In addition to the arts, entertainment, sports, architecture, and food in Buffalo, the people in Buffalo are some of the most charitable people I know. I am going to begin to highlight various nonprofits in the area. If you volunteer at a nonprofit know of one that does amazing work, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @lovinonbuffalo. I'd love to interview someone from the organization and get them highlighted on this blog!
The first organization I'm going to highlight is one I have a vested interest in (and do not mind shamelessly plugging on my blog), Danceability. I have been volunteering for this organization for a few years and this past July joined the Board of Directors.
Danceability Inc. was established in July 2007 by Robin Bishop and Christine Kwiatkowski (who both have extensive backgrounds in both dance and special education). They officially opened their doors in September 2007 and began serving families throughout Buffalo and the surrounding suburbs.
Danceability is a nonprofit dance and movement program that provides weekly instruction to children and adults with special needs. It is a family-focused approach that seeks to improve the quality of life for those challenged with special needs, as well as their families. The classes focus on each students' abilities, motivations, love for music and movement. Students get to try many different kinds of dancing including tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop and modern movement. The program promotes physical, social and emotional wellness.
I began volunteering for danceability in December of 2009. Throughout the few years since I have worked with kids and adults from lower functioning to much higher functioning. I've worked with kids with down syndrome and autisim, and teens with multiple handicaps.
I've absolutely loved the variety of the different classes and the different challenges and opportunities they have presented to me.
In May, the dancers perform in a recital (if they want) and it is a tear jerker. I had an absolute blast this past year performing with my class to the song "Beautiful People" by Christina Aguilera (from the movie Burlesque).
This past summer I volunteered in a class with two adults with autism. The girl I was paired up with Jessica was mostly nonverbal. The two of us really clicked. At the end of the third week of summer classes I was saying goodbye to her after class was over and said, "I hope you had fun" and she looked me right in the eyes and said one word, "Happy". I tried to contain my emotion in front of her, but when I got to my car, I lost it. It's little moments like these that sometimes make me wonder who is getting more out of the program, the students or the volunteers. That moment will stick with me for the rest of my life, and I've had other similiar moments with the different students I've been paired with.
I've seen students really come along throughout the school year and be able to express themselves in new and different ways. It is truly a blessing that there is an organization out there like danceability that makes it not about a performance, or an individual, but stresses the whole family approach.
This past summer danceability began growing beyond its limitations in the studio they were in. They chose to take the risk and expand, rather than limit the number of students it registers. They moved just down the plaza next door (they are located inside the George Urban Plaza where Tops is, on the George Urban side). The new studios are gorgeous. They added a second sensory studio, have a bigger waiting area, and more space for the co-founders and storage. In addition, they were able to secure a state of the art sprung dance floor with help from a grant from the Kelly For Kids Foundation!
On Friday November 4th they will host a grand opening celebration from 5pm - 8pm at the studios. Please join us if you can!
I'd like to invite you all to check out their website: http://www.danceabilityinc.com/ or "like" them on Facebook www.facebook.com/danceabilityinc and learn more about the organization. There are various fundraisers throughout the year, and I will post information on my Twitter account, and here when I can. If you are interested in volunteering, please drop me an e-mail and I'll get you to the right people.