SO I never win anything, but in a recent raffle I won an ORANGE electric bike!! The raffle was in support of a great organization called the Raphael Village, that I knew little about. After hearing of my good fortune I researched the Village- turns out, it runs an academy and a guild for special needs members of our community. My connection to the winning raffle ticket was by way of a high school buddy. My friend has an Autistic son named Matthew who now attends the guild daily, participating in a variety of classes and activities that meet his needs.
After learning more about the Village, and seeing the ORANGE bike, I decided to take one more step to see if the guild members could help transform this ORANGE bike to better fit its new home on a blueberry farm.
They said YES!
So I enlisted the help of 2 young film makers and one talented music producer (my son Wyatt) from NOCCA to capture film footage of our trips to the Village. We made a few trips to the village to meet the members of the guild and interact with them as they transformed the bike. Check out the video
The rest of the story
After sharing a few pictures with my buddy from our visit to the village, he decided to return the favor and share a personal story. He said he had one of his favorite dreams a few nights ago, and I’ll be honest I really didn’t want to hear any more. I’m thinking “maybe a little to much information”, but I said nothing and he continued “its a dream I have a few times a year” I almost stopped him again but he continued “in the dream- I have a conversation with Matthew.” Well if you are like me, you just swallowed hard- it was a sucker punch to my gut. Considering I have conversations with my kids everyday and think nothing of it, I certainly had nothing of value to say, and as I wiped my face, thankful that we were on the phone he said “there’s always hope”. In my few encounters with the people associated with the village and the work being done with these awesome human beings, I believe his optimism is inspiring and warranted.
One last thing- I checked my daughter Sophie out of school for our first trip to the Village, and although she is nervous around special needs individuals, she was a willing participant – I invited her and she said YES! She was great, had a great time, interacted more than I thought. Later the next day, my wife Rachel said she told her all about it, how awesome the people she met were, how much fun she had, but the one comment she made that stuck with her mother was “they deserve better”. She didn’t get that from anyone, that came from her – she is right and I’m sure that I can speak for everyone associated with the Village, they deserve the best and that is the focus of their efforts and really why the village exists. So to support those efforts we have set up a GiVENOLA Campaign to help raise funds and assist the village in giving Oliver, Leah, Rachel, Jonathan, Matthew and all of their friends that call the village home, the BEST. I hope you join us in supporting our really cool new friends.
I want to thank my crew of film students from NOCCA John Colgan, Noah Custer and Wyatt Pinto (my son), for their dedication and enthusiasm on this project. I also want to thank the NOCCA Media Arts department head Isaac Webb for allowing the students the opportunity to make this film on the fly using top notch cameras and other equipment.
Stay tuned as our journey with our new friends at the Village continues when we release the bike into the wild and introduce our friends to the farm.