Pleasanton Weekly

News - September 16, 2011

Golf tourney to benefit REACH

Community shines in filling special needs

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

When Carolyn Zalewski's husband Andy was transferred here from Houston in 2006, they meticulously researched East Bay school districts while dealing with sticker shock at the cost of houses. They chose Pleasanton as their new home because of the district's programs for the developmentally disabled.

"We have a special needs son, who will be 9 in October," Carolyn Zalewski explained.

Still she worried about her son's future.

"As the parents of a special needs kid there is such a fear that no one will care for them," Zalewski said. "We try so hard to make my son's life good. We worry about when we are gone."

Then she saw the February article in the Pleasanton Weekly about the group REACH, which has nine homes in the Tri-Valley where developmentally disabled adults live as independently as possible.

"When I saw how successful they've been, right here in Pleasanton, it was such a relief," Zalewski said, adding that she and her husband marveled at REACH owning nine houses in the Tri-Valley. "On top of that, they're so gracious."

REACH (Resources Education Activities Community and Housing) is hosting its fifth annual Golf Tournament on Monday, Oct. 3, at Sunol Valley Golf Club. The event has raised more than $195,000 in the past four years, and this year's goal is another $45,000 so the group will be prepared to buy its next home as the need arises.

"We've been very fortunate, we've made money every year," said Judy Butterly, who is chairing the fundraiser with Vince McNamara. "We have so many ways for people to sponsor us."

These include golfing for $150, attending the dinner and silent auction for $45, making donations to the auction, or becoming a sponsor. Businesses can sponsor tee holes or purchase space in the program. Email info@trivalleyreach.org.

"We're pretty desperate for golfers," Butterly said. "Last year we had 76 golfers but we've had as many as 126."

Butterly, a nurse, became involved in REACH in 2007 because of her grandson, who was 11 at the time. She joined the board as a medical person and is working toward educating its residents in nutrition.

"They're more likely to go the fast food route," she noted. "We want to teach them good from bad."

A dental program is another work in progress, she said.

"A lot are either frightened or don't go if they are living alone and have no one to guide them," she explained.

"We want to make sure our population is able to have a quality of life just like people without disabilities," she added.

REACH also depends on non-monetary donations, such as furniture, appliances or the use of a truck. The website, www.trivalleyreach.org, is being redesigned to continually update its needs since the group has no storage space.

Needs currently are for:

* Auction donations

* Services such as handyman, painting, etc.

* Used computer for a resident

* Energy efficient refrigerator

* Comfy recliners in good condition

* Small desk, small file cabinet

* Small night stand and bedroom dresser

The Zalewskis had lot of furniture in their garage after moving from their much larger house in Texas so they immediately called to donate it.

"They had some kids working for them, the nicest kids," Carolyn Zalewski recalled. "They were eager to help."

REACH is a thoughtfully designed program, she said.

"It was really comforting just to know that it's there," she explained. "I don't know if my son will take advantage of it or will need to, but I'm proud of this community for supporting things like this."

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