As a direct care professional at Pathfinder Village, a residential community and school for people with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities, Amber Warren of Norwich, NY works each day to present choices and self-determination opportunities to residents and students. Crazy Hair for a Cause is the NDSS Your Way campaign she created to celebrate and honor her clients and friends who have Down syndrome. Amber has her hair fashioned as a mohawk and she invited donors to cast their votes ($2 per vote) to help select the color she would dye it. The color options included orange, red, green, blue, yellow and purple – the hair dying ceremony took place on July 29, 2013 at Pathfinder Village and the winning color was green. In one month, Amber raised more $1,100 for NDSS.
At NDSS we really enjoyed getting to know Amber and the team at Pathfinder Village that supported her from start to finish. Pathfinder Village, a private, non-profit intentional community, provides a wide variety of programs and opportunities for success, inclusion and independence for over 90 individuals. As a veteran in human services, Amber encourages each person to learn that through choice and embracing individuality, one gains in independence, responsibility and becomes a contributing member of the greater community.
“I think I did pretty well with this fundraiser,” Amber said of her accomplishment. “My goal when I started out was five dollars. Then a day later my mom gave it to me, so I had to change my goal. So I did... to fifty this time. After my first week I made more than fifty... So, I had to change my goal again. I figured, why not? Let's do five hundred. I knew that no matter how well I did that I made my first two goals and it was a great beginning. In the end I raised over $1,100. This has been a wonderful experience. Now, whenever I get that wacky - 'wow, nice hair' - comment it's a nice way to open up converstation to my fundraiser and my message. It has been a great way to break the ice with people, and next year it will grow bigger."
Everyone at Pathfinder Village truly believes in the welcoming community in which they work and live, and we are grateful that they are helping to further the mission of NDSS as the national advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome. In Amber’s words, “I think one of the most awesome things about this was talking to people about the issues that matter. This fundraiser was a great opportunity to bridge places in the community and people together to look at the complexities of the field. I did a presentation at a local rotary and they said it was an 'eye-opening' presentation that made them think about issues they never considered before. Reaching into the community to people who don't have loved ones with disabilities or any experience/knowledge in this field was so rewarding to me. The only fundraising I have ever done was Girl Scout cookies (a very, very long time ago), but this was much more special.”