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Inclusion within the greater community

Inclusion within the greater community

Some of our Noah’s Ark residents and parents had the honor of being involved in this year’s Sun n Fun Aerospace Expo, April 13-18, at the Lakeland Linder International Airport. For six-day, I was able to stand back and watch your loved one boast with pride as they talked to potential customers about where they lived and the bracelets they enjoy making. There are too many memorable moments to be able to share them all, but I’d like to share a few. One was when one of our residents left to use the restroom and came back with a lady she met while washing her hands by inviting her to go to our booth so she could show her the beautiful bracelets she helps make. The lady ended up buying three bracelets. I love the innocents of our residents.

Another great moment was when a couple of the residents talked to a customer, and the customer shared that her son was 24 years old and had down syndrome and how she wants to go back to Utah to build a community like the landing. I noticed another lady walking past our booth, and I noticed she had stopped in the middle of the aisle. I thought the two ladies were together but later found out that the lady passing by overheard the residents and the other lady talking. She stood there and listened, and I noticed that she was tearing up. I asked her if she was with the other lady, and she said no and that she had no intentions of stopping. Still, when she overheard the conversation, she couldn’t help but be touched by our residents talking about living independently and telling the lady that her son would be happy to live at a place like the landing. The lady who had no intentions of stopping purchased “five” bracelets. What a heartfelt moment that was.

Then, another customer asked one of our residents to pick out a bracelet for her to buy. Not only did he pick out a beautiful bracelet, but he put the bracelet on her wrist to make sure it was the perfect fit. Now, that’s customer service!

All the other vendors around us bought bracelets; in fact, one of the vendors from Western Michigan University bought 15 bracelets in the six days we were there. Then when he got back to Michigan, he mailed us 150 t-shirts so that all of our residents could have one.

The parents that came to volunteer got to experience these magical moments and were genuinely touched by watching and listening to the residents as they sold the bracelets.

The residents sold 267 bracelets. I had a parent and a couple of residents that made over 100 bracelets in 2 1/2 days to keep us in bracelets to sell. They brought in an impressive $3157.00, but the money wasn’t the best part. It was six days well spent with a lot of positive exposure and experiences for our residents and the opportunity for growth and networking and to touch people’s hearts from all over the country. The residents had a “purpose,” and they were an “inspiration” to everyone they came into contact with.

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