Christiansburg non-profit helps adults, children with intellectual disabilities

IDA to hold a silent auction, beer and wine tasting May 4

CHRISTIANSBURG – Food can bring people together.

"Years ago, there was a gentleman and he said, 'My mom won't let me use the oven and I can only use the microwave and I really want to cook,'" recalls Intellectual Disabilities Agency of the New River Valley executive director Sheila Roop.

It's one reason IDA offers a cooking class to help people with intellectual disabilities work on independent living skills.

"For all of us, it's about being accepted. It's not about feeling normal, because that doesn't exist, I've decided," she said. "But everyone wants to be accepted."

Everyone here takes a turn at a new recipe.

"I like getting together and doing things with other people," said participant Michelle Lawrence.

It's not just cooking. The non-profit offers a number of recreational, social and educational activities, as well as workshops. 

"People who call wanting to know what services are available, for instance, a mother who finds out she's going to have a baby with Down syndrome and wants to know what she can do ahead of time," Roop explained.

IDA has served the New River Valley, helping children and adults since 1965.

"I think that says a lot in regards to the need in the community that a small nonprofit has been around that long," she said.

IDA gets no state or federal funding. It relies funding from the United Way and annual fundraisers.

It's program that has a lasting impact on participants.

"The fun part is you get to eat it," said Lawrence. "The next fun part is making it."

IDA will hold its annual silent auction with beer and wine tasting at the Blacksburg Country Club May 4 at 6:30 p.m.