Activity and Enrichment Fund
Community Supports program
At Easterseals Eastern PA, it is our mission to increase independence, maximize opportunities, minimize barriers and enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities. We continually evaluate our programs through this lens and seek innovative ways to augment what we do in order to better serve the individual. Our Community Supports/habilitation program is designed to empower adults with disabilities to live independent and rewarding lives in their community. The program provides the support they need to develop critical life skills, participate in community life and engage in satisfying activities of their own choosing.
But what if their aspirations exceed their financial resources? For many adults with disabilities, the cost to participate is often a barrier and prohibits them from fully participating in the life of the community or pursuing their interests. We began asking ourselves what if we could remove the financial barrier? What would that mean to the individual? What could be achieved? From those questions came the idea of creating an enrichment fund to open doors to new opportunities. We took the idea a step further by also using the fund as a tool for teaching how to budget and manage spending to make the most out of the funds available.
Funding from the Donald B. & Dorothy L. Stabler Foundation has allowed us to establish and maintain the fund. Over the years, it has been used for taking art clasees, gym memberships, taking a class at the community college, music therapy and a host of other activities as varied as the individuals utilizing the fund. For example, one young man used the enrichment fund to take private cooking lessons at a local culinary center. For several years, Fred wanted to learn how to cook, but never had the opportunity. Thanks to the enrichment fund, he was able to pursue his dream and plans to host a dinner party for his parents, the housemates in his group home and the support specialists with whom he works. “I want to cook the whole meal for them,” states Fred, “to show them how thankful I am for their help and friendship.”
Fred informed his cooking instructor of his goal, so they worked together to choose a selection of appetizers, entrees, side dishes and desserts to cover during his lessons. The instructor also provided practical suggestions and tips on how to translate the lessons into making everyday meals. “I’m excited to try this at home,” he said after his first lesson.
With the support of the enrichment fund, Fred is pursuing a longtime aspiration and experiencing the joy and personal fulfillment that comes from achieving one’s goals. He is increasing his independence by learning advanced life skills that will improve his quality of life. This is just one example of the impact the fund has on our consumers. From a simple idea, we have developed an innovative solution that we hope will one day set a new industry standard to better serve consumers.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning to cook, Fred took lessons with 29 Cooks in Emmaus. They specialize in private culinary coaching for adults and kids, Junior Chef Culinary Camps and fun experience adult social and corporate classes.