Friday, November 23, 2012

Keeping Our Promises

Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) hosted its Annual Auction and Benefit Dinner in September, a fundraising event we have held for the past nine years.  This event, and its theme of “Keeping Promises,” is a huge undertaking for our staff that begins several months before it happens.  I am continuously amazed and touched by the support our Owensboro community gives to this effort.  In addition to several businesses that sponsor the event, well over two-hundred businesses and individuals donate incredible items valued from $15 to $1500 to our silent and live auctions.  Over 420 people attend the benefit held at the Owensboro Sportscenter that transforms into a beautiful setting supporting our theme.  Countless hours go into finalizing details during the few weeks and days before the event; and the payoff is worth it.  Everyone, staff included has a good time, and the generosity that flows during the auctions bring tears of pride to one’s eyes.  The enthusiastic support for WFC and keeping our promises to the individuals we serve is overwhelming to the heart.

WFC’s “Keeping Promises” continues long after the event.   In an advertising campaign launched in September, we share how WFC and this community are keeping our promises to those with developmental disabilities through advertisements, radio and TV spots, and billboards.  You may have already seen the faces of people who benefit from our efforts to support and empower them to reach their potential.   WFC has fulfilled this mission since 1947, and within the past year is increasing its efforts to a new meaningful level through a concept of “person-centered” service.  The truth is Wendell Foster’s Campus and its staff have consistently committed themselves to empowering individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) for decades.  In fact, it has been the best-kept secret in town; but not anymore!  The Owensboro community will meet the people we serve, men and women such as Denise, Josh and Gary.

Owensboro will meet Denise who had no voice, but loves to talk and now can, thanks to the generosity of donors attending the 2010 Auction and Benefit Dinner.  When Denise arrived in 2008, she communicated with only her eyes, but made the request of WFC to help her find a better way to “talk” with and to people.  WFC and our speech therapy department kept that promise.  Today, Denise communicates what is on her mind through a computer communication device that utilizes her eyes to select what she wants to say.  She shares her witty sense of humor, and volunteers to read to elementary and preschool children in town.

Josh is a young man with a vibrant personality, and as a social butterfly, he loves meeting people.  Josh also loves photography, capturing a point of view from his wheelchair that gives others a fresh new perspective through his lens.  After Josh graduated from high school, WFC renewed its promise to support him in becoming an active and contributing adult in our community.  Josh volunteers at our front reception desk, and helps manage our on-Campus recycling program.  He is also the caretaker of his Cottage’s raised-garden box, and recently started a new job with Hugh E. Sandefur Industries.

Gary’s history with Wendell Foster’s Campus began when he was seven years old, arriving into the care of Mr. and Mrs. Foster in 1953. His goal?  Independence.  In 1982, Gary moved into his own home for many years before returning to WFC in 2008.  He moves around town in his wheelchair, from the south end for lunch at Show Me’s restaurant to the north end to check out the riverfront reconstruction.  Gary (seen above in photo by Gary Emord-Netzley of Messenger-Inquirer) knows everyone in town, and everyone knows Gary because WFC kept its promise to empower him in his mobility and ability to remain an active member of our community.

Wendell Foster’s Campus is not just keeping our promises to those we serve with developmental disabilities.  We are also keeping our promises to a community who supports and generously donates to our efforts for over the last six decades.  More importantly, we the staff and board members are keeping our promise to Wendell and Edith Foster to continue their life’s legacy: the commitment to their vision and dream of supporting individuals with developmental disabilities.
While our Campus has greatly changed over the years, our staff and board stay the course in fulfilling our mission to empower individuals with developmental disabilities in reaching their dreams and their potential.  Today, we renew our commitment and promise to focus our efforts more on each individual, and his and her uniqueness in order to bring forth even more their potential.  In doing so, we open up even more possibilities for them  to create an even greater quality of life.

In the Next Blog Entry:  I AM Not My Body". . . we see these individuals’ “story” depicted more clearly through the physiological appearance of their bodies . . . . Their physical appearances only tell part of a story:  . . . . . physically abused as a child. . . . . suffered a head injury . . .  carried in pregnancy by a mother addicted to drugs. . . . "

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1 comment:

  1. I love seeing Gary going up and down Fredrica Street. I have seen him wheeling around town for as long as I can remember. To me, he is an Owensboro icon!