(Photo courtesy of Opportunity Village)
Troy R. came to Opportunity Village not knowing what to expect. He was nervous and unable to express himself, stemming from intellectual disabilities. Over time, Troy was assimilated into the organization’s Fine Arts program, Employment Resource Center and Pathway to Work and has since evolved. Going to Opportunity Village was a pivotal moment that helped define Troy as a confident individual with a sense of independence.
Parents seeking to improve the lives of their children with intellectual disabilities spurred the creation of what is now the largest non-profit community rehabilitation program in Nevada. In 1954, seven Las Vegas families founded OV, defying the notion that people with disabilities are without hope and unemployable. Since its conception, OV has served adults with intellectual disabilities through their programs, with over 2,000 people benefitting annually.
“We’ve been in the community for over 60 years and the organizational mission is to serve adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to enhance their lives and the lives of their loved ones and we do that through a variety of programs and services mainly dayhabilition, job training, and supportive services to advance them through working crews in Las Vegas. That in a nutshell is the goal of the organization,” Adam K. Joseph, Vice President of Philanthropy at Opportunity Village, stated.
PRIDE is an OV program that caters to people with “the severest level of disability, many of them are wheelchair-bound and need help being fed,” Joseph said. There is a full time nursing staff onsite to assist with the clients’ medical needs. Joseph mentioned that more people are now moving to Las Vegas to be a part of the program.
ENABLE program differentiates from Pride in that its clients “have a greater level of ability,” according to Joseph. Activities for the participants include classes on reading, assistive technology devices, and socialization, plus pet therapy. Participants in both the Pride and Enable programs also go to community outings.
EMPLOYMENT RESOURCE CENTER brings to fruition the “Pride, Purpose, and a Paycheck” mantra at the core of Opportunity Village. “ERC is the heartbeat of Opportunity Village,” Joseph said. He expounded, “We have business lined in the ERC which is typically contractual work so we are working with, for example, some of our wonderful casino partners at the MGM or Golden Nugget and they’re giving us contracts for packaging and production and adults with disabilities are on those work crews so they have a sense of pride coming into work every single day.”
FINE & PERFORMING ARTS PROGRAM encourages its participants’ creative side through art, music, dance and theater. Joseph cites that for some clients who are “non-verbal,” the program is “their way that they’re able to tell you how are they feeling.” The program helps promote self-expression and social interaction through artwork exhibition and sale, or with the participants performing at OV special events.
PATHWAY TO WORK is a training program to assist participants in transitioning from employment based at OV to jobs that are community-based. “Pathway and part of our job discovery program efforts are really about identifying individuals that have disabilities at a younger age, and working on planning their progression as they mature in finding employment opportunities for them in the community,” Joseph said.
Opportunity Village’s popular fundraising event, Magical Forest, showcases the spirit of the holidays through magnificent lights, trees, rides and entertainment. However, if there was one thing Joseph would like people to know about the organization, it’s that OV is beyond Magical Forest. “It’s a long-standing tradition here in the community, but we do so many other great things here,” he said.
People can help through: Volunteering – work with clients or staff within the programs; Donating – cash gifts, annual giving, or items for the OV Retail Store; and Supporting fund-raising events – through their time, sponsorship, or offering products and services.
“Without our volunteers, the mission of OV would be really tough,” Joseph acknowledges, adding that volunteering one’s time is “a beautiful way to have a connection with a charity like OV.” For more information, visit opportunityvillage.org and their social media sites.
Opportunity Village’s social media posts include success stories for its clients like Amanda D., who said that OV “changes people’s lives” and Kim D., who said “It gives me joy to wake up every day and have a job and get to work with the people I want to work with.”
As for Troy, he proclaims on the organization’s website that whenever he goes to Opportunity Village and church, My Father’s House Las Vegas, “They are happy when they meet me, when they come to the door say when they go out, they are still happy to see me.” This statement, sublime in its purity, ought to make Opportunity Village proud.
By: Olivia Kuntz