Deaf woman inspires others in community to achieve their goals

WSAV NOW

WAVERLY, Ga. (WSAV) — One mother and daughter duo is working to spread the message of hope and inspiration to the deaf community.

When Evelena Massey found out her daughter Jahlisa was born deaf, many told her raising a child as a single mother would be nearly impossible.

“People told her she would not be able to work, that she would not be able to drive, that she would not be able to live on her own,” Evelena said.

She says being a single mom and learning how to sign was a challenge, especially in Waverly, where there isn’t a deaf community around them for support.

“There aren’t any deaf here,” Evelena said. “So in our little community, it’s just me and her.”

But Evelena knew with hard work, a caring community, and practicing sign language every day with her daughter, the possibilities would be endless for Jahlisa.

After time spent sending her application to dozens of businesses around town, Jahlisa got a job at Publix in Brunswick, working alongside her mom.

“I feel very good and proud of myself,” Jahlisa said. “I focus hard and I work hard. I bag a lot of groceries. I have to focus. Sometimes it’s hard but I like it.”

Her mom is also teaching her how to drive, and soon, Jahlisa will get her license.

“Cars are expensive, so I’m waiting, and I’m saving up my money to get my own car,” she said.

Jahlisa says she thinks everyone should learn a little bit of sign language to increase visibility and opportunity for the deaf community.

“I want a lot of people to learn how to sign,” Jahlisa said. “It’s important that we communicate.”

Now they’re encouraging others not to give up. With a little bit of support and hard work, they say anything is possible.

“When she got this job on her own, I knew she made a major accomplishment. And I wanted to share that with other deaf people,” Evelena said.

“If they focus, the future is bright,” Jahlisa added. “They can make all kinds of money and live in a world where there are no limits.”

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