Vicktor Gray and his beloved cat Elfie.
At age 18, Vicktor Gray aged out of the foster care system. He had a difficult transition ahead of him, but as a member of the DES Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) he was able to work with agency staff to better adjust to independent living, which made his transition easier.
“I got lucky,” said Vicktor. “The DDD program was able to help me find [an apartment].”
The DDD Office of Individual & Family Affairs (OIFA) formed a partnership with city, county, state and federal agencies a few years ago to offer affordable housing opportunities to qualified members who meet certain eligibility criteria. Vicktor’s apartment is an example of the collaboration DDD has with the Housing Authority of Maricopa County.
Vicktor uses his bike to make deliveries in metro Phoenix.
Being an adult means more than independence and a place to live. It involves being an active member of the community.
“Vicktor has been quite a success and has been involved in the community around him,” said DDD Housing Supervisor, Megan Akens. Relatively new to Phoenix, Vicktor has learned the bus system, met his neighbors, joined his neighborhood Block Watch program and made new friends.
“I do stuff for people,” said Vicktor. “I help out the neighborhood.”
Vicktor has even ventured into a bike messenger business with a company called PostMates. PostMates primarily facilitates the delivery of meals, beverages, and certain retail items through independent couriers. He explained, “It’s actually a very good app that people use for take-out [meals]. I choose my own hours. I actually have customers who prefer me over others. I’m fast, quick, simple and they prefer it [that way].”
Vicktor set up a workshop to keep his bike well maintained.
DDD Support Coordinator, Octavia Lamb, said that Vicktor is intelligent, “he sets goals for himself … and is very resourceful.”
“All my customers prefer my services and they end up giving me a high tip,” Vicktor said. “[One customer] was so pleased with my services, I received a $20 tip!”
Recalling his move into the affordable apartment DDD helped arrange three years ago, Vicktor said, “I’m not going to lie. When I first moved in, I was sitting on the floor. I had no furniture.” In time, however, he received donations from his dad and the rest he purchased himself, thanks in part to his entrepreneurial spirit.
Vicktor and Elfie receive a bundle of goodies donated by the staff of DDD’s Office of Individual and Family Affairs.
Then on December 23, 2019, OIFA staff surprised him with a holiday gift: a basket filled with a complete holiday meal – turkey and all the trimmings! The gift items were thanks to a food drive OIFA conducted among its staff.
Gray is one example of DDD fulfilling its mission to empower individuals with developmental disabilities to lead self-directed, healthy and meaningful lives. To learn more about the services and supports available to eligible DDD members, please visit: https://des.az.gov/services/disabilities/developmental-disabilities
By Lyn Riley