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 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.
“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.”