Sign up for our newsletter and have a chance to win this lovely gift basket

Hello Everyone,

On December 22 2014, we are raffling off this lovely gift basket that includes admission for 2 adults and 2 children to the Richmond Metro Zoo; along with gourmet hot cocoa and shortbread cookies for your enjoyment. For more information or to participate in our drawing, please click on the following link and sign up for our newsletter at http://www.reapva.org

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Mechanicsville Christian Center Family Disability Carnival

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How appropriate that we were placed in a disability parking spot to celebrate people with disabilities.

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The wind added a bit of spin on the wheel!

Verses Luke 14: 13 – But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the kingdom.

Mechanicsville Christian Center took this scripture to heart on October 4th. They opened their hearts and lives to celebrate families with disabilities from the community. And hundreds of families saw the glow of the church, gathered their families and made the journey to the Carnival.

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With a little help from Mom, this precious little boy spun the wheel.

Hundreds of children and adults with all disabilities were blessed with a banquet of great food, games, live animals and entertainment. And for REAP, a table set up directly across from the live entertainment and the Jesse Joyner Juggling show.

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No matter how small, the spin wheel captured their attention.

Regardless of age, the REAP wheel captured the attention of the guests. With each spin, the smiles and laughter touched the heart of this volunteer. And, watching them select their “perfect” prize was a reminder that no matter the cost, a prize is a prize.

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A photo op with Kara and her mom.

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Kara McKean, Little Miss Wheelchair Ambassador Virginia

We even had a celebrity stop by and spin the wheel: Kara McKean, Little Miss Wheelchair Ambassador Virginia 2014. Kara was a visitor at our table last year and today she wears a crown as an advocate for children with disabilities.

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So many prizes to choose from.

What did I learn this day? The sunglasses and flip flop decorations were a big hit with the girls and the little rubber balls were a big hit with the boys. And, the bubbles were a big hit with both.

REAP volunteers give without seeking repayment. We give because we are blessed with the ABILITY to experience all that life has to offer. And when we give, we receive a prize that is worth more than all the gold in the world.

By Nancy Carey, REAP Board Member

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Third Friday

REAP and friends had a grand ol’ time at Susan’s Selections for September’s Third Friday.  It was an intimate event for new friends to quickly feel like old friends as they helped put together gifts for senior citizens to be given out on HandsOn Day October 18th, 2014.

IMG_0519Farmer Greg with the Field of Dreams produce market was a hit for the fruit and veggie lovers! IMG_0520 IMG_0522The highlight of the evening was a performance by a group of harpists with disabilities.  They dazzled us with their amazing talents.  Bravo!!!

IMG_0523If you were one of the lucky who got to come, please leave us a comment with your experience.  Don’t forget that our next event is coming up Oct 24-26 at the same place.  It will be the Artisan Showcase and Auction where artisans with disabilities will be displaying and selling their products and talents.

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Volunteer of the Month: Emilie Kingery

At REAP we have decided to do something new:  we will spotlight an interesting person monthly for our new newsletter.  In honor of #DaytoServe starting this Friday, Sept 11, it seemed appropriate to focus on one of our volunteers.  It was hard to choose from so many that have helped us out currently or in the past.  Let us just say a huge THANKS to all our volunteers whether they help us one day or many years!

This month we are recognizing Emilie Kingery, whom first got involved with REAP when she needed community service hours for her sociology class.  She continued after the required hours and expressed interest to paint the work tables.  That project ended up getting much bigger, since she coordinated with HandsOn of Greater Richmond to have corporate volunteers come in to paint EVERYTHING! Spoiler alert: The walls are now crazy bright colors, and now you know who to thank or blame.  I really wish I had remembered to take a photo of her covered in paint!  Below is the survey she sent back to me by email.

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On the left, Emilie is writing down the inventory while multiple participants count the many used sporting goods. Many counters means that the inventory is streamlined to take less time and quality controlled to make sure every item gets counted. Also pictured is local artist Anise.

