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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Empowering Women with Disabilities Through Creative Expression and Community Engagement
Trenton, GA – December 2, 2023 VOA Southeast program residents, Denise Brock and Susanna Adkins, participated in the Dade Expo Jolly Holidays Market held at Dade County High School on December 2, 2023. This was the third annual event presented by Alliance for Dade in which local artists, crafters, and businesses were able to showcase and sell their goods and services while engaging with the community. The holiday event also included music, food, activities for kids, door prizes, and of course, photos with Santa! The event was free to the public and drew a large crowd this year with 80 vendors and over 1,000 visitors in attendance.
Denise Brock has been interested in painting and sketching her whole life, becoming an artist in her 30s. She is an animal advocate who is an avid fan of painting nature and wildlife scenes. She started her career in Albany, Georgia in a continuing education program and also learned oil painting at a bookstore class. She specializes in free-hand sketching and impressionism techniques and loves painting with acrylics on canvas.
Originally from Cartersville, Denise moved to Trenton in 2018 to become part of VOA Southeast’s assisted living program designed to provide support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). When she is not painting, she is taking classes and studying for her GED, learning to play the guitar, chairing the Trenton Place Resident Committee, participating in United 4 Change statewide self-advocacy committee for people with IDD, attending Orange Grove Center, and working at a popular dog grooming service.
“Autumn Trees” by Denise Brock showcased and sold at the Dade Expo
Denise painting at the VOA Southeast Clubhouse
Susanna Adkins is a self-proclaimed yarn-o-holic who has been crocheting since she was a young girl. She learned to crochet from her mother, who learned from her mother, who learned from her aunt, so her craft is a long-time family tradition. Susanna has also taught others to crochet. She enjoys making coasters, pot holders, bed spreads, baby blankets, toboggans, and scarves – and can even crochet purses, tank tops, house shoes, and curtains! She loves using the chain-and-hook technique the best.
Originally from Flinstone, Susanna joined VOA Southeast in 2007, moving to the Trenton location in 2016. When she is not crocheting, she is usually visiting or helping out a neighbor in need, helping to clean the clubhouse, cooking in her apartment with a VOA Southeast staff member, or engaging in her daily devotional Bible studies. Susanna is also the assistant chairperson of the Trenton Place Resident Committee and attends Orange Grove Center and her church regularly.
Christmas Cap showcased by Susanna Adkins at the Dade Expo
Susanna crocheting in the VOA Southeast Clubhouse
VOA Southeast Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Program
Denise and Susanna are part of the VOA Southeast IDD program and reside in a VOA Southeast assisted living facility and receive community living support services to help them succeed. These services include in-home assistance such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, healthy living; community-based services such as transportation and assistance with grocery shopping, doctor appointments, going to the bank; and community outings in which residents are aided in engaging in the community so they may form and maintain social contacts and friendships.
VOA Southeast takes a person-centered approach with each resident, helping them lead more meaningful lives and fulfill their hopes and dreams through individualized goal-setting. This approach fosters growth, skill development, and community integration. The women’s participation in Dade’s Expo addressed these objectives.
From Aspiring Artist to Community Showcase at Dade Expo
Denise shared her love of painting with Resident Trainer, Susan Ritz, in July of 2023 saying “I really want to be an artist, and I want to get my work out there, but I really don’t know how to do that.” Susan and Denise went to work right away on this goal, and with the help of Patricia Cloud with Alliance for Dade, Denise had a booth showcasing and selling her work at the Dade Expo four months later. It was in the planning stages of the event that Denise invited her neighbor Susanna to share her booth. Thus, with the help of VOA Southeast support services and a caring community member, the women were able to meet the objectives of engaging in the community, meeting new social contacts, making friends, and helping to fulfill their hopes and dreams.
A note from Kim Gregg, VOA Southeast’s Georgia Director of IDD Services
“We are proud that our services are able to support our residents in their dreams and endeavors. The community has welcomed these individuals into their open arms helping them prosper and remain active in the community when historically they may have been institutionalized. Keeping our individuals in their own home and a part of the community has helped others understand their amazing abilities.”Kim Gregg, VOA Southeast’s Georgia Director of IDD Services
Pictured from left to right: Kim Gregg ( VOA Southeast Georgia Director of IDD Services), Susanna Adkins (resident), Susan Ritz (VOA Southeast Resident Trainer), and Denise Brock (resident)
About VOA Southeast:
VOA Southeast is a nonprofit, faith-based organization dedicated to helping those in need live healthy, safe and productive lives. Our ministry of service has supported and empowered America’s most vulnerable groups, including veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, at-risk youth, homeless individuals and families, those recovering from addictions and many others. Through our human service programs, including housing and health care, VOA Southeast helps over 35,000 people annually. Our work touches the mind, body, heart and ultimately the spirit of those we serve, integrating our deep compassion with highly effective programs and services.