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PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: Gratitude for the adults at Hi-Hope Center

By Susan Boland Butts

It’s that time of year again when we find ourselves ambushed by activity and depleted by myriad demands. Despite the bustle, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to the adults at Hi-Hope Service Center.

The Center’s mission is to support adults with developmental disabilities by building and sustaining individual independence. I am thankful for all they do to contribute to our community through their volunteer activities.

• Marty assists with sorting food each week at the Lawrenceville Cooperative Ministry.

• Carl calls Bingo at the Eastside Gardens Assisted Living Center.

• Groups of individuals who attend Hi-Hope’s weekday Community Access program deliver Meals on Wheels to seniors in Norcross and Lawrenceville.

• Bruce dusts and organizes the “Teen Section” at the Lawrenceville Library.

• Jena cares for animals at the Georgia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

• The Hi-Hope Community Choir recently performed at the Emeritus Assisted Living Center in Duluth. They will be back at Emeritus on Dec. 19, following performances earlier in December at Life Care and the Buford Senior Center.

Stepping out to give back to their community does not come without its challenges. Individuals with developmental disabilities encounter many challenges in their attempts to be accepted, valued community members. Only 30 years ago, most persons with developmental disabilities were in the shadows of society and even today continue to face societal prejudice.

Community members are often afraid of others who are different and make them uncomfortable. It may be difficult for developmentally disabled individuals to communicate effectively and they have mobility challenges because of their physical disabilities. Unfortunately, all of these differences become barriers to them as they seek to contribute.

Susan Boland Butts is executive director of Hi-Hope Service Center.

People Helping People is a publication of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health & Human Services. For more information contact Ellen Gerstein - ellen@gwinnettcoalition.org or at 770-995-3339.

Supporting adults to build a bridge between themselves and their community is a key part of Hi-Hope’s mission. Life change often occurs as a result of meaningful relationships which are often established through a volunteer opportunity. Hi-Hope’s staff members nurture these bonds on an ongoing basis. These relationships serve to reduce the isolation from their communities that adults with developmental disabilities often feel. These relationships also enrich community members who are blessed to share an interest, give of their time, or just share a moment with the adults supported by Hi-Hope. Breaking down the barriers that diminish community engagement, opening up channels of communication and building understanding between people results in changed lives. This is the work that Hi-Hope has been committed to and will continue to work toward.

The alternative to a program like Hi-Hope for individuals with developmental disabilities is often one of isolation, stagnation and devaluation. Offering individuals the opportunity to build community, experience personal growth and obtain significance is the life-transforming work to which Hi-Hope aspires. Further, our community is changed when all individuals are welcomed. Working to show our community that we are more alike than we are different from individuals with developmental disabilities enriches our community. Our community is transformed when all of us can participate and contribute. So, thank you, Marty, Carl, Bruce, Jena, choir members and our Meals on Wheels volunteers — you inspire me and enhance our communities.

Won’t you join me in expressing your thanks?