Projects to inspire and imitate in the areas of Employment, Accessibility and Education for those with I/DD.
Are you looking for a new or different service project for your club as you head into Spring? This month’s membership blog post includes interviews with three clubs carrying out successful service projects to improve the lives of individuals with I/DD.
Click on any of the following project names to learn more about it.
Pasadena Civitan Club: Disability Employment Awareness
Three years ago, the Civitan Club of Pasadena established a new project goal, “increasing employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
Today they do just that, by holding an annual recognition event each October which is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, recognizing local businesses who employee people with disabilities, creating outreach materials encouraging companies to hire people with disabilities, and co-sponsoring community forums.
At the club’s banquet local employers are recognized for hiring those with disabilities. One of the most recent companies to receive recognition was a local catering company who hired people with disabilities. They are now also the caterer for the annual banquet!
The Civitan Club of Pasadena has 15 members. Most of their membership takes part in the employment program subcommittee which works all year round on their mission. Club members work with three main agencies and city officials to spread the word about their programs.
Different job tasks throughout this process include meeting with city officials, speaking to other volunteer groups about potential involvement, planning the banquet, local media management, and selecting award recipients.
Looking ahead, the club’s goals for expansion include building a website where companies and adults with disabilities can connect for available job opportunities. They also want to create an emblem or decal that companies can put in their windows signifying that they employ people with disabilities.
For more information on the Civitan Club of Pasadena’s employment programs please contact email@example.com.
Pensacola Civitan Club: Wheelchair Ramp Construction
The Pensacola Civitan Club knows a thing or two about how to effectively and efficiently build a wheelchair ramp. To date, the club has built 494 ramps and counting in and around Escambia County, Florida. How do they do it? How can your club build a ramp? We spoke with Pensacola Civitan Club secretary, Cindy Barrington, to find out.
Q: How do you choose where to build?
A: My phone number is everywhere: rehab facilities, hospitals, hospice, United Way, the ARC Gateway, and even several churches. At the very beginning, most requests for ramps were coming from agencies that work with people with developmental disabilities. People began seeing ramps in town, phone numbers were given out, and now we receive 1-2 requests per week.
Q: Are there building permits required?
A: Civitans first visited the Health Department in 1995 due to a question about a septic tank in yard. They were told they needed to submit plans for their wheelchair ramps and then apply for a building permit. Civitans attended a County Commission Meeting and were deferred to the Building Permit Inspections Office. Civitans told them they were a group of volunteers (not getting paid), building life-changing structures, and they had liability insurance. Case dismissed -no building permit needed! We build our ramps according to the ADA code (American Disabilities Act), meaning the slope is a 1″ drop per foot. If they rent, then we require written permission from the landlord to build a ramp. Most landlords are happy to say “yes”, but we’ve had some say “no”, so we get permission in writing. Our rule is that we build one ramp. We’ve had requests to build a ramp at the front and back door, but we have them choose where a ramp is most needed.
Q: What does the planning process look like?
A: Planning process:
- Receive request
- Obtain permission from owner on where to build the ramp
- Perform site survey
- Design ramp
- Prepare cost estimates
- Arrange funding
- Schedule construction
- Order materials
- Organize Crew
Q: What is the general time and financial cost?
A: Work begins at 8 am on a Saturday and we are finished by early afternoon. We have the lumber delivered on a Thursday and often 2-3 Civitans will go out on Friday and cut all the lumber for the ramp project. That speeds up work on Saturday. Trailers sit high and require longer ramps. Those projects that are 40+ feet in length may not finish up until 3 pm. We send out an email blast to all members requesting 6-8 members to help with a ramp project. Lumber costs range from $300 -$900, depending on length. Then you need screws and nails. We are fortunate to have found two agencies that will fund ramp projects: Modern Woodmen of America and the Rehab Foundation of NW Florida. At the present time, Escambia County has a wheelchair ramp pilot program and they will fund the lumber for ramps built only in Escambia County (not the city).
Q: What does a ramp build day look like?
A: We meet at 8 am and discuss the ramp design. Often there are bushes to clear out or even pavers to remove, so there is always prep work. First the deck and then the ramp. Everyone helps out where they want. We always have snacks, Gatorade, and water and if the ramp goes long, someone will go out and buy burgers or whatever for everyone. We stress safety and always have: first aid kit, safety goggles, gloves, hearing protection, sun screen, insect repellant and even a canopy for shade is nice. If a ramp ends on concrete, we add an 8″ wide x 48″ long sheet of aluminum (1/8″ thick).These aluminum plates can be ordered at a Metal Fabrication company. After the ramp is finished, we ask the client to come outside and try out the ramp for the first time. We always take a picture with the client and his/her family. And, we provide a club flyer. Most often they have not heard of Civitan and this gives them an overview of our Club -along with the Club’s P.O. Box (for a thank you note or for a donation)!Less than 20% of the clients can pay for their ramp materials.
