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Creative Living and the Big Table!

Hi guys,

Your friends at Creative Living decided to participate in the Big Table discussion once again! The Columbus Foundation established the Big Table, to provide a platform for likeminded individuals to gather and discuss a specific topic concerning their community. This year, Creative Living kept it simple and relevant and chose to discuss disability housing. I would like to thank the residents, Kristin, Patti, Lance, Laura, Jason, Michael, Nelson, Billy and Rick who were all in attendance. I’d like to thank Adam for leading the discussion and making sure that everyone who wanted to speak was heard. I’d like to thank Sarah for taking the time to transcribe our discussion and Jack for patiently hanging out.

During our conversation, we discussed the benefits of living at Creative Living and what it means to us to have a place like this. We shared stories and our experiences of living here and explored ideas for innovation and modernization. We discussed community engagement and how we could expand our presence within our community.

Although the Big Table discussion is held just once a year, Creative Living residents have decided to continue hosting resident meetings where suggestions and concerns could be discussed freely and safely amongst each other.

This is not only for the benefit of the people that call Creative Living home but also for Creative Living as an organization. I’d like to thank the Board members who seemed excited about the results of Creative Living participation in the Big Table discussion.

I’m thankful to everyone who participated and I’m optimistic for the future of Creative Living J

Be Safe,

Marly Saade

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The return of Marly’s Musings!

Hi guys!

I’m sorry for the hiatus with the blog! Life was happening, so I took some time to adjust to my new schedule. I’m excited to share some updates with everyone!

So much has changed in the last six months and though I am still processing everything, I’m happy with where things are headed. The two biggest changes are that I am now employed and that my career goals have shifted.

As I explained in a previous post, I’ve been feeling as if my life goals were changing and I was being pulled in a different direction. Although I love and appreciate my Arabic background and am anxious to utilize these skills one day, I no longer wish to be a translator. Part of what I loved about my degree focus is that it had nothing to do with me being disabled. As much as my disability doesn’t define me, it inspires my convictions in life and how I spend my time. For the first time, I’ve had time to think about the future.  I’ve realized I have achieved all of my short-term goals: I have a license, a car, a degree and a new job.  Now that I have those things, I’m in a stable place where I can begin to figure out how I can help my community. Starting right here where I live. There’s still so much work to do when it comes to addressing the stigmas related to physically disabled people. I’ve recently been spending time with residents at CL, talking about our similarities and differences and the triumphs and struggles we face each day.

In my experience, being wheelchair bound sometimes means teaching people not to place limitations on your body. Recently, I’ve been able to speak up, have conversations with my coworkers, and help educate people. I feel strongly that it is my responsibility to protect and empower the people around me. I am now claiming my disabled community as fiercely as I claim my Lebanese heritage. We have all been through a lot to get to where we are physically and spiritually and I just want to be part of the system that makes life that much more fulfilling to us all. I’ve been shadowing the new Marketing Manager at Creative Living and the Director of Housing for Goodwill. I’ve applied for several jobs and internships and feel optimistic about the future! I’m watching, learning and brainstorming the possibility of starting a consulting business.  This time in life is not only giving me work experience but also allowing me to have important conversations with those around me.

For now,

Be safe!

Marly S.




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Brew Review and Disability Awareness


Hi guys,

It was in the month of October that my life changed forever. October 7th, to be exact, is the day I went from an able bodied to a disable bodied twenty-year-old woman. What a doozy of a ride that has been thus far!

Now, October is also disability awareness month, whose theme this year is # inclusionworks. According to the United States Department of Labor website the goal is, “to develop and influence policies and practices to increase the number and quality of employment opportunities for those with disabilities”. Speaking as someone who is looking for employment, I’d say I have a vested interest in the success of the campaign.

After graduating college and as I search for employment, the reality of my limited work experience sank in quickly. To learn and gain experience, in the spring, I offered my services to Creative Living management. A few weeks later ‘Marly’s Musings’ was born (big smile).

Another exciting opportunity to arise is becoming a committee member for the upcoming Brew Review fundraiser. The Creative Living Brew Review event also happens to occur in October where residents, sponsors, donors, family, friends, coworkers, etc… come together in order to support my community and our independent living status. So now I’m going to shamelessly bolster about this event because:

  1. What better way to give back this October, in honor of Disability Awareness Month, than to help fundraise in support of the RA program?  The RA program that helps the disabled residents of Creative Living maintain a life style that aids them to be productive members of society (though I may not be employed yet, MANY of my neighbors are).
  2. Did I mention that this is a beer tasting event? This year, we are featuring local breweries such as Barley’s, CBC, Four String, Heidelberg Distributing, North High, Land- Grant just to name a few. There will be yummy appetizers and deserts and lots of new people to connect with.

