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Hello Friends of ConnectUS!

It is that time of year again! In fact, it is the 15th anniversary of that time of year! 16 years ago, I started reading about how to start a nonprofit. I remember reading that most nonprofit startups don’t last five years, but we have made it to 15! Do you know why? Because of you, the people who volunteered so many hours at home and in person, the people who supported us financially and enabled us to purchase supplies and equipment, the person who has let us use his space at no charge for many years, the people who were willing to process and deliver the things our participants make, and those of you who shared ideas and cheered us on.

I really feared that the slowdown during the height of Covid might take the wind out of our sails, but I was wrong. When we moved the spaghetti dinner to the fall I was afraid no one would come. I was wrong. Instead, we had another great year including a great turnout at the dinner. (Thank you to everyone who helped make that happen!) We are back in action at Cooke School and starting in January will be there twice a month and will be working with students from the engineering class at Northville High School. We continue to provide rotating assembly lines to Community Work Opportunities and Grosse Pointe North High School and this year have added Grosse Pointe South High School as well. We
have continued our program with Lawrence Tech and recently connected that program with CWO with great results. In fact, we have been able to reach more people with multiple disabilities than ever before. I was really wrong!

Thanks to your help the ConnectUS participants were able to provide hundreds of story starter kits and math kits to schools and craft and activity kits for children in shelters and in the hospital. And as always, there were puppets to send here, there and everywhere. I think maybe our secret ambition is to puppet the whole world. This year we had a side request to help another organization come up with fleece “reading” blankets to bundle with books and our story starter kits to give to children in a Detroit neighborhood for Christmas. It was sort of an unusual request and I hoped a few people would step up and volunteer to help. I should have known --you really, really stepped up. We were able to deliver 160 blankets as well as 500+ beautiful knit hats and scarves. This was a lot of stuff to haul, but fortunately we also had great people volunteer to pick it up and deliver it for us. I continue to be amazed at the number of people willing to help.

So there it is, just a bit of what you all have done this year. Unfortunately, people with severe multiple disabilities are most often on the sidelines with nothing to do but watch the activity of the rest of the world. As a part of ConnectUS you have helped change that by helping the people we serve lead purposeful, engaging lives. I hope you all know what a big deal that is. I am so thankful for your help and as I have told you in the past, I consider myself truly blessed to be connected to so many good and kind people. I hope that 2024 brings only good things to all of you.



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