January 24, 2018

Faces of ABLE: Arizona Jenkins

Faces of ABLE: Arizona Jenkins

Arizona Jenkins, a 42-year-old who has cerebral palsy, has spent his adult life advocating for the rights of those with disabilities. When he heard about ABLE United, a unique savings account that would vastly expand his ability to save money without losing benefits, he took note.

As a wheelchair user with a robust social life and Tampa Bay Buccaneers games to watch, he is a master at using public transportation. He knows where and at what times that service disappoints people with disabilities. As part of his advocacy, he has guided the public transportation authority to place more shelters at bus stops, add lighting and boost van service.

As president and founder of New Horizons Support Group, he mentors children with disabilities and educates the able-bodied. His presence is a constant reminder of how individuals with disabilities can live independently with confidence.

He has even made a career out of advocacy. At the University of South Florida, he is a model patient for third-year medical students; helping future doctors learn how to better care for their patients.

But what to do with his earnings? It used to be the rule that people with disabilities couldn’t save substantial amounts of money without jeopardizing their federal benefits.

“Everyone has money put away for a rainy day,” he said. “I want to make sure that I’m able to take care of myself when I get old.”

He recalled the death of a friend, and how there was no money to bury him.

“When I die, I want to make sure everything is in place, that there are no bills to pay, that everything is taken care of,” he said. ABLE United is the vehicle he’s using to get there. “I want to put a lot of money in, and it’s there if you need it.”