Community Building


  • Phil is an artist, who has had several successful art exhibitions in local galleries. He has met new friends through sharing his art, and he has gained the respect of many in the local art community.
  • Terry has found a group of friends through participation in a local church where he rarely misses a Sunday service.
  • Pat joined Dane County Timebank and is making new connections through his volunteer work.

The above descriptions are all examples of the outcomes of Options' work to increase the community involvement of people we are supporting. Assisting people who have been kept apart from community life to rediscover interests, gifts, and possible contributions has also helped members of the larger community to demonstrate hospitality toward people with disabilities.

Options continues to learn about how to assist people to build and re-build connections to community. We know that it works to have a staff position dedicated to this aspect of our mission, but we have also learned that a commitment to community building must be part of each staff person's job. Organizational commitment to community building takes many forms, and requires Options to regularly reflect on the use of available resources. Are we properly focused toward community? Are we consciously seeking opportunities for people we support to be connected to their neighborhood and their neighbors? Are we taking time to notice existing relationships that may be strengthened and built on?

If you're interested in getting to know someone supported by Options, please view volunteer opportunities to see some of the exciting opportunities that are offered. To learn more about these and the many other possibilities that are available, please contact Emma Czarapata at

About the artist

Phil Porter was born in 1946 in Madison, Wisconsin. Phil was institutionalized at Southern Wisconsin Colony in Racine between the ages of 8 and 21 because of cognitive disabilities, seizures and hyperactivity. Phil_painting_pic.JPGHe began creating art in 1978 as a way to get away from people and the noise of life. As he says, "Art is therapy for me. It creates a whole new world."

Phil likes to say that he has sold more paintings than van Gogh (and he still has both ears). His work can be seen at local coffee shops in Madison, and in Madison's City/County Building. Phil also participates in the annual Art Fair on the Square, other art festivals, exhibits and galleries. You can learn more about Phil and his art by visiting

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  • published this page in Services 2014-11-17 13:40:36 -0600