ILA Member Spotlight – May Devera

May Devera is the owner of Legacy Independent Living homes in Central San Diego and Spring Valley. She is one of the Founding Members of the Independent Living Association, and she is a shining example of an owner who offers a high quality home environment for people seeking an Independent Living as their housing choice.

May is originally from the Philippines, and moved to the United States in 1984. May’s husband, Melencio, served in the U.S. Navy and although he is now retired, his job has taken the Devera family to many places around the world. May has lived in Hawaii, Bermuda, Mississippi, Jacksonville, Florida, Greece, and Cuba before finally settling down in San Diego in 2000!

Earlier in her career, May was a respiratory therapist, and spent many years working in hospital settings. When May decided to open an Independent Living home, it did not happen overnight. Through her job in healthcare and through her own experience seeing and living with mental health challenges, she realized over time that she wanted to find a way to give people someone to lean on.

In 2004, May heard about a class at Bayview Hospital that offered to teach people how to start and operate an Independent Living home business. She realized she could channel her desire to help people with mental health challenges by opening a home like this, and signed up for the class to learn more. The class was taught by Community Research Foundation’s Director of Housing and ILA Co-chair Ronda Gibbs, who worked at Bayview Hospital at the time. After taking Ronda’s class, May took a couple of years to think about how she could get started in housing, while continuing her busy work as a full-time mom and hospital employee. In 2008, she opened the first of her Legacy homes.

May’s favorite thing about being a housing provider is watching her residents move toward a more independent life. She loves getting cards from her old residents, social workers and other members of the community thanking her for her help and care.

“While helping other people, I can help myself, and see the results of other people getting back on their feet to live the life that they want,” May says.

May is very involved with the ILA, and is a great model for other Independent Living owners looking for support instead of struggle. May participates on the ILA Work Team, a diverse group of community partners providing leadership and direction to the ILA. May also serves as a mentor to other owners on the ILA Peer Review Team, a group of Independent Living owners and past/present residents that conduct site visits to offer tips and best practices to help Independent Living owners and review the ILA Quality Standards. May has a wish for all Independent Living owners: to work together the same way their residents live—as a family.

Even in May’s spare time, she loves doing things for other people. She loves plants and flowers, and even just window shopping at Home Depot or Lowes reminds her of being in a botanical garden. She says that she always has a plant in mind that would look nice in the garden at one of her homes. May also loves to go fishing and shopping, and just celebrated the graduations of her two children from college and graduate school!

For more information on the Independent Living homes that May provides, visit her Legacy Independent Living, City Heights and Spring Valley ILA Directory listings.