Consumer Leadership

Self-advocacy is one of the most important ways in which people with intellectual disabilities have a voice of their own.

At St. Coletta, we’ve developed our Consumer Leadership Council and Brand Ambassador programs to provide the people we serve with the right tools & information to support them in advocating on their own behalf. In addition, these programs provide each member a voice by allowing them to represent their peers when it comes to matter of choice.

Congratulations to our 2019 Official Brand Ambassadors:

  • Ralph Derucki – Served by St. Coletta for 83 years.
  • Mike Contos – Served by St. Coletta for 40 years.

 

Ralph's Story

No one at St. Coletta is more steeped in tradition than Ralph. Coming to St. Coletta in 1936, at the young age of 9, Ralph was given an opportunity to live , learn and grow through his experiences with the Sisters of St. Francis and his peers.
Ralph has fond memories working alongside the Sisters in the fields and gardens, canning fruits & vegetables and tending to the chickens. In his spare time, Ralph also cut hair, served Mass, learned Latin, sang in the choir, and held a number of jobs in the community.  He went on to learn such practical skills as cross stitch and knitting, which he still practices today at age 91.. “My skills allow me to help others. I’m currently making blankets to help Wisconsin’s homeless Veterans”.   
In 1975, Ralph was selected to travel with the Sisters to Rome for a pilgrimage.. It was there he prayed to connect with his birth mother and upon returning from his trip, he was met with a phone message from the nursing home his Mother was at. From there, Ralph spent the next 15 years getting to know his Mom before her passing in 1990. “My trip to Rome changed my life and I’m grateful to the Sisters who helped strengthen my faith in God”.
Nowadays, Ralph enjoys spending time with his housemates and attending St. Coletta’s Golden Options day program, He serves on the Franciscans committee just like he did for the Sisters in the 19050’s and was recently selected to be an official brand ambassador for St. Coletta.. “I want to help advocate for my peers, who may not have a voice.”
After 82 years of support, Ralph insists this was the plan all along. “When I walked into St. Coletta a young boy, Sr. Anastasia came up to me and said ‘this is going to be home for you’ and while I may not have realized it at the time, I do now”.
 
Ralph Derucki, Age 91, Served by St. Coletta Since 9 Years Old