Little boy with black Yankees hat on

Celebrating Pride Month: Meet Kelissa!

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This month and beyond, DDI is dedicated to highlighting our diverse workforce and showcasing the stories, experiences, and influences made by our dedicated employees.

We are pleased to introduce Kelissa, also known as KeKe. She has been a DDI family member for almost 12 years and is currently a Residential Program Manager for our Adult Residential Services Program.

Pride to her is realizing the struggle you’ve had to endure to get to where you are and being proud to tell your journey. “It represents true acceptance of myself and from the people I love and admire the most. Coming out wasn’t an easy thing for me to do and, still to this day, there are a few family members who don’t know my sexuality,” said KeKe. It’s not because she is ashamed to tell them but because it’s just a conversation that has never been had, although she thinks it’s quite obvious.

The only conversation that mattered to her was telling her mother, who is literally her heart and soul. When KeKe first came out to her mother, she could tell that she was shocked and a little uncomfortable. There was no end to the conversation; Keke just uttered the words, her mother told her she loved her, and then left for church. For months after, they never discussed it but rather just tiptoed around it.

Until one beautiful day on a sandy beach in the Dominican Republic. The conversation started about marriage being legal for the LGBTQIA+ community. Her mother then told her that she was proud of the woman she was becoming and accepted her for who she was. They continued to discuss the future plans of marriage/children, and KeKe’s mother genuinely seemed excited for her. “On that day, I felt my first sense of pride. I think this Pride Month, people should try to be more accepting of others. More accepting of other people in general and especially for the LGBTQIA+ community, the Black community, and the Asian communities that have faced so much turmoil,” said KeKe. “It’s been a very rough year filled with a lot of chaos and a tremendous amount of loss. As COVID-19 restrictions begin to soften, I think that we should all rally together. Change is needed, and it starts with us!”

We thank you, Keke, for your dedication to the adults in your care as well as their families and appreciate you sharing your story and your personal experience.