When North Florida School of Special Education students head out to the community, they are always encouraged to “be the best version of themselves.” However, when the students head to Sulzbacher Center to do volunteer work they manage to improve on that, said Ann Atkins and Matt Wiley, two representatives from the school in an email.
“Our director, Sally Hazelip, encourages all our students to be the best version of themselves, but at the Sulzbacher, each student becomes an even better version of themselves,” said the duo.
From 10 a.m. to noon every Wednesday, the school sends a handful of students to help make sandwiches, bag snacks and pack bags for distribution to Sulzbacher clients and other homeless in nearby Jacksonville parks. The students typically make about 300 lunches per day, said Atkins and Wiley, noting the school has been connected to Sulzbacher Center in some capacity since 2005.
“We were looking for an organization where our students could gain vocational training while serving our community,” they said. “Beyond the vocational training, we were excited to work with an organization that empowers the individuals they serve. We work to empower our young adults with differing abilities,” she said.
At Sulzbacher Center, North Florida School of Special Education students learn new skills and are enriched by their experiences. Most important, by working at the center in food preparation, the students gain a sense of accomplishment.
“They enjoy seeing the individuals that they are serving. They also enjoy working as a team and being out in the community. They feel proud of their work at the end of the day,” Atkins and Wiley said, noting the pride comes from knowing the sack lunches they prepare help individuals who are not able to make it to the Center for lunch to have a healthy meal.
Sulzbacher Center is important because it helps a community in need. Its work is wide-reaching, said the duo.