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Karen Hannon & Emilie at the Artisan Showcase. This picture was posted on facebook by Emilie.

Job/Studies:  I work as a wedding coordinator for Willow Oaks Country Club as well as a full-time student at Virginia Commonwealth University studying Criminal Justice. 

Future plans:  I am currently in the process of applying to Officer Candidate School for the United States Marine Corps.  My ultimate career goal is to work for U.S. Marshals.

Hobbies: Boxing, exercising, reading, studying, traveling, anything dog-related!

Why were you interested in helping REAP:  I initially began volunteering at REAP because it was a requirement for a Service Learning class at VCU.  After the semester ended, I found that I enjoyed volunteering at REAP, I loved the participants that I was able to work with, and also realized that REAP’s Executive Director, Karen, and Marketing/Communications Director, Christina, were individuals who I looked up to and the relationship I had established with them was one that I wanted to keep.  

Best memory or experience at REAP:  While every experience is great, one of the most memorable experiences is when Christina was out of town and the reins were handed to me!  I came in on a Tuesday to lead activities for Northstar Academy which is a private, non-profit, K-12 school for students with learning challenges.  After meeting and working with those students, “learning challenges” were the last thing to cross my mind.  I learned so much more from them than they did from me that day!  I learned about new computer technology they use, their future goals for college, vacations they like to take, and some of their past/current health issues.  More importantly, I learned who they were as individuals, what they are capable of doing and above all, that the term “learning challenge” and/or “disability” is far from determining the abilities and motivations of an individual.

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Volunteers Candice, Annaliese, Emilie and Amanda powwow at the Artisan Showcase before the crowds arrive.

Why others should volunteer at REAP:  Aside from working with great leaders/motivators like Karen and Christina, others should volunteer at REAP for the experiences that he/she will gain.  In the 8 months I have been volunteering I have been a part of countless learning activities, a silent auction, an artisan showcase, two produce markets, and a production party.  I have worked with Hands On and met many great people.  I have been a part of REAP’s renovation which has changed the entire atmosphere of REAP’s service building.  I have done all of this while meeting and relating to individuals who think that they are only at REAP to gain skills for the workplace, but who offer so much more than they realize.  I can say with certainty that the opportunities I have received from simply being a part of these experiences has taught me so much more than I can ever hope to teach others.

What employment mean to you:  To me, like most things in life, employment means dedication, persistence, and focus. Having stable employment means that one has put in the effort to find and maintain a position.  Employment means you have an opportunity to excel in whatever that may be, and also have a reason to stay humble and remember that there is always room for growth and improvement.  Above all, employment means that you were chosen for your skills/abilities and you should enjoy it!

Thanks, Emilie, for sharing with us and thanks for volunteering with REAP!  We will remember you for a long time after you’ve left us and are part of the U.S. Marshalls every time we are blinded by yellow as we come in REAP’s door.  (just kidding, I love all the bright colors!)  Honestly, Emilie is not just an awesome volunteer who always arrived early and was very professional.  She also has a super sweet personality that made all the participants and other volunteers instantly like her.  Hopefully you will see Emilie speeding past all of us at the VCU Broad Street Mile with team REAP Runners.  Find out how you can volunteer at REAP.

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Inclusion In Action At Walgreens

Speechless.  This article explains it all.  Randy Lewis is leading the way for inclusive practices at Walgreens and has calmed all the board members’ concerns.  They have figured out how to keep production up and accidents actually lower (things the board was worried about) while not letting employees know whether other employees have a disability or not to promote “sameness.”  On inclusion at Walgreens, Lewis says  “it exceeded every expectation, and that’s why it’s spread throughout the company.”

Wow, what an amazing story!  Bravo Randy!

Read the original article here.

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Eat your veggies with REAP

storeSliderFact: Farmer’s Market goers in Richmond typically go on the weekend.

Fact: Fruit from the weekend isn’t as fresh when you hit the hump of the week. (6 days old on Wed if picked on Fri!)

