Burke Center advocate stands firm on behalf of people with I.D.D.

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Crystal Schlageter is forever grateful to the Burke Center.

"Burke Center is the best place for IDD people to live," says Crystal Schlageter, a Burke Center Advocate.

The 31-year-old's smile is captivating. So is her platform in behalf of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

"I don't like the 'M.R.' word because the 'M.R.' word, people ten to take that to the extreme," says Schlageter.

Crystal knows all about transitioning to new ideas. Truth be told, life lessons gave her a foundation for what she's learning at the Burke Center.

"I took care of my mom. She was burned. 70% of her body was burned and I took care of her for three and a half years and then in 2005 she passed away, so I did have a big responsibility," says Schlageter.

Now it's Crystal's turn to spread her wings. She lives at a Burke Center intermediate care facility. It's a group home to prepare Crystal and others for independent living.  

"We're one big happy family," says Schlageter.

Crystal knows group homes send out scary scenarios for new residents and their advocates. She wants to change that.

"It's okay to put them in a group home. They will be safe. They will be taken care of. You cannot ask anything better than a group home setting," says Schlageter.

Crystal is anticipating new beginnings when people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are looked at for their abilities and nothing else.

She wants to attend college to become a nurse assistant. Crystal will always be an advocate and is hopeful funding will be restored to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.