Melwood | October 3, 2019

Melwood Provides Pathways to Independence

Imagine that you KNOW you can do a job. You KNOW you can contribute – but at every turn you are denied the opportunity to fulfill your potential because other people don’t think you can make the grade.

Wouldn’t you want someone to see the REAL YOU and let your talent and potential shine?

At Melwood, we believe in challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations.

We believe that, with the right support, everyone can achieve their potential.

We believe in focusing on a person’s unique abilities and potential which is why we serve a community of “people of differing abilities” rather than people with disabilities.

This isn’t wishful thinking. We advocate for and empower individuals of differing abilities to transform their own lives through unique opportunities to work and play in the community.

From humble beginnings in a borrowed tent in 1963, Melwood has grown to be one of the largest employers of people of differing abilities in the U.S. Our more than 1,000 employees of differing abilities work at over 60 federal contract sites and at over 250 private companies around the DC Metro Area.

At the USDA, FBI, HUD, Fort Meade, NASA Goddard, IRS, Dept. of Energy, the Naval Academy, and other federal government sites, Melwood teams have attained high performance marks from our clients.  They have proven themselves and have the pride of earning a paycheck-  more than $27 million in income through Melwood’s employment programs – helping them, their families and the local economy.

But it hasn’t always been that way. And we have a long way to go before we realize our vision: a world where people of differing abilities are fully included.

We have three programs where your monthly workplace gift can change a life and change the future:

(1) Camp Accomplish: kids accept everyone for who they are.

At Camp Accomplish, we bring together hundreds of children of differing abilities and typical abilities each summer to learn and play alongside one another as peers and equals in a fully inclusive camp where every kid gets to ride horses, go down the zip line, splash in the pool, toast marshmallows and take part in the talent show!

As a fee-paying camp, we know that not every child has family support to enable them to have this life-changing experience. With your support, we can offer scholarships to make sure that income is not a barrier to participation.

When you commit $30 a month through workplace giving, we can plan ahead and know how many spots at camp will be covered by our scholarship fund in 2020!

(2) Melwood Veterans Services Operation Tohidu®: 5-day, intensive, specialized retreat programs for men, women and couples affected by PTSD or suffered brain trauma injury or military sexual trauma.

We deliver these programs free-of-charge to veterans and we even fly them in from around the country at no cost to them. Many of these veterans are desperately underserved. For example, there are over 2 million women veterans in the U.S and 1-in-4 of them who receive health care from the V.A report military sexual trauma.

Given the need, we urgently need to expand the number of veterans we can serve with these life-transforming retreats. It costs Melwood $3,750 to provide a week-long retreat to a veteran.  If we can rely on your support as a CFC donor at $104 a month, over three years you will support an injured vet on the road to recovery after they have served their country.

(3) abilIT: IT training programs for people of differing abilities and injured veterans.

Our newest initiative is a real game-changer that really brings home why we refer to our population as people of differing abilities, not disabilities. We combine two problems – high unemployment among people of differing abilities and the IT skill shortage – to create a solution. People on the autism spectrum often have a high aptitude for tasks required of IT professionals, but find the “soft skills” of interviewing and workplace behavior more challenging. Our program combines IT training from Cybrary and Melwood’s 55- year experience in professional development training to prepare people of differing abilities for high demand jobs and jobs of the future.  

abilIT is rapidly scaling up and in search of funding to meet demand! Your ongoing support through workplace giving will give Melwood the ability to grow innovative programs like abilIT ensuring that Melwood is always on the cutting edge of providing opportunities to people of differing abilities and injured veterans.

And here are a few other facts to keep in mind when choosing to support Melwood:

  • Although Melwood has transformed the lives of thousands of people of differing abilities and injured veterans, there is much still to do. A person of differing abilities is more than twice as likely to be unemployed as the national average. Only a third of young people on the autism spectrum leave high school with a plan for employment or higher education – and many more of them will be entering adult life over the coming decades.
  • our work is within the DC Metro Area – so your support will create jobs, opportunities and income within your own community.
  • when you look around your building and the grounds, you most likely will see the Melwood employees who perform custodial, landscaping and administrative duties. We are at over 60 federal sites so we are part of the federal family of workers. We are one of you.

Support Melwood through your employee giving program:

As a donor, you can support Melwood by donating to them through your employer’s workplace giving program (CFC#21166 if you’re a military or federal employee participating in the Combined Federal Campaign). Payroll pledges made through employer-sponsored charitable giving programs represent a cost effective and near effortless way to support your favorite charities.

As Melwood’s workplace giving partner, America’s Charities can help your company design and implement a program centered on supporting their work – through workplace giving campaigns, employee fundraising, cause-focused signature programs, volunteerism, donation drives, matching gifts, Dollars-for-Doers, In-Kind Giving and other employee engagement and philanthropic initiatives. Click here to request a demo and learn how we can help you do this.

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