The Opportunity Center is an adult day center in Owensboro that has served folks in the area with developmental and intellectual disabilities since 1956.  They provide a fun and safe setting for participants to explore different hobbies, navigate social situations, and learn new things like life and employment skills.

Here is a short and sweet Podcast episode that describes what it is like at this special place.  It is named after former Pinocchio's Deli which was fully run by the individuals in the program back from the 1970s to 1990s.

Pinocchio's Deli was so popular and successful that it was featured in newspapers and media around the world.  Patrons came from all over the tri-state to enjoy the food prepared there and support the initiative which provided employment opportunities and training. I remember when it moved to the old Kingfisher boat building. I thought it was so cool!

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While Pinocchio's has been closed since 1996, the Opportunity Center still strives to create innovative programming.  Which is why they are excited to announce a new nutrition program for their clients.  My friend, Ashley Vanover, is now the Nutrition Program Manager and she invited me to visit for a sneak peek yesterday.

The Opportunity Center of Owensboro
The Opportunity Center of Owensboro
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This has been their first official week and it is already a huge hit. Folks receive breakfast, lunch, and a snack that is prepared there on site by participants with the help of a couple of support staff including DSP/Nutrition Program Assistant, Charity Charles. Similar to school lunch programs, all meals have balanced options with protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and milk. This is all free of charge thanks to a Federal reimbursement initiative.

The Opportunity Center of Owensboro
The Opportunity Center of Owensboro
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They are using these first few weeks to see what works best for everyone involved. Any client at the Opportunity Center who wants to help is added to the schedule for prepping and cooking food, serving, and cleaning up afterward.  These are all valuable skills that participants can hopefully use when they leave the center and go to their homes or if they want to find a job at a local restaurant.

The Opportunity Center of Owensboro
The Opportunity Center of Owensboro
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Those working in the O.C. Kitchen are paid for their time as well, which they are all thrilled about. In fact, Ashley said she has never worked in a kitchen where folks are so eager and happy to help wash dishes!

The Opportunity Center of Owensboro
The Opportunity Center of Owensboro
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The participants will also get to have a say in creating the menus.  Here is an example of what they will be having this month. Efforts are of course made to ensure inclusivity in every way.

M-Kat Maddox
M-Kat Maddox
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Here is a close-up of the delicious breakfast pizzas they had yesterday!

Ashley Vanover
Ashley Vanover
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 Ashley shared with me that she hopes to eventually bring in the community once they have the hang of things.  A Pinocchio's revival sounds amazing to me! I have to give a shout-out to my new friends I made there. If they have any hand in cooking the food, it will be made with love.  We all know that means it will be delicious! Save me a plate, y'all!

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