I feel like we just killed two birds with one stone by attending this event, don’t you think? I told you I was going to be shameless! (he-he)

All joking aside, The Brew Review is a great event that is for an amazing cause and I encourage everyone to click on the link below and checkout the event page

Now, the reason why I started off by telling you October is the month of my car accident is because it was a dreaded month that holds some of the worst memories of my life.  It’s ironic, for me at least, that it happens to be National Disability Awareness Month too. Even more so considering the theme this year is employment and I am looking for exactly that.  Maybe I am overthinking things but, like I’ve stated before, it feels like my journey is being guided into the disability advocacy field. Considering the fact that I am promoting our annual Creative Living Brew Review event, I’d say I’m slowly but surely beginning to take over the reigns in that department (big smile).

With that being said, I again encourage you to check out the Creative Living Brew Review page in honor of October being National Disability Awareness Month and I hope to see some of you this October 14th at the Grange Insurance Haaf Hall.

Be safe!

Marly S.

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What a Wonderful Courtyard!

Hi guys,

Creative Living has two locations and I happen to live at our first location on Perry St.  The compound is somewhat enclosed and most of the apartments overlook the courtyard.

We have a beautiful water fountain donated by the family of former resident, Daniel  

Close, may he rest in peace.

We also have a community grill and a large picnic table that, as you can see, had seen better days. Fun little fact I’ve recently learned, this picnic table was an eagle scout project aimed to be accessible for wheelchairs.



So, having nothing to do but job search I found myself a summer project. I spent 5 days scraping the paint and sanding the wood, 1 day of staining and 1 day of applying the polyurethane.

 What do you guys think of the end result? 


I’d like to send out a big thank you to Debbie Holloway for not only buying me a paint scraper but also keeping me company and motivated as I worked.  Thank you to our resident dancing queen, Kristin and her aid Justin for lending me a hand. Thank you to our Executive Director Marilyn Frank and R.A. Manager Dave Pratt for purchasing most of the supplies as well as allowing me to tackle this project.

It was a lot of fun!

Until next time,

Be safe,

Marly S.

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Marly invites you to The Big Table


Hey guys,

So I wanted to wait until after the big table meeting to write and post my blog.

The Big Table was a citywide event organized by the Columbus Foundation. Joining our discussion was Dana Charlton, Exec. Dir. from the Ohio Self Determination Assoc.; Derek Mortland, ADA & Community Outreach Coordinator for the Center for Disability Empowerment, Lisa Courtice, Exec. VP, The Columbus Foundation, Mark Tasse, Exec. Dir., Nisonger Center, Marcy Samuel from the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Adam Helbling, CL resident and Group Leader, Marly Saade, Joy Bechtol, Rana Yonker & Lora Stilke, CL residents, Marilyn Frank, CL Exec. Dir. and Margherita Finelli, CL Marketing Dir. 

Our topic for the event was “Disability Awareness and Accessibility in Columbus” and discourse could not have been more positive and productive. We spoke of inaccessible public restrooms, transportation and parking difficulties, job placement discrimination as well as ways we could combat these social issues.

How to bridge the gap in understanding the quality of life between those living with a disability and those who are not disabled is a HUGE topic within our community. One idea discussed was to organize an event where key players in our community join us on manual wheelchairs and spend the day in one. Understand that, disabled life means, YOU ARE DISABLED FOR LIFE. However, I do believe that with education, exposure, awareness, and respecting the experiences of those with deviant bodies and minds we can begin to move in the right direction.


Too many people have felt dehumanized and devalued for reasons outside of their control. For change to happen, the able bodied community needs to work with us. For my part, I know on a personal level, I need to learn to toughen up. My journey has gradually been directed towards disability advocacy and that is scary. I have always felt judged, like I never quite belong anywhere. Putting myself out there like this is terrifying, but if I ask the able bodied community to work with me, then, I need to be willing to work with them. I am the one living with a deviant body and it is my job to normalize it.

The Big Table was definitely a wonderful experience for me. I met people who have been working within the fields of physical or intellectual advocacy for many years and I am excited to build a professional relationship with them and learn from them.  

I have also decided to invite our readers to continue the discussion with us. If anyone has comments, questions, concerns, and/or ideas…regarding our topic, please feel free to add your input in the comment box.  Though the Big Table is over, that doesn’t mean we cannot continue on with what it helped us start.

I can’t wait to hear what you all come up with!

Until next time, be safe! 

Marly S.

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A Fun Summer BBQ

Hi guys,

This past weekend, the Creative Living residents were chosen by Loth inc. to celebrate their 125th year of business. Loth inc. was the furniture and design company that gave the Creative Living II office the fresh, new look it now has.

