Making a Difference Each month the Rotary Club of West Chester contributes a column that explores the organizations and initiatives that are making a difference around the world and right here in our community.
Each week, the Rotary Club of West Chester welcomes a different featured speaker. Topics range from non-profits’ missions, to elected officials giving project updates, to authors discussing their latest works. These presentations can be informative, thought provoking and entertaining. A couple of years ago, we had a presentation that was all three and led to a project that is producing long-term benefits. Our speaker that day was Jill Stoltzfus, who at the time was working for the CHAAMP Program through the Chester County Intermediate Unit. She explained that CHAAMP, which stands for Communities Helping Adolescents with Autism Make Progress is an innovative, community-based program in which students use the community as their classroom. Working with specialized staff, students ages 14-21 with moderate-to-severe autism build skills to transition from school to independent, adult life. The CHAAMP Program identifies community resources that provide functionally relevant opportunities for life and vocational skills instruction. Through partnerships with local businesses throughout Chester County, CHAAMP students target a variety of skills that foster independence as they prepare for adult life. Students develop a positive work ethic, expand upon their social skills and sharpen community safety and navigation skills. The Rotary Club of West Chester has been around for 99 years and has records going back to the 1920s. The club had recently discussed digitizing these records, but the task seemed daunting. After hearing Jill’s presentation, the solution was obvious: a partnership with CHAAMP. A couple of weeks later, a student named Marco was placed at Blue Dog Printing & Design, owned by Rotarians Bill and Debi Friedmann, to begin the project. Each week, Marco spends an hour scanning and documenting records. He works with a job coach, but it took him about four minutes to pick up the system. To date, Marco has digitized several decades’ worth of records. A few months into the project, he began working a second hour each week, doing odd jobs for Blue Dog. Several of Blue Dog’s non-profit customers have actually requested that Marco work on their projects, even if it might take an extra day or two to get them out. Marco brings more than just labor to the table. The enthusiastic high-five that everyone in the office receives is the highlight of each person’s day. Marco works best with background music and prefers soft rock, so the only downside is that on days that he works, everyone spends their shift humming Air Supply tunes. According to Marco’s job coaches, what makes this placement great is completing tangible projects; Marco can see that pile of scanned documents or stamped envelopes. And for the folks at Blue Dog, working with Marco is truly a delight as well a great way to make a difference! –Rotary@thewcpress.com Interested in making a difference? The Rotary Club of West Chester meets at West Chester Country Club every Thursday at noon.
NOVEMBER 2019 THEWCPRESS.COM
Voice of the Borough