AWS Foundation Announces $504,708 in Grants

Fort Wayne, IN ─ The AWS Foundation recently awarded $504,708 in grants to 18 non-profit organizations that benefit individuals with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities in Northeast Indiana. These organizations include:

Achieva Resources: $70,000 for the Guardianship Program.

Audiences Unlimited: $13,910 to pilot a Music Enrichment program at Life Adult Day Academy.

Carey Services: $13,250 matching grant for vehicle purchase and accessibility modifications.

Churubusco Elementary School: $12,500 for classroom sensory kits.

Coesse Elementary School: $10,000 for sensory room.

Community Transportation Network (CTN): $23,264 matching grant for two lift-equipped vehicles.

GiGi’s Playhouse: $27,500 for a career development program.

Huntington University: $35,000 for the ABLE program.

Joe’s Kids: $25,000 for operating support.

Magical Meadows: $15,000 for the therapeutic riding program.

Mental Health America: $30,000 for Kids on the Block; $75,000 for Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and Incapacitated Adults (VASIA) program.

Pathfinder Services: $12,500 for Creative Abundance program.

RSVP of Allen County: $25,000 for I CAN volunteer program.

Scherer Resources: $30,000 for vocational training and job placement program.

The League: $20,000 for Youth Services program.

Trine University: $36,000 for medical dispenser market research.

University of Saint Francis: $5,784 for Jesters’ North Campus Auditorium sound board.

Visiting Nurse: $25,000 for patient care and grief services.

AWS Foundation donates Buddy Benches to area schools to promote friendship for all people of all abilities in celebration of their 10th Anniversary.

Fort Wayne (August 10, 2017) – AWS Foundation, in celebration of their 10th Anniversary, will donate ten buddy benches to area schools to promote friendship for all people of all abilities. The buddy bench, combined with an education program, teaches children the importance of inclusion. Each bench displays an original design created by a local artist to honor four of the foundation’s founding board members: Ian Rolland, Ben Eisbart, Andy Brooks and Patti Hays.

“As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, it is important to recognize and honor the work done by several of the foundation’s founding board members as they retire from the board. With the community’s recent loss of Ian Rolland, this recognition seemed even more poignant,” says Tom O’Neill, AWS Foundation Board Chair. “Without their vision and leadership, AWS Foundation wouldn’t exist. They have helped thousands of people with disabilities in northeast Indiana.”

While it is common for any child to go through at least some period of social discomfort, studies show that children with intellectual and developmental disabilities tend to be less accepted by their peers, struggle more in social situations and experience feelings of isolation for extended periods. The buddy bench is a simple concept that has been adopted by educators around the world to support social acceptance.

“When a child feels lonely, they sit on the buddy bench to let others know they want someone to play with,” Patti Hays, CEO of AWS Foundation states. “Fellow students playing in the area see someone on the bench and know to ask them to play. It’s an easy way for kids to connect and make friends.”

Teachers spend countless hours in the classroom helping children improve academically. A buddy bench program helps educate children on the importance of acceptance, peer support and inclusion when they are at recess.

AWS Foundation Announces $1,514,122 in Grants

Fort Wayne, IN ─ The AWS Foundation recently awarded $1,514,122 in grants to 19 non-profit organizations that benefit individuals with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities in Northeast Indiana. These organizations include:

Bowen Center: $15,000 for Autism Center Certification.

Children’s Choir of Huntington County: $10,000 for the Joyful Songsters Inclusive Choir.

Citilink Access: $50,000 for on-demand Access service.

East Allen County Schools: $10,032 for TeachTown social skills curriculum for special needs elementary school classrooms.

Fairfield Elementary School: $10,000 for Pedals for Success classroom sensory equipment.

Fort Wayne Civic Theatre: $14,000 for Project “Lights Up!” productions.

Fort Wayne Youtheatre: $6,000 for Backstage Insight program.

Greater Fort Wayne, Inc.: $7,600 for two 2018 Leadership Fort Wayne scholarships for individuals with disabilities.

HearCare Connections: $25,000 for low-income hearing loss clinic and related services.

Indiana Deaf Camp Foundation: $5,000 for camper scholarships.

Junior Achievement: $30,000 for functional skills curriculum development and volunteer training.

Life Adult Day Academy: $30,000 for fire sprinkler system.

McMillen Health: $25,000 for Varied Abilities Days health and wellness programs.

NeighborLink: $30,000 for home maintenance and repair services for individuals with disabilities.

Passages: $70,000 for the Spotlight Avenue performing arts program and $20,000 for Creative Abundance arts program.

Turnstone: $114,490 for sports, recreation and wellness for youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities; $1,000,000 to help fund the Phase 2 Construction Project shortfall.

Visually Impaired Preschool Services: $17,000 for early intervention services in Northeast Indiana.

Woodside Middle School: $10,000 for a sensory room.

YWCA: $15,000 for inclusive playground equipment.

AWS Foundation icon

AWS Foundation’s 2016 Community Report

We are pleased to announce that our very first Community Report is now available! Growth and opportunity were central themes this past year with a record number of grants and dollars awarded totaling over $3.6 million.

