On Wednesday morning, Strack & Van Til paid a visit to Respite Care Services to present them with a generous $1,000 check to fund new equipment and services for the consumers of this tight-knit community.
Located in Highland, Respite Care Services has been opened for 35 years. It provides programs and resources to adults with developmental disabilities.
“A group of parents founded Respite Care Services because they saw a need for care and services for people with disabilities in the community,” said Liz Gonzales, the Executive Director of Respite Care. “Over the years, we have expanded and we now offer different services and programs than we did when Respite first started.”
One of the programs, called Meaningful Day, is now in its second year. It focuses on such developing abilities such as communication and social skills, arts and learning about different cultures around the world.
“We’re really working on socialization and community involvement,” said Sarah Sharp, the Program Manager of Respite Care. “We want our consumers to be engaged in the community and the culture of Northwest Indiana.”
In the program, the adults experience new cultures and art through poetry, art gallery visits and volunteer work. One of the most recent projects the adults of the Meaningful Day program completed was a unit on Irish culture and people. During this unit, they learned about the Irish culture and history and even painted the country’s flag for an art project.
“We really delve into culture and diversity,” Sharp explained. “There’s a lot of diversity in the region and in this program, so we want them to be able to experience that.”
Along with arts, culture and literature, the program’s focus on volunteer work has introduced the adults in the program to new people around the community and teaches them the importance of volunteering and helping others.
“Volunteering is my favorite thing about the program,” said Justin Cooper, who has been a consumer of Respite Care for five years now. “Rather staying inside all day, bored, I love being out with everybody and helping people.”
The joy and excitement for the program was palatable in this small building of a close community. But those same feelings were also felt just a mile away at Strack & Van Til. Respite Care and Strack and Van Til had been in communication for a few months before Ashleigh Marlow, the Public Relations Representative from Strack & Van Til, came to see what the program was all about.
“I finally had the opportunity to stop in about two weeks ago and sit in on one of the classes,” Marlow said. “That day, their consumers were learning about poetry and the different types of poems. Everyone was so jazzed, so excited to learn and it was amazing to see.”
March is Strack & Van Til’s Developmental Disabilities Month, which is dedicated to people with developmental disabilities. It only makes sense that two organizations dedicated to the community would team up and show support in an effective way.
“It takes a community to really come together,” Marlow said. “There’s a need for the services Respite provides, so we knew this was something we wanted to support.”