Aspire CILA Homes Day of Service

I have been fortunate enough to meet some pretty special people in my lifetime.

At Designs for Dignity’s Days of Service June 9thand 10th, I got to add to that list of incredible individuals. The Days of Service were spent painting at the Aspire CILA home, a beautiful example of the importance of inclusion and the impact even the simplest of details can make on a community.

CILA stands for Community Integrated Living Arrangement for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to build their skill sets with the supervision of the Aspire services. Staying true to Aspire’s vision, “To create a community where people of all abilities live, learn and grow together,” D4D worked with the residents to help develop a new training kitchen for the house. There were four residents involved in the process, working collaboratively to decide details such as floor pattern and paint color. D4D also learned more about the untraditional needs of the house from the residents’ perspective. For example, almost every suburban house has one main dining area. In the Aspire CILA home, there are two, as the residents enjoy the diversity the two dining areas create.

Our task was to paint the two kitchens and two living room spaces in the home. With 28 volunteers ready to help D4D and the Aspire staff see their vision become a reality, we set to work. I can honestly say I have never walked up and down so many stairs in my life, let alone in those two days. I was running downstairs to get more paint brushes and drop cloths, then back upstairs to deliver them and grab the paint to bring back downstairs. But through all the organizes commotion, I was able to hear the stories of our amazing volunteers. Two volunteers went to the same college and were fondly comparing memories, while two other volunteers were creating some of their first married memories together.

To me, that’s what a Day of Service is meant to accomplish. Not only do you create memories for yourself, but you also create a lasting memory for others – especially the residents of the CILA home. Sometimes a fresh coat of paint is the fresh start someone was looking to find.

Erin Socha