Our 2016 Community Report offers an inside look at the positive impact our grant making has on individuals with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities, their families and caregivers. It features a few of the foundation’s nearly 100 grantees that highlight our five initiatives; Social Enrichment, Education and Employment, Transportation, Early Diagnosis, and Housing. Each reminds us that there are many facets to a life well lived and keeps us focused on our mission to make a difference in every way we can.

This report truly expresses who we are, what we do and our aspirations for tomorrow.  We are excited to share it with you and to hear your feedback!

Click on the icon shown to view the report online. If you would like a copy mailed to you, please complete the form below.

2016 Community Report

 

 

Patti Hays

Learning about disabilities while Finding Dory

The new Pixar movie, Finding Dory, premiered this past weekend to a record-setting opening for an animated film.  I was eager to hear about the next adventure of that charming little blue fish and visit once again with her friends-both old and new.  Just as expected, the unique personalities and depth of each character brought the story to life.

Characters Hank, a traumatized seven limbed octopus (Septapus) and master escape artist in search of solitude, Bailey the beluga whale who can’t echolocate and Becky, a disoriented bird who cleverly employs a pail as a rescue device all become our new friends.  Destiny, the near sighted Whale Shark, as well as the returning Nemo the clownfish with one malformed but amazingly functional fin, remind us of our own individual challenges.  This flawed but uniquely functional cast exemplifies the message that “…you can do whatever you put your mind to”.

I went in expecting a simple movie but was met with a film that gives each of us the opportunity to not only share this beautiful film with our children but to also discuss disability.  At the beginning of the movie, we see the sweet and easily distracted Dory, identified as having “short term memory loss.”  We learn how her parents support her path to independence by providing love, encouragement and realistic assistive devices.  We see determination and hard work paired with inspirational peer support helping others to reach their goals.  My favorite life message in the movie is preparing the child for the path rather than the path for the child demonstrated by Dory providing inspiration to Nemo and others to “just keep swimming.”

Unfortunately, Becky is characterized as “dimwitted” and there are images of bullying by a couple of sea lions to a smaller and less adept pup.  The audience I sat with laughed at these depictions but I hope that parents will see the opportunity to explain to their children other ways of seeing those with cognitive disabilities rather than as the object of humor or derision.

Dory is told by her parents that the best things happen by chance, and perhaps this film is a chance for families to include discussion about everyone’s varying abilities in life.  At AWS Foundation, we envision a community in which people with enduring disabilities are engaged fully and meaningfully in all aspects of life.   Finding Dory reminds us that working together; communities of diversity and inclusion are the ones we want to live in. See the Finding Dory preview by clicking here.

Patti Hays, CEO

AWS Foundation

AWS Foundation Announces $624,760 in Grants

Fort Wayne, IN ─ The AWS Foundation recently awarded $624,760 in grants to 19 non-profit organizations that benefit individuals with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities in northeast Indiana. These organizations include:

Achieva Resources Corporation: $62,079 to fund a volunteer guardian coordinator position and state and national certification training.

Bi-County Services: $50,000 challenge grant toward the $600,000 capital campaign for an inclusive community playground in Bluffton.

Cahoots Coffee Café: $35,000 to hire a job coach and develop a vocational training program with the Northeast Indiana Special Education Cooperative.

Camp Red Cedar:  $25,000 for camperships and adaptive recreation equipment.

Carey Services: $40,000 for Creative Abundance consultants and training for the new creative arts program.

Children’s Choir of Huntington County: $10,000 for the inclusive Joyful Songsters choir.

Deer Ridge Elementary School: $17,378 to expand the school’s sensory room.

East Allen County Schools: $26,700 for sensory rooms at Prince Chapman Academy and New Haven Middle School and develop an online sensory room training module.

Family Service Society: $25,000 for diagnostic and evaluative services for low-income children at risk for autism spectrum disorder, behavioral and related intellectual disabilities.

Fort Wayne Civic Theatre: $22,500 for three sensory-friendly performances for Project Lights Up!

Fort Wayne Museum of Art: $7,500 to research artists with disabilities for a proposed art exhibit.

Fort Wayne Youtheatre: $6,000 for the Backstage Insight sensory-friendly theatre program and workshops.

Greater Fort Wayne, Inc: $5,500 for two Leadership Fort Wayne scholarships for individuals with disabilities.

HearCare Connection: $30,000 for hearing aids and audiology services for low-income individuals with disabilities.

Ivy Tech Foundation: $50,000 for the greenhouse which will provide future hydroponic and culinary arts training and education for individuals with disabilities.

NeighborLink Fort Wayne: $25,000 to expand volunteer programs and home repairs for the disability community.

Parkview Huntington Family YMCA: $14,695 to purchase the multi-sensory BEAM system for the new Movement Studio.

The League: $20,000 for the Youth Services program for low-income special needs young adults.

Turnstone: $152,408 to expand recreational and social programming to the intellectual/developmental disability community and hire a program coordinator.