Best part? The office in now fully accessible!

Photo with employees of Loth inc.As part of their celebration, Loth offered to host a Summer BBQ for the residents and staff of Creative Living. It was an honor to celebrate with Lori Hollandsworth, Lorene Haimerl, Kristin Dewitt, Charles Bates, Angela Yeary, Haley Dodds, Carla Connor, Stephanie Leyva, and Megan Rose Hollan and all who attended from Loth inc, and all the residents of Creative Living I and II. They brought hamburgers and hot dogs, side dishes, fruit and veggie trays, cookies and so much more!

Special thank you to Charles Bates for manning the grill. Everything was delicious and everyone enjoyed your grilling skills!

The company was wonderful (pun intended) and the food was great!

Thank you again! 

Be Safe, Marly S.


Loth BBQ

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Meet Adam

Hi guys,

This week we are featuring a man that most likely needs no introduction for many of you.

Meet Adam.

Adam was injured in 2011 when during a severe manic bipolar state he crashed his car while driving 120mph. He suffered a C6-C7 spinal cord injury and after spending many hours in physical therapy he was able to regain function in one hand. Adam is considered a quad, yet the man does not sit still. I know, it’s a paradoxical statement, but spend some time with him and you’ll see what I mean.  

Photo of Adam HelblingHe enjoys being active and for that reason he has achieved a great level of personal success. He is a motivational speaker, life coach, and an author. He is on the board of several programs for the developmentally disabled.  He has been featured in The Columbus Dispatch, (614) Magazine, on 10 TV News, and was the recipient of The Forty Under 40 award by Business First Magazine. Adam graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelors in Civil Engineering and hopes to one-day partner with vacation resorts and set up areas to be ran similar to Creative Living.



Adam waterskiingAdam waterskiing

Before Adam became paralyzed he had been a national champion for the Ohio State Water Ski Team. Until recently Adam believed he’d never be able to experience one of his most rewarding life passions since he last skied at Nationals. Yet here he is, water skiing like a champ. This is the second summer that Adam has participated in adaptive water skiing and by the smile on his face, it is clear how much he both loves and missed the sport. The joy is so evident that the coordinators of TAASC (The Adaptive Adventure Sports Coalition) loaned him the equipment. Now anytime Adam and his family unite at their lake house, he’ll be able to water ski on a much more regular basis. How exciting is that guys? 

Enjoy the water Adam!

Be safe,

Marly S. 

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On the Road Again with Marly – Part Two

Part Two of a Two Part series

So it’s been one week since I started driving and I’ve realized a few things. First, I CANNOT describe what a PRIVILEGE it is to be driving again. Everyone has been asking me how much I love it, and I do love it, but mainly I am grateful not only to have the physical capability to drive but also the means to procure a car and the hand controls needed.  

Second, anyone who understands public transportation understands the struggle. So, going from relying on them out of necessity to relying on them by choice is another privilege I hope to always remember. 

Push-Rock Hand Controls




The push-rock hand controls I settled on are perfect for me. To hit the brakes, using my left hand, I push the handle forward towards the dashboard. To accelerate I push the same handle down towards the floorboard. I control the steering wheel with my right hand using a spinner knob. This allows me complete control of the steering wheel utilizing only one hand. Meaning both hands are in constant use and you cannot get distracted by your phone, makeup, or whatever else people do, but should NOT be doing, WHILE driving. It’s safer and keeps the driver focused.



 Removable Plate Cover

I also have a removable plate covering the brake/gas foot pedals for safety. If I remove the plate, anyone who is able bodied can drive the car using the foot  pedals and it will not disturb my hand controls in any way.  The spinner knob is also removable for that same purpose.

Spinner Knob

My third realization is that though the process of breaking down the chair and putting it back together does not bother me personally, it seems to cause me slight embarrassment when people stop and stare or even ask me if I need help. The perception seems to be that I need assistance, where all I really need is people to move about their day like I do. I’ll get over the embarrassment eventually because the transfer and the process of putting the chair in and out of the car is my NORMAL and I refuse to feel badly for that.

Breaking down chair

I’m sure there will be other realizations as time goes on, but for now I am extremely grateful to be driving again and to have recovered a piece of my independence.

Until next time, Be safe guys!

Marly S. 





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After 9 years, I’m on the road again!

Part One of a Two Part series 

After graduating in December, the next step on my list of goals to accomplish was obtaining my driver’s license.

So, to driver’s training I went!

I contacted the OSU driver’s rehab offices (prior to graduation) and by June 2nd, I was in a vacant parking lot learning to drive using the modified vehicle owned by the OSU hospital. I was scheduled for two hours twice a week for the month…14 hours of training altogether.

