'Villagers' ask what they can do for the community

In this column, I have talked to the readers of the Gwinnett Daily Post about Annandale Village two times this past year.

For many, the columns were an introduction to your neighbor of 36 years, and for others, the columns were just reminders of the special place tucked away on 124 acres in Gwinnett County.

We highlighted the life of one of our Villagers, made a request for support of our Jazzy Thing, which will occur on April 29, and thanked Gwinnett County for all its support.

Annandale Village, a private, nonprofit organization, is a residential community for adults with developmental disabilities. Some conditions associated with developmental disabilities are autism, cerebral palsy and mental retardation. As you have probably figured out, the residents of Annandale refer to themselves as Villagers, as do their staff and families.

In a season when we are accustomed to hearing the plea from nonprofits for funds, would you be surprised to hear: "What can we do for you?"

Make no mistake, Annandale Village continues to thrive only with generous contributions from our supporters in the community, but our residents - our Villagers - benefit from giving this time of year also.

Beginning each January, Villagers voluntarily begin contributing to a stocking fund (generally spare change supplemented by profits from recycling cans or having village-wide craft or rummage sales).

During their November Villager meeting, votes are taken for which local causes will make the Elf Visit List. About 40 volunteer Villager Elves will then scatter throughout Gwinnett on outings designed to stretch their stocking fund as far as it will reach.

Who made the cut this year? Two local grocery store food drives, the Gwinnett Animal Shelter, Goodwill, a local neighbor-in-need, Suwanee firefighters and police (home baked holiday cookies), and even some soldiers in Iraq.

As adults who receive care, imagine how empowering it is for the Villagers to fulfill a need in someone else's life.

Elf trips are highly anticipated - no Villager is denied a trip if they volunteer. The thank yous our Villagers receive from the community keep the elves coming back year after year.

In fact, if you have an organization that has hands-on volunteer projects during the year, consider our Villagers. What can they do for you, or more importantly, what can we do for each other?

In the past year, Annandale has continued to grow. We are serving more than 100 adults in our residential program, day program and skilled nursing facility.

If you think you know someone who may benefit from our services, you do not have to know all the answers. Just call Annandale and our staff will coordinate with everyone involved to determine eligibility and make any necessary arrangements.

To learn more about Annandale Village or how you can continue to help Annandale achieve its mission, please call 770-945-8381 or write by mail at 3500 Annandale Lane, Suwanee, GA, 30024.

- Sandy Weaver, Annandale's Arts and Activities Instructor of 15 years, contributed to this article.

"People Helping People" is a weekly column written by the executive directors of nonprofit organizations in Gwinnett County. Today's article was written by Adam Pomeranz, executive director of Annandale Village.

Need help or know someone who does? The Gwinnett Helpline directs callers to the appropriate nonprofit agency. Call 770-995-3339.