Meet Ellen, a gentle soul.
Ellen Frankland is a sweet heart; her calm manner and soft spoken voice make you feel welcome from the moment you meet her. As she maneuver’s the Villa hallways in her wheel chair, she greets everyone she passes with a warm hello. If you didn’t know better, you would not realize that Ellen is blind because she recognizes everyone by name. What she may lack in her vision, she makes up for with her warmth, kindness and helpful nature.
“It began on a hiking trip when Ellen was four years old. As a family we were active in Scouting, and we accompanied her brother’s Boy Scout troop on a hike. Ellen was having difficulty following the path, and for the first time we realized that she was having trouble seeing,” explains Bruce Frankland, Ellen’s father. After many appointments with doctors and specialists, it was determined that Ellen had a brain tumor that was pressing on her optic nerve. “A surgery was unsuccessful in removing the tumor; subsequent radiation did shrink the tumor, however she suffered permanent damage to her sight.” Tragically, due to complications from the tumor and surgery, Ellen suffered a series of 3 strokes by the time she was 7 years old, compromising her motor skills on the right side of her body. Further, the early onset of diabetes soon followed, adding more health challenges.
Ellen’s family did not waver; they were committed to providing her with the best care and education possible, and sought out a school for the blind where they lived in Raleigh, North Carolina. “We made sure that Ellen had every opportunity that other children would have, and she did well with them,” exclaimed Frankland. “She graduated with her high school GED after some very hard work.”
“Ellen does have some visual memory, including colors. She has always love art projects and at one time had a small beading business, called Designs by Touch, where she made and sold jewelry and pins and other items,” recalls Frankland. Ellen also loves cooking and has enjoyed everything from Chili Cook-off’s with her dad, to making meals for her family when she is visiting at home. “She loves chopping and mixing, and has found ways to adapt.”
As the years progressed, Ellen lived primarily at home with her parents and stayed involved in organizations that provide activities for the blind. In 2014, on a family visit to Texas, the Franklands were introduced to Marbridge. “We were told that Marbridge was an extraordinary care facility for young people with disabilities,” claims Frankland. “Ellen was ecstatic about the number of activities at The Ranch and Villa, including the horses and everything.” A few short months later, the Franklands decided to make Texas their new home, specifically so that Ellen could live at Marbridge. “I was reluctant at first to “let go of the strings”, but Ellen convinced me that this is what she wanted to do,” recalls Frankland. “I wanted a community where I could interact with others. I wanted to find my own neighborhood,” states Ellen.
Ellen joined The Villa in February, 2015. Most days, you are likely to find Ellen in the Enrichment Center, where she is involved in the many activities that take place each day, including bingo, Girl Scouts, art projects and serving on the board of the Resident’s Council, or reading to other residents. And if you don’t find her there, you might look for her outside on her big yellow bike, pedaling around campus (with just a little assistance to keep her safe.)
“Ellen is a shining example of perseverance. Despite her medical issues, she manages to find the best in life and strives to make things better around her. She is often the impetuous for the new activities that we try at The Villa, including the Girl Scout troop,” claims Alicia Taylor, Social Services Director for The Villa.