Fundraisers usually held in the summer and early fall for three area nonprofit organizations have been canceled, but the groups continue to serve their clients.
The Elizabeth Richardson Center's Beach Bingo Bash will not be happening this year, but center supporters recently announced a "Christmas in July" benefit to help meet the needs of clients.
The group serves children and adults with disabilities in Washington, Benton and Madison counties. For adults, the group provides vocational training, job placement, community involvement and independent living options.
"Christmas in July" is intended to help provide for the needs of the adults who live in the Center's three intermediate-care group homes and those in supported living situations in the community. Like nursing homes, the group homes have been closed to visitors during the current covid-19 situation. Organizers have created an online wish list to help provide activities, games, craft supplies, coloring books and puzzles. The list can be accessed by visiting www.walmart.com/registry/registryforgood and searching for Elizabeth Richardson Center.
Services for preschool children ages 6 weeks to 5 years at the ERC Child Development Centers include speech, physical and occupational therapies. The centers are in Farmington, Fayetteville, Huntsville, Springdale and Siloam Springs, with the center in Springdale providing services for Hispanic and Marshallese families.
The organization also operates Richardson Industries, which employs adults with disabilities who provide contract services such packaging, assembly, light repair, sorting and labeling for businesses.
Life Styles Inc. will mark the 44th anniversary of its founding July 14 with cupcakes and plans a drive-through lunch/parade on July 17.
The group held its final Polo in the Ozarks last year after 30 years of the annual event. Organizers say plans are in the works for a new fundraiser in the coming months.
Founded in 1976, Life Styles set out to help people with disabilities live independently in their communities rather than being institutionalized. The nonprofit began with the capacity to help 10 clients.
The organization now offers a range of services through programs that include supported living, supported employment and an educational program, the College for Living. There are also extensive visual and performing arts opportunities for clients.
The inaugural SOAR NWA hot air balloon event in 2019 to benefit Open Avenues saw some 10,000 guests and featured hot air balloon rides, activities and entertainment. This year's event was set for Aug. 22, but organizers announced recently: "We are heartbroken to have to cancel our only annual fundraising event as we need the revenue now more than ever."
"But we knew this was the right, socially responsible thing to do," said Kelly Sampson, development director for Open Avenues. "We are incredibly grateful for the incredible support from companies like Sam's Furniture, Walmart, General Mills and so many others."
Sampson said the nonprofit will hold the Quest:NWA scavenger hunt benefit Oct. 23-25. Teams of six will compete independently with stops throughout Northwest Arkansas from which participants will submit photos.
Open Avenues serves adults with disabilities and helps its clients live as independently as possible while being active participants in the community at large. The nonprofit organization provides employment and job skills training along with job placement services.
For more event photos -- nwadg.com/photos/society.
Columnist Carin Schoppmeyer can be reached by email at [email protected]
At a Glance
Christmas in July
Who: Elizabeth Richardson Center
Mission: “Providing hope, independence and opportunity for children and adults with disabilities.”
When: Through July
Where: Wish list online at walmart.com
Information: (479) 872-1800 or ercinc.org
Who: Life Styles Inc.
Mission: “Life Styles enthusiastically supports adults with developmental disabilities in reaching their full potential as contributing members of the community.”
Information: (479) 521-3581 or lifestylesinc.org
Who: Open Avenues
Mission: “Open Avenues empowers adults with disabilities by providing employment education, life skills training, and meaningful work.”
Next: Quest:NWA scavenger hunt benefit Oct. 23-25.
Information: (479) 636-5082 or openavenues.org