Spina bifida caused Beth Casey’s spinal cord to fail to develop correctly. She relies on a wheelchair for mobility.
An only child, she has always lived with her parents. For one year, between 2014 and 2015, Beth was bedridden due to a health issue. Her only interaction with people other than her caregivers was through a computer. She yearned for human connection.
Craving a place to be social, she watched in anticipation as the St. Paul’s Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) center in Chula Vista was built and counted the days until she was old enough to enroll. Beth called to join St. Paul’s PACE as soon as she turned 55 years old.
“I had to join St. Paul’s PACE for my mental health,” Beth confides. “When my illness overtook me, it took a lot out of me physically because I had to heal, but it was the social connection that was the hardest. One year in bed with only my laptop and my 80-year-old parents caring for me, I thought, someone, hug me, someone, pat me on the head, something.”
Beth found friendships and purpose since joining St. Paul’s PACE. She smiles when she talks about the people who are now such an essential part of her life. Speaking of one person, in particular, makes her blush.
“I met an amazing man; he was my soul mate the minute I got here,” Beth gushes. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would find the man I would be with forever – his name is Robert.”
On September 29, 2017, Beth and Robert were married by Chaplain Bill Martinez in a ceremony at the St. Paul’s PACE center where they met. Two St. Paul’s PACE members who have become surrogate fathers to her escorted her down the aisle.
“God did this; He worked this,” Beth believes. “Robert and I see each other at the center, and we text, all day, every day. We are planning to live together soon.”
Beth not only found her life partner; she found her calling as well. Watching the difference that Chaplain Bill has made in the lives of the St. Paul’s PACE participants inspired her to follow his example.
“Pastoral care makes a big difference – it’s listening, letting people talk, helping them get frustrations out of their system,” Beth explains. “Bill does that for me. I try to do that for others. I pay it forward.”
Having navigated through life with a debilitating condition has shaped the way Beth sees the world. Her positive attitude and faith are reasons why people gravitate toward her.
“I make people laugh; I make them smile,” Beth says.
“I have a unique perspective because of my disability. I don’t let people live their disability. It doesn’t define them. You are not Dementia. You are not Parkinson’s. You are not Diabetes. You are coping with your disability. Live each day fully.”
Beth plans to follow her dream of becoming a chaplain herself, thanks to the experiences she has had at St. Paul’s PACE.
“Because of my disability, people discouraged me. They didn’t think ordained ministry was something I could successfully do. I have always had an interest in helping. Everything I have come across in my adult life, I have had the doors slammed in my face until I came here. I can’t imagine my life without St. Paul’s PACE.”
If you, or someone you know, would benefit from St. Paul’s PACE, please contact us.
Last updated on October 2nd, 2018 at 02:30 pm