When our daughter Melody was born, we were over the moon with joy. However, it was a tough delivery and our precious daughter spent eight days in the neonatal intensive care unit. As time went on, we discovered that Melody had developmental delays that would require a lifetime of care and attention.
Like many parents of children who have special needs, we dove headfirst into speech and occupational therapy appointments...anything that would give our child a chance at a meaningful and happy life. Our Jewish community gathered to offer support and carried us when we were tired.
As Melody grew and approached adulthood, we began searching for post-high school options for her. Luckily, a parent from Melody’s special needs preschool offered a solution.
One Step Beyond, Inc. is a private, nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive programming and services for adults who have intellectual disabilities. It was started in 2003, by a mother who — like me — wanted her daughter to contribute to post-high school opportunities and achieve greater social participation in her community. What began with 16 participants in a small Phoenix neighborhood location, is today the largest provider of advanced education programs for adults who have intellectual and cognitive disabilities in Phoenix.
One Step Beyond empowers individuals like my daughter Melody to be independent and self-sufficient. Thanks to innovative culinary, education, fitness and arts programs, Melody has learned valuable skills that she hopes one day to use to secure a job and live on her own. The amenities are unmatched and provide one-of-a-kind programs unavailable anywhere else.
Employment programs provide training, resume and interview preparation as well as volunteer opportunities for self-reliance that lead to competitive or supported employment. They even cover the cost of round-trip transportation for the participant and their job coach to ensure success and a positive experience for the individual and the employer.
The culinary training program taught Melody about customer service, healthy dietary planning, food preparation and proper sanitation skills.
Life skills programs help strengthen independent living skills, with an emphasis on money management, functional literacy, social skills and safe community access. Since One Step Beyond has partnerships with local community colleges, our daughter was able to take classes at Estrella Mountain Community College.
Recreation and fine arts programs provide music, art, dance and fitness with an emphasis on personal wellness. And because One Step Beyond has a formal partnership with Special Olympics, Melody was able to join more than 300 OSBI athletes in preparing for and participating in year-round sports training and tournaments. She excelled at bowling and softball and looks forward to the next annual event.
As we approach the holiday season, I am reminded that it is a time of giving. 2020 has certainly been a challenging year for so many nonprofits and all are deserving of your generosity.
As One Step Beyond has supported our family and so many others in our community, I want to extend an invitation to others to get involved and support One Step Beyond’s many worthwhile programs. The organization just launched their end-of-year fundraising effort called, Help Us Glow. Funds raised from the annual HUG campaign mean One Step Beyond can continue to shine a light on abilities, inclusion and opportunity for individuals like Melody.
As the mother of a beautiful adult daughter who has intellectual disabilities, I have a front row seat to her daily struggles for independence, equality and acceptance. One Step Beyond has given my daughter a voice. On behalf of her and the hundreds of individuals like her that benefit from the programs offered at One Step Beyond, I thank you for your support. JN