Rachel has autism and for 7 years, she felt like no one would give her a chance. Now she has the independence she always wanted. Humankind

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Rachel Rodrigues is a resident of Promise in Brevard and works at Five Guys Burgers & Fries in Viera.(Photo: MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY)Buy Photo

Editor’s note: This is the third of three Humankind profiles on residents of Promise in Brevard. The West Melbourne community provides adults with disabilities a place to live and work. The first phase of the community opened this fall. Last year, Promise was awarded a $100,000 grant by A Community Thrives, a USA TODAY NETWORK initiative. Humankind, also a part of the USA TODAY NETWORK, tells amazing stories about people performing positive acts, overcoming great odds and sharing special connections. To see more uplifting Humankind stories and videos, follow HumankindVideos on Facebook.

At 28, almost 29, Rachel Rodrigues is living the dream.

She has a job, friends and an apartment, complete with a cozy bedroom bathed in pink light. The complex is still under construction, but soon it will include a swimming pool, a gym, an art center and a dining hall.

Even now, she and her roommates and neighbors can enjoy activities like dance class and yoga. A note on the fridge reminds her: 4:30 p.m. Resident Meeting, 6:30 p.m. Dance Fit.

This dream of independence, taken for granted by so many, seemed out of reach for Rachel.

“Since she graduated from high school, despite the challenge of autism, my daughter’s dream has been to live on her own, work for herself and have fun with friends,” said Rebecca