The power of purpose.
It’s what moves us – what drives us to make a difference for others.
That’s especially true for those involved with OPTIONS Inc. The Hammond, Louisiana, nonprofit serves people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
“It’s been a daily challenge,” said Jaclyn Rice, candidly conveying the emotional effects the coronavirus has created for OPTIONS clients due to the cancellation of their usual programs, services and activities. For some served by OPTIONS, those activities include participating in the nonprofit’s vocational program involving retail, landscaping, weaving and cleaning employment.
“Many clients have been feeling anxious,” said Rice, who serves as Development Director for OPTIONS. “They’re asking, ‘Why can’t I go to work, the store, to church, and the library?’ The routines our participants depend on for stability and structure have been completely uprooted due to the pandemic.”
But it’s about more than routines. It’s also about the employment opportunities that, in normal times, OPTIONS delivers to clients.
“Many times, jobs can give people a greater sense of self-worth and help them live a fuller life,” explained Kathy Lovell, Disability Services and Outreach Manager for Regions Bank. “This is especially true for people with disabilities who often have limited job opportunities.”
At OPTIONS, our supporters are much more than just donors. They are our friends and family.
Jaclyn Rice, Development Director, OPTIONS
So much has been upended at OPTIONS, including an important way the nonprofit is funded to pay for its vital services.
“Our largest fundraiser of the year was scheduled for April,” said Rice. “We typically host about 450 people and raise funds by asking people to sign a multi-year pledge during our annual breakfast.”
But the mandate of no large gatherings equated to no breakfast fundraiser.
“We’ve moved to a different mode of thinking to raise funds,” Rice said. And funding partners are stepping up, including the Regions Foundation, a nonprofit initiative of Regions Bank that supports community investments.
Earlier in 2020, the Foundation had pledged $30,000 to support OPTIONS’ transportation and vocational programs. When it became clear these services couldn’t occur due to stay-at-home orders, redirecting those dollars to support more pressing needs became a priority.
“We take a lot of care and pride in funding our grantees,” said Marta Self, Executive Director of the Regions Foundation. “OPTIONS has reinvented itself during these challenging times to help keep clients active and engaged. There’s nothing more important than flexibility in supporting the work they’re doing.”
Lovell said the donation’s timing is especially significant.
“Through this gift, we recognize the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” she said. “It’s a milestone that encourages us to celebrate the work OPTIONS and similar nonprofits do to foster inclusive economic growth and create a positive community impact.”
Funding from the Regions Foundation is now supporting OPTIONS staff members who deliver personal care to over 75 participants, including 24 who live in one of four OPTIONS community homes. Due to mandates, OPTIONS direct care staff decided to shelter-in-place with clients to help reduce outside exposure to the virus.
“The heart of our team are the direct service workers who provide around-the-clock care to participants,” said Rice. “They are the very definition of essential in providing one-to-one care.”
That care extends far beyond the usual aspects of meals and household tasks. OPTIONS’ direct care staff are also keeping clients busy with art projects, lawn bowling, gardening and more.
“Our staff is focused on keeping our participants entertained, happy, healthy and cared for,” said Rice. “They are sunshine on a cloudy day for our clients.”
Hammond community members recently rallied by donating to an art supplies drive. Neighbors and friends also answered the call when OPTIONS issued a personal protective equipment (PPE) request for gloves and masks.
The outpouring of support didn’t surprise Rice.
“Many of our supporters have reached out to us with genuine concern and a desire to help,” she said. “At OPTIONS, our supporters are much more than just donors. They are our friends and family.”Shelly Robinson is part of the OPTIONS family. Robinson, manager at Regions’ Hammond Main Branch, has been supporting the organization for 13 years by hosting thank-you events for OPTIONS supporters and serving as a table ambassador at the annual breakfast fundraiser.
The Regions Bank team in Hammond also provides a block of tickets to a Southeastern Louisiana University baseball game, where an OPTIONS client has the opportunity to throw the ceremonial first pitch.
For Robinson, OPTIONS represents kindness, joy and connection.
“How deeply the OPTIONS staff cares about their clients is awesome,” said Robinson. “OPTIONS clients are always smiling, always happy. This is near and dear to my heart. I’ve grown through my involvement with it. Being around OPTIONS clients has made me a better person.”
What qualities does Robinson bring to the organization?
“Compassion, sincerity, generosity, thoughtfulness,” Rice responded. “She has advocated for OPTIONS and people with disabilities for years. She always goes above and beyond in volunteering and in taking care of our banking needs.”
And it’s clear OPTIONS clients are equally grateful for the customer service Robinson and the Hammond team provide.
“When I’m out in the community and see OPTIONS clients, they say, ‘There’s the bank lady!’” said Robinson. “It just touches your heart.”
Like many others figuring out what the new normal will be, Rice knows the road ahead for OPTONS’ transportation and vocational programs is filled with uncertainty.
“There are just no guarantees right now,” she noted.
But what brings Rice comfort?
“People are more compassionate, motivated and giving than ever,” she said. “Our donors are helping to make up the funding gap to help us continue providing critical care, services, programs and quality of life for over 75 people with disabilities. I want them to know they are making a real difference in the lives of the people OPTIONS cares for each day.”
About Regions Foundation
Regions Foundation supports community investments that positively impact the communities served by Regions Bank. The Foundation engages in a grantmaking program focused on priorities including economic and community development; education and workforce readiness; and financial wellness. The Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation funded primarily through contributions from Regions Bank.
About Regions Financial Corporation
Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $133 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services. Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates approximately 1,400 banking offices and 2,000 ATMs. Regions Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at www.regions.com.