Submitted photo##Members of the D’Gadabouts ride horses at Sunriver, one of the group’s regular destinations each year.
Submitted photo##Members of the D’Gadabouts ride horses at Sunriver, one of the group’s regular destinations each year.
By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

D’Gadabouts program lands grants for travel

D’Gadabouts, an excursion program for adults with developmental disabilities, has received a three-year, $6,000 grant from the Trillium Fund, which operates under the auspices of the Oregon Community Foundation.

The Yamhill County nonprofit will receive $2,000 a year to provide partial scholarships to those who might not be able to afford trips on their own. That will be a major advantage to those for whom the excursions provide an enjoyable way to see new places and try new things, socialize and practice their independence in a safe, group setting, said grant writer Pat Britten, whose son, Peter Vyas, is a frequent participant.

D’Gadabouts was founded decades ago by Dorothy Schultz, a former Mid-Valley Advancements employee. She wanted to help adults who might not be able to travel on their own.

“That option wasn’t available very often in their lives,” Britten said.

She noted one main rule of D’Gadabouts: Parents are not allowed. “And parents think that’s wonderful ... to have your adult go someplace and have fun on his own,” she said.

The program offers more than a dozen day trips a year.

Participants might visit the coast for a fishing trip, for instance. Or, as they did last weekend, they might have dinner at a local restaurant, then attend a play at Gallery Theater.

In addition, there are several longer trips, featuring one or two nights in a motel. Yamhill County residents might travel to Eastern Oregon to travel on a vintage train, for instance, or to Sunriver to ride horses, or to the Great Wolf Lodge to engage in water park play.

One lengthy trip is scheduled annually, such as a weeklong jaunt to Disneyland and other attractions in Southern California.

Some excursions involve airplane flights or train travel. Most are in van rides, with volunteer chaperones Michelle Littlejohn and Gregoria Hernandez doing the driving.

Many participants pay for the trips themselves, saving money from their jobs so they can cover the costs. Others need scholarship help, which is where the grant money comes in, Britten said.

They apply for the scholarships and a committee decides who receives funding. Usually, Britten said, scholarships pay for part of the cost of day trips or two-to-three-day excursions, rather than the entire amount.

Britten has seen what a great impact the group travel can have on her son and other participants.

She recalled one young man who had always avoided water. But when he saw his friends splashing in the pool at a water park, he joined them in the shallow end and had a great time.

Another participant, a young woman, signs up for all the water-related trips. She doesn’t swim, but she enjoys seeing her friends in the pool or just sitting on a beach, watching the waves roll in.

Other people benefit from interacting with the D’Gadabouts, as well, Britten said.

“People see them having a good time and behaving appropriately,” she said. “That helps them learn about people with disabilities, that they’re not different.”

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