#ChangeMakers in the Disabilities Community: Ryan Clark

If you happened to go shopping in an HEB, Tom Thumb or Target somewhere in Texas this summer, you may have noticed colorful wine barrels scattered among the Rodney Strong Wine Estates displays. These hand-painted barrels are not the product of artists from around the state; they are works of art created right here in Plano by the HIPsters of My Possibilities.

HIPsters, or Hugely Important People, are students at My Possibilities (MP), a non-profit organization that works with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

The inaugural state-wide wine barrel awareness campaign occurred in the summer of 2017, and during the 60-day campaign, Rodney Strong wine purchased at a participating retailer resulted in a percentage given back to MP. This past summer the HIPster-designed Rodney Strong wine barrels were in select Texas retailers including HEB, Target, Tom Thumb, Market Street, Costco and Spec’s Wine Spirits and Finer Food from May 1 to July 1.

Ryan Clark interacting with the HIPsters at My Possibilities // photos by Kathy Tran
Ryan Clark interacting with the HIPsters at My Possibilities // photos by Kathy Tran

According to My Possibilities, Ryan Clark, the director of national accounts for Rodney Strong Wine Estates, has played an instrumental role in the formation of “Strong Possibilities,” a partnership between Rodney Strong and My Possibilities which began in 2017.

“Ryan’s passion is contagious,” said My Possibilities’ Executive Director Michael Thomas. “We are honored to have [him] as an advocate not only for My Possibilities, but for the IDD community. It’s refreshing to work alongside Ryan. Strong Possibilities has grown beyond expectations, and we’re very thankful for that.”

Ryan was first introduced to My Possibilities in 2016 through Rodney Strong’s Texas distributor, Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC). After learning of RNDC’s connection to My Possibilities, Clark thought it would be a great opportunity for Rodney Strong to form a partnership with My Possibilities, as well.

Ryan’s personal connection with the IDD community began as a youth when he attended The Briarwood School of Houston, a private school for children with learning difficulties and disabilities. The school is able to provide services to kids in elementary through high school.

However, once they have aged out of schools such as Briarwood, these individuals need a place to continue to enhance their educational and vocational skills. One such place is The Brookwood community in Brookshire, Texas.

As an adult, Ryan’s connection with the IDD community has evolved to include the charitable contributions his employer, Rodney Strong, has made to My Possibilities.

Michael Thomas had nothing but great things to say about the work Rodney Strong is allowing My Possibilities to accomplish. “We’re lucky to have this unique partnership,” he said. “We’re thankful for the level of advocacy and awareness they bring to the community.”

According to Ryan, the feeling is mutual. The employees of Rodney Strong are proud of the work they are doing through the Strong Possibilities partnership, and it shows every time they discuss the program with the corporate buyers.

“Everyone has been overly excited to do their part in helping support the program and the cause,” Ryan said. “It’s a day-to-day pleasure to talk about this program as we go around and do our normal business.”

My Possibilities > Rodney Strong Vineyards >

The above content is sponsored.

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