OCCA (Orleans County Citizen Advocacy) Mission Statement To build and support one-to-one, long term, independent relationships between unpaid community members and individuals with developmental disabilities so that all are heard, respected, included and empowered.
Founded in 1988, Orleans County Citizen Advocacy is a non-profit organization that brings together adults with developmental disabilities (age 18 and older) and community volunteers throughout Orleans County, Vermont. For each match, we find a local volunteer, referred to as an “Advocate”, whom we introduce to a person with disabilities, referred to as a “Partner”, and then we provide ongoing support to their relationship. Over the years, we created and supported nearly 100 matches. Many lasted for years. One of these active matches has been alive since OCCA’s start.
When children with disabilities leave the school environment and enter adulthood, they far too often experience limited social interaction and isolation. The adult world is often hard to navigate. Through one-to-one Citizen Advocacy relationships, adults with disabilities find respect, empowerment and inclusion. As in all relationships, the Advocates find their lives enriched as well.
Our volunteers serve as mentors, advocates and friends. They help their Partners access the community, enjoy a wide variety of activities, hobbies and interests, and get additional help when needed. WHAT DO OUR ADVOCATES AND PARTNERS DO TOGETHER? Each pair decides how much time they spend together and what kinds of activities they do. Some pairs meet once a month, some once a week. Some maintain regular phone contact, others communicate via Facebook or email. Depending on interests and needs, our pairs have done some of the following activities: cooking, play cards and board games, go to the gym, take classes (exercise, art,etc), go to church, attend meetings, go shopping, to restaurants, movies, concerts, fairs, fishing, skiing, hiking, biking, bingo, arts and crafts...the list goes on! We have a fund to help pay for activities, so lack of money should not be a deterrent from becoming an Advocate! WE NEED YOU! VOLUNTEER TODAY! We currently have a list of Partners waiting for Advocates. We depend on volunteers to keep the program running. Please contact us for more information. OCCAVT@gmail.com
In addition to 1:1 activities, we also hold group events so that our Advocates and Partners can socialize and have fun!