Older adults with intellectual disabilities enjoy a variety of daily activities in Goodwill’s Elderberry Junction program, and one participant recently won a trip to Washington D.C. for an artwork she created there.
Several months ago, Michele Benasutti of South Side entered an art contest sponsored by Goodwill Industries International (GII). Her artwork earned an honorable mention award and she won a trip to the 2013 GII Spring Conference.
Located at the Goodwill Workforce Development Center in Lawrenceville, Elderberry Junction provides an active and stimulating environment and a variety of experiences and interactions for participants. Activities include arts and crafts, cooking classes, community outings, volunteer opportunities, pet therapy, exercises, book club, holiday parties, and guest entertainers.
Ms. Benasutti has been an Elderberry Junction participant since 2006. In addition to creating art there, she also enjoys a variety of other activities including current events discussions, the book club, exercising, advocacy meetings, cooking class, and community outings, especially to the Heinz History Center. During her visit to Washington, she was among some 160 people from Goodwill agencies all across the country who met with members of Congress to inform them about how Goodwill helps people.
She was accompanied by family members and by Lynn Tucibat, coordinator of Elderberry Junction.
Ms. Tucibat said there are currently a few openings for additional Elderberry Junction participants. Eligibility requirements include a documented diagnosis of mental retardation, age 55 or older, ability to travel at their own expense, willingness to be involved on a scheduled basis, and ability to perform basic Activities of Daily Living Skills independently.
Individuals are referred by Supports Coordination Units and are funded by waiver programs available through the Allegheny County Office of Intellectual Disability.