James and Margie Billian

James’ mom Margie shares how he found his “golden moment” with Jubilee

I knew right away something wasn’t right. My beautiful new baby just didn’t behave like most babies do. And he never, ever slept through the night. But oh, we loved him so!

School was hard for James. When he needed help, he got punished and labeled as a bad kid. We found a program at a private school. But he needed someone with him all through the day, and that was very expensive. So I took a job at the school – in addition to my other jobs. Between my three jobs, I worked 70-hour weeks. What wouldn’t you do for your child? 

We were so proud when James graduated in 2008 at the age of 18 with a full diploma. Our young man had graduated. He wanted to be independent and on his own. But he still needed a great deal of support. 

You could say our James has issues. But I’d tell you simply that James is complex. We sometimes call him “Attila the honey.”

Programs to support people with intellectual or developmental disabilities are hard to find – and harder to afford. And it’s just not right – someone’s life shouldn’t be discounted because they need a little help.

James came back home to live with us. But he fought with us, so fiercely that I had to call the police a few times. Those calls, however, meant he was finally able to apply for the support he so urgently needed.

With approval from the state, James was accepted into another agency to receive support services. But as I said, our James is complex. This agency didn’t know how to care for and support him. James was abused there. One day, they called the police. My James was removed in handcuffs and sent to a mental hospital. Handcuffs!

The hospital said nothing was wrong with him and released him to our care again. At that time, I was also caring for my father, who was dying. You can imagine the emotion and stress.

The whole experience traumatized our son. And that should never happen.

People with developmental disabilities are people. James has his own thoughts and feelings. He just needs some help to be his best self. 

Jubilee offers that kind of support. James says, “When I got into Jubilee, that was a golden moment.”

We’re so glad to have found Jubilee. 

Jubilee believes people should have control over their own lives. Disability shouldn’t mean someone doesn’t have choices.

At Jubilee, people choose where they want to live and whom they live with. Jubilee works hard to help people develop a community of their own. The goal is to provide what people need to live full, rich lives.

And I can tell you, that’s what Jubilee has meant to our son. James has gone from needing an advocate to being one. He saw first-hand why people need someone to stand up for them. He told me, “I help people help themselves. Then they can help others.”

Thanks to the dedication of the people at Jubilee, James has a full life and makes his own choices. He’s an artist and a filmmaker and works in a local bookstore. No mother could ask for more.