Hoyt Foundation Generosity

Our community outreach programming has once again been funded by a generous donation by the Hoyt Foundation. Many thanks for making this program possible!

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused Venture to drastically change how services and activities are provided to the nearly 300 people receiving support.  During one of the agency’s most challenging times, Venture has adapted its community outreach opportunities to include remote activities that people can join in from home on a weekly, including:

· Free yoga & mindfulness classes to children in the Blackstone Valley region

· Free yoga & mindfulness classes for participants of our day programs and residences

· Free creative music sessions for participants of our day programs and residences

· Free adaptive exercise classes hosted by certified trainers at Unified Health & Performance

Adaptive yoga, music and exercise programs all made possible by the Hoyt Foundation

Shaws – Give Back

We are so excited to share that we have been selected to be a part of the Shaw’s GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Reusable Bag Program, which is designed to make it easy for customers to contribute to their local community while supporting the environment.

For the month of January, each time a $2.50 reusable GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Bag is purchased at the Shaw’s located at 178 Main Street, Sturbridge, $1 will be donated to Venture. This is a great way to raise awareness, support the environment and fundraise for our cause. We can begin by spreading the news to our friends and family. Call, send emails, and post on social media. The more people who learn about the program and purchase the GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Bag during the month of January, the more money we will raise. To learn more about this program, please visit shaws.bags4mycause.com

Giving Tree -Thank You

Thank you for your generosity this holiday season!  We are so grateful for your contribution to our Giving Tree program, especially during such a challenging year.  We are inspired by the kindness of community members like you who are committed to making the holidays great for the people we support.

The gifts you donated were specifically requested items for individuals in our programs—each and every gift was personally selected especially for them. 

Thank you again for helping us to provide holiday cheer.  Happy New Year from Venture Community Services!


#GivingTuesday (Tuesday, December 1, 2020) is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.  This year on #givingtuesday, get into the holiday spirit! 

We are hosting a virtual giving tree to help provide gifts to the people we support. You can help ensure everyone has a special gift under the tree that was selected just for them!


Visit the Venture Wish List Here – if you use AmazonSmile (see below) you can also find the list in your Amazon account under ‘your lists ‘ then ‘AmazonSmile Charity Lists’

Browse the list and select item(s) you want to purchase and add them to your cart

Select ‘this item is a gift’ so we will know who it is from and we can thank you for your generosity.

Checkout as usual and select the Venture Gift Registry Address for the shipping address so the items will be delivered directly to Venture’s Administrative Office.

We will wrap the gift and have it delivered directly to the recipient to open and enjoy just in time for Christmas.

Please purchase items to be delivered no later than Friday, December 11th so we have time to wrap and deliver prior to the holiday. 

If you have any questions, please contact Paige Mador  at 774-922-1135Thank you in advance for your generosity!


Did you know that you can support Venture while you shop at Amazon year round? All you have to do is visit: smile.amazon.com and select Venture Community Services as your charity of choice. That’s it! Amazon Smile now also works in the Amazon mobile app. Just activate it in your settings. Happy Shopping and Giving!

Pizza Donations for DSPs

What a thoughtful idea started by two moms to provide pizza to direct support professionals while they are working to care for some of our most vulnerable people. Venture is happy to be a participating agency in this program. A small gesture of thanks goes a long way! Learn how you can make a donation here: http://grouphomepizza.com/ or watch their video how they got started: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycfip5BZ6eM&feature=youtu.be Thank you Anna and Cheryl!

Big Y & Shaws Community Program

The Shaw’s GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Program and the BIG Y Community Bag Program will be running throughout the month of March. When you purchase a $2.50 reusable bag at the Shaw’s located at 178 Main Street, Sturbridge, or the Big Y located at 505 East Main St, Southbridge – $1 is donated to Venture. Our goal is to sell 750 bags, equivalent to $750 raised. We are confident that with the help of our dedicated supporters, we can reach this goal. We strongly encourage you to share this news with family and friends as well! The bags are located on displays around the store and at the checkout. For more information about the program, please visit shaws.bags4mycause.com or https://bigy.bags4mycause.com/about/ Thank you for your support!

Thank You Hoyt Foundation 2020!


Made possible by donations from the Hoyt Foundation.

Venture is proud to report that the Community Outreach Program has grown tremendously over the 2019—2020 fiscal year.  The goal of this unique program is provide free social and recreational opportunities to both adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  During the past year, the program has provided:

  • Two free yoga classes monthly to children in the Blackstone Valley region
  • Six free yoga classes monthly to adult participants of our three day programs
  • Once-monthly therapeutic drum circles and live music for kids
  • Once-monthly therapeutic drum circles and live music for adult participants of our three day programs
  • Sensory-friendly Halloween Party and Spring Fling family fun events for kids and their families
  • Cooking classes and craft programs for kids and their families
  • An instructor-led Paint Night was enjoyed by more than 30 adults for each the spring and fall session
  • Herb gardening and Thanksgiving centerpiece creations hosted by Bemis Farms Nursery for more than 50 adults
  • Activities for day program participants such as projects with local artists, tai chi and more
  • More than 130 adults from our programs as well as the community at large attended both the Summer Luau and Winter Wonderland dances

Join Our Human Rights Committee

Your Opportunity to Make a Difference! We currently have space available to serve on our Human Rights Committee.

