For more than 40 years, Community Residences (CR) has advocated on behalf of people with disabilities. In partnership with a community of caring professionals, volunteers, families and community leaders, CR embraces a belief that every person has the right to participate in community life and contribute to its common well-being. Volunteerism embodies community inclusion. Offering and accepting volunteer support is essential in the fulfillment of CR’s mission.
CR’s relationship with CNCS began nearly two years ago with the award of an AmeriCorps Virginia Volunteer Generation Fund (VGF) grant. The VGF partnership promised progressive growth of CR’s modest volunteer program with an expectation to engage more than 100 new volunteers in the first year alone. VGF funding allowed CR to hire a consultant, set new systems in place, and begin volunteer recruitment and training. Volunteer engagement and retention strategies were adopted, and today CR is partnering with the community like never before. Anticipated benefits have been realized, but many unanticipated benefits have also been discovered.
Volunteers provide tangible and non-tangible benefits. When a group spends the morning raking, mulching and painting a CR group home – the result is clear and remarkable. When a church group runs bases for those who are unable at CR’s kickball tournament – that’s inspiring. When a family steps up on Saturday morning to hand out t-shirts and water at the 5K – the event is a success. However, when David chooses to forego his day program each Friday to sort eyeglasses for others whom he deems in greater need than he – that is profound. David is just one of the many adults with disabilities in a CR program who has asked staff for a chance to return the favor to their community.
Since its VGF award, CR has offered diverse service opportunities to the community. These have ranged from a team building partnership for a corporate group to a one-on-one companionship for a woman with mental illness. In addition to providing service opportunities to the greater community, CR has also sought volunteer opportunities for the adults within its own programs. Diverse opportunities have satisfied an array of interests and many of the individuals supported by CR have earned an AmeriCorps service award for significant achievement. The awards are certainly cherished, but the pride of contributing and connecting to the greater community is the real prize.
Community Residences provides personalized residential and community supports to adults, youth and children throughout Virginia and Maryland. Learn more at www.communityresidences.org.
Photos: Individuals supported in CR’s programs joined other volunteers in their community for the 2016 Mayors and Chairs event. The April event was hosted by CR in collaboration with Northern Virginia AmeriCorps partners. Volunteers took turns spreading mulch and assembling scatter gardens to share with the community to spread the word about volunteering.