Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

When people think about making money, they usually think of getting a job, which is a good way to go – stability. However, what about entrepreneurship? It may be a harder path to take because it involves spending time researching markets, understanding certain processes in business, accessing capital, and networking with the right people in your industry. The list goes on.

For me, being an entrepreneur is not only the path to becoming a millionaire, it is also a path to adding value to people’s lives by creating opportunities such as hiring persons with disabilities – like myself! Since I became paralyzed from Bacterial Spinal Meningitis at the age of fourteen, I’ve been receiving Social Security benefits that have enabled me to become a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and CEO of Ray Grand Apparel. Though I never wanted to stay on Social Security forever, the benefits have been a great resource for me to survive and have the majority of my needs met. Social Security income, however, isn’t enough for me to thrive and live a fulfilled life. I believe entrepreneurship is the gateway to financial freedom. Having personal experience overcoming challenges gives me the grit to stick it out through the tough times in my business.  Who wants to be a millionaire? I do and I’m sure most people do, however it requires sacrifice, discipline, hard work and of course entrepreneurship!  Some people may say starting a business may be too risky—finding enough capital and/or resources and I understand.  On the other hand, if you have a talent, are passionate about an idea, a social issue, or people, you have something that can help reconstruct our world in some capacity. Your talents, ideas, and passions can add value to someone’s life. You can turn your ideas into money when you invest quality time.

How did I start my business?

I thought to myself … there has to be a way that I could still receive Social Security benefits to meet my basic needs and work on my business without it affecting those benefits. As many individuals with disabilities know, the amount of money required for even daily health care supplies required to live is expensive. Aware of this challenge, I scheduled an appointment with my local Vocational Rehabilitation Office and met with my counselor to discuss my goals. She told me about PASS, which stands for Plan to Achieve Self-Support. PASS is a ‘work incentive’ for people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Social Security Income (SSI). PASS provides beneficiaries receiving social security benefits with a framework to develop a business plan, as well as setting aside money to advance toward achieving education or employment goals including jumpstarting a business. Yes! There is hope and I was about to make it happen – and so can you!

How did I survive in business throughout the years?

Starting a small business has its risks and rewards. There are a few things I’ve learned on how to maintain a successful business. Cultivating personal and business relationships helped me to build a network. I value all people regardless of their role or title in a company. Someone’s title should not dictate how you treat them. Measure someone based on their character and who they are. Every person matters. You never know what relationship may be your next million dollar deal.

It is also important to connect with your customers whether it’s through email, phone, or social media. Build a rapport with your customers and show them that you value them. Follow up with your customers and get feedback to make sure they are satisfied with your products and services.

You also want to set goals for your business. What is the purpose of your business, why does it exist, and how do you want to make a difference?  Your WHY is your purpose. Your purpose is your message. Your message is how you connect to your customer and then to the world. “Everybody has information, but very few connect.” – John Maxwell.


For more information on working
and social security benefits, contact the
Work Without Limits Benefits Counseling team

For tips on how to start your own business,
contact the U.S. Small Business Administration

Charting Our Own Future

As we celebrate Black History month, it is important that we acknowledge the many connections between the civil rights movement and the disability rights movement. Similar to African-Americans, persons with disabilities have fought for full participation and inclusion in society.  Though great leaders have charted the course of both movements, it was the collective impact of ordinary people deciding to get involved that contributed to making life better for everyone.

It was 12 years ago during a conversation with friends about the persistent high unemployment rate among minorities who are blind that I was inspired to found Our Space Our Place, Inc. (OSOP), an after school and career exploration program for middle and high school youth who are blind.  Two-thirds of people who are blind and want to work are unemployed.  Our goal is to change this reality for future generations.

By offering a year-round program, we provide a place where being blind or having low vision is not a student’s defining characteristic, and we allow students to explore and develop important and valued aspects of their personalities, talents, and skills. In doing so, we fulfill our mission to prepare students who are blind to be involved in activities in their local community, develop friendships, lead activities, gain self-confidence, and explore career and educational options.

Because blindness is a low incidence disability, individuals who are blind are often socially isolated and must regularly deal with the negative perceptions of their blindness on their own. We purposely house our program at a community center in order to facilitate social integration and demonstrate that blind people can and do pursue activities similar to those without disabilities.

