It Takes One Step To Make a Difference

So it stands to reason that a lot of steps can make a big difference, right?

The main goal of my Counseling Skills class is for the class to form groups and do some service learning in the community. We were all charged with finding a group with a need and helping them out.

These groups found varied agencies in need and the projects are equally varied, like a fund raising dinner at a local restaurant next week for a domestic violence shelter, a clothing drive for the homeless, tutoring at an at-risk program, doing activities at an after school program, and others.

One of my group mates found a local agency that really had an impact on me. Noah's Ark is an agency formed by parents of children with various developmental disabilities (autism, down syndrome, mental retardation, and others) who worried what would happen to their children when the parents passed on. Would they be able to support themselves? Find adequate housing? Have things to do, opportunities to socialize?

Rather than wonder, these parents did something. In 1997, they founded Noah's Ark and set about creating affordable group homes in the Lakeland area. In the twelve years since, there are now several homes and plenty of activities-but the leadership of Noah's Ark has bigger plans.

They've planned Noah's Landing, a larger scale community for approximately 200 adults with special needs and various caregivers. However, the laws in Florida say that this is segregating the population and is bad. What can be bad about providing a safe community, close to bus stops and amenities, that provides the opportunities for living independently in a supportive environment?

As a result, Jack Kosik, the Executive Director, has spent time speaking in Tallahassee about the benefits of such a community. Last year, things were going swimmingly until the 11th hour. Several legislators fillibustered and shot down the law that would allow a zoning variance for communities of this nature (and Noah's Landing might be the first, but certainly not the only one in the planning stages.)

Sometimes, I lay awake at night and wonder if Chef will be taking care of his brother when Ed and I are gone. The accomplishments the group has done in twelve years brought tears to my eyes, because these parents are paving the way for not only their children, but all children with special needs to have a safe haven.

Next Saturday, there will be a walkathon in Lakeland to raise money for this worthy group. Pledges and donations are tax deductible and help those in the community who have a harder time helping themselves.

Would you please support me in the efforts to help Noah's Ark ?

If you wish to make a contribution, email me at SuzanneCalling at gmaildotcom. Any help in making a difference is welcomed and appreciated.

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