Fall Newsletter 2021

September 2021
A letter from Dawn Dixon
ConnectAbility, Executive Director

Summer has come and gone and Autumn is here. We are all looking forward to some cooler temperatures! We were saddened that we had to cancel our Flash Back to the ’80s and ’90s event in September, but our first priority is to keep everyone safe. We hope to have an in-person Holiday event in early December, so stay tuned. 

We currently offer our support groups virtually, and are eagerly awaiting the “green light” so we can begin to host support groups and other activities at our offices. Please continue to visit our website to see the latest ConnectAbility events, blogs, and calendars. In this newsletter, we highlight some of our offerings for Caregivers.
We continue to strive to keep us all connected during this unprecedented time and look forward to the day when we can all be in the same room and celebrate!
We look forward to seeing you soon. Until then, stay safe and connected!
Dawn Dixon

Raquel Resendez

Raquel Resendez had a limb amputation in November 2019. She went to the hospital after being in pain. It started with an infection on her toe. She was scared and didn’t know how she could pay her hospital bills. In her rehabilitation at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital, she was told that she was very strong. While in the hospital, Raquel’s Case Manager referred her to ConnectAbility.
“God was so good to me.”
ConnectAbility set Raquel up with Care Coordinator Lisa. She helped her complete the application for funding a prosthetic. Raquel had no insurance and was no longer able to do the job that she was trained to do, which was housekeeping. She was living by herself in an upstairs apartment.
Raquel had to scoot down the stairs to get to the first floor of my apartment building. Her brother would leave her wheelchair at the bottom of the stairs. But when she was alone, or during the summer when the stairs were too hot, she had no way to get downstairs. Lisa worked with Raquel and her apartment manager to move Raquel to a first floor apartment, allowing her to get around easier. Lisa also helped her follow through and understand the Social Security Disability process.

“I think God sent an angel to me. Lisa was so good to me. She would hear me out. I was just living my normal life, but then my life turned upside down. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me. With Lisa’s help, I met Irene at Martinez Street Women’s Center, who helped me get to doctor’s appointments and supplies that I needed. I was so lonely and Lisa was right there holding my hand. I’m so grateful for both Lisa and Irene.”

“Today, I am able to depend on myself. I am able to get around using my prosthetic leg. I am able to water my plants, walk to the restroom, and take care of my home. I would like for those who read my story to know that if it wasn’t for ConnectAbility, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”


Laura Ramos

“I am very blessed with this job. AACOG is a great family and I am part of a wonderful team of ladies under Benefits Counseling. Each one of us has a different level of expertise, different backgrounds and situations that we continuously learn from, and work together to share and help the people that we serve.”
Laura Ramos has worked with Health and Human Services Commission for over 20 years under various programs including Department of Aging and Disability Services (formerly known as DADS); Community Based Alternatives (formerly CBA, which transitioned to StarPlus Waiver Medicaid); Medicaid for the Elderly and Disabled, and she has worked with Nursing Facility applications and other programs as well.
In 2015, she started working as Benefits Counselor with the Area agency on Aging, providing assistance with Medicare issues, plan comparisons, enrollments and, with Medicare cost share savings benefits such as Medicare Savings Programs; Extra Help; SNAP Food Stamps; Long Term Care Medicaid to cover Provider services; Nursing Facility Medicaid; StarPlus Waiver Medicaid; Weatherization; LIHEAP and guidance or referrals for other applicable benefits. AACOG partners with different community agencies, and if what the client needs is out of their hands, they will try to connect them to other agencies and services that may be able to help them.
ConnectAbility is one of AACOG’s partners. They come alongside with us to help patients understand and get through the Medicare maze. Families going through a stressful situation with illness, compounded by mounting medical bills need that connection. The ConnectAbility staff have been very vital in empowering patients and collaborating with us to advocate and assist with applications and benefits the patients may be eligible for.
9AM – 12PM: In-Person abilitySTRONG Parade @ Hemisfair park 2PM – 6PM: Virtual AccessAbility fest (Online and App Access)
The 15th Annual AccessAbility fest will kick-off virtually, October 2nd at 2:00 PM featuring numerous information sessions, and exhibitors with information, products, programs and services that promote independence and inclusion where individuals with disabilities live, work and play.

Caregiver Groups

Join us every month to share, learn, and find support with other caregivers who also care for someone with a disability.

2nd Tuesday 7 PM – 8 PM
4th Tuesday 7 PM – 8 PM

Meet the Facilitators

Mari Garcia was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, the place she still calls home. Mari joined ConnectAbility as a volunteer in 2018, supporting and advocating for caregivers after her mother suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2012. 
Mari shares responsibilities with her family in caring for her mother. She is passionate about reaching other caregivers and providing education and resources to families and the individuals they care for. Mari has been in the field of community social work for 20 years and currently works as a full time Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the community. 
Ryan Pflipsen, MS, MSW, LCSW was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where his parents still live. He is a private practitioner, consultant, speaker, and advocate for people with disabilities and their family members & caregivers in San Antonio, Texas, where he has lived since 1996.  
Ryan joined ConnectAbility as a consultant in 2018 and helped launch the in-person and online caregiver support and social groups. As a person with a disability, born with spina bifida, Ryan assists disabilitySA in advocacy efforts and also works to make San Antonio more physically accessible. 

Upcoming Events

Wednesday, Oct. 6
1:30 PM – 3:00 PM
Join Club Connect for virtual bingo! There are prizes for winners!
Medicare Tune-Up
Tuesday, Oct. 19
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Gilda Castro will discuss the changes for 2022 Medicare and how this could affect you and your benefits.

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 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!

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."


New Year 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.

Fall Newsletter 2020

A letter from Dawn Dixon

“It has been our pleasure and privilege at ConnectAbility to offer you as many virtual opportunities as possible during this trying time.”

It is hard to believe that summer is over and we are now moving into the fall season. Our goal has been and will continue to be, providing ways for us all to stay connected until we can meet again in person. Soon, we will be launching a formal Peer Mentoring program in hopes that it will make a positive impact in the lives of those involved.

We are here to offer guidance, encouragement, and support in any way we can and are looking forward to seeing you all again when that time comes!