Osprey Village celebrates independence with opening event

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Manager Tori Kehrer helps customers at the thrift store.

Osprey Village will host a grand opening celebration from noon to 7 p.m. June 29 - Independence Day weekend - at its first official corporate headquarters and its second thrift store, 2600 Main St. on Hilton Head Island.

The event will include a ribbon cutting, refreshments, All-American food and live music, all with a patriotic theme.

The theme of independence is not accidental, said Channing Heiss, office manager for the corporate headquarters. The whole point of the organization is to provide avenues toward independence for adults with developmental disabilities.

Founded in 2008, the non-profit Osprey Village has continued to work toward its goal of building an inclusive, inter-generational community - actual homes in a real neighborhood - that embraces people of all abilities and all ages. While most of those plans are still on the drawing board, the organization already provides job coaching and respite services for its consumers, who are 21 and older, Heiss said.

Reaching some degree of independence is a goal for 32-year-old Rachel Caristo, who lives with her aunt and uncle in Sun City. "Independence means being able to live on my own," she said, "to do what I want, and not being told what to do."

Caristo said she would like to have a job, maybe in a flower shop or an office - or something more: "I like to cook," she said. Her Osprey job coach, Kate Register, said she is helping Caristo learn some skills that will help her land the right job.

Job coaching includes teaching people skills, such as introducing oneself and shaking hands, as well as other social and communication skills.

Respite services include outings for the consumer away from the home, giving the guardian a break and providing new experiences for the consumer.

Register, who has been with the organization for only a few months, said the program focuses on "trying to meet the needs of each of our consumers, each with an individualized approach," recognizing that every person has a different ability.

Heiss agreed. "We treat people like people - of all abilities," he said. "We respect each one as an individual. It's what Osprey is all about."

The new thrift store is the first brick and mortar presence on the island. The offices are in the same building - a portion of the former Main Street Lanes bowling alley.

The organization's first thrift store opened on Hwy. 170 in Okatie in 2011 and has become a very popular spot for mainland bargain hunters.

The island store "has already received an incredible volume of donations," Heiss said. Now, they are searching for volunteers to help with operations.

The new store, the offices and the recent addition of services are "part of a process," Heiss said, of Osprey Village introducing itself to the community and becoming part of that community. And, he noted, "This is the kind of community where this sort of thing can catch on."

For more information, call 843-422-6099, email info@ospreyvillage.org, or visit www.ospreyvillage.com.

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