VersAbility Volunteer Named a Wawa Virginia Local Hero

Smiling faces.

That’s what warms Danny Lloyd when he volunteers with VersAbility Resources.

Danny is a recent recipient of the Wawa Virginia Local Hero Award, which donated $1,000 toward VersAbility’s mission of helping people with disabilities enjoy dignified, productive lives of their choosing.

Danny Lloyd showing his Wawa Virginia Hero Award

Danny is disabled and his wife, Lara Zawacki, is the Grant Manager at the nonprofit. Both are passionate about sustainable agriculture and started the Super Local Food Project 11 years ago to connect farmers and the food they harvest with the Hampton Roads community.

You’ll find Danny at the Peninsula Farmers Market held on Thursdays at the Jewish Community Center in Newport News where he volunteers alongside several of the adults in VersAbility’s Day Support program. Program participants grow vegetables in their own market garden on the grounds of VersAbility’s Hampton headquarters.

Danny helped start what today is known as the Able Acres Market Garden, which includes three raised beds with either veggies or edible flowers. While most of the produce grown is donated to the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank and THRIVE Peninsula, other young plants are taken to the Super Local Food Project booth at the farmers market to encourage community members to take them home to start their own gardens. Donations are appreciated for the plants. Danny facilitates the community engagement activity, one of many enrichment opportunities for people with disabilities that VersAbility offers.

Two people hold up red Wawa clappers in a Wawa store

“It’s wonderful because I can see what a difference this makes in these people’s lives,” Danny says. “I Iook at it as my way of giving back.”

Danny is sensitive to people with disabilities comprising one of the largest underserved segments of our population. Roughly 61 million Americans live with a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet people with disabilities are capable with potential to do most, if not all, the same things that people without an impairment can do.

“They’re an underserved part of the community,” Danny says. “They’re not ignorant to their situation.”

Working with VersAbility introduced Danny to what he calls a “very caring, loving world.” It’s an authentic world where, he says, humanity comes in and brings perspective. “I’m happy to be able to volunteer for them/ Nothing is more rewarding than seeing smiles on their faces.”

Danny Lloyd poses with his Wawa Virginia Hero award in a Wawa store surrounded by VersAbility members

VersAbility Receives Grant from The Wawa Foundation to Support Able Acres Market Garden

Wawa helps customers fuel their days with food, beverages, coffee and gas.

Now the nationwide convenience store is also helping to fuel our mission here at VersAbility Resources.

VersAbility is proud to announce it recently received a $1,000 grant from The Wawa Foundation to use as fuel for its Project Independence program.

Project Independence offers people with disabilities support, skill development, tools and resources to help them reach their highest level of independence.

The grant funds will specifically allow VersAbility to expand the program offerings by creating inclusive community events that nurture self-determination, independence, sense of belonging and authentic community integration. Specifically, this grant will support the nonprofit’s Able Acres Market Garden.

VersAbility helps ensure people with disabilities enjoy dignified, productive lives of their choosing. As part of that mission team members helped start its own market garden, Able Acres. Able Acres Market Garden is primarily led by adults with disabilities attending the Day Support program.

Four raised beds are filled with young vegetable plants and edible flowers.

The adults in VersAbility’s Day Support programs who have identified an interest in gardening and plants completed the initial planting and are responsible for sowing and harvesting. Participants in the program engage with the community every Thursday as part of Peninsula Farmers Market held at the Jewish Community Center in Newport News.

The Wawa Foundation’s purpose is Fulfilling Lives Every Day, by Building Stronger Communities. The foundation has contributed more than $135 million to support organizations making a difference in the lives of so many in the areas of Health, Hunger and Everyday Heroes. VersAbility is one of the more than 6,000 nonprofit partners that the foundation supports.

VersAbility is a leading provider of comprehensive services for people with disabilities of all ages. VersAbility provides early childhood, residential, day support and diverse employment programs throughout Hampton Roads and beyond.

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