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A model of inclusion

Cori's Place volunteers feted at JCA of Wilkes-Barre

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - Lunch became more than just a meal on Wednesday for a couple dozen individuals. They were honored for what they do to help the community even though they face physical and intellectual challenges. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller takes us to the celebration that serves as a lesson of inclusion.

Who doesn't like pizza? Certainly not clients from the Wilkes-Barre based adult training facility Cori's Place. The program is named after 27-year-old Cori Gwilliam whose father started the facility to help individuals like her. That's Cori giving out a friendly hug. She is among the excited honorees at a pizza party hosted by the Jewish Community Alliance of Wilkes-Barre where many of them lend a helping hand.
JCA of Wilkes-Barre Chief Operating Officer Len Zimmerman said, "Cori's Place, we've partnered with them for the past 15 years."

Several times a week, volunteers from Cori's Place help serve food to seniors at the JCA. Cori's Place volunteer Heather Hughes said, "It makes me happy and stuff. I like being here with them." The feeling is certainly mutual for folks like Marsha Spear who is a member of the JCA of Wilkes-Barre. "They're charming and you know we see them and they're part of this community which is lovely," said Ms. Spear.

At the JCA, Cori's Place volunteers do more than serve meals. They also lend a hand with things like food preparation and cleanup. Cori's Place Direct Care Worker Melissa Morris said, "They have blossomed so much where we can walk in here and I don't even have to tell them what to do."

Most of the nearly five dozen clients from Cori's Place are able to participate in volunteer programs. And it brings them more than just joy. For some, it provides valuable experience that may lead to a job someday. JCA of Wilkes-Barre leaders consider it a win-win to have such dedicated volunteers as these whose spirit helps them overcome obstacles each and every day. Mr. Zimmerman said, "Their mission is in line with our mission in terms of enhancing the community."

Besides helping build life skills, Cori's Place provides social opportunities for physically and intellectually challenged adults.


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