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Willie F.

Meet Willie F., one of our newest artisans at The Blue Umbrella. Willie became involved with The

Blue Umbrella through Opportunities, Inc., an organization that provides programs and services to people with disabilities.

Opportunities, Inc. partners with Arkansas Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) to provide clients with opportunities to enhance their lives, including through employment.

The Blue Umbrella employs more than 200 local artisans with developmental and intellectual disabilities who create items and sell them in the shop. This provides them with a sense of independence, pride, and of course, a source of income.

Willie creates artwork for greeting cards for The Blue Umbrella, and he recently shared with us why he enjoys the work he does.

“I like drawing, and it makes me feel excited when customers buy something I’ve made,” Willie says.

While having an opportunity to work and earn money can be rewarding, Willie says he sometimes finds it challenging to be away from his family. But having opportunities to meet new people and make new friends helps him to overcome this challenge.

“Willie’s personality has grown so much since I first met him,” says Ken Lamon , a maintenance director and Scouts director at Opportunities, Inc. “He used to be shy and reserved, but now is eager to meet people and make new friends.”

When Willie is not busy making artwork for The Blue Umbrella, he enjoys camping with his family and friends and scouting with his troop, Boy Scouts Troop 6101, in Texarkana.

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