As more and more adults with autism, Down Syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities age out of school they become dependent on government benefits for support.
South Florida community leaders have formed Work for America “to assist in the formation of enterprises designed to create employment opportunities for these special needs adults,” said Tom Whitehurst, CEO and founder of the new nonprofit group.
At a recent gathering at Our PRIDE Academy, Whitehurst presented a check to Danny Cartaya, manager of OPA Works, a program that will eventually create jobs for more than 50 adults at the academy.
OPA is a school for the under 22-year-old and a day program for adults with special challenges.
“We have a mission of creating adult services, both employment and residential, for our Special Needs community in South Florida,” Whitehurst said.
After the check presentation, guests took a tour of the facilities, including the laundry, candle packaging and bistro and were then treated to a special breakfast made and served by the future employees of OPA Bistro.
The snacks were inspired by Alex Casanova, principal of Eating House Miami restaurant, who attended the ceremony. Eating House is collaborating with the OPA Bistro as part of the groundbreaking project.
Also in attendance were Loreen Chant, CEO Easter Seals South Florida; Julie Salas, executive director Autism Speaks South Florida Chapter; Blake Sando, president Coral Gables Bar Association; Dennis Pastrana, retired president and CEO Goodwill Industries of South Florida; Susan Morantes, the Dan Marino Foundation; Cristina Cartaya, principal Our Pride Academy; Jenn Feinstein and Rhonda Ginsburg Labbie, University of Miami CARD board members; Silvia Planas-Prats, of Miami is Kind; and Helene Furgang; Veronica Martinez; and Marie-Ilene Whitehurst.
To learn more about OPA visit http://ourprideacademy.org/ and to get involved in helping those in the special needs community contribute through work, contact Whitehurst at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to the members of the Rotary Club of Coconut Grove who were honored for “all of their good volunteer and financial works in the community” in a proclamation from the City of Miami.
The club donated much time and $50,000 to support the local Titans youth football teams and cheerleading squads. Through the efforts of club members, and assistance from the city, new fields, a scoreboard, a new snack stand and a track are now available at the renovated Armbrister Park.
“None of this would have taken place if the Rotarians had not gotten involved,” said Commissioner Marc Sarnoff in a release.
“Today is a special day for our club,” said new president Margaret Nee. “We appreciate having our many years of service to Coconut Grove, and areas abroad, recognized by the City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. This Proclamation underscores the tremendous value of each member and their individual commitment to ‘service above self.’ It was my honor and privilege to accept this on behalf of every past and present member of the Coconut Grove Rotary Club.”
Members also work with Casa Valentina to “provide resources to renovate housing for youths leaving foster care and transitioning into the workforce.”
And Rotary International recently approved a $50,000 grant to the club to help in the group’s work to purchase and outfit an ambulance to serve Mayan villages in northwest Guatemala.
The Rotary Club of Coconut Grove meets each Thursday at 12:30 p.m. at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club, 2990 S. Bayshore Dr. Lunch is $20. All are welcome. To learn more about upcoming speakers and events, and how to get involved, visit http://www.coconutgrove.rotary-clubs.org/
LECTURE FOR CAREGIVERS
A free lecture, “A Caregivers’ Guide: How to Do the Job Well While Preserving Your Own Well-Being” will be presented from 1 to 2:30 p.m., Nov. 5, at the Pinecrest Branch of Miami-Dade Public Library, 5835 SW 111th St. The contact number for the library is 305-668-4571.
Ronnie Botwinick Londner, instructor at University of Miami Continuing Education, will lead the talk and topics include: “legal, medical, and financial issues; how to deal with difficult circumstances such as dementia and other mental disturbances as well as confrontational family members; how to guard the dignity of your loved one; and how to help yourself avoid or recover from burnout.”
Londner said the class also will include “practical work with useful handouts and end with gentle physical moves for stress release.”
The hard-working members of The New Neighbors Club of South Dade will hold their annual fundraiser with socializing starting at 11 a.m., followed by the meeting and luncheon, Nov. 11 at the Killian Palms Country Club, 9950 SW 104th St.
The special event is open to everyone and will include holiday gifts for sale at the Treasures for Cash and a baked goods sale. Members will make delectable cookies, cakes and other homemade goodies to help raise funds to support the monthly programs, special guests, and the many other activities offered each month by The New Neighbors Club.
November is also the annual food drive for The Homestead Food Pantry. Attendees are asked to bring canned goods, cereal, pasta and peanut butter to help feed those in need. Meda Jensen, of the Homestead Food Pantry, will be a luncheon guest.
New Neighbors has a mission to help you make friends with all your neighbors and create community awareness while enjoying good times. Go to http://newneighborssouthdade.webs.com/
BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS
One of the best fundraisers of the year is hosted by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade to help support the afterschool and summer camp programs to over 8,000 community youth.
The ninth annual “Wild About Kids” gala is set for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, 455 Grand Bay Dr. Each year, the event draws community leaders, donors and celebrities alike in an effort to help local youth. Gabriela Rachadell de Delgado and Elizabeth Patino are chairing the grand event with the theme “True Colors.”
The evening will feature a VIP look at the Spring 2016 collection by designer Angel Sanchez, and will include live entertainment by Juniors Entertainment, silent auctions, special youth performances, and the “Wild About Kids After-Party.” Tickets are still available at $50 for the after party. To purchase tickets or to get more information visit http://bgcmia.org/
If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at email@example.com.