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The Gift of Purpose: Network Day Services Center events help fund services to developmentally challenged adults

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There are those in the community for whom independence is a luxury, a gift.

There are adults in the Rome community who, because of developmental or intellectual disabilities, struggle to learn basic social skills or work skills. But there’s a place where they too can achieve a sense of a independence.

And they need the community’s help to keep serving those in need.

Network Day Services Center was founded in 1954 and is a nonprofit organization that works with and advocates for developmentally and intellectually challenged adults in the community. Its mission is to create greater independence, provide helpful training and workplace skills in a welcoming environment. There are currently more than 100 individuals coming to the center for services.

Jenny Shealy is Executive Director of the Center and said their day program is considered a hub.

“Adults come in in the morning and from here we take them to do several jobs in the community,” she said. “Our clients work at a variety of different businesses. Some go out in groups and clean churches or office buildings.”

Some of the current community employers include the Department of Labor, Oak Hill Church of Christ, Finney and Associates, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Sweet Frog, Joan’s Florist, Pasquales and Legacy Commisary.

That’s the employment side of the center’s services. The adults are paid to do work throughout the community which gives them a sense of self worth and a measure of independence.

But Shealy said a part of the center’s goal is also to connect its clients with the community.

“We take them wherever they need or want to go,” she said. “You have to remember that most of our clients don’t have transportation of their own so many of them wouldn’t be able to get around. Imagine if you didn’t have your car and couldn’t get where you needed to go. These people feel like that all the time. We take them wherever they need to go.”

And depending on the level of disability, some of the center’s clients may even be living in their own house or apartment. Network Day Services Center staff visit clients at their homes and teach them skills that will help them live independently.

“That may be things like cleaning the house or doing the dishes or washing clothes,” Shealy said. “We try to help them learn as many of the skills they need to be as self sufficient and independent as possible.”

The adults in the program are referred to the center through the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. There are currently 105 adults in the program.

This year, to help raise funds for the center’s programs, a Pansy Sale is currently taking place with a pickup date of Oct. 5.

Also on Oct. 5, the center will host Dancing Under the Network Stars, an evening of food, music and dancing. The event will take place from 7-10 p.m. in the therapy garden at the center located at 402 West 10th St. Tickets are $45 for singles and $80 for couples. Ticket price includes heavy hors d’oeuvre, wine, beer, a silent auction, music and dancing. The music will be provided by Greg Robbins and the Pollard Greens.

Funds raised from these events will go toward the center’s transportation needs.

“These are important fundraisers for us and our programs,” Shealy said. “In particular we’re trying to get money for transportation and vehicles. We have to transport our clients all over the community every single day to and from jobs and to community activities.”

Network Day Services Center offers something to its clients that many of us take for granted. It offers a sense of worth and belonging. It offers a way for people to earn money and to connect with the community.

“What you and I would see as little things are a huge deal for some of our clients,” Shealy said. “There’s a lady in her 40s who did nothing but stay at home. Finally we talked her father into letting us take her out into the community and introduce her to new things. She didn’t even know how to get in a car. That’s how home-bound she was. But now she gets in the car, buckles her seatbelt and is excited about going places. That’s a huge deal for her.”

“I can see that what we do makes these people happy,” Shealy added. “When they come here they’re happy. Because they get to go out and work and contribute. A lot of the time they don’t even understand the money they earn. But they know they’re working and contributing to the community.”

For more information about Network Day Services Center or about the Pansy Sale and Dancing Under the Network Stars events, call 706-291-2580.