Even though only a short time has passed since our Day Community Opportunities Program (DCOP) began supporting individuals in Westchester and Rockland Counties, community connections made are already paying off with fun experiences and the chance to give back to those in need.

The kitchen at the Ronald McDonald House of the Greater Hudson Valley (RMHGHV) in Valhalla is open to program participants from noon to 2 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays. All of the cookies, lemon bars, mini cheesecakes, brownies and other desserts that they whip up stay at the charity, to be enjoyed by the families staying there, who have children receiving life-saving care at Westchester Medical Center. It’s a win-win situation. DCOP participants get to enjoy the baking process and the satisfaction that comes with volunteer service. RMHGHV gets to present a taste of homemade treats to their guests, who are likely far away from their own homes.

“They love it,” shares Donna King, Qualified Intellectual Disability Professional (QIDP) Supervisor for South Day Services, “It’s a really good thing. The individuals get excited, since they know what they are going to make ahead of time. We bake so much that we’ve even stayed past two before.”

“We are incredibly grateful for the delicious, sweet treats that Living Resources volunteers bake for our families here at the House,” says Ashlyn Hay, Events and Volunteer Manager at RMHGHV, “It is inspiring to see how dedicated and involved the volunteers are in supporting our mission.”

Both DCOP and RMHGHV pitch in ingredients and other supplies to make this possible. Donna hopes that as the partnership grows, DCOP participants will be able to do even more activities to support the charity in the future, including shopping and preparing holiday decorations.

After spending part of their week creating in the kitchen, participants are thrilled to also experience the joy of stepping onto the dance floor! Dream Dance Studio in Elmsford has designed a class specifically for DCOP, happening every Thursday at 1 p.m.

“I’m an outside the box kind of person,” says Donna, “I listened to what everyone said they wanted and from that, these hip hop dance classes came to be.” A big thanks goes to studio director Brandon Whyte, whose passion for dance comes with purpose and a commitment to his local community.

Brandon explains, “Our Slogan is ‘Dream to Achieve the Unthinkable.’ That slogan of ours says everything. We love that because we want all people that walk into these doors to reach their full potential in what they love. Our way of expressing that is through dance, and everyone that comes to this school strives for greatness every day.” At the end of the season, dance class participants will be invited to take part in a large studio-wide recital, complete with music, costumes, choreography, and a cheering audience.

DCOP is a “without walls” program, dedicated to integrating individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities into the communities they call home and promoting independence through enriching activities, volunteer opportunities, and skill-building classes. Click here to learn more: https://livingresource.wpengine.com/day-community-opportunities-program-dcop/