Founded in 1988, Orleans County Citizen Advocacy is a non-profit organization that brings people with developmental disabilities and unpaid citizen volunteers together for lifelong friendship. For each matches, we find a local volunteer, called “Advocate”, whom we introduce to a person with developmental disabilities, called “Partner”, and then we provide ongoing support to their relationship.
Over those years, we created and supported nearly 100 such matches. Many lasted for years. At present we have over 20 active matches, some old, some more recent. One of these active matches has been alive since OCCA’s start.
Often society’s response to disabilities causes more issues for a person than the disability itself. People with developmental disabilities are often wounded by society’s complexity and attitude, thus generating rejection, isolation and segregation. They far too often endure lack of control over their lives. Through one-to-one Citizen Advocacy relationships, these valuable but devalued and wounded people find protection, respect, empowerment and inclusion. As in all relationships, the Advocates find their lives enriched as well.
Many good hearted citizens, in all good faith, think that necessary services are provided by human services agencies, governmental, and government supported ones. The very structure of such entities means that they address quantifiable needs in a well ordained manner, employing people for whom helping is a job. It is great, but it leaves large areas of human needs totally uncovered, needs that can only be taken care of by family, caring neighbors and friends. But, sadly, the fact is that, most often, the Advocate is the only person involved who is not paid to be involved.
OCCA is PEOPLE for PEOPLE by PEOPLE.
There are many ways YOU can give us a hand, tailoring your help to your life.
- Attend an informational meeting.
- Become a Citizen Advocate or recommend somebody that could.
- Alert us regarding a person in need of a Citizen Advocate.
- Help with fundraising or other aspects of our work.
- Consider being on our Advising Circle or our Board of Directors, or being an Special External Advisor.
- Make a donation. (“Small Brooks make Big Rivers”).