worked with the San Antonio Food Bank to deliver food to elderly, disabled and vulnerable residents who lack transportation options to leave their homes. Visit to learn more.



For help planning a trip, visit or call Customer Information Line at (210) 362-2020.

To schedule VIAtrans trip, visit to log on to your VIAtrans online account or call (210) 362-5050.

Download the VIA Link app to schedule a VIA Link trip.

COVID-19 health and safety precautions remain in place, including face coverings at all times while in a VIA vehicle or at a VIA facility for non-exempt persons, age 2 and older.


Visit the Uber app for updates on drivers in your area.

Yellow Cab

Contact Yellow Cab at 210-222-2222.

Staying Warm

Warming centers have closed due to electricity being restored across the city. 

Water Distribution Centers

SAWS closed their distribution stations on March 4 at 5PM. Click here for more information.

Other Helpful Resources

News and information from the City’s Office of Emergency Management.

Bexar County flood information and emergency road closures.

Outage Center Report or view current outages.

Ready South Texas app

Download app for evacuation maps, safe routes, shelter info, and alerts.


Receive City of San Antonio text messages: text COSAGOV to 55000.

Should you require emergency assistance, call 911.

Managing Stress and Anxiety

Your breath is a powerful tool to manage stress and anxiety.
Each week we offer virtual yoga classes where you can focus on your breath and find gentle movement in your body.
Thursday 3 PM – 4 PM
Friday 11:15 AM – 12:30 PM
There are also many free online practices that you can try!
Reunite with Your Breath
Lay or sit down in this 19-minute session as you learn to develop breathing techniques for stress relief, anxiety relief, and improved overall wellbeing.

January Newsletter 2021

A letter from Dawn Dixon

Happy New Year! We are grateful as we begin 2021 and we look forward to when we can gather in person. Until that time, we will continue offering our support groups virtually, as well as peer mentoring and care coordination. 
We have just emerged from a very difficult year, so if you have not taken advantage of  one of our support groups or activities, please consider attending one or more. You can browse them on our updated website, which we launched with the new year. 

We all need support during this time, or even just a laugh with an old friend, or a new one! We hope that our virtual offerings can provide this opportunity for you. 
It is our privilege to serve our community and to call you our friends and partners. Especially in uncertain times, it is important to look forward. In the words of Helen Keller: “When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Here is to the doors that will open in 2021!

Hero Spotlight

Sophia Munson

At just 12 years old, Sophia is our hero. In 2019, her family had a car accident in which she suffered Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), right brain stroke, and many broken bones. She spent 101 days in the hospital and needed a lot of medical care.

Sophia and her family were matched with ConnectAbility Care Coordinator, James Moody. Sophia’s Caregiver, her mother Jackie, says of going home: “When you leave the hospital, you think you are prepared, but you’re not. Emotionally, it is a roller coaster from leaving a place that had nurses, staff, and supplies to going to your home and it just being you and your family.”

As a Care Coordinator, James helped with supplies, transportation, and guidance during stressful times. He gave the family information to apply for grants and ways to help with Sophia’s expenses.

Every week, Sophia has Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy.

The changes come slowly, but there is always improvement.

We are thrilled to share that she can move her left leg on command, stand with help, and this month has been practicing walking with lots of assistance. On Christmas Eve 2020, for the first time since the accident, Sophia began talking.

Sophia’s family says there is no way they would have gotten through the first two weeks out of the hospital without her Care Coordinator, James. “James was my support to get through all of this. I think every parent should have this connection when they leave the hospital.” says Sophia’s mom. We hope to match our heroes and their families up with that connection, so that they can recover, find the support they need, and offer inspiration to us all.


Partner Spotlight

Upward Care

Upward Care believes that we should provide resources to prepare family caregivers for the responsibility they face. Their team provides hands-on skills training in the home and in group formats for family caregivers. ConnectAbility has worked with Upward Care to provide family caregiver skills workshops virtually and in-person over the last two years.
In 2019, Upward Care formed a partnership with the Bexar and Alamo Area Agency on Aging to provide services at no cost to family caregivers caring for anyone over 60 or with a dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis. In 2020, they expanded their services to the Austin and Fort Worth areas.

