See also past Guest columns.

Persons with Disabilities need Community and Connections Print
Guest column
Rachel Dietzman and Amy Lachuk

For adults with disabilities, becoming socially isolated is a major concern. To address this issue within Rock County, Catholic Charities of Madison operates two programs out of the Community Connections facility that give adults experiencing intellectual and physical disabilities opportunities to connect socially.

The purpose of these programs is for adults with disabilities to experience community integration activities, learn social skills, and develop friendships. In all, these two programs offer increased activity, which has a positive impact on clients' physical and emotional health, as well as their ability to care for themselves.

Rock County Recreation

Currently, Rock County Recreation offers two activities per month in both Janesville and Beloit. Activities include dances, game nights, movie nights, bingo, wagon rides, farm trips, a holiday light tour, fishing, and sporting events.

In 2018, the program had an overall attendance rate of 472 attendees, allowing the program to exceed its goals of increasing socialization and improving overall health and wellness.

Community Connections

Housed in the same facility, Community Connections is a community-based day support program that provides meaningful activities and community experiences for adults with disabilities.

The Program Director Joel Schenk explains, "Thirty individuals attend our program each day. Our main goal is that they enjoy and understand their community. We strive to give clients a positive social and emotional experience.

"In addition to community outings, we also offer daily enrichment and educational projects." In the first quarter of 2019, Community Connections had 881 participant outings in the Janesville community.

Transportation needs

One of the challenges these programs face in addressing the social isolation of adults with disabilities relates to transportation. Schenk says, "For Rock County Recreation, our Janesville clients do not have adequate transportation to attend events in Beloit and vice versa. And for Community Connections, we currently have three vans, one of which is non-operational."

Without a safe, reliable, and accessible van, Community Connections' and Rock County Recreation's clients cannot participate in community events and cannot have opportunities to interact with others. The program is seeking donations that will enable it to purchase an accessible van for transporting clients.

Located in at 2200 W. Court St. in Janesville, the Community Connections facility is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To make an online donation to Catholic Charities of Madison's programs for adults living with developmental and physical disabilities, visit or send a check payable to Catholic Charities, Attn: Jane McGowan, 702 S. High Point Rd., Ste. 201, Madison, WI 53719. Please indicate "Developmental Disabilities" in the memo section of your check.

Rachel Dietzman and Amy Lachuk are Catholic Charities of Madison staff members.