Years ago, Rachel A. Pugh created the concept for a children’s book, Just Have to Be Me, with “something special” in mind. Recently, the Marketing Communications Manager at Benco Dental found the book’s vocation. By incorporating illustrations from a client of Cori’s Place, she decided to provide support the non-profit organization in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, whose mission is “helping individuals with disabilities create a better life”.
“I wrote the book years ago and saved it to do something special in the future,” said Pugh, a Shavertown, Pennsylvania resident, and member of the Board of Directors at the non-profit day program agency. “My father had been affiliated with Cori’s Place and introduced me to the organization. After meeting one of the clients – Matthew Mitkowski – and seeing his artwork, I instantly knew the direction I wanted to take the book.”
Proceeds from the book — which celebrates differences — are donated to Cori’s Place, to help serve adults with intellectual disabilities from Luzerne and Wyoming Counties in Northeast Pennsylvania. Since 2002, when the Gwilliam Family founded Cori’s Place in honor of its namesake, their daughter Cori, the organization has served more than 60 individuals, and currently provides services and “a loving environment for young adults with disabilities” to 50 adults.
“After walking through Cori’s Place, seeing their services and what they do, it instantly became a cause near and dear to my heart,” said Pugh.
She references the structured curriculum that involves individual growth and learning opportunities. Cori’s Place, located in Hanover Township, focuses on each individual’s strengths, interests, and preferences, while maintaining and building on current abilities. One unique aspect: they use the community as a teaching tool, so individuals can experience real world applications and authentic learning experiences to become contributing members of society.
Volunteerism is a chief component of the Cori’s Place program. The program gives clients the opportunity to help others. Among the organizations at which the clients dedicate their efforts: Jewish Community Center, The Lands at Hillside Farms, Meals on Wheels.
Rachel said that in addition to supporting those activities, proceeds from book sales will assist the organization in its growth. One expansion goal featured on its website is opening a program in the Wyoming County area will address a growing need there for adults with disabilities to have the opportunity to attend an adult training facility.
“Aside from creating awareness for this local agency, I hope the children’s book will raise funds to allow its organizers to continue growing their services and expand their reach,” she added.
A conversation with one of the first purchasers of the Just Have to Be Me @ reaffirmed the undertaking for Rachel.
“A mom reached out to me. She plans to read the book to her three-year-old daughter, who was recently diagnosed with Autism,” said Rachel. “That is my exact intention for the book.”
Just Have to Be Me is available for purchase online at a cost of $10 at: justhavetobeme.ecwid.com
In the future, the book will be available for sale at locations throughout Luzerne County, which will be listed on the book’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/JustHaveToBeMe/