Since 1988 our mission has been to create and support relationships between community volunteers and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities so that all are heard, respected, empowered and fully included in the community. Establishing and supporting one to one friendships, many of which have lasted decades, has been our goal. Our community volunteers have been more than just friends. They have advocated for the needs of their disabled partners and provided them opportunities to be included in the life of their community. However, over the last decade, the number of matches have dwindled. Finding volunteers to be one to one advocates for our members has been nearly impossible. As a result, we have a waiting list. During the last few years, we started to hold events and activities to bring people on our waiting list and our established matches together. Everyone seemed to enjoy these activities and requested more. We began to have people want to join, not to be matched with a volunteer advocate, but to participate in our events. To address these challenges, the Board of Directors have been working on a new model of operation and a fresh approach. We have decided that we also need a new name which better reflects what we will be doing!
OCCA will now be known as THE ABILITIES CONNECTION! Our goal is to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to develop friendships, learn new things and explore a variety of interests, hobbies, activities in an accepting, safe, nurturing environment. We hope to operate with paid staff and volunteers, depending on our level of funding. (While we plan to focus on our new program model, we will continue to support our current matches and assist individuals who would like to be matched with a volunteer)
WE NEED YOUR HELP! In order to design our new model, we need feedback from our community. Please complete the survey below and let us know what kinds of activities you would like to participate in and what kinds of help you may need in order for it to be a successful experience. This survey is for individuals with disabilities to complete, but if you are a family member or assistant, please help by completing it with the person who would be participating in our program. THANKS!