Community Access Unlimited Team Walks The Walk

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ELIZABETH—Dozens of walkers braved the elements Saturday, Sept. 27, to take part in the 2008 Community Access Unlimited (CAU) Ira Geller Walk-A-Thon to help the agency’s ongoing mission of supporting people with disabilities.  CAU members, staff, friends and representatives of businesses partnered with the agency to raise more than $23,000.

 

Former Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs leads calisthenics at the Community Access Unlimited 2008 Walk-A-Thon held Sept. 27 in Rahway River Park.

Former Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs leads calisthenics at the Community Access Unlimited 2008 Walk-A-Thon held Sept. 27 in Rahway River Park.

CAU provides support to people with disabilities and youth through a variety of programs, including housing, life skills, employment, money management, socialization and civic activities.  Funds raised through the 2008 Walk-A-Thon go toward supporting these programs and CAU’s mission of helping its members achieve more fulfilling lives as productive members of the community.

“I want to thank you for helping people help themselves and for providing the resources to allow Community Access to support the community,” Sidney Blanchard, CAU executive director, told the crowd gathered at Rahway River Park. “It is especially rewarding when we are able to enjoy community events that bring together our members, our friends and the businesses that support our cause of extending community participation for all people.”

Key businesses that supported the Walk-A-Thon this year included AMERIGROUP and B&B Press.  AMERIGROUP also sponsored the annual appearance of former Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs. “As an Olympian, you’re so far removed sometimes because you’re in your own zone,” Clark Diggs said.  “When you get a group of people together, it makes it easier to get things accomplished.  This event is a good avenue for people to work together.  Everybody can do the best they can do.”

Helping members do the best they can do is the foundation of Community Access Unlimited, according to walker and CAU board of trustee member Audrey Vasey.  “There is a constituency out there that isn’t being serviced,” she said, referring to people with disabilities.  “When they are supported properly, they can contribute to the community, significantly.”

Fellow walker Samuel Jenkins is an example of that.  A member of CAU for 23 years, Jenkins now lives independently with a roommate as part of CAU’s Supported Living Apartment Program.  He is president of the agency’s Helping Hands Advocacy Group and is active in the national self-advocacy groups Self Advocates Becoming Empowered and the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

“This is all about people getting together and getting motivated,” Jenkins said.  “It’s all about independence and about being part of the community, the chance to network with others in the community.”

AMERIGROUP recognizes the value of that networking opportunity, according to Adrian Searight, community cares special needs coordinator for the health insurer that specializes in providing coverage for the financially vulnerable, seniors and people with disabilities or special needs. “Community Access touches a number of lives,” he said.  “We felt that partnering with Community Access would help us further our mission, and further CAU’s mission of touching more lives in the community.”

Community Access Unlimited (CAU) supports people with special needs in achieving real lives in the community.  CAU provides support and gives a voice to adults and youth who traditionally have had little support and no voice in society.  CAU helps people with housing, life skills, employment, money management, socialization and civic activities.  CAU also supports opportunities for advocacy through training in assertiveness, decision-making and civil rights.  CAU serves more than 3,500 individuals each year.  For more information about CAU and its services, call 908-354-3040, visit www.caunj.org or write to 80 West Grand Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07207.

 


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