AMHERST - A little bit of hard work goes a long way.
This was the case when clients of the Bridge Adult Service Centre fundraised over $500 in a penny drive. After the successful drive they rewarded themselves with a new laptop they’ve been coveting for a while now.
Juliana Beebe, job coach for the centre, said she wanted to create a hands on experience for the clients, something they could all participate in and be proud of.
“The penny drive is perfect because they all pitched in, counting and rolling all the pennies. $500-worth of pennies is a lot of pennies and they did everything in under two months. It was impressive really.”
The Bridge Adult Service Centre is an organization that trains adults with intellectual disabilities. Their mission is to give these individuals an opportunity to work within the community.
“We have a few onsite businesses, there’s a thrift store, a laundry service and a contract area where we take care of fundraisers and the contract work that’s outsourced from different businesses locally,” Beebe said.
Recently they just finished up a contract for the Cumberland Health Authority, where they assembled the dental health packages they give out to schools. They’ve also worked with Atlantic Windows, The Salvation Army, Walmart, Bambino’s Pizzeria and the YMCA.
“The sense of accomplishment is just that much stronger. They see the result too, so it’s awesome.”
As job coach, Beebe spends most of her time spent out in the community facilitating partnerships with local businesses to have her clients volunteer at their workplace.
“A lot of the time it’s more for the experience and to do something a little more varied. They like to get out in the community even though they’re based here,” she said. “Our goal is to cater to the individuals skill levels and just kind of grow from there.”
For the most part businesses are open to the idea of including these clients in their workplace.
“It’s just really rewarding for them and everyone involved.”
Cumberland YMCA director Trina Clarke is one of participants in the program, taking on Scott Park as a client.
“From my perspective he’s really just like one of the family. The members and staff have absolutely embraced him,” Clarke said.
Clarke and the YMCA are happy to work with Park and his family to find opportunities matching his skillset. Over time Park’s role has expanded with the YMCA. In addition to cleaning and membership work, he’ll be working with some children in the childcare, which he loves, she said.
“It’s been a really positive thing. We look forward to seeing him every shift. I think it’s really important that everybody feels like they belong somewhere.”
Organizations like the Bridge Adult Service Center are important to communities, providing opportunities for all, she said.
“From the YMCA’s perspective it’s about all-inclusion. One of the things we believe is there’s a place for everybody and we believe nobody should be turned away.”