Gabby has been a gifted artist ever since she was a toddler. When she joined OFA’s Community Engagement program in 2016, she shared how important painting and drawing were to her Direct Support Professional (DSP) Shaun, who is also a gifted artist. Gabby and Shaun’s mutual interest in art benefitted the both of them, as they were able to teach each other unique tips and tricks to implement into their artwork.
Sean constantly encouraged Gabby to practice her talents and to give herself the opportunity to express herself through her love for art. Gabby has always wanted to improve her painting skills, so it seemed to be fate that she had been connected with Shaun. During their time together, Shaun taught Gabby different art mediums that she had never tried before.
From new sketching to painting techniques, Gabby broadened her art skills, and additionally received the guidance and resources needed to become more independent, self-reliant, and active in her community. Gabby was able to make long-lasting friendships with both the members in her Community Engagement group and with Shaun.
In the Fall of 2021, Options For All facilitated a “Park Art Day,” as a Community Engagement event. This event was aimed towards team bonding between our Community Engagement groups and team members. The event also provided new and exciting media content for the organization. With a demand for authentic artistry, OFA reached out to Gabby and asked her to help lead a body painting activity. Gabby was so excited for the opportunity to put her skills into action, and with the support of Shaun, she was able to execute a successful activity. Photos of her artwork are now used on the OFA website, and across social media.
Our Community Engagement program is not just another day program – it’s an opportunity to explore your talents and let them flourish.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced every organization to rethink how they meet the needs of those they serve. For Options For All, this meant finding new, innovative ways to connect our participants to staff and resources. We quickly revolutionized our process to create alternative services that allowed for remote learning and engagement. The aim was to deliver a meaningful curriculum that reinforced wellness and gave program participants a sense of inclusion. We wanted to improve our participants’ quality of life and address the challenges of social isolation and emotional disconnection. Now, participants can interact with each other and their Direct Service Professionals in a safe, virtual environment. According to OFA Engagement Coach Denice Patron, “It’s truly been a whirlwind, but we have been able to support and deliver services consistently and safely since the start of the public health crisis.
With the initial hurdle of moving to remote services met, the next objective was to provide the necessary technology to connect to participants who needed it. In August of 2020, Options For All held its inaugural Bow Ties & Sandals Gala, a virtual event that featured music, entertainment, and even a delicious, safely-delivered meal. Through the incredible support of gala attendees, we raised funds to purchase 300 iPads to be distributed to participants. “When we say ‘Options For All’, we mean it, said Hillarie Holcomb, OFA Marketing & Communications Manager. “Technology will no longer be a barrier for our participants”, continued Holcomb. Each individual’s needs have always been a top priority at Options for All. The purchase of these iPads helps ensure that both instructors and participants can continue building skills and achieving their goals.
Even with the unexpected switch from in-person to remote services, participants have genuinely thrived in this new, virtual environment. In 2020, 70% of OFA participants received remote services, logging over 11 million minutes in distance learning sessions. Thanks to the generosity of our incredible supporters, donors, and staff, Options For All has safely connected to participants —one iPad at a time.