Operating in four locations in the greater Richmond area, SOAR365 was created in 1954 by area families determined to find a better way to care for their loved ones with disabilities.
“When someone comes through our doors – from newborns to seniors – SOAR365 works hard to understand their needs, desires, dreams, and goals,” says John Walker, president and CEO of SOAR365. “We then find ways to provide these individuals and their families with the services that work best for them.”
For some children, including Justice, this means participating in SOAR365’s pediatric therapy services, whether through early intervention or outpatient therapy. Other children, like Samuel, participate in summer camp, an overnight program filled with traditional, fun summer camp experiences for adults and kids alike. For families who need care after the school day ends and during school holidays, children and youth programming helps students learn and build skills while their caregivers are at work.
For adults with disabilities, like Heather, SOAR365’s adult day support is full of engaging activities in a nurturing environment. When caregivers require a break, SOAR365 offers respite care for overnights or weekends. For adults with disabilities looking to build experience in the workplace, SOAR365 also offers workforce development.
But it doesn’t end there, according to Walker. “Services continue into the workplace. The business solutions department matches individuals with job coaches who guide them through the entire employment process – from preparing for an interview to succeeding at the job on a daily basis,” says Walker.
The business solutions department at SOAR365 also facilitates contract services to commercial and government customers in the areas of janitorial and custodial services, landscaping and grounds maintenance, assembly and logistics, and administrative services. The revenue from these contracts directly supports the programs offered at SOAR365.
“It’s a win-win-win,” explains Walker. “The businesses’ needs are met, our employees who have disabilities are earning wages and gaining self-esteem, and individuals who need support through underfunded human services programs have access to the services they need.”
Perhaps one of the most widely recognized components of SOAR365 is PARK365. With more than two acres of all-inclusive, accessible play areas and features, PARK365 is truly a place where everyone can play together. While PARK365 was specifically designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities, it was also planned to be a space that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy. Located in Richmond’s Northside, the park is open every day for everyone.
“We view PARK365 as a safe space to bring people of all abilities together, so we can see the strength in diversity and teach kindness and tolerance to our community,” says Walker.
Photos: Courtesy SOAR365