Rachel DuBois works at Wahby Financial Group but is invested in helping the local community through Angelwood. She was first introduced to the nonprofit in 2014 and has been involved ever since.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I grew up in North Florida and came to Ponte Vedra to attend the University of North Florida where I majored in finance and business management.
I am a partner at Wahby Financial Group, and we are a full-service wealth management firm that helps clients with protection planning, retirement planning, estate and legacy planning.
What led you to get involved and what are your roles with Angelwood?
My mentor, Robin Wahby, first introduced me to Angelwood when I was a college intern.
Attending the “Angelwood Fashion Show” in 2014 for the first time, I saw the Angelwood models strut down the runway and heard the parents speak about how Angelwood has helped them. I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.
Since 1993, Angelwood has been serving children, adults, seniors and families living with intellectual and developmental differences such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and spina bifida.
As a new member of the community and volunteer at Angelwood, I was introduced to many of the people I consider my close friends and family now. The past two years my fiancé, Kevin Padgett, and I have helped co-chair the “Angelwood Annual Celebration: Soaring Possibilities,” which is now a night event at the Sawgrass Marriott.
It takes place this year on August 20. I am also a member of Angelwood’s development committee, where we are unveiling a new corporate sponsorship program.
What are the most rewarding parts of your involvement with Angelwood?
One of my favorite memories of Angelwood was getting the opportunity to be a guest at some of the Angelwood group homes in our community.
Children, adults and their families living with special needs face many hardships and challenges many of us could not even begin to imagine. The members of the house welcomed me, showed me their “house rules,” and even let me help make breakfast with them. It was there I learned how important community integration was to the members of the house and how essential the employees are to the success of these people and the organization.
I have also enjoyed giving financial workshops to help educate some of these employees on their benefits. When you are in a group home or at the campus, you can really feel the love from the employees and the reciprocation back from the clients.
How have you seen Angelwood make a difference over the years?
One thing that sets Angelwood apart is that they assist families in caring for the special needs of their loved ones across their lifespan.
They help support more than 300 individuals and families with their residential group homes, respite services, adult day training program, supported employment and behavior services.
Their summer day camp is a job-saver for more than 100 local families and enables children to flourish in a fun environment while their special needs are met with constant supervision and trained staff to handle medical situations.
They also welcome their siblings, where they can all interact with each other and see that other kids are experiencing similar feelings they are.
Within the past six years, I have been given the opportunity to hear stories from parents and families that Angelwood has helped. One story that I will always remember is a couple telling me that Angelwood allowed them to go on their first date in 15 years.
I have witnessed the adult day training and supported employment programs help participants develop skills, which really empowers them and helps them gain more independence.
What do you enjoy most about living in the Northeast Florida area?
When I first moved here from South Florida, I noticed that people hold open the door for you.
I love the Southern hospitality and closeness of our small community. Most people genuinely want to help others and will welcome you with open arms.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy going to concerts and attending sporting events; TPC is always one of my favorite times of the year.
On the weekends, you can catch my fiancé and I walking our dogs around our neighborhood and bass fishing.
My best friend of 20 years, Karly, and I, also have a business on Etsy called Soulfriend Customs, where we make custom signage and wedding products.
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