Lisa Szilagyi: Skills for Special Needs Adults
As the mother of a 23-year-old daughter with a disability, as well as a special education teacher, Lisa Szilagyi knows exactly how important it is for adults with disabilities to be provided a safe and creative environment in which they can work on academic, communication, life, social and job skills. That’s why she wants to set up a community-based, lifelong learning transition and day program for adults with moderate to severe disabilities, emphasizing self-determination by putting the needs of the individual first. As young adults with disabilities leave the school system, they often have nowhere to go, resulting in wasted potential. Lisa hopes to address this problem by setting up day programs that allow individuals to be integrated into social, vocational, and recreational endeavors while also ensuring that they can lead productive lives as valued members of their community.
Our Other Ideas for Good Winners for September
Sue Doyle: Taylor's HeArt Gallery
After fearlessly battling a brain tumor for 4 1/2 years, Sue Doyle’s niece Taylor sadly lost her battle to cancer. Seeing Taylor carry herself in such a strong, dignified, confident and positive manner inspired Sue to give back in such a way that would honor Taylor’s memory, especially her love of the arts. That is exactly what motivated Sue to come up with Taylor’s HeArt Gallery — an art gallery that will benefit nonprofits serving kids dealing with severe illnesses, as well as a network of local artists that often do not get enough exposure. For Taylor, art was a great tool in dealing with the “un-copable” — it gave her a reason to survive, thrive, and deal with her circumstance in a positive and optimistic way. Sue desires to uphold Taylor’s name and memory by giving hope and inspiration to others through the power of the arts.
Diana Flahive: Homelessness Initiative
Diana Flahive hopes to launch the Women’s Homelessness Initiative to address the alarmingly high number of women who are homeless with a lack of resources. This system is a coordination of seven churches that open their doors one night a week to twenty women who receive a warm meal and place of sanctuary. With a large pool of volunteers who are willing to give up their time, money and effort, Diana’s initiative is still seeking to reach even more at-risk women. Working as a community and interfaith minister, Diana knows first-hand the dire, unhealthy, violent and compromising situations that homeless women can encounter on a daily basis and knows they need the help and assistance of the community in order to move forward.
Margaret Gullette: Free High School
In many countries, people are not admitted to high schools specifically because they are poor adults - they are over 18, often mothers, and live too far from schools. Margaret Gullette is amending this situation by maintaining and expanding a Free High School in an impoverished part of Nicaragua. Margaret trains villagers with a diploma to teach in rural villages, as well as holds classes in a Saturday school. By monitoring the classes so students with problems get solutions, and photocopying the materials so students can keep them, this system sets adults up for success. Margaret believes the loss of adult secondary education is a huge issue in the world, and if addressed, there could be great potential in reducing inequality, drug-use, prostitution, violence and ill-health, as well as opening the door to economic opportunities, democratic participation and community outreach.
Robert Martin: Free Vision Care
For indigent Americans living in the Mid-Atlantic Appalachian area, lack of glasses and proper eye care are serious issues. Lack of vision care remains humankind’s number one physical impairment, learning disability, cause of blindness and perpetuator of poverty. In fact, between 25 and 35 million Americans need eyeglasses they cannot afford. This is why Robert Martin plans to develop and enact a new technology-based system of eye care in this region, similar to the one he has already established in Mexico. In only three minutes, without a doctor and free of cost, diagnoses and remedies for vision impairments are provided, and recycled eyeglasses are also made available. With these resources, Robert hopes to mitigate social problems by improving educational and economic conditions and giving people the ability to learn, read, drive and work efficiently.