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Farmers Branch Resident Fred Badyna Puts a Spin on Volunteering in the Community
Fred Badyna posing with a CDC client at a Holiday Party
By Virginia L. at Citizens Development Center
DALLAS- On June 29, 2012 the warehouse at Citizens Development Center on Ambassador Row will transform from an orderly work center into a dance hall as lively as Studio 64 in its heyday. At the turntables you will find Fred Badyna, accompanied by his wife of 23 years, Mercedes. A Dallas-area resident since 1971, Fred is not your typical Disk Jockey- although he may dress the part- and this is far from a typical office party.
June 29th is the annual Summer Bash party for men and women with disabilities who participate in Citizens Development Center’s (CDC) Work Center Program. This is the seventh year Fred and Mercedes have been playing music at CDC events. They not only donate their time, they provide all the sound equipment and music as well. Citizens Development Center, a nonprofit organization, hosts five parties for program participants per year, including their signature fundraiser Dash for Dignity 5K and Fun Run/Walk/Roll in September.
Fred is an Advisor at Armor Wealth Management and has worked in the insurance and financial planning industry just under 40 years. His many industry awards indicate that he is a guru, but his real passion in life has always been music. As a high school student in Toledo, Ohio, he formed the singing group “Freddy and the Parliaments” and sat on a panel of teens rating records live on Saturday radio shows. As a young adult, he served in both the Army and Air Force and received a degree in Business Management from Toledo University. Along the way, Fred discovered Karaoke and started playing at parties and weddings for friends. He also started volunteering for several charitable organizations, and with some encouragement from his wife, he began to combine his love of music with his passion for serving his community.
More than 160 people with severe disabilities who are unable to find work in the community or who choose to work in a protective environment participate in the Work Center Program at CDC every day. Participants fulfill work orders for area businesses in a 30-thousand square foot warehouse on Ambassador Row, which also serves as the organization’s offices for their other primary initiative: the Employment Placement Program which provides hands-on support for people with disabilities who choose to work at companies in the community. In the warehouse, Production Supervisors train workers how to properly perform the work and provide assistance whenever needed. Workers truly enjoy the diverse projects such as placing labels on shampoo bottles, assembling boxes and counting and packaging nuts and bolts. Most importantly, they enjoy the sense of purpose and dignity that comes from employment and socialization with peers.
Workers are paid per piece and payday is always a source of excitement and genuine pride. However, the excitement expressed on payday is reserved in comparison to their enthusiasm about a visit from Fred, Mercedes and their turntables. It doesn’t take much to get the party started at CDC. The moment the first song starts, the audience is dancing and singing along to Fred and Mercedes’ up-beat playlist. Everyone is quickly adorned with party favors- fun hats, jewelry and glasses.
When you take into consideration the many challenges people with disabilities face (and the absence of alcohol), the happiness and joy you witness at one of these parties is a life-changing experience. “CDC has opened up a whole new excitement for us as they are the best and most appreciative audience we have ever been around,” says Fred, “We have been touched by their friendship, their thoughtfulness and gratefulness that they have a safe place to go every day, see their friends and be productive citizens.”
Fred Badyna also serves on the Board of Directors at Citizens Development Center and is a generous donor to the organization. To learn more about CDC or donate, visit https://www.citizensdevelopmentcenter.org
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