Celebration of Life
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Briana Kelly wants more for her mentally challenged 23-year-old brother-in-law than he gets from his unchallenging, repetitive job.
"I want him to have what others have: a job that excites him, one that he looks forward to, and that gives him a sense of accomplishment," Mrs. Kelly said.
Crossing paths with other caregivers of relatives with disabilities, Mrs. Kelly, 28, of Edgewood, an occupational therapist, discovered her concerns are often shared.
The result is the nonprofit Celebration of Life, founded this year by some 15 people, including Mrs. Kelly, who have family members with disabilities.
It is dedicated to providing a support system for adults with developmental disabilities, such as mental retardation, autism, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis.
The organization is seeking disabled adults to be singers, dancers and production assistants in a performance of "Agape: The Stories and the Feast" featuring gospel tempos with the narration of Bible stories.
The first meeting for interested participants and their caregivers or supporters will be at 7 p.m. on Monday at Duquesne University.
To register, call Mrs. Kelly at 412-401-1753.
The show itself will be presented at 8 p.m. on Sept. 8 in the Duquesne University Student Union Ballroom, and again at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 at St. Louise de Marillac Church in Upper St. Clair.
Christian composer Marty Haugen, who wrote "Agape," will direct the production with Duquesne's director of music and liturgy, Stephen Steinbeiser.
Although the term "agape" was used by early Christians to refer to the ideal love for God and humanity, the faith-based Celebration of Life is not tied to any religious denomination.
"We would like to allow the cast members to show others their talents, and to focus on what they can do because we know each member will bring something unique to the production no matter their ability level," Mrs. Kelly said.
She said the organization delivers a vital service because legally required public educational services and therapy programs end at age 21.
The group's long-term goal is to build a campus to provide residential and day program options offering training, employment and social, recreational and life skills guidance.
It would also come to the rescue when aging caregivers are no longer able to provide care.
"We would love to develop a campus where the disabled could live in a more independent environment with their friends and people who appreciate them, and help them live their life to the fullest," Mrs. Kelly said.
Show tickets are $25 each, and can be purchased on the group's Web site: www.thecelebrationoflife.net , or by sending a money order or check payable to Marty Haugen Event Tickets, c/o Celebration of Life, Box 87, Forbes Road, PA, 15633.
Include which date you plan to attend, your phone number and a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
First Published July 12, 2007 7:19 am