The "Association for the Support of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities of the City of Zagreb" (commonly known as "Vjeverice" or "Squirrels") was founded back in 1958.
The members of the Association are mostly people with intellectual
disabilities, their parents/guardians, as well as relatives, friends,
experts and other people who participate or want to participate for the
benefit of people with intellectual disabilities. The association was
founded and is run by experts (special educators, psychologists,
doctors, social workers).
It is a non-profit organization based in Zagreb (Croatia), in a suburb area called "Prečko".
The Squirrels work in a recently upgraded building (house) which is completely accessible for people with disability and can provide them with a full service every day of the week (including workshop area, living room, kitchen, offices, toilets, elevator etc.)
From the very beginning, the "Squirrels" provide:
- support, advocacy and information for its members (people with disabilities, their parents and guardians) - in every aspect of their lives
- educational programs intended for people with intellectual disabilities and for their overall personal development through various forms of help and self-help programs that aim achieving the highest possible quality of personal and community life of its members (acquiring daily life skills, gaining skills for active participation in community life, physical exercise etc.)
- creative programs intended for self-fulfillment and empowerment of people with intellectual disabilities, development and promotion of their creativity (various workshops for empowerment and inciting creativity of people with disability: handcraft making souvenirs for religious occasions, clay work, drawing, paining, singing, drumming, performative arts such as theater and dance...); as well as support for public performances and experiencing stage performance and ownership of their creative work (dance routine, theater play, song etc.)
- extra programs (such as organizing summer vacations, field trips for its members etc.)
Even though the Association provides a socially important service
during most of the year, it has always been funded based on its
projects. In other words, "Squirrels" don't have structural and
continuous support. They only receive funding for approved projects.
This means that "Squirrels" and their staff have no substantial financial security and are extremely vulnerable to any changes in funding.
They need around 4000 EUR per month to sustain their level of work, handle salaries for their experts (social workers, administrators), cover creativity program costs, and pay the utilities.
Of course, with the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis, and additional economic damage done by an earthquake that hit Zagreb in March 2020, this organization has come to hard financial times.
So, in these times of uncertainties and pending financial crisis, the "Squirrels" have decided to ask for help from the world community - just to be able to sustain their work and provide everyday services to their members - people with intellectual disabilities.
Any contribution is welcome and appreciated, especially in these difficult times.
Their work is shared on their website (http://www.udruga-mro-zagreb.hr/) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/udruga.vjeverica) and everyone is welcome to follow them and see their work (and the impact of the financial support you have provided to the Squirrels).
*** If someone is willing to help "Squirrels" update their website, they would appreciate that kind of help as well - to help them promote their work on a more contemporary designed website.
Even if you can't support this campaign in any way, we would appreciate you sharing the news about it to your friends who might help. Thank you.