An Alternative Party with Purpose

The Other Holiday Bash - A Do For One Christmas Feast

David Stone
RIDA President Wendy Hersh, Mary Coleman and Do For One Cofounder Ali Oliver welcomed new arrivals.
RIDA President Wendy Hersh, Mary Coleman and Do For One Cofounder Ali Oliver welcomed new arrivals.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

While carolers sang their way up Main Street, from Subway Station to community Christmas Tree, I decided to sample a Christmas bash on the other side of Rivercross, indoors in the community room. Roosevelt Island Disabled Association President Wendy Hersh invited me to a special event, hosted by Do For One. I couldn't wait. 

Jen Brewster, who works on life enhancing activities at Coler, joined the crowd.
Jen Brewster, who works on life enhancing activities at Coler, joined the crowd.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Better lives for people with disabilities are of special interest to me. I spent my first career of seventeen years in vocational rehab, helping find and, more often, giving jobs to people struggling with permanent physical challenges likely to be more daunting than anything you or I will ever face.

And I knew that the always reliable Roosevelt Islander would record and publish full details of the RIOC Tree Lighting Ceremony and exciting goings on around it. Why duplicate when I had a chance at my own original?

My life changed for good when, as young man, I walked into a world most people never see where adults are thrilled to have any work you can give them, are on Cloud Nine when a real paycheck arrives and who are forgotten in many communities, unfortunately including ours.

But I'll turn the story over to Andrew Oliver, founder of Do For One, whose background in vocational rehab is similar to mine:

With a mission of "Restoring dignity to people with disabilities through the power of relationships," Andrew and his wife, Ali, and a dedicated team take a unique, empowering approach to that goal.

While everyone else enjoyed the food and conversation, Do For One Founder Andrew Oliver was all business, making sure everyone got noticed and fed.
While everyone else enjoyed the food and conversation, Do For One Founder Andrew Oliver was all business, making sure everyone got noticed and fed.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

"By selectively matching one person with disabilities, in need of guidance, companionship, or advocacy, with a person who enjoys the ordinary privileges of life, we form life-changing relationships sustained through education and community support."

The group adds, "The relationships that Do For One facilitates are organic and mutual. Yet the uniqueness of the pairing – one person with greater dependence on another – invites challenges that can be unforeseen."

We're still looking for a volunteer call where Lynne Strong-Shinozaki doesn't show up to help.
We're still looking for a volunteer call where Lynne Strong-Shinozaki doesn't show up to help.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Do For One partners with Hope Church NYC, the Roosevelt Island Center of Community Development as well as the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association.

"By thoughtfully recruiting and assembling a balanced guest list of people with and without disabilities, these groups provide safe, comfortable environments for networks to form and strengthen."

Says RIDA President Wendy Hersh, "We will be working closely to bring these two nonprofits together to work more effectively with Individuals on RI living with a disability."

CBN Senior Center Director Lisa Fernandez came to share the feast.
CBN Senior Center Director Lisa Fernandez came to share the feast.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

"Community is a place where people can discover, grow, and heal," says Do For One.

Judging by Friday night's activities, it's also a place where they can enjoy delicious food, share conversations with friends new and old, listen to music and dance.

Few empty plates before the music and dancing began.
Few empty plates before the music and dancing began.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily
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