Success Stories

Jacob uses Goodwill’s in-home supports to help him live an adventurous life while blind

Jacob Allen (middle) sits smiling at The Holy Donut in Portland, with his parents on either side of him.
Jacob Allen (middle) sits smiling at The Holy Donut in Portland, with his parents on either side of him.

Jacob Allen can hit ski jumps, rock climb outdoors and rake in thousands of dollars in donations for important causes — but when it comes to things at home, he uses Margarita as his eyes. Jacob is blind due to a condition called bilateral anophthalmia, which means he was born without eyeballs. Because of his disability, Jacob receives in-home support from Goodwill, which means he lives in his own home independently – but with a little help. 

Jacob, 29, has been living in his own apartment in Portland for six years now, after moving out of his childhood home in Old Orchard Beach. Margarita is Jacob’s direct support professional, and they’ve worked together for four years.  

“Margarita is my brain and my eyes,” Jacob said.  

Together they do things like making smoothies, go fishing, attend Sea Dog games, sell raffle tickets at Rotary events, make crafts and so much more. This winter, he’s heading up to Sunday River to do some skiing. 

Goodwill supports adults with disabilities who want to live in their own homes. This extra support helps ensure success and safety in the individual’s community, while encouraging independence. In Jacob’s case, he’s incredibly independent so Margarita stops by four times a week to help with things like cooking, cleaning, making a budget, driving him to activities and more.

Margarita helps five other people with different disabilities in the area with in-home supports. Her clients “got her attached” to this career path. Their positive outlook brought more positivity into her own life, she said. 

Jacob is involved with the Saco Bay Sunset Rotary where he volunteers most of his time. At one Rotary event, Jacob sold raffle tickets while Margarita guided him and helped make change for buyers.

“I had him on my arm, and I had to ask him to slow down he was selling so many tickets, I couldn’t keep up!” she said.

He loves supporting the Rotary, and speaks highly of the organization and its mission, but also the kind, welcoming people he gets to spend his time with. He has helped with clothing drives, fundraising and most recently Narcan training. 

Fellow Rotary member Liz said, “Jacob always brings enthusiasm and a positive attitude to any Rotary function. He’s always quick to recognize others for their contributions, and he’s always willing to help out. When it comes to fundraising, Jacob’s a natural. He sold raffle tickets at an outdoor concert series last summer and knocked it out of the park!” 

Above all, Jacob echoes the message that you really can do anything.  

“I get up every day and just try to do my best. That’s all you can do. With a disability, there is still ability.” 

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