MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — As a Therapeutic Specialist, Ella Mooney supervises therapeutic and inclusive programs for the city of Mobile’s Parks and Recreation Department. However, her commitment to make better lives for people with special needs goes beyond a career. “It’s my ministry, It’s my passion. I just love it”, said Mooney who knows all about overcoming challenges.
Despite obstacles in her childhood, Mooney went on to college and earned multiple degrees with an emphasis in special needs which helped her to develop programs and services for famlies affected by developmental disabilities.
Mooney survived a traumatic, life threatening car crash, and has other health issues that prevent her from walking. Deespite her physical disability, she says God has blessed her with a unique ability to relate to people with special needs.
“They are capable of learning, they are capable of doing the same thing that we do. Most of them are. So why not give them the opportunity?”
She organizes fun events where they sing, dance, and enjoy mardi gras parades.
“They have a right to be loved. They have a right to have fun. They have a right to be happy like we are..like we do”.
Mooney doesn’t have biological children, she considers the special needs adults she works with to be her children. One of her “children” has lived with her since he was 17 years old. Dave is now 43 years old with a mental capacity of a 3 to 5 five year old child.
“Sometimes its tough..but, that’s my baby”, said Mooney is very patient with Dave during sudden mood changes.
“He tires out really easy in the last year since he’s had congestive heart failture” said Mooney.
Dave has long surpassed his life expectancy, but Ella doesn’t give up on her “son” or any of her “children”.
“They encourage me as much as I hopefully encourage them. They make me realize the simple things in life and what really matters because at the end of the day, if you are not making a difference it really does not matter.”
“I love Ella….all my heart”, said Dave smiling in his room decorated for Mardi Gras complete with a lighted tree.