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Friends Of Abilities First Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Human Service Organizations, Human Services

Mission: The mission of friends of abilities first is to promote abilities first to positively impact the lives of greene county citizens with developmental disabilities.

Programs: Art inspiredthe mission of art inspired is to create social enterprise employment opportunities which empower individuals with developmental disabilities. Art inspired provides springfield, missouri with products and services such as document disposal, art gallery space, craft activities for all ages, event hosting, and the opportunity to purchase unique art pieces and useful items made from recycled paper products all under one roof. The program creates an opportunity to provide employment for persons with developmental disabilities, many of whom have outstanding talents, but may find it difficult to find employment. Our most innovative and largest source of revenue is an environmentally conscious system which turns paper waste into custom, creative and usable pieces of art. There are currently 24 people employed by art inspired. Positions include:* general manager* store manager* assistant store manager* product developer* sales floor staff* driver* merchandise production staff* outside sales manager* production managerthe vision of art inspired is to continue to offer a sustainable, meaningful work environment for individuals with developmental disabilities. We want to become an integral part of the business and art community in springfield and serve as a leader in environmental sustainability and innovative business solutions for years to come. Art inspired is dedicated to enhancing and positively impacting the lives of its employees and those who live and work in the springfield community. The concept is inspired by our employees who continue to be a source of inspiration every day. We are inspired by the idea of supporting local business; we are inspired by the way springfield citizens come out to support the community. With this inspiration as our foundation, we hope to reach new levels of innovation, integration, and community involvement. We are proud to provide opportunities that change people's lives.

friends of abilities firstfriends of abilities first was formed because of growing needs that people with developmental disabilities have but which cannot be funded by the tax levy from abilities first. The program currently raises funds and accepts donations to assist in meeting the needs of eligible individuals. Friends of abilities first's priorities are to help educate the general public about issues related to developmental disabilities, and to provide funds and other resources to assist the individuals served by abilities first in covering the needs and expenses not covered by available resources. Friends of abilities first has assisted individuals with rent, utilities, washers and dryers, fans, funeral expenses, clothing, camp, bus passes and miscellaneous items. The number of people served with funding since inception is 258. The number of people served with donated goods is approximately 4,135. The major fundraiser for friends of abilities first is the price cutter charity golf fundraiser. As people learn more about friends of abilities first, they choose to donate to our organization and patronize our sales.

inspired boutique

Community Stories

1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Friends of Abilities First raises money for--and educates the community about—people with developmental disabilities in Greene County, Missouri. They are the “friends” of Abilities First, (working name for the Greene County Board for Developmental Disabilities). The hundreds of people whom they serve every month each have their own unique story; I would like to share with you just one of those stories that has been shared with me, and I believe you will become one of their champions just as I have!
This is a true story; the names have been changed to protect the privacy of the family.
Donnie is the legal guardian of his younger brother, Roger. Let me start by telling you about Donnie, who was propelled into the role of head of the household at a very early age, probably fourteen, maybe younger. Donnie’s father, Bennie, already in his eighties when Donnie was born, was a strict disciplinarian. In fact, people who remember him will tell you he was “meaner than a junk yard dog”. Donnie remembers one occasion when, as punishment for some transgression, his dad made him take off his clothes, after which Bennie soaked his son’s body with bug spray. “Burned like hell,” Donnie remarked. But, incredible as it may seem, Donnie holds no animosity toward his father. In fact, some ten years after his death at age ninety-three, the room in which the old man died has been locked and never again opened. Why? Because Bennie left instructions that it was to be that way. And Donnie never considered anything other than to comply. So it is that Donnie, his wife, his son, his mother and Roger, all live together in the little family home with the room that is never again to be entered.
To help you understand why I feel so moved to be a part of the work that Friends of Abilities First does, I must fill in a few more details. Donnie’s mother has always been, or became so as a result of being married to the infamous Bennie, shall we say--a hard woman. Once she threw a glass of water in Sheryl’s (Donnie’s wife) face just because she wanted to. But she is quite elderly, and nothing is done to alter her behavior—not by Donnie or by Sheryl. Then there is Donnie’s fourteen-year-old son, Lil’ Donnie. Lil’ Donnie is “slow”, (as the family puts it), and does not understand why he is forced go to school. He has been put back a year--or maybe two-- and is suspended (much to his delight) on a regular basis. He reasons that his dad didn’t finish school, and he does all right working as an aide in a nursing home. His father explains that he quit school to care for his ailing father, to keep him from being put in a nursing home. And because he didn’t get to complete his education, Donnie exerts every kind of effort to keep his son in school—moving him to a different district when he must, imploring teachers to give him another chance, and literally delivering him to the school door to make sure he actually goes in.
Donnie’s wife, his third wife—why would anyone stay for long?—is a fragile woman with a heart condition. She has suffered a lot of abuse in her life. Living in a home with a roof over her head, even if it occasionally leaks, knowing where her next meal is coming from, is enough to keep her reasonably content. But, now, you should know a little more about the house. It’s really a tiny little shack; in place of ceiling tile, Donnie has stapled black plastic. The floors are bare wood, splintered and rotted in some places, but Donnie always finds a way to shore up the defects and keep the family relatively safe from falling through. There is not actually enough room in the house for the whole family, so Donnie and Sheryl sleep in a shed in the back yard, furnished to look, for all practical purposes, like a bedroom. Remember, one room in the tiny house is perpetually locked, never again to be opened.

Review from #MyGivingStory