Photo of Marly driving her carMy first day consisted of driving in circles in an empty parking lot learning which type of hand control I liked best. After settling on the push-rock hand controls, my training truly began. My driving instructor trained me to get in and out of the car, as well as how to break down my chair and put it back together. She took me out on major streets, residential, highways, campus, etc… She wanted me prepared for any situation she believed might get tricky, such as gas stations and roundabouts. She quizzed me on what I did wrong, what I did right and what I should have done differently. She taught me to trust my instincts and to never let anyone on the road intimidate me. Maneuverability training worked the same and we designated a half hour almost every session to perfecting my surprisingly awesome skills.

As each session went by I grew more confident in my abilities. On June 23rd, my last day of training, we practiced maneuverability one last time and then I drove us to the BMV. I took the on the road exam and passed with flying colors.


Marly folding up wheelchair


After passing my instructor wrote me a prescription for the hand-controls I preferred. I contacted a lovely lady named Jennifer at Motorcar Mobility Sales and Services in Cleveland on July 12th and by July 18th I was on the road driving my own modified car.

The first thing I did, after getting lost on I-90, was drive to Lakewood where I grew up. I picked up my best friend and my little niece, Athena Love then drove around town for a bit, grabbed dinner and enjoyed my newfound freedom.  Wow, after 9 years, it feels great to be on the road again!

Until next time… 

Stay safe,

Marly S.


Next week – Part Two of On the Road Again!



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Our Resident Ballroom Dancer!

Creative Living is the home to a variety of people with different types of disabilities. Kristin, to name the first, as she states, “was born this way”.  

Meet Kristin.

Having been borne with cerebral palsy and having utilized an automatic wheelchair since 1998, Kristin has a unique perspective on life, for as she states, “I have no idea what it feels like to walk without assistance, or complete daily living tasks without assistance.”  This has always been her normal. She goes on to state, “if my body started working the way it was ‘supposed’ to tomorrow, I’d be completely lost”. If you think about it from her perspective it makes complete sense. Before my accident, I walked with my legs. After the accident I was FORCED to walk with my arms. For Kristin, the reverse would be just as scary, and for good reason!

Growing up in the 1980’s Kristin had difficulties. She had to fight the school board to attend school. Something we can all agree is the right of ALL children. She was singled out for requiring an aide with her to assist with human needs, such as food and restroom breaks to just name two. Unfortunately, Kristin was bullied by her peers and stated that she, “can count the number of friends I had in high school on one hand”. Kristin was the only wheelchair bound student in her High school until her senior year. Life was difficult to say the least, but Kristin had a support system like none other – Her father.

Until the age of 13 Kristin’s father was her primary care taker, and a tough one he was!  Kristin was “expected to do well in school and go to college and make something of herself in spite of her circumstances” she stated.  Guess what guys? She did! Kristin graduated from high school in 1998 and graduated from Wright University in 2006 with a degree in Education. She moved into Creative Living I in 2006 and has been living independently since.

Way to go Kristin!

Mr. Hehrer took measures to not only give Kristin a happy childhood but also the tools needed to survive. Kristin has memories of her dad that range from rigging hand controls on her Barbie hot wheels jeep so she could “run around the neighborhood with the other kids growing up”, to him teaching her at the age of 13 years old to “ hire and fire” her aides. Like any father, he worried and he wanted his daughter to have the tools and the VOICE to care for herself.

Personally, I think he did pretty darn well. Don’t you?

Kirstin grew up loved and has experiences some of us can only dream of. She has traveled to 14 different countries mostly between Europe and the Mediterranean. She has meet Steven Tyler from Aerosmith and was a DJ for a year while in college! I mean, what??

Kristin Hehrer -Ballroom Dancing

Her hobbies include, reading, movies, gardening, cooking, Zumba and dancing.  Kristin LOVES ballroom dancing!  This also was the influence of her loving father as she “grew up watching dad take lessons and then he’d end up teaching me as well.” She goes on to say that once she moved to Columbus, she looked up her father’s instructor and began to attend classes herself. And for those wondering how you make ballroom dancing adaptive Kristin has a simple answer, you “don’t concern yourself with movement below the waist and try to make the upper body as lyrical as possible”.  

Since moving to Creative Living, Kristin has been enjoying her independence and maintaining her household as she sees fit. However, she appreciates the RA program’s presence when she needs help with transfers or requires bedpan assistance at night. The RA program also provides assistance for daily activities such as opening and locking her door, assisting with food, etc.  Kristin is a funny, smart, and is always willing to share her delicious home grown vegetables every summer!

Let’s wish Kristin good luck on all future endeavors and maybe an exciting career change to ballroom dancing?? Kristin, what do you think?


Until next time, be safe,

Marly S.


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