Anne Carlsen Center reaches out to Fargo
FARGO -- Marcy Peyerl doesn't like staying put. She zips on her wheelchair, Joan Jett blasting out of her portable iPod speakers. She prefers fast pontoon rides. Her special bicycle's license plate says "Rock On Marcy." Fortunately, Peyerl, a rec...
FARGO -- Marcy Peyerl doesn't like staying put.
She zips on her wheelchair, Joan Jett blasting out of her portable iPod speakers. She prefers fast pontoon rides. Her special bicycle's license plate says "Rock On Marcy."
Fortunately, Peyerl, a recent West Fargo High grad, has a schedule that keeps her on the go. She shreds paper and bakes cookies for clients at a Harwood bank. She is a lunchroom monitor at the local elementary. She also helps out with a nonprofit horse-riding program.
The Anne Carlsen Center's year-old Fargo program helped Peyerl line up all these volunteer gigs. In turn, she helped the Jamestown-based center, which serves people with disabilities, celebrate the opening of a new Fargo office Thursday.
"Our clients can be near their families and friends who know and love them," said Chief Operating Officer Marcia Gums at the celebration at Moorhead's Hjemkomst Center, where several clients volunteer by greeting visitors and baking cookies for seniors.
The Jamestown facility was founded some 70 years ago by Dr. Anne Carlsen, a pioneering advocate for people with disabilities. Born without forearms and lower legs, she learned to swim, play baseball and drive a car, and went on to win the President's Trophy for Handicapped American of the Year in 1958.
The center's foray into Fargo last summer brought many of its services to the city and surrounding communities. For children and youth younger than 21, the center offers home-based services to foster communication skills and independence. For adults, it provides chances to volunteer and stay active.
"We have some great opportunities to get out in the community," said Rhonda Eppel-sheimer, the center's family resource director. "We want to empower clients to stay connected to their communities."
Peyerl's mom, Lori, was worried her daughter's high school graduation would leave her cut off from the community. That's when she found out about the center, which now facilitates Peyerl's hectic volunteer schedule.
"The center has given her a purpose; she has something to look forward to each day," said Lori. "She's a productive citizen, and that means a lot."
These days, the center has a staff of 15 in the Fargo area and serves about 20 families, a client base it's looking to expand. It's also planning to launch a community-based service in Bismarck.
The center's Fargo Community Services Office is at 1323 23rd St. S., Suite K. For more information, call 701-364-2663 or toll-free at 877-873-4507, or visit www.annecenter.org .
Mila Koumpilova is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by
Forum Communications Co.