Q: Is there anything you’d like other clubs to know about building wheelchair ramp?
A: This is a most rewarding project -to see the person use a ramp for the first time. Often, they have not been able to leave their home due to the steps. We have quite a wait list -and just take them in the order we receive them.
University of South Alabama Campus Civitan: Spirit Contest Supporting PASSAGE USA Scholarships
The University of South Alabama chartered a Campus Civitan Club in 2018. This inclusive club brings together students taking part in the university’s PASSAGE USA program for students living with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their fellow students. Together they have completed projects in support of local food banks, Night to Shine, Buddy Ball, and more. This year, the club added a new project to their schedule in support of scholarships for the PASSAGE USA program. On February 17, 2020, the South Alabama Campus Civitan Club hosted a Mardi Gras Spirit Contest fundraiser and raised $180 for PASSAGE USA. Check our interview with club president, Carol Hudak on how they pulled it off!
Q: Is this the first year you are doing this fundraiser? If not, how many years have you completed this project?
A: Yes! This is the first year we are completing this project, and we were confident it would be great and prosperous for PASSAGE USA.
Q: Where did the idea for this project come from?
A: The officer board had this idea because we wanted to do a big event where we could raise funds for an organization in Mobile that supports those who have disabilities. Since Mobile is the original Mardi Gras, we thought it would be fun to have a Mardi Gras Spirit Contest right in the middle of the season.
Q: How did you decide that the proceeds were going to go toward scholarships for the Passages USA program?
A: We decided to support PASSAGE USA because it is located right here at the University. It is a great organization that helps our friends with disabilities to be independent citizens in our society.
Q: How did you promote the event?
A: We promoted this event with flyers around the community, on campus, and in local restaurants and coffee shops around the area to bring in the community. Our campus lets organizations make large bed sheet signs, and we made three of those and put them in three prime locations where we know a lot of people would see them. We also used social media every single day. Our officers and members were constantly sharing. On Facebook, we also created an event so our members could invite their friends to it through social media.
Q: What steps were taken in the planning process for the event?
A: There were a lot of steps.
- First, we needed to figure out what type of event we wanted to do because we knew it needed to be something big. However,we wanted it to be profitable. We decided to tie into our city’s culture with Mardi Gras and make it a fun competition.
- Second, we had to make a list of all the things we needed to do ask ourselves. Ex.where are we having it, when are we having it, do we have enough funds to pay for this ourselves, would it be profitable to co-sponsor with a another large and known organization on campus, can our student government association help us, who are we giving the money to? These are all questions that needed to be answered before we truly planned anything.
- Third, after answering the questions above we were finally able to plan out the finer details, such as decorations, creating flyers and bed sheets to be put up a 1.5 weeks before the event, writing a bill for our SGA to gain financial aid from them, asking our productions team (ours is called Jaguar Productions) to help with music and sound equipment, food, and we decided to co-sponsor with another organization so we started to contact them.
- Fourth, we started to make things finalized such as, picking a room in our student center, picking a date and time, getting volunteers from the clubs to help set up and break down, deciding how are we receiving funds by cash or online or both, putting up flyers and bed sheets around the community, putting orders in for food, having our bill heard at our SGA and defending it at a meeting, buying decorations, etc.
- Fifth, during the week of the event we started to get the finer details cranked out such as who is working the money table, planning a detailed schedule of the event, finalizing volunteer lists and labeling jobs, creating a music playlist, and promoting the event every day on social media and university mass email systems. On the day of the event officers arrived before volunteers and were asked to be there with decorations and We had one person in charge of decor, another handling the sound equipment people, and then another setting up the entry table. Everyone else filled in to help where needed. As people signed in we had two people handling money; one taking online cash and another taking physical cash. The school requires us to take attendance at each event if they are being supported by SGA funds, so as people paid, we took their information. As the event went on, officers made sure everything was going smoothly and people were having fun!
Q: Do you have any advice or recommendations for other clubs looking to complete a similar fundraiser?
A: Our advice is to take it seriously in planning ahead, because you may think you have a lot of time but with everyone’s personal life and school life tied in things will be pushed aside. It also helped us that we had the ability to co-sponsor with another club and have our student government association help financially. Look into your college’s organization assistance to see how your club could save money, and not have to pay for everything out of pocket. Lastly, rely on your club and officers, do not put this on one person. It takes a lot to make an event be profitable so more minds are better than one.
Q: Anything else you want to share about the project?
A: The event was held on February 17, 2020.It was our first year. We had 40 people attend and were able to raise $180 total for PASSAGE USA. We at South Alabama take this as a huge win because we were able to achieve something and plan to continue this annually.