Meet Olivia Smith-Hammond
My name is Olivia Smith-Hammond and I am a college student with a disability. I am also a Board Member at Vermont Family Network. I would like to share with you how this organization has helped me.
When someone first meets me, I appear to be a typically functioning, young woman in my mid-twenties. I’m a student; I like to rock climb and host potlucks. Under the surface, much of my life is spent managing the day-to-day challenges of a brain injury that occurred when I was born four months premature.
Today, my time is balanced between managing my health and working on school work. Both of these tasks take me much longer to do than the average person and often require support from others. The struggle of managing school work, healthcare, and often coordinating my support team are some of what make up the challenges of having a brain injury and pieces that are invisible to others.
Sometimes I feel like I am in a tug-of-war between the non-disability and disability world. I feel so different, yet people perceive me as typical. It is really challenging to know that I struggle with all of these things that are not seen by other people.Vermont Family Network has supported me and my family with these challenges from the beginning. They provided education and support to my parents to get me services while I was growing up. In high school, they provided me with internship opportunities that gave me job and interpersonal skills. As an adult, they’ve provided me with numerous opportunities to grow as an individual and as an advocate for myself and others with disabilities.
“Having an invisible disability has taught me compassion for others and given me a drive to create change in my community.”
I joined Vermont Family Network’s Board of Directors in 2012 because I want to be an example for other young people with similar challenges and I want to provide others with the same opportunities to make a difference that I have been given.
You can make a difference too! Please join me in supporting Vermont Family Network by making a donation today. You will help support and foster the growth of families and individuals like me in our community.