On-the-Move Community Integration is holding monthly gatherings for its Socializing Colorfully Group, the only group of its kind that directly serves people of color with developmental disabilities.
"People of color with developmental disabilities tend to think they're the only ones," says Deborah Waggoner of On-the-Move. "We decided to bring in a program where they can meet each other, learn about each other's culture and make friends."
Advocates say that, compared to majority families, families of color have greater difficulty in accessing and utilizing social services and are less likely to receive innovative or best-practice services such as a family support system and employment support.
Research shows that barriers to these services come from issues related to poverty, racism and lack of culturally relevant programs.
Socializing Colorfully currently serves about 15 clients. Base funding comes from grants from Meyer Memorial Trust and SE Uplift; all of the money for the program comes from donations and grants.
It is part of the larger work On-the-Move does with people with developmental disabilities.
The group, which was founded in June 2007, is a licensed provider organization, which allows it to take on contracts for services. It also gets money for day to day services through the Oregon Brokerage System.
Molly Mayo, executive director of On-the-Move, defines developmental disability as a diagnosis that allows people to receive services that help them deal with day to day needs.
"It's a combination of cognitive and adaptive behavior," says Mayo. "The cognitive deals with intellectual functions while the adaptive refers to social skills. Every person on the planet has some kind of developmental challenges but the purpose of the diagnosis is for people with special needs to receive services."
According to its mission statement, the group supports adults with special needs in accessing healthful, meaningful and environmentally responsible activities in their community.
Specifically, Mayo says On-the-Move combats social isolation.
She says there has been a progression over the years in how we provide services for people with developmental disabilities.
Originally, people with special needs were kept in institutions and completely segregated from society.
Afterwards, the policy moved towards more sight based programs. These programs provided places for people with developmental disabilities to go but didn't address the community as a whole, says Mayo.
She describes the Community Integration strategy as a multi directional exchange where there is input from clients, staff and community members. Ultimately, the goal is to make society more accepting.
On-the-Move serves about 85 clients in total, most through the Oregon Brokerage System.
Clients can participate in a number of activities including volunteer jobs, sports and free concerts.
Some of the places the group volunteers include the Oregon Food Bank, Multnomah County Library and the Oregon Zoo.
Clients take part in health and wellness activities at local community centers like Matt Dishman and Mt. Scott.
According to Mayo, the program seeks to help participants meet their own goals.
Most of the work is done in small community inclusion groups, where three clients are accompanied by a staff member.
Mayo says this makes it easier for clients to build relationships and communicate.
"It helps us avoid the field trip dynamic," she says.
She says the small group size also allows the participants to plan their activities and maintain overall focus for the program as a whole.
In addition to small groups, there are also one on one appointments available.
On-the-Move hosts activities Tuesday through Saturday.
Activities with clients are generally held from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. There are also evening activities on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
According to the winter schedule, Tuesdays are dedicated to animals and the environment. Wednesdays deal with health and wellness. On Thursdays, On-the-Move does small group volunteering in the morning and holds social groups during the afternoon. Fridays are dedicated to the creative arts group and Saturdays are for outings.
The office is closed Sundays and Mondays.
Both Mayo and Waggoner stress that On-the-Move's programs are beneficial to both clients and the community.
"We're trying to build the skills of clients and teach the community members how to be more inclusive," says Mayo.
On-the-Move will be hosting a free rhythm and movement class with Bobby Fouther as part of its next Socializing Colorfully gathering. The class will be held on Friday, Feb. 24 from 3-5 p.m. at the On-the-Move Community Integration office.
According to the event flyer, Fouther's classes "foster a sense of pride in one's culture and an appreciation of the diversity and unifying themes of many cultures."
Participants can pre-register by Feb. 17 by calling 503-287-0346 or contacting On-the-Move via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.