Every day here at Community Navigators we are lucky to be doing the work we love, helping the individuals we support live their best lives. It's rewarding, hopeful work.
But it's not easy working for a small non-profit in these difficult financial times. So much of our funding is based on factors outside our control -- especially the state budget.
That's where #GivingTuesday comes in. It's the one day a year when the national focus turns from buying to giving. People take time out to think about what matters to them, and to think about how they can help others.
Please consider giving a donation this #GivingTuesday to Community Navigators. Every cent of your money will go toward the individuals we support. It will go toward helping an entrepreneur with the start-up costs of his very own business. Or it will send an individual to a weekend getaway, where they'll enjoy themselves while also learning valuable life skills, and provide respite for their family or caretakers.
Think of Community Navigators this #GivingTuesday!
Because we make a difference to the individuals we serve!
As a small, focused non-profit that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Community Navigators tailors its services and programs to each individual. Our model works because we include each person we support in all decisions. Starting with a blank slate, we develop a program based on the vision and goals of the individual -- from creative employment development to skills training to community inclusion to travel and adventure.
#GivingTuesday is a powerful national day of giving, raising funds and generating awareness after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Help us help those we support by donating to Community Navigators on Nov. 28.
Our goal is to raise $5,000 on Tuesday. That money will:
* Help sponsor an individual for a Travel Navigator adventure -- either an overnight stay with fun activities or a trip to Disney Word in the spring!
* Support employment and entrepreneur training, pay for business start-up supplies, advertising and outreach.
* Support Community Navigators' work in the community.
Your donation will help someone like Carly, shown in the picture above. Carly has her own social media business called Will & Wit. While some people doubted Carly's ability to work, she never did. And Community Navigators worked with her to help her create and build her own business!!
As the holiday approaches, the smell of pine trees, candy and cookies begins to fill the air — but so does the stress. The holidays can be especially hard for families with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, since there is so much going on.
Community Navigators’ annual mini-getaway is designed to offer a much-needed break for both parents and caregivers and the individual with disabilities. This year’s annual getaway is at Foxwoods, where we will enjoy the holiday decorations, visit the outlet stores for some holiday gift shopping, go bowling, have dinner at the casino, and spend time with old friends or make new friends. It will be two days full of fun and laughs (with some life skills snuck in).
Everyone needs respite and this is a big reason why Community Navigators designed our mini getaways: to provide local, accessible travel and respite opportunities. Learn more at www.CommunityNavigatorsInc.org
Do you know a family who has a son or daughter with I/DD who would benefit from our upcoming travel opportunities but for whom money presents an issue? During this holiday season donations provided to CNI will go toward scholarships for people who could not otherwise afford a getaway. You can also purchase a donation gift card to give as a gift this holiday season. Let your donation become personal this holiday season and give the gift of respite to a family or caregiver and the gift of fun to an individual with disabilities!!
Community Navigators Inc. is hosting its second annual Happy Hour Fundraiser on Thursday, Oct. 26, from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. at Taphouse 150, 150 Sebethe Drive, Cromwell.
Join us for wood-fired pizza, drink specials, gift drawings and a special presentation by CNI founder and Volunteer CEO Larissa Gionfriddo. Prizes will include a 3-month gym membership, gift basket, gift cards, event passes and much more.
The event benefits Community Navigators Inc., a growing non-profit that celebrates individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, helping them design rewarding lives and find meaningful employment within their communities.
“We believe strongly that ‘one size does not fit all’ when it comes to individuals with disabilities,” said Gionfriddo. “We strive to make sure that each individual’s hopes and dreams are taken into consideration and they are allowed to build the life they want within their community.”
Community Navigators works with individuals like this young gentleman from Southington who is starting a dog-walking business, and a 37-year-old young woman from Cromwell who has her own social media business. CNI works with individuals to help them create the job they’ve always dreamed of and helps bring that dream to fruition through support and implementation.
At the event Gionfriddo, who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at age 30, will discuss CNI’s Breast Cancer Initiative, which seeks to gather data on how individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are supported regarding breast cancer. Gionfriddo due to her diagnosis volunteers her time to keep building CNI while she battles her cancer.
