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Hendry County Commissioner, Janet Taylor, Joins UCP-SWFL To Celebrate Black History Month

Special thanks to Hendry County Commissioner, Janet Taylor (far left); Barbara Dikes (upper right), library volunteer and Florida Thomas (lower right), Director of the Harlem Library!!
Special thanks to Hendry County Commissioner, Janet Taylor (far left); Barbara Dikes (upper right), library volunteer and Florida Thomas (lower right), Director of the Harlem Library!!

Hendry County Commissioner, Janet Taylor, joined United Cerebral Palsy of Southwest Florida in Clewiston to celebrate Black History Month.  The event was organized by Clewiston’s Harlem Library and it encouraged local residents to learn more about the significant contributions African-Americans have made in the ornate tapestry of U.S. History. This is especially important to people with disabilities as the disability rights movement was modeled upon the success of the civil rights movement of the 1960′s.

By reading works of the time and historic biographies, the Director of the Harlem Library, Mrs. Florida Thomas and Barbara Dikes, dedicated library volunteer, hope to celebrate the richness of Black History Month by sharing the personal experiences of key historic leaders and social change agents. The month-long-celebration featured literature, highlighted inventions, identified social justice milestones and allowed people the opportunity to share their love of the written word created by African Americans.

UCP’s Office Manager, Debbie Howell said that, “Our purpose in participating together is to make everyone aware of the rich heritage we all share.”

Success Story: A Volunteer Is Born

Newt Gingrich For most people, there is a certain level of love/hate associated with one’s first entry level job. We all love and appreciate that first opportunity of just “getting our foot in the door”, but we do not necessarily love some of the drudgery associated with first job responsibilities. That being said, the excitement of one’s first job in his/her chosen profession never goes away!!

That is definitely the case for Ms. Cindy Parks of Clewiston. After working on pre-vocational skills at UCP of Southwest Florida in Clewiston, Cindy was recently approved as a volunteer for Harvest Academy Elementary School. Cindy will assist with clerical office duties, as well as volunteer in classrooms working with young students. This is a life-long dream for Cindy who wants to eventually become a teacher or teacher’s aide.

As part of the volunteer process, Cindy was formally interviewed, given an official school spirit shirt and even added to the staff birthday calendar! Cindy is both excited and ready for the challenge. Leslie Steiner UCP Area Director stated, “We are so proud of Cindy’s hard work and dedication. Cindy is always up for a challenge and willing to help. She will be an excellent complement to Harvest Academy’s staff.”

As for Cindy, she could not be happier. She is ready for the next chapter in her journey… Way to go, Cindy!!

Commissioner Janet Taylor Shares Valentines With Clewiston ADT

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Hendry County Commissioner Janet Taylor came to visit the Clewiston Adult Day Training (ADT) Center as part of our UCP Valentine’s Day celebration. Support of diversity and community inclusion is a family tradition in the Taylor household. One of Commissioner Taylor’s nieces is a long term employee at the ADT and Taylor’s daughter owns a home that provides community living opportunities for three individuals with intellectual challenges. During the day, the District 1 Commissioner shared her depth of knowledge about Black History month and let everyone in attendance know about upcoming festivals in the local Harlem Community. UCP and those we serve are very excited about working on a float for the Brown Sugar Parade!

Mrs. Taylor has been a county commissioner for 19 years. She shared her growth as a public servant and described how she started as a police officer and eventually moved on to a career in politics when she was appointed by the governor of Florida as a County Commissioner. We are so pleased to have Commissioner Taylor as our advocate and friend.

As part of her presentation, Commissioner Taylor surprised program attendees with a personal photo of herself with President Obama. In turn, she was thrilled to learn that Clewiston’s self-advocates knew so much about the first African-American President, his wife and his commitment to people with disabilities. Taylor was especially pleased to meet so many registered votersattending the Clewiston ADT.

We look forward to working with Commissioner Taylor and other members of the County Commission to secure funding and ensure access to services for people with disabilities throughout Hendry County. In addition, we hope to host the Commissioner and Senator Dwight Bullard in the very near future! … maybe Developmental Disabilities in the State of Florida on March 7, 2013.

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Clewiston ADT Gives Back & Celebrates Big!

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Recently, Matt Damon put pen to paper and wrote an article for Parade Magazine on the importance of giving back. In it, he urged readers to, “Please find out what you can do to make a difference. Take five minutes to educate yourself on an issue you didn’t know about before. Then tell somebody else. Or make a small donation, if you can. Every dollar counts. Charitable foundations would rather have a million people donate $1 each than have a handful of people write big checks, because that means millions of us are getting involved. If you give $5 and talk to your neighbor about giving $5, that’s a big deal. If that conversation goes on across the country, we’ll really start moving some mountains.”

The individuals who receive services at the Clewiston ADT did more than just respond to the “Give Back Challenge”, they exceeded expectations! Throughout the year, these dedicated residents of Clewiston routinely collect school supplies, food and other items for their under-served neighbors. This year, the ADT attendees used the holiday season as an opportunity to take their commitment to giving back to the “next level.” Individuals from the Clewiston ADT collected food, created Christmas feast food baskets, personally delivered the baskets, had a gift exchange and then, finally celebrated the season of giving in style. It has been an amazing week at the Clewiston ADT and they have the photos to prove it!

Clewiston Businesses Rally To Support UCP of Southwest Florida’s Basket Project

Debbie Grant collects gift cards from Walgreens and donations from local vendors to support community projects. Individuals receiving services from UCP of Southwest Florida in Clewiston are already preparing for the holiday season. More than forty individuals with intellectual and physical challenges are working to raise money for less fortunate residents in Clewiston. To date, the group has raised $650.00. The money will be used to build holiday baskets filled with gift cards, food and personalized artwork from members of the UCP group. If you are interested in supporting this community project or volunteering, please contact dgrant@sunrisegroup.org.

Baskets will be hand-delivered by the group throughout the community in the months of November and December. Please check back in often to see our progress on this community project!