SMOKEY POINT — Art Hutton still remembers when Village Community Services was just getting started nearly 50 years ago.
“It was established in 1964 as Victoria Village,” said Hutton, president of the VCS Board, during the VCS “A Picnic in the Country” gala fundraiser at the Medallion Hotel on Saturday, May 18. “We now own the building where our offices are located, and it’s named the Royal Pacific Building after [longtime VCS Board member] Royal Penewell. I miss Royal a lot.”
Even as the members of VCS reflected on the nonprofit organization’s past, they also looked forward to a future of continuing to provide vocational and residential services to people with disabilities, as they’ve done since they were Victoria Village.
“People like to define our folks by their disabilities,” said Hutton, who explained that VCS aims to aid its clients develop the skills to succeed at work, at home and in the community. “We like to define them by their abilities, so they can live the best lives possible. My son has been involved in VCS for a long time, and it’s enriched his life tenfold.”
Hutton explained that VCS provides long-term residential support and life skills training to afford their clients safe independence, in addition to providing employment and job training opportunities that allow them economic self-sufficiency as well.
“We find jobs to fit our folks’ abilities,” Hutton said. “We even look into volunteer work for them, to get them involved in their community.”
Hutton reported that VCS serves at least 200 adults with disabilities each year, in addition to employing an estimated 80 caregivers and vocational trainers for those clients. He also touted the creative and social outlets of VCS’s music and arts programs, including the long-running Voices of the Village band that performed that evening, which are designed to foster self-expression and bonds of friendship.
“Our goal is to raise $250,000, which might seem like chump change when people are spending $635 million for a basketball team,” Hutton said. “We’re already underwritten by a lot of wonderful people.”
Michelle Dietz, director of development for VCS, called out a few of those individuals and groups by name, including Joanne Levy representing the World Financial Group, and Levy’s daughter Suzanne Garrett representing the Heartland Institute of Financial Education.
“We’d raised $15,000 before this event even started,” said Dietz, before she led a chorus of “Happy Birthday” in honor of Levy, who turned 80 years old the following day. “That’s more than we raised last year.”
“We’ve worked with VCS for about 13-14 years,” said Brett Williams of UBS. “I’ve been able to personally witness the time, effort and energy that these people invest in it. They do not take this lightly. You all are doing a great job, so keep on doing it.”
In addition to support from organizations such as the Puget Sound Kidney Center, SEIU 925 and Edward Jones, Bank of America contributed a grant of $5,000 to VCS.
For more information, log onto www.villagecommunitysvcs.org.