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June 19, 2013

New nonprofit celebrates launch with wine tasting, silent auction

Our Special Needs supports individuals with special needs

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

FARMINGTON — A new nonprofit designed to provide people with special needs an avenue to seek tax-deductible financial support for their needs will celebrates its launch with a wine tasting and silent auction fundraiser June 22.

While many charities support people with specific needs, or provide specific items — like adaptive bikes, wigs or summer camps — Our Special Needs founder Kerrie Kelly said the new nonprofit allows an individual with special needs to register all of their needs in one place, enabling them to solicit their own support for things like adaptive equipment, services and assistance with bills.

“The idea is a person with a disability — or if they are not able, their advocate — can go online and register with our website … and once people are approved, then they can request a need and then send the link out to their own friends and family, or anyone, and they can pay for that special need,” she said.

Individuals with all types of disabilities can register with Our Special Needs and receive a website link that includes their story, their specific needs and a secure means for donating funds. Those who register can request help fulfilling just about any need, from health care premium financing, adaptive equipment, speech therapy, summer camp costs or even construction of barrier-free rooms and doorways.

“Things that people would be able to register for are like adaptive bikes, for example, respite care, insurance premiums, physical therapy appointments, occupational therapy appointments — things like that,” said Our Special Needs Vice Chair Steve Trembath.

Our Special Needs then acquires the goods or services and provides them to the individual in need.

“I kind of think of this as kind of like a gift registry, but for things the people actually need, not necessarily want. … There is really not anything out there like this. It’s really quite exciting to be part of something like this at the ground level,” Trembath added.

Kelly, a former special education teacher, said it’s taken two years of volunteer work for Our Special Needs to become a 501c3 and get its website started — thanks to a generous donor — but the work is not done yet.

The final stage is to complete the organization’s website, according to Trembath.

“Right now, we are in desperate need of the initial funds to get us off the ground,” he said. “We’ve done a significant amount of work up to this point on the website — because without the website, we just can’t exist — and we just haven’t been able to get to that next level,” he said.

The organization is hosting a June 22 wine tasting and silent auction fundraiser from 4:40-7:30 p.m. at St. John Lutheran Church, 23225 Gill Road in Farmington, in the hopes of raising $3,100 to repay a loan for the creation of the organization’s new website. The sommelier-led wine tasting includes six wines, light hors d’oeuvres, and a chocolate and coffee bar dessert. There will also be an auction of spa gift baskets, hot air balloon rides, haircuts, $50 dinner gift cards, Mexican cooking classes, massages, house cleaning services, personal organizer services, original art and more. Advance tickets are $25 and can be ordered by calling or texting (248) 459-9828, or emailing kerrie.kelly@ourspecial needs.org. Tickets will also be available at the door for $30.

Anything in excess of the $3,100 fundraising goal will go toward helping the organization’s first beneficiary, Judy Parrish — a heart transplant recipient, whom Kelly said has fallen on hard times. The wife and mother of two has a heart that’s functioning at 10 percent, and because of recent job losses, Kelly said Parrish has a $900 per month private health insurance premium to pay in order to continue receiving the medical care she needs. Kelly said Our Special Needs hopes to fund one year’s worth of premiums for Parrish, which will get her through until government assistance kicks in.

“Initially, the fundraiser is to get the website up and running, but we’re hoping to get enough to pay for the actual website development and then some. Any rollover contributions are going to go right into a our general fund, and it’s going to go to directly help those who are in need,” Trembath said.

For more information, visit www.ourspecialneeds.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.