Learning is Forever

Learning is Forever

Learning is Forever and For All of Us  

By Marsalee Malatesta, Chief of Services, Health and Wellness, Reimagine

On the surface, people with disabilities may seem completely different than people without disabilities. But dive deeper, and you’ll find that people with disabilities are just like you and me in many ways. They need to connect, to maintain relationships and to be nurtured physically, mentally and emotionally. And after more than 20 years of working at Reimagine, I’m still learning daily, but here’s what I’m certain of: We need each other to keep developing into our best selves.

That desire to keep learning is a big part of being able to successfully work with people with disabilities. You have to believe in the value of what you’re teaching them, and they have to believe you want to be there for them. You must have an innate passion for the field and empathy to be able to validate people with disabilities and understand their situations. You need to be all in.

The rewards of this work are doled out in life-changing moments. After a nine-year hiatus from full-time work at Reimagine, I returned to the Orange campus as Program Director. A participant I’d worked with back in 1997 came in for her regular therapies and recognized me. She was elated and so was I. She said I had saved her life – the ultimate expression of gratitude.

Just a few weeks ago, one of my staff had a breakthrough with a participant, who in her late forties, used a new app on her tablet to learn to say the “th” sound, after struggling to pronounce it her entire life. She is still learning, and so are we.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the disruption and lingering uncertainty, we are still making gains. As long as we all stay open to learning, are ready to adapt and stay connected, Reimagine will continue helping participants reach their full potential.

Chief of Services, Marsalee Malatesta oversees day programs and outpatient clinical services for adults with intellectual, developmental and neurological disabilities. Her teams provide social service intervention, nursing intervention plus physical, speech and occupational therapies.



A message from Dr. Glenn Motola, PSY.D., CEO, Reimagine

While we’re ready to breathe a sigh of relief for the end of this year and make a fresh start, I want to acknowledge all the good we accomplished together at Reimagine in 2020.

COVID-19 disrupted our in-person services and programming, which presented innumerable challenges to the Reimagine community and our participants. But in the face of such unexpected circumstances, we came together to make the quick and necessary adjustments to continue serving our participants safely. During this difficult year, Reimagine:

  • Transitioned to online programming to support participants’ physical and mental wellness
  • Began care package deliveries containing at-home Reimagine activities
  • Established safe, appointment-based in-person physical, occupational and speech therapies
  • Safety precautions and measures are in place to continue to provide in person services forchildren
  • Prepared our state-of-the-art Reimagine building to open in 2021

I am immensely grateful for and inspired by the dedication of the Reimagine staff, our participants and our caregivers. It takes focus and determination to fight through the obstacles that were placed in our path this year. But you did it, you’re still doing it, and this is what gives me hope for 2021. I am equally thankful for our strong community of friends and donors who were integral in making this year a success when the odds were stacked against us.

While 2021 will be full of its own challenges as we work our way toward in-person care, we are more than ready to take them on. The creativity and commitment of our staff continues to motivate us as a whole to keep striving to unlock new possibilities.

Such hopeful determination, put to work in our new building in Santa Ana, will be a powerful combination in helping participants reach new heights in learning and development. The Santa Ana location features a world-class adapted fitness center for participants of all abilities and an array of advanced programming designed for optimal personalized learning. To help ensure the safety of participants and staff, we’ve also installed touchless amenities, UV lighting sanitation for infection control and hourly disinfectant fogging to enhance already stringent COVID-19 safety and hygiene protocols.

Your vital support has allowed us to continue our pursuit of the possible. If you would like to make a tax-deductible gift yet this year, or invite a friend to support Reimagine, our Pursuing Possibilities 2020 campaign is still active.

We so appreciate your consideration. Your contribution will help champion a successful start to 2021 for the entire Reimagine community.

All the best for a safe, healthy and happy holiday season,