Upward Care has found when family caregivers have the skills to provide the care needed, it results in a reduction of stress, caregiver burnout and improves the overall care for their loved one.

There are over 53 million family caregivers in the United States. Nearly all of us will be a family caregiver at some point in our lives.

Ryan McGuire, Founder

Healthy Habits

Plant-Based Chili Recipe


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 4 cups tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch white sugar
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, chopped


1. Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat and cook onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Add potato and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in lentils. Pour in vegetable broth and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Add kidney beans, corn, and tomato puree. Season with paprika, chili powder, salt, pepper, and sugar. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 10 minutes.
4. Divide chili among 4 bowls and sprinkle with chives.

Together we are creating a Virtual Cook Book that features easy and healthy recipes. We would love to include yours!


Managing Stress and Anxiety

Your breath is a powerful tool to manage stress and anxiety.
Each week we offer virtual yoga classes where you can focus on your breath and find gentle movement in your body.
Thursday 3 PM – 4 PM
Friday 11:15 AM – 12:30 PM
There are also many free online practices that you can try!
Reunite with Your Breath
Lay or sit down in this 19-minute session as you learn to develop breathing techniques for stress relief, anxiety relief, and improved overall wellbeing.

Are your kids in school?

How a local family with disabilities is coping with COVID-19 and the new school year.

Contributor Andre Greene

Since the start of the pandemic, San Antonio officials have warned that COVID-19 would pose the greatest threat to people with existing medical conditions. Those individuals with disabilities in the San Antonio community understand the COVID-19 precautions that local schools and universities have instituted.

For those with disabilities, having children in school can have its challenges. Marci Steinle, a spinal cord injury survivor has a son in his first year at Southwest University. “He wanted to live on campus and is required to have a roommate, but my son has been very careful and responsible since the very beginning of the pandemic,” Marci said. “If anything happens during this period, my husband will get him to recover back at home and would have to self isolate during his recovery. Because I’m considered to be a risk as a person with disabilities, my husband and I will have to wear a mask,” she added.

According to university policy, students who have been exposed to COVID-19 will be asked to quarantine and students who have tested positive for COVID-19 will be asked to isolate at home or off-campus for a period of at least 10 days and show no fever for 24 hours before returning to school.

Public school students in Bexar County were allowed to return in phases for in-class instruction on Sept. 8, but some have not started to bring students back on campus yet.

According to the San Antonio Independent School District, students will either attend their assigned campus or participate in teacher-led remote learning from home. In either case, each child will receive a high-quality education. Parents can make a change to the model they want at the end of each nine-week grading period.

“Some of the positives are that some students who would skip school or constantly not turn in assignments are now more active because they have opted to stay home where they are more comfortable and complete their assignments on their own time.” said Jennifer Love, a San Antonio High School teacher. The staff at Thomas Jefferson High School has come together to identify “at-risk” students such as students with learning disabilities, or failure to focus, to be a part of the 10% of students allowed back first so that we can tend to their needs, Love added.

Having strategies to ensure your students are healthy and get quality education on all levels is critical for all parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Steinle said she regularly checks the university website for updates and/or changes to any policies. People with COVID-19 who are cared for at home should stay in isolation until they are no longer able to transmit the virus to others. People without symptoms should stay isolated for a minimum of 10 days after testing positive.

According to the World Health Organization’s website, those with symptoms should stay isolated for a minimum of 10 days after the first day they developed symptoms, plus another 3 days after the end of symptoms – when they are without fever and without respiratory symptoms.

Monitor and ensure plans are in place for a continued provision of support and assistance for people with disabilities where caregivers and service providers may not be able to visit their homes due to hospitalization, quarantine, or social distancing practices. Local public health officials will monitor progress and warning indicators to determine whether further delays will be needed to protect the health and safety of students, teachers, and school staff.