By Roger Slingerman, UCPCC Executive Director
Happy new year to all and best wishes for an outstanding 2022! While 2021 was just as interesting as 2020, it’s 2022 that we are eagerly looking to move us forward.
That’s because in 2022, we will be working full-tilt on the capital campaign to raise money for our new Fresno headquarters that will be home to our adult programs.
In May 2021, we purchased the site at 2044 E. Nees Ave., on the northeast corner of Nees and Maple avenues. We will move into this site sometime in 2023.
The site is 35,000 square feet, so it will allow us to combine our adult programs and yet still have room for growth as we expand our program offerings. The site also has plenty of parking, which has been an issue for some time at the Arts and Technology Center at Cedar and Ashlan avenues.
You will soon begin to see more information about our new home and the renovations we are doing there. We are calling this project “Unlocking Potential: A community without boundaries.”
Looking back at what we accomplished in 2021
We started 2021 by continuing to reach students remotely by creating lessons and videos that were shared with students on Facebook, and meeting with students, families and caregivers.
We helped facilitate students, families and caregivers to receive the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Through our continued participation in the Disability Equity Project, we were able to inform members of the disability community of COVID-testing sites, details on COVID-19 vaccines and provide financial assistance for families who were affected by the pandemic.
We also received some exciting news in early 2021: An old friend of our programs wanted to partner with us on their latest venture. Rare Earth Coffee, a Clovis-based coffee roasting company, is owned by longtime UCPCC supporters the Beal family, which also owns Johnny Quik convenience stores in the area. Rare Earth created a blend of coffee, the Ethiopian Reserve Roast. The bags of coffee feature stories about UCPCC on the back of the bag. And Rare Earth is donating $1 from every bag sold to our programs.
Rare Earth also put on a fundraiser for us in the fall called Clovis Brew Fest, and they’re planning two more events in 2022. We are so grateful for the Beal family’s support.
UCPCC re-opens and adjusts to working in a pandemic
We encountered countless teasers that we would be able to re-open to in-person services throughout the spring. Finally in June, we were able to open our doors to about 30% capacity. Our setup has changed to accommodate requirements to keep staff and students safe. We created “pods” – classrooms where students are seated six feet apart and staff members work in one pod each day. In the event of an outbreak, we would be able to isolate students and staff who could be exposed to any illness. We were very fortunate this did not prove to be a problem.
We also learned that there was a continued need for distance learning in both our children’s and adult programs. Our students, their families and their caregivers have been rightfully cautious. So we will continue the distance-learning format to meet the needs of our community for however long it is needed.
Support: We cannot say enough about our supporters
As summer turned to fall, we looked forward to fundraisers including STEPtember and the Inaugural Bags, Bites and Brews Cornhole Tournament. It was important to us to continue our fundraising efforts if not for the funds but to let people know we still exist and are making it through these tough times.
We had more than 100 people participate in and more than 10 businesses sponsor STEPtember. With sponsorships and donations combined, we managed to raise twice as much as the previous year and the participants walked more than 13 million steps total. People working on their health while supporting our programs is a win-win!
Our first cornhole tournament, which was held at the Hanford Civic Auditorium in October managed to raise funds to support our children’s program and draw more than 75 participants. On the same day, we had a community event in the Hanford Courthouse Park that brought more than 700 people – current and former UCPCC students and their families alike – to a trunk or treat.
We also have been honored to receive funds from foundations and grant awards from Kaiser Hospitals, G.L. Bruno Family Foundation, Batton Foundation, United Way, POM Wonderful and the Eva L. McKenzie Charitable Trust, just to name a few, as well as fundraisers put on by community members like the Dawg Pound Cornhole League, which held a cornhole tournament in June, and food truck Kerribb Flava’, which hosted a fundraiser during Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month in March. We thank all the sponsors and individuals who continually give to UCPCC to expand our programs and give greater opportunities for our students.
Despite all the restrictions and health problems still affecting our community, UCPCC has made it through the past year - or let’s say two years - in a positive way. We are excited about our future as we continue to move forward to impact the lives of people with disabilities.
Most of all, I want to make sure to thank the staff of UCPCC who have gone above and beyond to make a better life for people with disabilities, especially since March 2020. Their creativity and their passion for what they do and who they work for does not go unnoticed by those in our community. This was a very trying time for them and they have done a remarkable job in keeping UCPCC sustainable and relevant.
I hope everyone has a great 2022 and thank you for your continued support of our programs!