As we all know, WaterFire is made possible by a small army of volunteers and a small but, dedicated staff. WaterFire connects with numerous other organizations and partners to make its events successful. One partner you might not know of is The Fogarty Center.
A fellow Rhode Island nonprofit, The Fogarty Center serves those with developmental disabilities and is committed to improving the quality of their life and their important place in the community. For over ten years, the Fogarty Center has partnered with WaterFire to provide a variety of services. This partnership has proven to be a great outlet for their residents to give back to their community in the most positive way.
Over the years, the Fogarty Center has assisted with making lunch for WaterFire’s staff and volunteers, preparing carnations to be handed out by popular WaterFire performer Michael Grando, managing and staffing our WaterFire Access Boat program for handicapped individuals, helping us at our woodpile, and so much more.
“They get so much out of it, and WaterFire gives so much back, it’s really a big circle” says Melanie Simmonds, Resident Support Service Coordinator for The Fogarty Center and long time WaterFire collaborator. “Our presence teaches others about the capabilities of others of all walks of life.”
As much as WaterFire has truly benefited from this important relationship, the people of The Fogarty Center have taken away so much more. As Melanie puts it, “The sense of acknowledgement they feel is extraordinary and it makes them feel so connected to Providence and its community.” More than just a volunteer opportunity for them, many Fogarty Center residents have become some of our most dedicated volunteers.
A few years ago, long time Fogarty resident and WaterFire volunteer, Russell was given the opportunity to go see the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on a WaterFire night. Without hesitation, he declined knowing he was needed and loved helping at WaterFire’s Access Dock. WaterFire was such an important part in his life, he did not want to miss the opportunity to help out and be a part of the event.
Along with the always enthusiastic Fogarty Center residents and volunteers, The Fogarty Center staff have long been champions of WaterFire and its importance in the community. In addition to their dedicated work to support their residents, several Fogarty Center Staff donate significant amounts of time to help make WaterFire happen. As Mary Sue Tavares, Director of Resident Services puts it, “The relationship provides so much joy and exposure to the arts and the community for everyone; the effect it’s had on The Fogarty Center’s residents is beyond seeing and is something deeply felt by all here at The Fogarty Center.”
Over the years that volunteers come and go, but WaterFire has always been able to rely upon The Fogarty Center. We thank The Fogarty Center for everything they have given to WaterFire over the years and for all the years to come.
If you would like to learn more about the Fogarty Center and their mission please visit their website: https://www.fogartycenter.org/