DENVER -- For people with special needs, getting out into the community is an important part of their lives, and a nonprofit group says it’s equally as important for the rest of us in the community to also have an opportunity to engage with them.
Rocky Mountain Independence strives to do this by taking a group of around 20 special needs adults on daily outings.
Until now, the group had a van to shuttle clients, but it recently broke down. Despite the setback, they are piecing together resources to continue their important service.
For Zach Arendt, the pickups are an important part of his life. His mother said it gives him a chance to get out into the community every day and allows her to work.
“We need to trust someone with our son who not only has Down Syndrome but has seizure disorder,” said Zach’s mother, Dianne Arendt.
Zach needs 24-hour care and it's a blessing for his family each time Rocky Mountain Independence co-owner Mike Schon is able to pick him up.
“Once they become adults they don’t have that friendship base they once had in high school. So it’s nice to get them out into the community and let them be a part of the world so people are comfortable around our children with special needs,” said Arendt.
The group does a variety of things from playing golf to visiting retirement homes and even feeding the homeless. On hot summer days, the participants pass out water -- they call this "sharing the love" with people in Civic Center Park.
But right now getting out there to share the love is a struggle.
Rocky Mountain Independence’s van broke down and now it’s borrowing cars to make those shuttles.
“We’ve had a little difficulty with our van. Our van has been with us since Day 1 and we put a lot of mileage on it and it gets a lot of wear and tear,” said Schon.
Despite the crunch they haven’t stopped services.
Rocky Mountain Independence said many of its clients not only deal with special needs but also financial challenges, so that daily pick up is their only option.
“Without the van we’re having to take more vehicles out, and use our own personal vehicles, and it’s just a real challenge to find one that’s in our budget because we’re funded through Medicaid,” said Rocky Mountain Independent director Tara Goldsby.
Rocky Mountain Independence is holding fundraisers right now to buy a new van, and the group is hoping to help pick out a new one soon.