Looking for: 

~ A psychologist or master level clinician 
~ An attorney, law student, or paralegal 
~ Registered Nurse or LPN or physician
~ General committee members 

Learn more here: https://venturecs.org/learn-more/human-rights-committee/ or contact Robby Dookhran at rdookhran@venturecs.org

A New Threat Looms

by Mike Hyland, Venture President & CEO

People living with disabilities already face a multitude of challenges including chronic illness, access to medical care, bullying, discrimination, adequate education, access to the community, and meaningful opportunities for employment.  They also encounter all too often the stigma that is still attached to living with a disability.  Now a new threat looms: a potentially major shift in Medicaid.

In 1965, the Medicaid program was created to provide assistance to low income and disabled persons who could not otherwise afford it.  It also provides matching funds to states that participate and meet certain requirements set forth by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  In Massachusetts, these funds are absolutely crucial for the development of programming that allows people with disabilities to live in the community with the supports that ensure dignity, safety, and opportunity.  Currently, there is discussion within the Trump administration about eliminating these matching funds and moving the Medicaid program to a Block Grant funding system.  Such a move has the potential for devastating consequences for the people who rely on community-based services.

Under a Block Grant system, Massachusetts and all other states would receive a lump payment rather than matching funds now received for needs based service delivery.  A lump sum would be a one-time annual payment, and once the payment is exhausted, states would be on their own to pay for programs that support people in the community.  Typically this would require states to spend money they simply don’t have, and in that case, people who rely on supports to survive, could be left without vital services.  This jeopardizes their independence and their safety as well as eliminating any chance for growth.  To put it mildly, that’s an indefensible burden to put upon people who already have to overcome significant struggles on a daily basis.

Any plan that reshapes Medicaid into a system that is not directly tied to individual service needs is nothing short of a betrayal to the thousands of people currently receiving help in the Commonwealth.  It’s also dangerous.  A recent posting from the Association of Disabilities Providers notes in an analysis that “without the guarantee of matching funds, states will not be able to sustain existing services-much less expand them to meet the tremendous unmet need in the disability community”.  The reduction in services would undoubtedly be the first step on the road to eventually eliminating some services and would surely put people with disabilities, particularly older people, at genuine risk of being re-institutionalized in facilities and nursing homes.  Society has kind of already been there and done that and it was an epic fail.  To create a system that could put people back into situations that shutter them further from society is not misguided; it is unconscionable.

We must be mindful that people who are already disadvantaged cannot be left behind yet again.  It is most important that their voices be heard through advocates in society and on Capitol Hill. The new administration needs to hear that a Block Grant program will harm elders and people with disabilities.  Doing anything that knowingly puts that population front and center in harm’s way and cuts at the heart of the progress made in society over 40 + years, would be nothing short of a national disgrace.

We Could Use A Little Less Anger

by Mike Hyland, Venture President & CEO

The country is once again moving toward a new beginning, as is inevitable every four to eight years when a new presidential administration is peacefully installed.  Though often chaotic, this transfer of power is the most basic tenet of our democracy and should not pass unnoticed.  There is a great deal of work to be done and it is more necessary than ever that people set aside disagreements and get on with the task of ensuring that people who need help can get it.  In short, we could use a little less anger these days.

One of the great tragedies in government is the erosion over time of simple cooperation between people.  The very notion of moving forward requires overcoming disagreements and finding compromise for the sake of a greater good.  Unfortunately, in too many cases this requirement is completely lost.  Instead of compromise, our system has devolved into something where disagreement has become animosity and cooperation has become forbidden.  The sad and predictable result is that people who need help are at constant risk of being left behind because important issues that help them stay safe are used as tools by competing interests rather than as building blocks for growth.  These people too are victims of the anger that dominates national discussion now.

It is inevitable that change accompanies any transition of leadership and that old practices and policies are replaced by new ones.  What must be kept sacred are the safety nets that allow people supported by human services agencies to live and thrive in the least restrictive environment.  This means continued access to programs that provide opportunities for community inclusion, employment, education, and recreation.  There also needs to be a renewed commitment on a national level to initiatives that enhance our workforce.  It is crucial that we have an actual plan to create a genuine living wage for all direct support professionals as well as a recognition that professionals who do this work are a major economic force in this country.  And as always, there must be a united effort from all of the leaders in this country to finally and legitimately remove all stigma and abuses that people with disabilities still face.  Adults and children with disabilities are still victims of crime and abuse at a higher rate than their peers without disabilities.  It’s time that people with power publicly acknowledge this and take immediate steps to address it.

There should be no debating the idea that people who need help are entitled to receive it in a safe and dignified way.  It should also not be debatable to suggest that those who provide support must be paid and respected in a meaningful way.  There shouldn’t be anything political about these issues and prioritizing them certainly should not be cause for anger on anyone’s part.  To quote our outgoing president, “ultimately we’re all on the same team”.  We need to finally behave that way for the sake of the people who tend to be dismissed far too easily.