April 2, 2019
Deanne Gagne is dedicated to Building Bridges and we’re happy that Johnston Sun Rise recognized her efforts by sharing this story. RIDDC’s “Self-Employment Project: The Spirit of Individual Enterprise” funded by the Governor’s Workforce Board’s “Real Pathways RI” initiatives really helped Deanne and others.
Deanne Gagne is no stranger to overcoming the odds.
Gagne was born with cerebral palsy, and doctors did not give her a high chance of survival. That was prior to starting work as a coordinator for Advocates in Action, the state’s self-advocate organization, in 1997. It was also before she went to Rhode Island College and obtained her bachelor’s degree in social work in 2006.
“Considering I wasn’t supposed to live and I wasn’t supposed to walk, talk and use my hands, any of that, I just do my daily life, I’m used to it,” Gagne said during a phone interview on Monday morning. “But it’s kind of remarkable when you think about it.”
Her prognosis came many years before Gagne began Bridge Building Services, a business focused on fostering connections between and offering support to communities such as those with developmental disabilities, in 2010.
Now Gagne, 47, is sharing her story as part of National Developmental Disabilities Month, and her inspiration begins with helping others.
“I’ve always loved to help people,” Gagne said. “Most of the time I’m talking to direct support, they really want to know the best practices and how to best support people and … about what self-advocacy is and speaking up and helping people figure out what is best and what is going to work for them.”