Well, that's a wrap! The 2021 UCP Family Support Annual Toy Giveaway was AWESOME!
We served 69 families and gave away over 200 toys. Woo hoo!
We'd like to send a gigantic thank you to UCP's Family Support Director, Katherine Ball. Katherine ran the entire event, start to finish--soliciting for toys, picking up toys, setting up the booth, and working both days.
Alas, due to some unforeseen events, Katherine had fewer volunteers than expected. She even had to put the gigantic UCP pop-up tent by herself; as she says, "I wish I had a video of it. It would have been a hilarious elf moment!"
Thank you so much for all your hard work, Katherine!
PS: All of the toys that couldn't be picked up at the Toy Giveaway were mailed out in time for them to arrive by Christmas Eve.
Katherine would like to say "thank you" to the following folks:
Greetings from Day Two of UCP Oregon's Toy Giveaway!
It's rainy and cold, but our Holiday Elves are feeling festive and ready to give away some awesome toys!
NOTE: This is a two-day even for families who are raising children who experience cerebral palsy or a related disability. Families pre-registered to receive free toys.
Special thanks to our shivering Chief Elf, Katherine Ball (Family Support Director).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Lena is a “Personal Assistant” in our Supported Living Department, which means that she works one-on-one a customer (Anita), helping Anita live independently in her own home. Recently, we asked our staff to share stories of their everyday work lives, and Lena wrote the following. Thanks, Lena!
By Lena Ruminski, Personal Assistant
Though I have worked for UCP for almost four years, I never knew the kind of joy I could bring someone until this last September when I started working with Anita.
While Anita is a woman of few words (unless asked questions), there is one sure way to know that she is enjoying herself: her eyes. The first time I experienced her unique expression of joy was when I introduced her to one of the best things about fall: Starbucks’ seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte.
While Anita is a mocha gal herself, I convinced her to try the PSL and upon first sip, she was sold. She looked up at me after her first taste—and her blue eyes were two huge saucers as she exclaimed, “That’s good!”
And for the rest of her beverage, after every sip, her wide eyes returned.
After we finished up, we started our walk back to her apartment. I started walking fast (and pushing her wheelchair quickly, too) because I was getting chilly. I heard her say “This is fun!” So, I picked up the pace to give her a bit more of a thrill.
As I prepared to get her back inside her house, I stopped and turned to her. I saw those wide eyes again as she said, “Can we do that again?!?”
Needless to say, we have been regulars at the Starbucks every Saturday shift for our weekly PSL fix.
For National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), we thought it would be cool to profile one of UCP’s customers, Emanuel.
Emanuel uses services from UCP’s Employment Solutions division. He works at a Portland-area hospital, and has had his job (Transportation Aid) for more than six years.
Here’s what Emanuel has to say about his job:
What are your job duties?
“My job duties vary. I collect labs from the clinic. I also transport beds, stretchers, wheelchairs, and items such as pumps to other departments. I also run the elevator for patients to get to their destination.”
What do you like about your job?
“My co-workers. I have good co-workers who help me out if I need help or have questions. I also have good supervisors.
What is it like working at a hospital during a pandemic?
“It has been really tough for me—I need to be extra cautious so that I will not contract the virus because of other issues with my health. I am getting through it, but it is not easy.
Is there anything else you want to share?
“For people who might think working at a hospital is not possible for them. I want to tell them ‘no, it IS possible for you’.”
“In the hospital you need to talk to people a lot, and that is hard for me, but time went by and I got used to it. At times it is still difficult—sometimes people don’t understand me—but that doesn’t mean that I can’t work at the hospital.”
“I want people to know that what I do is not impossible with a disability. ‘Go for it,’ is what I say.”
And congratulations on your six-year anniversary at the hospital!