We develop partnerships with organizations in the community, which enables us to create allies and expand our students’ involvement in the community. For example, we developed a partnership with Create-A-Cook to hold cooking classes for our students. When we began the relationship, Create-A- Cook had never worked with people who were blind and were unsure whether the classes would proceed successfully. Today, Create-A-Cook’s chefs are confident in their ability to teach people who are blind to cook, and in turn, our students have learned and have grown in their confidence to prepare meals.

We have found internships for our students at the Braille and Talking Book Library. Working at the library gave one of our students his first job experience and taught his family that he could use paratransit by himself to get to and from work. At the outset, this student and his family were unsure about his future, but are now able to envision a successful path. OSOP facilitates opportunities that will allow our students to live full and active lives in their communities.

For more information about Our Space Our Place

Kerry’s Sister

I was three. She was new and seemed really small. In the early years we shared a room. For a while, she had a tent over her crib with cold, wet fog blowing into it. It hummed all night. I wasn’t supposed to touch her because it could make her sick, but sometimes mom let me go inside the tent anyway. I don’t know if that tent was there for days, weeks or even months, but I remember the tent.

As I got bigger and ran faster, she didn’t. She also didn’t really want to play with me. Mom used to stretch her on the floor like I stretched my green Gumby doll. She would play bicycle with her legs and make snow angels on the hardwood. Mom also used to put a big popsicle stick in her mouth and move her tongue all around while she made weird noises. Mom used to let me play along sometimes, too, but I never wanted to do that gross popsicle stick game.

One winter it snowed so much it was over my head. My dad built underground snow tunnels that connected to the igloo my two older brother’s built. They let me go inside and we had hot chocolate and peanut butter & bacon sandwiches. It was the best day ever.

Kerry Boggis and her mom, Leslie Boggis.

I went to school. My sister stayed home with mom and got better at walking and talking. My dad sold TVs and traveled a lot. He always came home with little gifts for us. One year, I got a Swatch Watch with the rubber face protector. It was SO cool. After a few years, Mom went back to work and we went to daycare, but my brothers didn’t go. I hated that place. No one ever wanted to play with me. I spent a lot of time and anger trying to figure out why my sister was a “retard” and why the short bus was so funny. We both cried a lot there. I don’t know if it was weeks or months, but thankfully, my mom took us out of that place.

Soon, my sister and I started to fight. She drove me crazy. She never wanted to do what I wanted and her cries sent everyone running. She had a huge stupid back brace and I got so mad at her once, I pushed her off a chair. She dislocated her knee. I ran to the top of the stairs and sat there crying. I listened to everyone run around, call the ambulance, get her ice … and figure out what to do with me. I felt horrible. She had enough problems and I just had to go and add to them. I knew that’s what everyone was thinking. I don’t remember if I even got in trouble.

I really liked school. I liked the feeling of getting an “A”. I liked playing basketball and softball and working part time and babysitting and doing every theater production and just being really, really busy. I liked being good at stuff. Maybe I was escaping something? Maybe I just liked finding out who I was outside of being Kerry’s sister? Maybe I was just following my mom’s directions that I heard repeated in our house over and over again throughout the years, “You can do it. Don’t listen to anyone that tells you differently. You can do anything.”

The Boggis siblings

My mom never listened to what the doctors told her. If she did, Kerry would never have grown up in our house or learned to walk and talk. She most certainly would not have become an independent working woman with two jobs and hold a Board of Director’s seat. She would not have lived in her own apartment, fallen in love and then lost that love, become a budding horseback rider or make the best fresh rolls from scratch you’ve ever tasted. My mom would not have gone on to serve and inspire hundreds of NH families within the disabled community for years as the Manager of Consumer Directed Services at Gateways Community Services or worked to effect policy change for individuals and families at the NH State House.

The childhood memories I share here are pieced together, mere slices of time and perhaps not even in chronological order, but as any good self-psychoanalyst would say, they have made me who I am today. It’s why I value difference and inclusion … and fight for it. Having witnessed my mom and sister’s hard work pay off, I know first-hand that anything is possible.

Aunty Kerry with 3 of her 4 nieces and her nephew.