Problem Solved: Produce Market on Thursday!

Sounds good, right?  Let’s add some icing to that Cherry Cocoa Chia Almond Flour Cake*:  This produce market on Thursday supports job training by REAP.

FieldofDreamsFarmRichmond Entrepreneur’s Assistance Program has teamed up with Farmer Greg and Field of Dreams Farm to host a S.A.M.M. (Sprout About Mobile Market) Produce Market that features our Savor the Season boxes.  These boxes will contain the freshest produce (guaranteed to be picked less than 48 hours ago) from farms within 100 miles from Richmond.  Who’s filling the boxes?  REAP participants!

Want to make sure you’ve got a box with your name on it?  Order it online!

Where: St Michael Catholic Church, 4491 Springfield Rd. Glen Allen, VA
When: Every Thursday 4-7pm, July 26-October 30, 2014

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*Cherry Cocoa Chia Almond Flour Cake won’t be available at the Produce Market.  In fact it’s a made up recipe.  But if anyone does bake it, please share because it would be delicious!

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How a job coach learned not to judge

Many participants come to our training program at REAP and it’s obvious to see how valuable their talents are.  Some have great inventory skills, some can make the most beautiful bow again and again, some have great initiative and some have awesome communications skills to work as a team.  Then there are others that come through our program and it’s hard to see if they will ever be able to hold down a job.  Often these are young adults about to graduate high school in a year or two.  They might be on the autism spectrum and severely lack communication skills.  They come to us with their teachers or job coaches who would like to see how they behave in a work environment.  I like to pride myself in always seeing the ability and not the disability.  But now I am ashamed to say that I am guilty of focusing on the disability with one participant in particular.

 

Since I haven’t asked for permission from him or his parents to write this entry, I will change his name and call him Tim for anonymity but every other fact will be true.

 

Tim came in with another participant and his teacher about once a week.  They would come anywhere from 15-20 minutes because Tim or the other participant just wouldn’t last long.  I gave them easy assignments like sorting candy, shelving inventory and boxing up sporting good equipment.  Tim had limited communication skills and responded to any question with a simple “Yes” even if the answer was No or the question was open-ended.  However I did enjoy his great attitude and willingness to try any task up until the point where he was spent and then his teacher or I would call it a day.  For all these reasons I thought, “This guy will never hold a job down” because someone will always have to be by his side telling him exactly what to do, and he doesn’t last very long.

 

In my mind I had already written him off as an unemployable.    Let’s face it, some of our participants are looking for life skills and aren’t looking for work in the near future.  And that’s ok.  Giving that confidence to them gives them the power to choose whether to work or not so their disability isn’t a factor in that decision.  But I immediately called him Unemployable.  Go ahead and call me a hypocrite, but I’m sure that is what his teacher was thinking in his head as well.

 

That’s not to say that I didn’t see progress.  Tim was more receptive to listening and following through on tasks.  There were less behavior issues and he knew that he came to work and he seemed to enjoy himself.  He still wasn’t lasting as long on tasks.

After about six weeks of this, I gave him the task of taking apart some of our Easter gift bags that weren’t sold after Easter.  The bag had a stuffed rabbit, bottle of bubbles, a bouncy ball hidden in a plastic Easter egg, a scented pen and moldable clay.  Each of these items had to be taken out and put back into its proper storage box.  I helped by giving verbal and gestural clues as to where each item went.  He took apart 2 of these bags in this fashion and was on to the third and I found that I didn’t need to give him any clues.  Tim was able to quickly distinguish and categorize each item and knew which box to put them in without help. His teacher was so surprised he let out a few giddy laughs. Tim lasted a bit longer than normal, but still not too long. But I felt deep down that he had had a huge breakthrough.

 

The next week Tim came with his normal teacher, but this time with another participant and one of his other teachers. The teacher that always comes told me that he wanted his other teacher to see Tim in action because she couldn’t believe Tim was able to do some of the things he was able to do. And of course, he thoroughly impressed her and us.  Cue the giddy laughter.

