"The Exceptional Foundation" is a well-known Birmingham organization that provides social and recreational activities for mentally challenged youngsters and adults.
To help keep the program affordable, the foundation is holding an art show tonight where you can buy art created by the participants. The event starts at 6 p.m.
Art is just one program of dozens of programs offered at the foundation.
The Exceptional Foundation has done such an exceptional job that other cities around the country are now asking, "How can we do the same?"
"We kind of take the special out of special needs and it is their community where they come and have a quality of life like everyone else," Executive Director Tricia Kirk said.
That's been the goal of the Exceptional Foundation for nearly 20 years now. Every day the Homewood based organization provides nearly 400 mentally challenged adults with social and recreational outlets
"The school system does a great job of educating our children from age 5 to 21, but where do they go to fall in love, to participate in sports, make friends, to gossip...that is what we provide," Kirk stated.
Offering fitness, art, prom, sports, field trips and more, the Foundation's exceptional program has caught the attention of the nation.
Kirk says they've gotten calls from so many different cities and organizations across the country that have decided to start a National Exceptional Foundation..
The program was just launched this month and it will help new chapters establish policies and procedures, give guidance, provide HR funding and more.
With Baldwin County, Memphis, and Indiana joining in, the National Foundation now serves more than 1,000 mentally challenged Americans, but Kirk says that doesn't even scratch the surface of what's needed.
"Every day it takes for us to do more, the more the mentally challenge sit at home and want a place to go," Kirk said.
The Exceptional Foundation is a non-profit organization that does not receive any state or federal funding. The bulk of their funding comes from grants, donations and fundraisers, like the art show tonight. It is open to the public and lasts until 9 p.m. Tickets cost $35.
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