In a word, McKenzie Myers describes her sister, Sarah, as joyful. Sarah’s favorite things were pasta, coloring, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. And while Sarah, who was born with developmental challenges, wasn’t expected to live to be 80, McKenzie and her family were devastated when she passed away this past summer, several months shy of 30.
McKenzie says Sarah also loved her time at Jessica & Friends Community (JF&C), a local non-profit organization dedicated to providing services and supports for individuals and families with intellectual disabilities. McKenzie explains that there are not that many programs for special needs and people with disabilities after high school. After the age of 21 there’s a lapse of good, affordable care. “Just because someone is developmentally delayed or special needs doesn’t mean they don’t want interaction, or friendships, or community,” she continues, “and that’s what Jessica & Friends Community brought to Sarah.”
McKenzie is grateful for the experience Sarah had. “Jessica & Friends truly brought Sarah a community of people who cared for her as much as her family cared for her. They were people we could trust with her care. It was her second family.” JF&C provided Sarah a fun space to create, build friendships (shout out to Sarah’s bestie, Jackie R!), normalcy and routine. It gives families like McKenzie and Sarah’s a much needed break to recharge.
During the last few months of Sarah’s life, McKenzie had to take some extended time off of her job serving at Victor’s Italian Restaurant. “I was so grateful to Victor’s for supporting me. They gave me the time off that I needed to be with and care for Sarah.” Now Victor’s is honoring Sarah’s legacy this Give Local York season with a Dine & Donate event. From May 3 through May 6 a portion of all dine in and take out proceeds will be donated to Jessica & Friends Community. As a special treat, a joyful pasta dish, Sarah’s Shrimp Scampi with angel hair pasta, will be featured as a tribute to Sarah Myers.
Because this cause is so important to McKenzie and her family, they are working to raise funds for JF&C to build a group home in Sarah’s name. “I just want more [special needs] people to feel the excitement and joy that Sarah felt at Jessica & Friends. These people are a class of people that often get overlooked. Everyone wants friends. Everyone wants to be loved and have things to look forward to.”
McKenzie hopes people will come to the Victor’s Dine & Donate event and support this important non-profit. She wants the special needs community to know about Victor’s family atmosphere. “We want all people to feel welcome.” She also points out that there are many ways to support since everyone may not be comfortable dining indoors. “In addition, Victor’s offers outdoor seating (weather permitting), carry out, and curbside delivery. Anything you can do to support is great! Thank you.”
For more information on the important work done by Jessica & Friends Community please visit jandfcommunity.org. Donations are graciously accepted; please indicate ‘for the Sarah Myers house’ in the memo. To donate on York’s Big Give Day, Friday, May 7, please visit givelocalyork.org. For more information on Victor’s Dine & Donate event please visit victorsofyork.com. Reservations are suggested.