By Ben Caine, Development Coordinator, New Vista
Las Vegas charity New Vista has been improving the lives of our intellectually challenged for the past 30 years.
Although it wasn’t that long ago, it’s hard to imagine that institutionalizing our developmentally disabled/intellectually challenged loved ones was once the norm for society. Today’s world lives with such a heightened desire to promote equality for the less fortunate that the care for this special population has drastically improved. Here is just one story of a Las Vegas lady and the charity that she sparked.
It’s 6 a.m. on a Friday, and Dawn Herrmann is meticulously going through the morning routine at her home in Summerlin. She’ll make herself breakfast after getting cleaned up and dressed—before Carolyn arrives. Carolyn is Herrmann’s New Vista staff member, and she has been working directly with Herrmann over the last few years. Together, they will go grocery shopping, cash Dawn’s paycheck (a definite favorite), plan next week’s activities and prepare for work at 11 a.m. Herrmann will ride the RTC bus from her home to her job at Outback Steakhouse, where for the past two years she has taken great pride in her duties. From seating guests to bussing tables and rolling silverware, Dawn has become an Outback fixture, with employees and even certain regulars hugging her as they arrive. After work, she will head home to ride her bicycle, watch her favorite shows, make dinner and be ready for the nightly 8 p.m. phone call with her sweetheart, Steven.
All of this independence has fulfilled the lifelong dreams that Herrmann’s parents intended when they founded New Vista in the 1980s. Their question at the time was, “What will happen to our child after we pass?” They wanted Dawn to have the same opportunities of becoming a contributing member of the Las Vegas community, one that she, in particular, has helped to shape. It appears as though their legacy lives on through New Vista.
When Herrmann was born in 1966, the intellectually challenged of our country were not viewed as equals, or even treated as people in some instances. The doctors who had delivered her even mentioned to her parents, Richard and June, that she would be “less of a burden to them” if they just simply “put her in an institution.” On that day, their vision for New Vista began with Dawn. It became a reality in 1983 when the Herrmanns sat down with other parents, each who had children with Down syndrome, to discuss a better way to care for the disabled. Throughout the early 1980s they organized an executive committee, made countless presentations, held book drives, solicited grants and even received a generous land grant of 15 acres from Ted and Bill Gilcrease. On this land, New Vista Ranch went from concept to creation, and the first four homes to house their ranchers (New Vista residents) were built there in the years to follow.
Today, New Vista has evolved into one of the largest supporters of assisted-living programs in the state of Nevada. The organization manages over 22 homes in the community, supports over 500 members annually through its various programs, and employees over 140 staff members. New Vista hosts a variety of fundraising events including wine walks, beer festivals and bachelor auctions. New Vista has even built the nation’s first long-term senior-care facility for its aging members, embodying the family values it was founded on. It’s easy to see why people like Dawn, who is turning 50 this year, are able to achieve far more than ever thought possible.
For more information or partnership opportunities, visit NewVistaNV.org, or call Ben Caine at 702.457.4677, ext. 146.