 

I honestly don’t know if Tim will be able to work when he graduates or if it takes him more time to continue learning those transferable job skills. But I now can see his ability and know that he can, with the help of those around him, learn enough skills to be able to be a valuable member of the working community. I hope he can continue coming to REAP so we can make sure he continues progressing. This is not a Happily Ever After story, but definitely a To Be Continued…

 

Has anyone else met someone who blew them away with their abilities? Don’t be silent, these are stories that need to be told, for the sake of our participants that work so hard and for the sake of us who need the inspiration.

by Christina Manikus, Communications Coordinator and Job Coach

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New 2 U Sports at Shop the Block

Saturday April 5th, we loaded the van with all our used sporting gear and headed out to the monthly Shop the Block put on by Boaz and Ruth.  The first Saturday of every month Boaz and Ruth get together their thrift stores and restaurant in the area and have amazing-can’t-beat deals even for thrift stores.

Our busy volunteers

Our busy volunteers

There is the Harvest Furniture Thrift Store, Sunny Days Clothing Thrift Store and the Fire House 15 Restaurant, all owned by the nonprofit Boaz & Ruth.  Another thrift store, Northside Outreach Center Community Thrift Store, jumped in with a yard sale.  We all had an awesome time hanging out with the Highland Park community and other thrift stores in the area.  I should add, the pancakes at Fire House 15 really are as amazing as they claim.

The New 2 U Sports Team

The New 2 U Sports Team

We were thrilled to be able to offer people from the community, as well as those visiting for the sales, great deals on used sporting goods. We sold some football padding, a lot of inline skates, shoes, golf bags and baseballs.

The amazing thing is that this was all equipment that had been cleaned, categorized and inventoried by the participants in our job training program.  So when you support New 2 U Sports you are directing supporting our job training for people with disabilities program.

Hope to see you all out at our next one!

One extremely happy customer on his new wheels

One extremely happy customer on his new wheels

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Heart to Heart Artisan Showcase and Silent Auction – Fun for a Cause

The Richmond Entrepreneurs Assistance Program (REAP) championed local artisans with disabilities for a night of entertainment and reaching out.

Last February 15, 2014, the Richmond Entrepreneurs Assistance Program (REAP) – through the Heart-to-Heart Artisan Showcase and Silent Auction – successfully gathered artisans, buyers, and guests for a fun night with a cause.

1Held at St. Michael’s Catholic Church from 6:30pm to 9:00pm, bidders and guests enjoyed a night of entertainment from master of ceremonies Mr. Ed Polich, with an intermission number from the Dreamers and sumptuous food offerings from Personal Chef Catering.
2REAP congratulates the winners of our social media photo contest! Be sure to use #IHeartREAP with posts that you want us to see – be it Facebook or Twitter!

These contestants won prizes by joining REAP’s social media photo contest! #IHeartREAP

The event is in line with our mission of raising awareness on the inclusion of our friends with disabilities as well as providing them with comprehensive job training that may lead to meaningful employment for these individuals. On behalf of the whole REAP team, we would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the sponsors, the volunteers, the bidders, and the guests who have lent us their time and talent for a common cause that we so strongly uphold. Thank you so much!
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No plans this Saturday? REAP has got you covered!

This Saturday, April 5th, the Richmond Entrepreneurs Assistance Program (REAP) will be holding two events at the same time! Check out this infographic and make the right choice:

998973_866776736673197_1565239768_nAt the K-Cettes Craft Fair, REAP will be selling Easter gifts from Heart to Heart Gifts & Packaging.

At Shop the Block, REAP will be selling slightly used sporting goods like bats, sticks, pads, rackets, skis, inline skates, balls, shoes, golfing goods, bowling bags priced from $0 to $5.00 each!  Check out Boaz and Ruth to see what other amazing deals are going on at the other thrift stores in the area.

Be sure to come and visit us!

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