When people are part of a community, they have a sense of belonging and acceptance, feel safe, and have better mental and physical health. Operating with the ideal that everyone has value, Village Community Services is a place where people with diverse abilities find community.
“We strive to support clients so they can live to their full potential,” says Larissa Knopp, Resource Development Coordinator at VCS. “We build community.”
Village Community Services, offers support services and advocacy to individuals with diverse abilities. This support enables participants to achieve their right to belong, be valued, participate, make informed choices, and make a meaningful contribution to society. VCS purposely chooses terminology like diverse abilities over disabilities to focus on what individuals can do rather than what they can’t.
“We recognize their competency and potential, not their limitations,” says Knopp.
As one of their programs, VCS offers the Village Experience Learning Center, which helps promote community readiness and participation.
Through learning opportunities, individuals gain valuable skills in work readiness, independent living, and hard and soft jobs skills. Each option is tailored to the individual and based on collaboration. Training includes one-on-one and small groups, and through a collaborative effort, VCS can bring specialized training experiences into the classroom.
“We also offer activities that allow participants to socialize and meet others in the community,” says Knopp. “They can choose what they want and leave what they don’t.”
Such activities have included things like hiking events and social gatherings.
In addition to the Village Experience Learning Centre, which teaches life and job readiness skills through hands-on learning experiences, the VCS also offers Supported Employment, Residential Supported Living, and the Village Music and Arts program. Village Music and Arts has weekly jam sessions and monthly Evening with the Arts dances. It is also home to Voices of the Village, a performance ensemble that entertains audiences at festivals and other community events throughout Washington State.
For 55 years, VCS has been making a difference in the lives of individuals with diverse abilities. They provide residential supported living, life and job readiness training, supported employment services, and music and arts programming in Snohomish, Island, and Skagit counties.
“We strive to support clients in skills development and confidence building so they can achieve their full potential and reach their own goals,” says Knopp. “We are very focussed on putting people first and not a label, and we want them to be 100 per cent active members of the community.”
Involvement in community events and activities helps those with diverse abilities learn new skills and gain confidence. Participation in non-segregated spaces allows individuals to contribute talents and be part of a more extensive support network.
For more information and to find ways you can contribute, check out:
Giving Page: villagecommunitysvcs.networkforgood.com
Ronda Traut (she/her) Village Experience Learning Carter Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
Kris Mecko (she/her) Employment Services Director email@example.com
Syd Caplinger (they/them) Volunteer Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org