ONE CALL FOR ALL | Island Time activities offer fun, skills

      - Joel Sackett photo
— image credit: Joel Sackett photo

Deb Buitenveld sits at her desk in the front room of a single-family home on John Adams Lane.

Opposite her paper-strewn desk, there is a closet full of arts and crafts materials, and in the other room, members of the organization of which Buitenveld is co-founder and program director are making pizzas.

Buitenveld, a former teacher at Woodward Middle School, is telling a story.

“We had a birthday party at my house in the garage for a young woman that had just moved to the island,” in 2001, she said. “And we invited several students from our special ed classroom and it was so amazing and fabulous — the sharing and the caring and the friendships that came out of that, that we decided to do that once a week.”

And out of that, Island Time Activities was born.

Island Time Activities provides services and activities to locals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Besides offering respite care during the day, ITA also holds weekly programs, like an art club, book club, and Saturday supper club for their members.

“There’s like a day center for people with intellectual disabilities — you go in as a group and sit down and you all color or you all paint,” Buitenveld said. “We don’t do that. We look at the individual — what their needs are, what do they need to practice, what do they need to do, and take it as an educational, independence training.”

As part of that, ITA’s popular Friday adventure club allows its members to engage in logistics to decide how they would like to approach the day’s activity.

“We plan it out as a group and then go do it,” Buitenveld said.

“So they’re learning community access skills, looking at ferry schedules, adding up all the costs of an activity and making sure that that’s a reasonable fee, and then actually doing it.”

ITA is focused on encouraging independence.

“People here do their laundry, they do their own cooking, they do their own washing of dishes, all those kind of things,” Buitenveld said.

“We look at the basic skills needed to live on your own and try to help people get to that point and not necessarily live by themselves but even to live in a group home, an adult family home really wants people to be as independent as they can be,” she said.

“The more independent you are, the more likely of a successful, fabulous life,” Buitenveld said.

The nonprofit relies on a number of streams of revenue to provide its service, working with Helpline House to determine each member’s ability to pay, and relying on community support and fundraisers.

This year, ITA will add One Call For All to that list.

“Just to be a part of that, it raises awareness of who we are and that we’re there in the community,” said Executive Director Ellen Briggs.

“We are really happy to accept any donations that we receive through One Call For All. Every bit helps our organization to do what we do and to keep going doing what we’re doing, but also because we really would like to expand and be able to serve more people,” she said.

And ITA will have to expand, in more than one way.

As the Grow Community develops, it will soon take over the center that houses ITA, and officials are scrambling to find an affordable home in Winslow.

“It’s tough — find a house in downtown area that we can afford that’s big enough,” Buitenveld said. “It’s almost unheard of.”

While One Call may be able to help finance that move in the future, both Briggs and Buitenveld stressed that One Call will offer their organization a greater level of community recognition.

“We’d love to have more community involvement,” Buitenveld said. “People with intellectual disabilities, just like any unknown community … you might not necessarily dislike them, but there might be an uncomfortable (element).

“But once people are immersed in the culture …  then the barriers go down. And that’s like one of my biggest wishes, is to have more community involvement and more understanding so that we can just operate better, more naturally.”



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