People Helping People: "Serving individuals with disabilities"

Creative Enterprises (CEI), a non-profit organization serving individuals with disabilities, is located in Lawrenceville on 701 Hi Hope Lane (just off of Hi Hope Road). It is dedicated to the belief in the dignity and worth of people with special needs and their right to rehabilitation, treatment, education, and other services in the least restrictive environment. It assists others in developing an optimum level of social, vocational, and economic independence in the community.

It has evolved over its history and now boasts an organized structure of classes and experiences that the clients can participate in. Within five buildings, a retail greenhouse, and a cat shelter, clients have rich opportunities to learn, live, and develop. Art, music, cooking, exercise, reading/writing classes and more compliment the structured activities here at Creative Enterprises. Staff is devoted to building useful and enjoyable moments for the clients each day they are there.

CEI has also established for several years now, a huge, lush vegetable garden with standard offerings of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, beans, squash, watermelon, and more. Clients help in every phase of this bi-annual effort. Veggies are sold on-site and at the Farmers Market on the Square in downtown Lawrenceville on Saturday mornings.

This is the fifth year for growing gourds on the fences, that when dried, are painted by the clients and sold at the county fair as well as at CEI. Creative Enterprises has taken home prizes for the gourd entries each year.

The cat shelter evolved from an effort to feed and alter feral cats that were living around the grounds of the facilities. The clients became concerned about their welfare and shortly thereafter, CEI applied and got a rescue license for cats. Today, CEI has built a facility specifically for its cats and kittens where people can come and visit, and hopefully adopt a cat for a small donation. It is not finished at the time of this article but is nearing completion. The labor was donated by Gwinnett Tech College and donations for materials are ongoing at this time.

These are examples of the commitment to build experiences for the clients that offer a life of richness and purposefulness.

One of the major fundraisers for CEI is its annual golf tournament. On Tuesday, August 25, CEI will hold its 16th Annual Charity Golf Classic being held at Lake Lanier's newly redesigned course, Legacy on Lanier. The public is encouraged to play in this scramble format. The registration fee is $125 per player so golfers and would-be golfers should come out and enjoy a wonderful course with a great cookout following play and prizes galore. Build a foursome of friends to play and support those less fortunate than others. Registration and information is on the Web site: www.ceisite.com.

Proceeds from the charity golf tournament assist in continuing the efforts mentioned here and to develop new programs at Creative Enterprises that benefit the clients. They are the reason for it all and the community can place value in what is being done at Creative Enterprises each day, each week, and each year.

Come out and join the party for a day of great fun, great food, and great purpose.

Leigh Couch is executive director of Creative Enterprises.

People Helping People is a weekly column written by the executive directors of nonprofit organizations in Gwinnett County. Need help or know someone that does? The Gwinnett Helpline directs callers to the appropriate nonprofit agency. Call 770-995-3339.