SARASOTA, FL – Local community member Deanna Williams had enough on her plate. Her husband – who recently passed away – was under hospice care, and she, her daughter and 6-year-old granddaughter have disabilities. In the midst of her own struggles, she found the time to organize and is contributing her own money to support weekly dance classes for children, ages 6-12, who have disabilities.
Williams’ granddaughter loves to dance and has developed some skills but Williams can’t afford to send her to any established local programs. She decided to try and offer free classes for children like her granddaughter. Williams engaged a volunteer instructor who is currently teaching ballet and ballroom dance. While she has been happy to cover most of the costs related to the class – including clothing, toys and dance items such as a balance beam and barre (both of which she found at area Goodwill stores) – she wasn’t confident she could take on room rentals as well. So she reached out to Margie Genter, vice president of mission services at Goodwill, with a heartfelt request for assistance.
“I just want children to feel the healing power of the arts and give those who are suffering a chance,” Williams wrote. “The dance class will encourage them to have fellowship and enjoy moving their bodies.”
Genter worked with Williams to determine which day and time, and location, might work best for current and future participants. The first offering was on October 27, 2021. Currently, there are several children enjoying dance classes at Goodwill’s Honore location on Wednesday afternoons but more would be welcomed.
“For more than two decades, Goodwill Manasota has been pleased to provide free community meeting places, to meet the needs of specific areas and the residents who live there,” said Genter. “As an employer of and advocate for individuals with disabilities, we know they don’t always have the same access to recreational activities like this one. We hope this program will grow and thrive as more community members learn about it!”
By providing comfortable spaces and offering free educational, cultural and social activities designed to meet the needs of local residents, Goodwill hopes to help to create a stronger, safer, more vibrant and better-connected community. Additionally, Goodwill has expanded the program over the years to offer classes and seminars through strategic alliances between Goodwill and other organizations and businesses.
The dance classes are free and open to the public. To learn more or get a child involved, call Williams at 941-313-0892 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With philanthropic donations and revenue generated by the sales of donated goods, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities, veterans, seniors, and those with other barriers to employment by providing jobs, job skills training, and free career services. For more information or for a listing of locations, visit experiencegoodwill.org or call 941-355-2721.