The Aspire Community Giving Fund (CGF) is built from employee donations and was created to provide financial assistance to the entire Aspire community of employees, supported individuals, and families. Distributing grants on a quarterly basis, the CGF Committee most recently awarded four grants to members of the Aspire community this fall that are already making a big difference in the lives of people across Aspire’s programs.
One adult who lives in a Massachusetts group home loves video games and didn’t have a console of his own. His housemate had a Nintendo Switch, but his constant requests to play were starting to interfere with their friendship. He didn’t have enough money to save up for the purchase, but thanks to a CGF grant he was able to obtain a Switch and two games, which he now plays every day. The grant also inspired a staff member to donate a TV to him. Once the TV is mounted on his wall, he can invite his housemate to join him in a game. Their relationship has improved already. “The individual is really happy now,” reports Program Director, Jason Burdett.
Six ALL Academy students in the transition program are pursuing a business opportunity with their CGF grant. A few months ago, they settled on making mason jar candles as a way to hone their business and social skills. They needed seed money to buy equipment and initial supplies, and the CGF grant filled that need. The students are making the candles from bulk bags of wax and wicks. The wax is melted in a special microwave-safe container, and each candle will have a unique color and scent. The grant will also cover a Cricut engraving tool to give jars and labels a polished and professional look. Senior Behavior Therapist Bryan Sisbarro predicts they’ll have their first candles made by Christmas.
The third grant went to the West Side group home in Maryland. The people who live in the home are medically fragile and all of them use wheelchairs for mobility. The grant is paying for an adaptive sensory rocking chair that will be part of a new sensory room in the home. Ultimately, the room will feature the rocking chair, new furniture, fun lighting, blackout curtains, music, TV, and interactive sensory items for each individual. According to director of residential services Kate Ohl, “The room will be a great way for them to engage with their environment and spend time together, especially on cold and rainy days.”
The final grant was given to Day Options in Maryland to purchase craft supplies. Individuals were able to make gifts for their families for Christmas. “Not all of them have thought about giving to their parents before–they’re more used to getting gifts from Mom and Dad,” says DSP Anthony Cummings. Each person had the choice of creating personalized mugs with decorative inserts or making custom character ornaments with their photos. The staff encouraged them to think about what their loved one would really like. More than 20 people participated, with many making several items. The gifts are helping individuals re-establish closeness with their families after the long separations of the pandemic.
Congratulations to the grant recipients for their creative ideas and hard work! And a heartfelt thank you to all the donors from the Aspire community. Because of you, people are discovering their passions, unlocking their potential and thriving.