Today is Giving Tuesday, a movement started several years ago in response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday is a chance for each of us to lend support through donations to an organization (or several!) that works for a cause close to your heart. Whether that’s the environment, poverty, freedom of speech, education, or any number of causes, please join in! Today I will share the organizations I support, with information about each one and a link to the donation page for each group so that you can participate in the #GivingTuesday movement. You can also go to https://www.givingtuesday.org/ for more guidance on contributing today.
Here’s my list:
EPIC Players, is a unique theater company for talented performing artists with developmental disabilities–like my daughter Samantha–to have opportunities to become paid professionals in the entertainment industry. To empower company members, EPIC provides non-traditional career training in the the performing arts, and stages challenging plays and cabarets for hands-on learning. Unlike other existing theater companies, EPIC is uniquely structured to include an acting ensemble of neurotypical and developmentally disabled artists for the the enrichment of both the cast and the audience. The company’s mission is to break down current social barriers prevalent in mainstream arts and redefine the face of theater. I personally LOVE the fact that EPIC stands for: Empower.Perform. Include Create. Finally, my unemployed daughter (and others like her) have a chance to share their talents with with the world!
Donations are used to produce professional performances committed to breaking down existing stereotypes surrounding actors with disabilities and to pioneer social change through the arts.
DreamStreet Theatre Company provides education and inspiration for developmentally disabled individuals with a passion for the performing and creative arts. Our performances attempt to break down stereotypes and illustrate the profound effect art can have on life. Samantha is also a member of this group and has made a couple of wonderful friends here.
Ever since my daughter Samantha was in high school, she has participated in the Adaptations program. Adaptations is a community of adults in their 20s and 30s with developmental and/or learning disabilities and a high level of independence. This program offers a place for individuals of all backgrounds to socialize, learn, grow, and deepen their connections to one another and the community. Through Adaptations’ programs and partnerships, my daughter and others have benefited from multiple pathways to fostering independence, expressing creativity, and experiencing the richness of community. Samantha was “discovered” in the Adaptations program where she was asked to audition and (ultimately) co-star in an award-winning short film, “Keep the Change about a young couple on the spectrum seeking romance and trying to navigate the neurotypical world. Keep the Change has since been expanded to a full-length feature that will be released in 2017. Samantha and I will always be grateful to Adaptations for this thrilling career opportunity in addition to the close friends she has made, and the social life she enjoys there.
AHA Association serves individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), their families, and the professionals who work alongside them, providing crucial resources and support throughout their lifetime, as they face challenges, build on their strengths and fulfill their potential. 90% of every dollar donated to AHA goes directly to providing and expanding its services. I have personally found AHANY’ director Pat Schissel extremely helpful and supportive.