The OPARC Neighborhood
friends and family newsletter
Why a Family Newsletter?
With this issue, OPARC inaugurates its family newsletter — “The OPARC Neighborhood” — intended to bring news about this agency, and especially its valued clients, to those who entrust their loved ones to us.
This new effort reaches out to one of OPARC’s most important constituencies — YOU! We would like to keep you up-to-date on program developments, current needs, and most importantly, some of the wonderful things our clients achieve. We will also occasionally feature one or more direct care staff members — those most responsible for “enabling people with disabilities to achieve their full potential.”
I would value your comments about “The OPARC Neighborhood.” Please feel free to call me at (909) 985-3116 extension 25 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ron Wolff, President/CEO
My, how things have changed!
Some of you may remember the “bad old days” when people with disabilities were not welcomed in the community and wouldn’t dream of engaging in “regular” activities. Of course, those times are long gone (with rare exceptions). But it didn’t just happen on its own; the history of all civil rights movements in this country demonstrates that significant changes in public opinion occur only in the presence of both legal foundation and forceful practical reality.
The Lanterman Act in California (1969) and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) provide the legal foundation. OPARC provides the practical reality day after day, ensuring that “rights” are actually exercised and, in the process, continuing to mold public opinion.
OPARC’s Montclair, Ontario, and Rancho Cucamonga Adult Development Centers have adopted the goal of achieving at least 50% of aggregate client hours in the community. To that end, Monday through Friday, you will see a constant stream of clients using public transportation and OPARC vans to engage in numerous activities, including paid work, volunteer work, and recreational activities such as eating out, bowling, shopping, and going to the movies, just to name a few.
It is always a pleasure for me to witness these excursions! Kevin H., for example, who usually appears somewhat subdued in OPARC’s Rancho Cucamonga Adult Development Center, showed an unusual degree of animation when I saw him shopping at Target. The CDs and DVDs fascinated him!
Fun Times at Shakey’s
Today I visited Shakey’s Pizza in Upland while seven consumers and two staff members ate lunch. And eat they did — consuming enormous quantities not only of pizza but also of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and salad.
Some professionals in the field of developmental disabilities call this “restaurant training.” I call it “eating out” — community integration at its best!
They arrived in an OPARC van with wheelchair capability, which made it possible for William W. to participate. He paid his $5.43 with the assistance of case manager Alex Hill and proceeded into the dining area, the primary concession to his disability being that Alex fixed his plate for him — specifically including those items William wanted, indicated with a nod and a smile. Despite having limited movement in his arms and hands, William ate with little assistance; he seemed to especially enjoy the mashed potatoes and corn.
No doubt the restaurant lost money on Dallas B., a hungry 20-year-old who easily consumed well in excess of $5 worth of food, concentrating on chicken and pizza. Alex and his assistant, Instructor’s Aide Shanda McKeever, managed to eat their own lunches while constantly attending to the needs of their demanding clients.
“You’ve already had two!”
“May I go back?”
“Yes, but why don’t you wait a few minutes for what you’ve already eaten to digest.”
Maybe it was because these clients eat here frequently.
Or maybe it was because the cashier was simply a modern woman, accustomed to the fact that people come with all sizes, shapes, and levels of ability. In any case, she treated everyone with dignity and respect.
Stomachs full, happy to be part of an enjoyable activity, William, Dallas, Vivian C., Patrick N., Marcio F., Jose S., and Robin B. returned to the van for their return trip to the OPARC Ontario Adult Development Center — where “achieving your full potential” is an everyday occurrence.