I now have three daughters of my own. Best friends one minute-worst enemies the next. Like I did growing up, I know they are listening to every word I say, watching every move my husband and I make and are teaching each other exponentially through every good and bad interaction. Being Kerry’s sister isn’t always easy, but it’s pretty darn cool too. I don’t think I tell her that enough, so Kerry, I love you. Thank you for teaching me and making me be better… and please bring your rolls to Easter!

The Boggis family

Click here to learn more about how support
and/or employ individuals with disabilities

Follow us on social media!




Individuals and Families:

  • Our Job Board is a great place to upload your resume and find that perfect job with known employer disability champions
  • Our certified Benefits Counseling team provides education and counseling for individuals and families as well as training for Community Partners around the impact working has on public benefits
  • Our Community Partners provide tremendous targeted support and resources


  • Become a Sponsor of Work Without Limits and member of The Massachusetts Business Leadership Network (MABLN). Sponsorship includes access to our Job Board, resources, registration at our annual conference and access to a network of engaged employers all focused on becoming Employers of Choice for people with disabilities

What Do We Mean When We Say Disability?

Oftentimes when we are conducting disability etiquette and other similar training’s for employers, the first question we get is: what do you mean when you say disability? It’s a very good question because disability is different for everyone; it varies from person to person, and can change over time. It’s important to understand this in order to better serve employees, clients, and others involved in your business.  So, what do we mean when we say disability?

Disability is a broad term that includes a wide range of conditions that occur across the life span.  Apparent disabilities often come to mind first such as:

  • Mobility impairments — for example, someone who uses a wheelchair
  • Intellectual or developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome
  • Blindness

Disability also includes conditions that may not be apparent such as learning disabilities, low vision, chronic illnesses, and mental health conditions.

Did you know that 80% of people with disabilities acquire their disability sometime during their lifetime, and 20% are born with their disability?

People who are born with their disability may be more comfortable with their disability. It’s what they’ve known their whole life; it is part of who they are as a person.

For others, their disability may be new to them and they could be anywhere on the continuum of adjusting to a new way of life. Examples of this could include someone who sustains a spinal cord injury in a motor vehicle accident and now uses a wheelchair.  Or, it could be someone recently diagnosed with a mental health condition such as bipolar disorder or depression.

For persons who are newly diagnosed with a disability, they may go through a process of adjustment. Keep in mind that disability does not change a person; a person with a newly acquired disability is the same person they were before, therefore, it is important not to treat them any differently.

Also bear in mind that someone may acquire a disability mid-career. Their career may have been interrupted for a period of time while they were undergoing treatment or rehabilitation. Someone in this situation may be looking to re-enter the labor market after a period of absence. They may be looking to pick up where their career left off – in the same or similar position, with the same or similar employer, with or without an accommodation. Or, they may be looking for a job that is completely different from what they did before. Their disability could now prevent them from doing the job they did previously; they have been re-trained and are re-tooled for a new career. This also means they could be seeking an entry-level position even though they may be at an age where you’d expect them to be mid-career.

Another scenario may be someone who is looking to do a related position but not at the level they were at before. In this particular situation, a candidate may appear over-qualified.  An example of this may be someone who held a high-level position with a lot of responsibility and stress and who experienced a psychiatric illness. After treatment they decide to resume their career but in a role with less responsibility and stress in an attempt to be successful both at work and in their personal life.

Disability can also be age-related. Shifting perceptions of retirement, increased workplace flexibility and the aging of the baby boomer generation are all contributing to people working longer. Mature workers may develop disabilities as they age, or existing disabilities may become more significant.

Also, veterans who are returning from active military duty may have acquired a disability – or multiple disabilities, often caused by blast-related trauma. These can include physical, cognitive and psychological in nature.

Finally, people with disabilities cross all segments of the employee and candidate population. A person with a disability can be of any age, gender, race and ethnic background, and they can also be members of the LGBTQ community. People with disabilities come from all walks of life and are the only protected class of employees that any of us can join at any time. As a matter of fact, 1 in 5 people in the U.S. have or will experience a disability.

To learn more about disability etiquette
and other trainings we offer employers

If you would like to get involved with the
MA Business Leadership Network
to learn from and share with your peers