September 26, 2023
It was an easy sell, gathering 15 Kizik employees to participate in this year’s United Way Day of Caring on September 14. We showed up bright and early to lend a hand to local nonprofit Just for Kids as they moved their library out of a space they had outgrown in preparation to move into their all-new facility that’s set to open next month. But we didn’t know that it would turn out to be way better than just hauling books.
Just for Kids of Utah County: A labor of love
Just for Kids of Utah County is a grassroots organization born out of a parent's love and dedication to providing a better life for children with disabilities. Michelle Holbrook is a mother of a disabled child, who, once he turned 22, no longer qualified for state benefits and programs. Instead of turning inward and finding private support for Curtis, Michelle looked outward and decided to help more kids than just her own. Just for Kids was born.
HIVEs: A place of opportunity
The crown jewel of Just for Kids is HIVEs (stands for Habilitation, Independence, Vocation, Education, and Socialization), a program that embraces adults with disabilities starting at age 22 and continuing throughout their lives. It steps in where other programs leave off, offering sports, music, reading, and off-site activities.
Participants can come one day a week or up to five, depending on what works best for them. Michelle is adamant that each day at HIVEs must be enriching. “They can only use their phones during lunch or in the van on the way to an activity,” she explains. “They can be glued to screens somewhere else; not here.” She has created an environment where real-world interactions and experiences take center stage.
Participants also have opportunities to serve the community. Working a full-time job may not be feasible for most, but there’s still a desire to make a difference. That’s where HIVEs service days come in. The entire group goes out and helps local businesses. A hands-down favorite is a local pizza place where they pre-fold boxes. Their current record is 600 in an hour!
A heartwarming welcome
With our work completed, the Kizik team had the privilege of visiting the HIVEs House and meeting the incredible individuals whose lives are touched by Just for Kids. Each took a moment to introduce themselves by name and share their favorite activities at HIVEs—which is how we heard about the pizza place.
They even performed for us some songs they had been practicing, which just might have been the highlight of the day. Unless you’re more into sports than music. Then it was probably the boys-against-girls kickball game. (Girls won.) After a quick snack, it was time for goodbyes.
A Day to Remember
Our morning with Just for Kids reminded us of the profound impact that giving back to the community can have—on the giver. We showed up to help, but came away better for having been with the remarkable individuals who volunteer and participate at HIVEs. A huge thank-you to United Way, Just for Kids, Michelle Holbrook, and all our new HIVEs homies for letting us in on part of your day.