History of Zack’s Place
We are a 501(c) (3) community enrichment center whose mission is to empower people of all ages with special needs to express themselves through literacy, art, music, dance, and athletics while developing bonds of friendship. We are proud of the fact that we have been called an “Enlightened Enrichment Center”.
Programs are provided at no cost to participants, their parents, or guardians. In pursuit of fellowship and creative outlets for their disabled son, ZP (Zack’s Place), was founded by the parents of a special needs teenager 14 years ago. In subsequent years, event income and strong donor-based support facilitated the ongoing delivery and growth of the enrichment programs.
Our programming offers social and life skills training, cultural, educational, artistic, and fitness programs providing participants with a full day of planned activities. Some examples of programs are photography, arts and crafts, music; dance; theater; reading and writing; science; fitness; nutrition; cooking; adaptive sports including skiing, snowshoeing, kayaking, and horseback riding and more. Our most popular programs are our many field trips taking us to local museums, farms, theater performances, and visiting lakes and ski areas for our adaptive sports.
In July 2010, our center relocated to a central street in the Village of Woodstock within easy walking distance to all our town has to offer. The building contains a first floor art studio and a large comfortable area which serves as a multipurpose room for various activities. In May 2014,we successfully completed a six month capital campaign raising $442,000 allowing us to buy the building we had previously leased, all with private donations and grants. Over the years we have added many updates including a new kitchen; a covered/heated accessible entrance to protect participants from ice and snow falling from the roof and to eliminate black ice on our courtyard entryway. We replaced all our windows and doors with thermal panes, replaced floors, built a patio, and purchased much needed furniture. Our Center is comfortable, attractive, updated and functional.
Participants now number at 100 and vary in age from 7 to 60, with special needs resulting from physical, cognitive, and developmental challenges such as cerebral palsy, Autism, and Down syndrome. Our constituents come from Woodstock and all over the Upper Valley and routinely travel from distances of up to 40 miles. In addition to serving special needs individuals, we serve as a learning center for mainstream students, administrators, teachers, and community members who join us as instructors or volunteers, or as partners in special events. Some of our programs see senior citizens or high school students joining in the dancing, singing or exercises classes. These are all people who might never know or be touched by the abilities and talents of our ZP population. In addition, we have over 400 volunteers that serve in one capacity or another over the course of each year.
A major milestone achieved in 2021 was the performance of our musical, Beauty and The Beazt. This year the entire process of the making of this production was made into a documentary film with Jim Sadwith, a local but well known producer, overseeing the process. The documentary, which included the back stories of some of our participant actors and their families, will be shown at Indie film festivals in the next year, spreading the word of our wonderful enrichment center. Another significant achievement was the purchase of our own accessible, ten person van allowing us to readily transport participants on field trips whereas in the past we relied on the school bus company to fit us into their schedule at great expense. Our center continues to thrive with many beautiful updates to our building, a dedicated and professional staff, professional instructors, strong board, successful fundraisers and community support.