While on vacation in Las Vegas, Nevada we had the amazing opportunity to tour the Ralph and Betty Engelstad campus, of Opportunity Village. To say we were impressed would be an understatement. Amazed would be a more accurate description.
Opportunity Village was founded in 1954 by families that were looking for resources for their children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since, it has evolved into an internationally recognized not-for-profit organization that supports the continued development of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Funded primarily through fund raising events and many generous donors, there is no cost to individuals or their families.
Comprised of four campuses throughout Southern Nevada, Opportunity Village provides a positive, supportive, person-centered environment where individuals of all abilities can pursue their passions, gain life and job skills, and feel a part of a community. This connection to community is in our opinion one of the reasons Opportunity Village is so successful. Simply because, their community is not limited to Opportunity Village. Instead, there is a concerted focus on inclusive employment outside of the campuses within businesses throughout the Southern Nevada area.
The sheer number of opportunities available for inclusive employment astounded us. Many hotels along the Las Vegas Strip as well as Nellis Air Force Base are just two examples of businesses and organizations that work in collaboration with Opportunity Village to ensure inclusive employment. Programs such as Job Discovery Program, Pathway to Work, Entry, and Fine & Performing Arts provide opportunity for individuals of all abilities to discover and pursue their interests in employment.
In addition, Opportunity Village has business services such as Kitchen Creations, Button Brigade, Paper Pros, and Rags Reclamation. Businesses that provide employment opportunities on the campuses of Opportunity Village, yet they still maintain strong ties and connections to the Southern Nevada community.
One such example is the Rags and Reclamation business, where used towels that would have previously been thrown away, are now donated from businesses within the Las Vegas area. Shelia (pictured below), an employee of Rags Reclamation, helps to repurpose the used towels into rags so that they can be sold back to the businesses.
Fun Fact: Shelia shared with us that she also helped to make Elvis Presley’s silk scarfs while he performed in Las Vegas. A request made by his manager Colonel Tom Parker, after touring Opportunity Village.
Throughout our entire tour, the strong sense of community within Opportunity Village and beyond could not be missed. There is a genuine feeling of acceptance and belonging. We felt so welcomed by both Ashton and Marty (marketing tour guides) as well as all of the ambassadors that took time out of their busy schedules to give us their card and welcome us. One in particular was Amanda (pictured below). Her smile was contagious and she has the charm to match. She told us that her dream is to become a talk show host just like Ellen. With the support of Opportunity Village Amanda has been able to hone her host skills by interviewing co-workers at Opportunity Village as well as local celebrities on her own talk show called Afternoons with Amanda.
Amanda hopes someday meet Ellen and be on her show. #EllenyoumustmeetAmanda.
Amanda and Shelia are just two of countless examples of individuals that are respected, encouraged, and supported while pursuing their passions and maintaining employment at Opportunity Village. This is why we feel Opportunity Village deserves a Shout-Out!
Check-out the Opportunity Village website for more information about tours, resources, programs, volunteering, employment, and donating.
Christina and John