Representatives with the Ohio Valley Down Syndrome Support Group Inc. want the public to know the organization is alive and well and that it's here to serve and help families of individuals with Down syndrome.
People interested in meeting the officers and members of the group and learning what it's all about are invited to stop by a "Meet and Greet" that will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at Jim Wood Park off the John Scott Highway Connector, Steubenville. Snacks and beverages will be offered.
The group has plenty going on, says its president, Monica Vok.
Among the officers of the Ohio Valley Down Syndrome Support Group are, from left, Loretta Kiedrowski, trustee; Jake Geary, vice president; Monica Vok, president; Lisa Owen, treasurer; and Victor Guillaron, trustee.
New officers, an office presence in the Gallery building at 2700 Sunset Blvd., Steubenville, planned monthly meetings and planned monthly events are testimony to that, according to Vok and the other officers, who include Jake Geary, vice president; trustees Loretta Kiedrowski, Victor Guillaron and Phyllis Bodo; Lisa Owen, treasurer; and Stephanie Chester, treasurer.
"The purpose is to introduce the new officers and present educational information to the community," Vok said of the "Meet and Greet" at Jim Wood Park, the same venue where the group's annual Buddy Walk fundraiser will be held Oct. 6.
It will be the 10th-annual walk that for the most part has been held in Richmond at the park behind the old Richmond Elementary School.
The OVDSSG was organized 10 years ago "to create inclusion and acceptance of children and adults with DS," Vok said.
"We want the community to know that our children are just like any other child. They will do the same things but at a slower pace. They are able to be educated and become a productive member of society," she said.
Membership in the group is open to anyone, not just for those who have a Down syndrome member in the family. "We currently have 25 families. We know that there are more families that need to be reached," said Vok.
Having an office presence in the Gallery building affords a centralized location "which we are hoping will bring more awareness and curiosity from the public."
There are no "set" hours at the office as of yet, but the details are being worked out, according to Vok, who added that messages will be checked on the machine daily.
The number is (740) 314-5743. A Facebook page and e-mail setup are in the works as well.
The group plans to hold monthly meetings and have "fun" monthly events for the members to attend. This includes a swimming party in July, the date of which will be announced.
"The OVDSSG is here to offer support to the families of those with Down syndrome. We want the families in the community to know that they aren't alone and just how wonderful it is to have the children become friends with their peers. Down syndrome is not the same today as it once was. Our children are just like every other child," Vok said.
Vok hopes the "Meet and Greet" gets a good response.
"This is a fresh start for our group, and big things are on the horizon. We want the public to see our compassion and dedication to this group," Vok said.
"The group wants and needs to raise awareness. The money we raise for our children will be used directly for them. We have three trustees that will review all requests and assure that money is being utilized appropriately. We want to touch and affect as many families as possible and only envision this group as being bigger than it ever was," Vok said.