The DSANV Friendship Connection is an inclusive group that serves teens and adults with Down syndrome, alongside individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). One of the core aspects of this program is inclusive volunteering, a vital component of community engagement. Through inclusive volunteering, our members with Down syndrome and IDD have learned the joy of giving back and positively impacting their communities. The volunteer projects within Friendship Connection not only cultivate a sense of belonging and purpose among our members but also enable them to make meaningful contributions to the wider community.
Here is what DSANV volunteers have to say:
Charlotte: “To me, community service means giving back to the community, and doing something that is meaningful and rewarding for yourself that also brings joy to other people and helps others; by participating in community service the DSANV Friendship Connection members also demonstrate to the community that people with Down syndrome long to be involved and included as valuable community members!”
Paul: “I like helping others and the activities are fun. It makes me feel happy to do things for people in my community.”
Mia: “I liked assembling the sandwiches because I like to help others.”
Mia’s mom: “Each opportunity has helped build her sense of belonging to causes she can positively impact using her skills. She has always gravitated towards animals and babies showing great empathy. She feels true joy in helping others and working together in a team.”
2023 -2024 Projects have included:
♦The Snack Pack Project – we made 60 Snack Packs for the family members staying at the Ronald McDonald House. Each Snack Pack came with a personalized card with words of encouragement. The Ronald McDonald House is home away from home whose children are under going cancer treatments.
♦At the 2023 Buddy Walk® there was a Friendship Connection tent. We assembled 62 Snack Packs with personalized cards.
♦At 2023 Holiday Party, we collected shelf-stable food and toiletries for the Oakton Pantry.
♦On January 28, 2024 we gathered at the King of Kings Church, in Fairfax, VA. and they were kind enough to let us use their kitchen. We made 150 Breakfast Sandwiches, and two casseroles. On January 29 we made the delivery to the Lamb Center.