Doing Good: CHOICE program engages community, fosters awareness for developmental disabilites

CHOICE an acronym for Choosing Habilitation Opportunities in Community Environments is a a day service program that engages its participants in community integration to help them become visible, productive members of the community. Through CHOICE, the programs 30 participants have volunteered at organizations such as MedShare International, Meals on Wheels, Atlanta Humane Society and more.

“They welcomed us with open arms, and they really engage all of the program’s participants into the community,” said Jacqueline Wiley of Decatur. “(My son), Donald, has a revitalized spirit since he started at CHOICE.” Wiley knew she had found the perfect place for her son, who has cerebral palsy, when she discovered the program six years ago.

CHOICE is offered by the DeKalb Community Service Board, and aims to provide, “meaningful activities based on wants, needs, and desires of our participants,” said Felicia Anderson, director of CHOICE.

“This is vitally important for our participants, their families, and our community,” said Anderson. “By getting our participants involved in the community, we are empowering them and showing them that they can be successful. At the same time, it builds relationships with our community partners and fosters awareness.”

The awareness for CHOICE and other DeKalb CSB programs comes through its many events held throughout the year for the community. The 7th annual Walk for HEROes 5K was held at the Kirkwood Mental Health Center in Atlanta. With over 400 participants, the need for volunteers for community events is important for CHOICE to continue its growth and presence in the community.

Amidst his daily volunteering, Donald Wiley participated in the 5K, and it couldn’t have made his mom happier.

“It feels so good to see him out participating in the community,” said Jacqueline Wiley, who is also the Special Needs Liaison for the Georgia PTA. “Parents of special needs children need resources that not only make them feel that their children are being taken care of, but also ones that empower their kids and make them feel good. It has definitely made a difference in Donald’s life.”

The developmental disabilities services include day programs, day habilitation, work activities, specialized work programs, supported employment, and residential services. In 2012, DeKalb CSB helped over 10,000 people by offering a full range of mental health services, developmental disabilities programs and substance abuse treatments.

In other news: On Sept. 19, employees from CHEP USA packaged 50,000 healthy meals for hungry children in Atlanta at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. The event took place during Hunger Action Month in partnership with the CHEP Hunger Project and Feeding Children Everywhere’s U.S. Hunger Program. CHEP is a global supply-chain logistics company specializing in pallet and container pooling, and the North America head office is based in Dunwoody.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.