Open Avenues — A Proven Way to Help

Author: Marie Clapper

Sigmund Freud would have liked Open Avenues. Among other things, Freud is famous for having said, “Love and work . . . work and love . . . that’s all there is.” Open Avenues provides both – and to those who sometimes are left behind on those two fronts.

Adults with Developmental Disabilities Get Real Help

In a loving environment, Open Avenues (Rogers, Arkansas) offers work to adults with disabilities. Previously called The Adult Development Center of Benton County, it helps 120 clients each day, clients who previously had little or no support building their lives after reaching adulthood when services available to minors end. That’s when Open Avenues steps in and fosters independent living through the development of life, work, and social skills.

Open Avenues -- A Proven Way to Help

They Learn Key Skills for Work and Life

Recently, Don Harris, host of “The Heart of Business in NW Arkansas” on the Focus on Suppliers television show, spoke with Kelli McWhirt, an Open Avenues volunteer.

“Open Avenues teaches life and job skills to people who want to work but sometimes find it hard to get a job. We prepare them to be part of the community rather than apart from it by teaching them how to make real products that sell in real stores. They love doing that. They’re proud of their work and proud of their lives.”

Among the items that the Open Avenues’ clients produce and ship are various Daisy Outdoor Products, 550 different lures for Hart Tackle, and Ring Snuggies. “We are the exclusive packager and supplier of the Ring Snuggies,” said McWhirt. “It’s sold in Walmart, Icing, and Claire’s.”

Volunteers Find Helping Is Meaningful

Joining the interview was Tom Hauge, VP of Business Development at Soapbox Insights and Influence, who serves on the board of Open Avenues. “I toured the work center four years ago. I didn’t know what to expect. But what I saw touched me, and I knew I wanted to be involved in spreading the word about what this wonderful organization does.”

Volunteers are always needed at Open Avenues and can serve in various capacities. Financial help is needed, too, even smaller donations. “We offer bus pick up and return for those clients who want to work with us but can’t get here easily. A donation of $40 helps support transportation for a full month for one of our workers,” said McWhirt.

Open Avenue’s Special Event — Spring Fling Gala

Larger donations and sponsorships are most helpful for ongoing expenses. Both Walmart and Ring Snugglies are sponsors of the upcoming Spring Fling, a gala that Open Avenues holds annually. This year’s event is a golf tournament on May 19 and a luau on May 20.

“This is not your father’s gala,” quips Don Harris when McWhirt explains that moo-moos and flip-flops are the proper attire.

“We want people to be relaxed and just have a great time with us. And we’re honored that John Furner, President and CEO of Sam’s Clubs, is the honorary host of this year’s Spring Fling,” said McWhirt.

To find out more about Spring Fling or volunteering at Open Avenues, contact Kelly Sampson at 479.636.5082 or at ksampson@openavenues.org.

Click here to watch the Open Avenues interview on Focus on Suppliers.

Open Avenues -- A Proven Way to Help

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