My Possibilities, a continued education organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, broke ground on a new Career Services building this spring. The building located in Plano will allow the organization to serve an additional 300 adults and is focused primarily on vocational pathways and developing skill sets in technology, hospitality and culinary training.

“We’ve never been able to outpace the demand and we could never build buildings fast enough to service the need in North Texas,” Executive Director Michael Thomas said. “This uniquely designed and specialized [new] building will be what the business world needs to see how we are giving people industry-specific training that will benefit them.”

My Possibilities opened in 2008 in response to the need for continued education for young adults with IDD, and has since grown to serve 600 people. Thomas said the young adults enrolled at My Possibilities are called “HIPsters”—Hugely Important People. These HIPsters are young adults from 18-22 years old who want all the same opportunities as other members in their community.

“The idea that 60 years or more of their life would be spent in adult day care is unacceptable,” he said. “The game plan is to provide each HIPster with an individualized path to inclusivity.”

Thomas said My Possibilities operates similarly to a college and offers more than 70 courses. In any semester, the organization may teach 25 to 30 courses and the HIPsters can choose their desired schedule.

Even after the impact of COVID-19, My Possibilities serves 400 individuals enrolled in educational programs and an additional 150-200 people using the organization primarily for therapy or job support. The new building will allow My Possibilities to provide job training for an additional 300 adults on a weekly basis.

The enrollment process at My Possibilities is similar to choosing a college. It starts with a family tour where the HIPster and their family can meet the team and tour the facility. If they decide My Possibilities is a good fit, the next step is matching the HIPster’s scheduling needs to the programming availability.

While the new Career Services building will have a fixed process with an end date and a graduation, the traditional programming at My Possibilities has no end date and offers life-long learning.

“Unlike traditional college, there’s no ‘two years and you’re out.’ If it takes three, four, five or six years, that’s fine,” Thomas said. “Some people can be placed in a job within one to three months, others may take years, but both can be successful in the program.”

Thomas said those who have access to Medicaid waiver funding do not pay anything, and about 80 percent of the HIPsters enrolled in My Possibilities use the funding to participate in the programs.

“For someone who doesn’t have that funding source, it comes down to the number of days they are interested in programming, but the programming cost shakes out to about 5 to 6 dollars an hour,” Thomas said.

Thomas said My Possibilities does not want cost to be a barrier for entry and the vast majority of the families the organization serves would not be able to participate if Medicaid was not accepted.

“That’s why it’s so essential for us to fundraise, because we want to support people throughout the year,” Thomas said.

After canceling due to COVID-19, My Possibilities will host its annual Community Ball this summer for the first time in three years. The event came about when organizers wanted to hold a HIPster prom as well as a community fundraiser. Because the whole point of the organization is to include HIPsters in their community, My Possibilities combined the events into the Community Ball.

“We’ll have about a thousand people there, dressed in prom attire and we’ll have dinner,” Thomas said. “When we get onstage to talk about our mission, we don’t have to go on and on about inclusion because our HIPsters are right there at the event.”

The Community Ball is set for 6-10 p.m. on June 11, and the theme for this year centers around Heroes, specifically honoring past, present and future heroes. Those who are interested in attending will need to purchase a ticket ahead of time. The event will feature a wine pull and a silent auction which will be accessible online, and those who cannot attend in person can participate virtually. Attendees also have the option to sponsor a HIPster.

For more information about My Possibilities, the new location in Plano and details about the Community Ball, visit the website here.

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