Can't make it but wish to help? Visit our website to donate or see other ways people can help Community Navigators continue their mission.
Suggested donation at the door is $25. We look forward to seeing you at Taphouse 150 on Oct. 26!
Cant make it but wish to support Community Navigators?
Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer I was an avid advocate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I would often encourage individuals and families to share their personal stories to help fight for funding and to help create a more inclusive community for individuals with I/DD.
When we started Community Navigators I had no idea that just months later I would start a new chapter in my life -- my battle with breast cancer. When I was diagnosed in 2016, I didn't yet connect breast cancer with my advocacy for people with I/DD -- until my double mastectomy. In the hospital after my surgery, I heard a young woman screaming down the hall. Later I would realize those screams came from a woman with I/DD who had very little understanding of what was happening to her body.
Months later I had the opportunity to meet many breast cancer survivors and share with them my experience. I learned we wondered the same thing: Are woman and men with I/DD being overlooked when it comes to breast cancer? Are health professionals only treating the cancer and not offering the services of advocates who understand both I/DD and breast cancer? After living through several painful procedures, treatments and so on, it is a lot for anyone to process.
Early this summer Community Navigators received a grant from the thirty three foundation to research those questions. This survey is our first step and if there is a need, we look forward to becoming a resource to assist people with I/DD who might need to access preventative care or advocacy throughout their journey.
I am a strong believer in the saying “Nothing About Us Without Us.” Don't make any decisions about people with I/DD without their input. Unfortunately, with a cancer diagnosis comes a barrage of doctors' appointments, tests and more tests, and many confusing conversations. The first few weeks after my diagnosis were jam-packed with appointments, and it was hard for me to understand and process what I was going through. Individuals with I/DD have learning abilities that are very different from person to person. Some people with I/DD might process things through talking, while others might not. The ways in which people with I/DD process and deal with cancer are part of what we hope to learn in this sturdy, to better help medical personnel understand this special population of patients.
Community Navigators hopes to one day be a support system for and give a voice to people with I/DD who also have cancer.
The Birth of Travel Navigators
I had the honor to meet Scott over 8 years ago and during that time the conversation, Scott and camping, would never have crossed my mind. A few years ago Scott started to travel with us and then Travel Navigators was born!
After my journey with breast cancer begin I wanted to focus my free time doing fun things and mostly see the world with my friends. Well, my dear friend Scott said, “Yup I'm going too!” Martin and I looked at each other and said well of course then!
Over the past few years we have been to Disney, Universal Studios, Washington D.C, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Ocean City Maryland. We are currently on an adventure in New Jersey (again) but this time we didn't stay in a hotel. We camped! CAMPED! No one would have thought he would do something like this, most would say he would refuse; “tell them to go camping I'll stay in a hotel” he would say but not this time. Over the years traveling together has helped him want to do new things and try new things. While trying new things each time he does a little more out of his comfort zone. In the world of Scott he is a very routine oriented person and some would say OCD, so camping would normally not be on his bucket list but there was no saying no to him.
What I personally think is the selling point to him is that he gets to spend time with his friends. Not always friends with intellectual disabilities but friends he has met meet through his travels that do not have disabilities. He has met friends at the many car shows and in other states. And he loves the community inclusion but it’s not inclusion to him. It’s him spending time with his friends. Scott has his own national holidays, my birthday, his sister’s birthday, his birthday but now traveling with his friends each year our New Jersey trip falls on his friend Mikaila’s birthday. He usually only sees her during our car show travels to New Jersey and Ocean City but friendships are blooming beyond our traditional travels. Once July 16th passes and her birthday is in the rear view mirror, the countdown till next year’s trip and Mikaila’s birthday begins again.
Scott slept in an RV, then a tent, ate camp fire food, went for a short hike and is still smiling. While we focus on all the budget cuts that are happening to people like Scott’s support system and all the negative news on TV. Remember not everyone has opportunities to experience life the way we do, and some need a slow introduction to dignity of risk and most importantly meaningful friendships happen when opportunities are offered!