As I entered the Aurelia Foundation, located in Old Torrance, I immediately felt welcome and at home.
The first portion of this building is a boutique filled with jewelry, Shemesh Farms herbs, note cards and bath salts made by clients. Visitors can also browse through books, photo frames, hats, baskets and a few vintage items.
Greeted by Lisa Szilagyi and Mari-Anne Kehler, I soon began to learn about what this incredible organization does. Creative Steps is an Aurelia Foundation adult community integration program, designed to provide a safe, caring, enriching environment where adults with disabilities can achieve their full potential as valued, contributing members of their community.
“There is such a need in communities to find quality programming for individuals over the age of 18 with disabilities,” stated Szilagyi. The focus at Creative Steps is on developing life skills, communication and social skills, self advocacy and encouraging community awareness. This includes job training, in conjunction with local businesses, regular field trips, and opportunities for recreation, music and art.
“Torrance was the right answer in identifying our third location. It is a friendly community that embraces those with disabilities and a community that provides opportunities for our clients to actively participate,” commented Kehler.
As I was meeting with Kehler and Szilagyi one of the clients, Dylan, walked in with his aide. Dylan was very excited that he was going to be cleaning the large storefront window. I noticed how meticulous he was in making sure that the window was sparkling upon completion. He made me smile and I acknowledged what a wonderful job he did. He was so proud.
The philosophy of the Aurelia Foundation is a philosophy that I believe all individuals should lead their lives by. ‘Every individual deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Every individual has the potential to learn throughout their lives and the opportunity to make choices is every individual’s fundamental right. Every individual has strengths and gifts to contribute to their community’.
“One thing that we would like to begin in the near future is a lending library. We would like to invite members of the business community to donate books to our organization. Reading is a very important activity for our clients,” stated Kehler.
The Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce thanks the Aurelia Foundation for being an active chamber member and wishes them much success in their new location. Click here to learn more about the Aurelia Foundation.