Moving Along, Standing Strong

While working on a small scale, some organizations make a deep impact on individual lives. That’s the case with two nonprofits we funded in 2018, both with a focus on empowerment. 

The first, Move Along, Inc., gives people with physical limitations a chance to enjoy a variety of sports. One of its programs provides adaptive bicycles, including hand cycles, tandem bikes and recumbents. 

“Everything we do with our cycling program is geared around helping people get back on a bike after they’ve been off it,” says Jeff Wright, executive director at Move Along. The group holds many of its events in Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool. 

In 2018, Move Along received $1,500 from the Community Foundation to expand into the Southern Tier. Some of the money funded an indoor cycling clinic at the Jewish Community Center in Vestal. One rider that day was a 12-year old boy with spina bifida who uses a wheelchair for mobility. “He loved being on a hand cycle—just the freedom and fun of taking a ride,” Wright says. 

The group held three more clinics in the Binghamton area, led rides in Otsiningo and Dorchester Parks and brought bikes to the Binghamton Bridge Pedal on August 25. In all, the outreach to the Southern Tier gave 20 participants a chance to ride. 

Stand With Me Assistance Dog Team Training in the Town of Binghamton helps military veterans with mental health challenges train their dogs to become service dogs. Founder and director Francess “Myrph” McMahon, a professional dog trainer and experienced mental health counselor, spends 12 months or more with each vet and his or her dog, teaching them to work as a team. 

The dog learns to behave impeccably in public, follow its owner’s commands and offer protection. The vet—who may panic in crowds, suffer from nightmares or face other difficulties—learns to trust that the dog has his or her back. 

Veterans participate free of charge. As of December 2018, Stand With Me had graduated three vet-dog teams and had 15 other teams enrolled in the program. 

The Women’s Fund of the Community Foundation supported scholarships for female veterans with an $8,000 grant. The Community Foundation contributed $5,000 to support training for all veterans. 

“Without the scholarship funds, we can’t survive,” says McMahon. 

As a young nonprofit, Stand With Me is working hard to build broad support in the community. Funding from the Community Foundation is especially crucial in its early stages. “It has sustained us through our birth,” says McMahon. “Without it, we would not have been able to get our feet underneath us.”

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