TEXARKANA, Texas – For more than five decades, Opportunities Incorporated in Texarkana has been improving the lives of adults with disabilities through the power of work.
While that mission is not changing, the process will soon look a little different.
Opportunities Inc. has been providing development and support services since 1966. Developmental Director Rebekah Drennon said their goal is to give their clients a full life in the community.
“They get to focus their passion into work, which is a lot of our clients dream. They really want to have a job and that’s not offered that much to this population,” said Drennon.
Only 15 percent of nearly 5 million developmentally disabled adults in the U.S. are employed.
Executive Director Sherry Young said they’re in the process of moving from a sheltered workshop environment to a supportive workforce.
“Our mission for 54 years has been to empowered individuals with disabilities to live a fulfilling life and that has not changed, but the way we do that has changed,” explained Young.
The non-profit is transitioning to a social enterprise model.
It’s an alternative work option for adults with developmental disabilities that involves forming small-scale businesses that not only creates new revenue streams, but also employs people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
Young said the three enterprises that will be formed over the few years include business services, creative arts and horticulture.
“It will all start here on campus and then we hope to take it as it grow to the community,” said Young.
Opportunities Inc. is using a $280,000 grant from the TLL Temple Foundation to develop the three enterprises.
“We broke the grant down into those three phases, and so we will use that grant to help us get off the ground and get started,” said Young.
Clients will be able to offer business services to the community such as, printing, shredding and packaging. The creative arts program will include ceramics and pottery which can be sold to the community.
Horticulture services will include a greenhouse and garden center. The goal is to teach clients about planting, so they can grow products for the community to purchase.
“We get feedback from them and so we base this model off of that feedback that we receive from them and their families,” said Young.
Drennon said their clients are excited to get to work.
“They want jobs, so this will allow us to employ our clients through Opportunities and they can work for us and come to work everyday,” said Drennon.
For more information about the services offered at Opportunities Inc., go to oppinc.org.