Venture groups are vocational programs for individuals that we support. These small groups are led by job coaches as they spend their time going beyond Sunshine’s campus. They volunteer in the community focusing on specific interest areas while spending 95% of their time venturing to other organizations, public spaces, and businesses.
The groups build relationships with community members, adapt to various work settings, and show the community what underserved populations are capable of. These groups are empowered to offer a service to the community, whereas those we support are often the ones receiving services.
The creative venture group spends their time volunteering and seeking creativity in the community. While three days a week are spent creating at Sunshine Studios, Michael Ann, Marnie, David, and Lizzy venture out on Thursdays and Fridays. Reem, the group leader, finds unique activities for the individuals to try. They have discovered a love for trips to the library which has become a space for all to play on their creative strengths. Those who want do crafts can be in one area, those who want to greet every passerby can be in another area, and David can spread out all of his drawings and magazines in another area. “It gives them a chance to experience the community in a way that they maybe don’t get to on their own. It’s about meeting new people, having new experiences, and learning new things,” said Reem. Even though the group knows each other well, venturing together has uncovered new insight. They learned that David, who loves to draw, enjoys drawing from sports magazines. Even better, he loves spreading out several sports magazines on one table all at once. They’ve learned that Michael Ann likes cooking, and that together they love coffee shops and crafts.
Furry paws and leafy stems are this group’s volunteerism of choice. Mike, Ashley, Steven, and Melissa venture throughout Lucas County to benefit animals and plants in the community. Jen is their leader and works hard to find these unique opportunities. The group is affected by the changing of seasons, as animals and plants hibernate. In the winter, they focus on caring for animals indoors. Where many organizations may have trouble finding volunteers during the day, this group is there to help out. They clean bowls, sweep, and give attention to the animals. On other days, they take Sunshine rabbits to the Bedford Library where children can read to and interact with them. In the warm months, the group works with organizations to nurture plants. They tend to the flowers at Georgette’s and the ice cream shop and assist with plant sales. In the fall they pick up leftover pumpkins, in December they deliver poinsettias, and in the summer, they enjoy the parks and visiting a bison ranch. While the group loves plants and animals, connecting with the community is a highlight. If you know Mike, you know that he can be found chatting with friends. What are you doing today? How is your family? These questions open up the conversation between the public and those we support. Mike is an ambassador who fosters relationships wherever he goes.
While each of the venture groups are guided by volunteering in a specific interest area, this group volunteers wherever they are needed. From cleaning at the YMCA to delivering Mobile Meals to stocking pillows at a resale shop, each day is different from the rest. Kris, the group leader, coordinates all of the details. She connects with each community partner and accommodates the needs of Jacob, Steven, Darius, and Nathan. At first glance, the group may seem quiet. But with the comfort of Kris and welcoming spaces, the group erupts into laughter and jokes. At Hannah’s Socks, a local non-profit, the group works together to sort socks for people in need. Although it’s done in the quiet of a warehouse, the group has a chance to work as a team and humbly volunteer together. On other days, the group is pushed outside of their comfort zone, whether serving food at concessions or taking a class at the YMCA. Steven has benefitted from these opportunities to branch out. When he joined Sunshine in 2022, he struggled with anxiety and wore headphones to feel calm. Now he hardly needs to wear them because his anxiety has lessened. He serves ice cream at crowded stadiums, has close friendships with his group, eats lunch in new places, and does exercise classes at his own pace.