In the face of funding challenges, program got creative
When the goin’ gets tough, the tough get crafty.Or so is the mantra at Choices Transitional Services, a day program in Truckee where developmentally disabled adults learn practical life skills.Since it opened in June 2002, the program, like many others in California, has suffered funding shortfalls from the state. In effect, the program’s participants, called “consumers,” have had to fill that gap by reaching into their own pockets.”It’s always been a bad economic climate since we’ve been here. It has always been a struggle,” said Marilyn Moon, director of the Choices day program. “Everything is frozen as far as getting money for clients that we have.”So Moon got creative and found a way to make the program’s funding more sustainable. Thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation, Moon was able to stock her cupboards full of art supplies so the consumers could make crafts and then sell them. In effect, the consumers tap into their creative side – and learn a few basic business skills – making money for their trips and programming while they’re at it.
For Choices consumer Aimee Damon, knowing that people are buying what she makes is a source of pride.Raising money for outings “is good,” she said after showing off some holiday gift bags she painted. “It makes me feel good.”A young program, a valuable programLocal developmentally disabled adults haven’t always had a program like Choices. Since most of the consumers can’t drive, they would spend most of their days at home, often alone.
The closest day program was more than an hour away in Roseville, until local parents lobbied the Sacramento-based Alta Regional Center – which funds Choices with state dollars – for a program closer to home.Clare Aguera remembers the time before Choices, when her sister-in-law Carmen was part of the Alta Regional Center Independent Living Program. One to two days each week a teacher would come and take Carmen on an outing. It was better than nothing, she said, but without a daily program Carmen had to stay at home by herself most days while Aguera and her husband worked.Now, 51-year-old Carmen looks forward to going to Choices every day.”She’s always ready early,” Aguera said. “She stands at the door 10 to 15 minutes before they come to pick her up, waiting.”Aguera gives the community a lot of the credit for the success of Choices.
“The [participants] do try to pay for their trips individually, and I know it’s tough for some of them to afford it,” she said. “All of these donations are very helpful to them.”Whether Choices’ consumers are benefiting through social activities, balancing a check book or making crafts to sell, Moon credits local residents for Choices’ success.”The community is a very important part of why Choices is able to run a quality program,” Moon said.See next week’s Sierra Sun for a story on the North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation’s holiday food project.
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