When Debbie Woodring realized that there were not enough recreational opportunities in the area for the physically and mentally disabled, she decided it was up to her do something about it.
In October 2009, Woodring held a Bingo tournament and a Halloween dance at her church in Springville as a night out for those in area group homes.
From these events, Dream Katchers Recreation, Inc. was born.
The non-profit provides entertainment for challenged individuals through activities such as dances, dinners and craft classes. Woodring works tirelessly to hold at least nine dances a year.
According to its website, Dream Katchers’ mission is to “enhance lives” and “make the lives of these individuals better so that they feel as equal as anyone else.”
“I used to work in a group home and my son lives in a group home...and there is nothing out this way for them to do,” said Woodring.
Dream Katchers’ events include attendees from Buffalo, Hamburg, Eden, Orchard Park, West Seneca, North Collins, Holland and Arcade. Woodring believes Springville provides a “central Southtowns location” for Dream Katchers.
“I kind of look at it like ‘Field of Dreams,’ if you build it, they will come,” she said.
The dances and other social events give people the chance to meet and make friends with those from homes in other areas. Woodring said that she has even witnessed relationships blossom among those attending the events.
Some of the activities Woodring plans for her consumers are free Bingo nights with the chance to win prizes, and craft-making events.
“I use old cards and I cut them up and then they paste them onto cardstock,” said Woodring. “Then we give them out to nursing homes.” Other activities include painting ceramics and potluck dinners.
Though Dream Katchers events usually attract close to 80 guests, Woodring hopes to offer her services to even more people.
“I think a lot of people have heard of (Dream Katchers) but don’t really know what it’s about still,” Woodring said.
While most Dream Katchers’ events are attended by adults, Woodring is hoping to soon offer activities geared towards disabled teenagers and children.
“I want to make them aware that this is something they could utilize too,” she said. “If I found out that they were interested, then I could find some place to do events with teenagers and younger kids.”
Dream Katchers earns most of its funds through two major benefits: one at the Springville Fire Hall in the fall, and a fundraiser at Michael’s Banquet Facility in Hamburg in the spring. However, Woodring is always looking for more donations and more volunteers to allow Dream Katchers to reach its full potential.
“My dream is to have a building where we can have a variety of events and eventually be open seven days a week for (people in day rehab programs) to visit,” said Woodring. “There can be an exercise class, cooking class, a game room with a foosball table and a bigger room for indoor basketball. I think about new things all the time.”
While her goals for Dream Katchers may seem lofty, Woodring has no plans to give them up.
“This has become my life now,” she said. “I’m not quitting.”
For more information on how to join or volunteer for Dream Katchers, call 860-0368, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.dream-katchers.webs.com.