Nonprofit organizations are oftentimes overlooked in the community due to a lack of promotional funds and advertising, amongst other reasons. To help spread awareness of these efforts being made, we feature a local nonprofit in each issue that we believe deserves a spotlight shined on the great work that they’ve done and continue to do within the community.
How Did Keeping the Promise Begin?
Lorena Poppe, Executive Director of Keeping The Promise, is no stranger to the world of disability support. With over 30 years of experience in the field of disability services, including 12 years as a vocal disabilities support advocate and 15 in the service provider sector, Poppe was prepared to venture into her own space to support the cause.
Her passion evolved into Poppy’s Promise, her own service provider that offers applied behavior analysis (ABA), respite/ in-home support and much more. With Poppe having experience in the private sector prior to Poppy’s Promise, this was no strange territory for her.
Keeping The Promise
Keeping the Promise is committed to bringing options and resources that are both relevant and meaningful to kids, young adults and families,”-Lorena Poppe
What is Poppy’s promise?
Poppy’s Promise is an agency that provides direct services and support to kids and young adults with disabilities and their families.
Each year at the iCan Swim Camp, Keeping The Promise is able to provide adapted swim instruction to 30 excited participants!
With Poppy’s Promise being a for-profit organization, Keeping the Promise was started in 2019 as a sister organization. For some people, it can be easy to qualify for and access services and support systems through the service delivery system. For those who fall through the cracks, however, options for support are extremely limited, according to Poppe.
“Keeping the Promise is committed to bringing options and resources that are both relevant and meaningful to kids, young adults and families. Our original intention in starting Keeping the Promise was to focus on periods of transition for kids and young adults with disabilities. Moving from elementary school to middle school and high school and then on to adult life often involves making a transition to new places and services,” Poppe said.
“In some cases, services end when a child turns 18 or 21. We remain committed to a focus on supporting transitions, but have learned since our inception that there are unmet service needs for people with disabilities regardless of age. We are passionate about moving beyond conversations and doing the important work of developing innovative approaches that lead to sustainable and thriving support systems throughout the lifespan.”
Keeping the Promise was originally started to help fill the gaps in the service delivery system. At that time, and still to this day, Poppe sees the importance of ensuring that families are aware of their options when it comes to services and activities for their children living with disabilities. Two years later, Poppe and her team are still pursuing the same mission as they did at the time of launch.
What You May Not Know About Keeping The Promise
Nonprofit organizations oftentimes project a common mission or goal that encourages others to unite and support them in their cause. Keeping The Promise is no different. “[Keeping The Promise’s] goals are to be a sounding board for families and a resource to make connections to advocates and services. Along with that, we want to be a facilitator of starting the transition process before the teen years and continuing through young adulthood, as well as a provider that develops supports and services that are not currently available in our state,” Poppe said
Community Programs and Community Involvement
“One of the opportunities that arose for us last year was hosting an iCan Swim Camp. This camp is designed for people with disabilities to develop swimming skills that will promote safety, health, confidence, socialization and fun across the lifespan. We are currently hosting our second annual iCan Swim Camp, which has become one of our major activities,” Poppe said.
“In both years of camp, our sessions have filled within days and we have had a long waitlist. Seeing the great need for learning to swim while having fun and being safe has caused us to expand our focus to assure that there are opportunities to build important life skills that will benefit people throughout their lives.”
Keeping The Promise Remains Impact-Oriented
One of Keeping The Promise’s primary visions is giving a voice to those that don’t have it by being a resource and putting a spotlight on the disabled community. To do this, they oftentimes collaborate with other nonprofits to help make the greatest impact, including Designer Genes, the Arc of North Dakota and Family Voices of North Dakota.
What’s Next For Keeping The Promise?
In addition to Keeping The Promise’s current programs, such as the iCan Swim Camps, they are currently producing a video learning series for families to become more aware of disability-related supports and issues. The series will address topics such as guardianship, moving from a pediatrician to an adult physician, assistive technology options, sensory support through transition, success stories from young adults and developing family-to-family support systems.
Furthermore, they have also started to run social skills groups for pre-teens who are preparing for middle school. “The activities we are involved in are supporting our mission of [ensuring] conversations are held and meaningful/relevant services and activities are identified for those with disabilities,” Poppe said.
We can help families with many tasks such as preparing testimony about disability-related services for North Dakota legislative sessions.”-Lorena Poppe
How You Can Get Involved
As with any nonprofit organization, donations can be given in many different ways. Here are a few ways that Lorena Poppe and Keeping The Promise encourage the community to get involved and back their mission.
Donating directly to Keeping The Promise ensures that they’re receiving immediate assistance in funding their programs and continuing the mission. With different programs and campaigns throughout the year that require funding (iCan Swim Camps, educational videos, etc.), monetary donations will frequently be supporting something new within the organization and having a firsthand impact on people with disabilities.
Volunteer with Keeping The Promise!
When Keeping The Promise hosts programs, events or develops new campaigns for the program, they often require volunteers. For example, their annual iCan Swim Camp requires volunteers in the form of swim mentors. “Only basic swim skills are needed and volunteers get to spend 1:1 time with someone learning to swim in a group learning environment,” Poppe said. “We also welcome anyone who would like to contribute to our video learning series about any topic they are passionate about.”
Spread The Word!
Many statistics, stories and other aspects of disabilities are often overlooked by many in the community. Having a common knowledge of disabilities, as well as how to assist anyone in need, is critical to their mission. “Donations, as well as volunteering, are always welcome as none of our activities have a permanent funding source. But also, simply helping to spread the word about Keeping the Promise to families who may be seeking information and support is incredibly helpful,” Poppe said.
Get Involved in Future Events!
Keeping The Promise’s most recent event, the iCan Swim Camp, was an immense success, according to Poppe. The recurring annual event will always be in need of volunteers as the event comes around next summer. Along with the annual swim camp, other events are in the works that allow community members to engage with Keeping The Promise, as well as support the disabled community.
“This is a great way to learn more about disabilities and to make a huge impact on the lives of kids and young adults involved in the program. We are in the planning process of putting together some fundraising events and would love to help with the coordination of those events,” Poppe said.
As Keeping The Promise continues to look for creative ways to expand their brand and increase traction in support for the cause, they aim to only see growth in assistance and support for the disability-related community. “We have had the opportunity to learn so much from people with lived experiences. We’ve talked extensively with people at the heart of receiving and providing support as kids navigate the move to teen and young adult life. Families, school personnel, business leaders and professional organizations have provided the framework for what we do,” Poppe said. “We are willing to think outside the box to come up with creative solutions for people. We want to help people truly live out their dreams and that requires being creative. Doing things the way they have always been done is not effective or meaningful for many people.”
Support! Keeping The Promise