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When Thanksgiving rolls around next month, one group of Washington Countians will have more than usual for which to be thankful.
Communicare, an organization that is overseen by the state Division of Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities (DDID), will move into a new home. Along with it, several Washington County residents with disabilities will have a new place to call home during the work day.
Washington County Industries, which is managed by Communicare, will move into the old Reed’s Foodland building on Main Street in Springfield. With it will come the work done by clients who work under a contract with local auto manufacturer INOAC. About 12 people work through Washington County Industries to provide a service to INOAC, while also receiving a valuable service themselves.
“We bring work in here for the folks to do. We try to provide wrap-around services for all people with disabilities so they can have a life with the same opportunities as you and I would,” said Dan Simpson, CEO of Communicare in Elizabethtown. “This place is here because of the support we have from the county, the members of our board, and so many others. We’ve needed something like this for years. The space they’re in right now is so crowded, and they’ve just outgrown it.”
The new location for Communicare and Washington County Industries comes through a community development block grant of $525,000.
“The county had to make the application through the Department of Local Government, and after they understood it and talked to some people, they were excited because they realized the potential to take a building that had sat vacant for several years and put some life back in it,” said Washington County Judge-Executive John Settles. “Then, taking the workshop that serves a group of underprivileged citizens in our county and being able to expand it and create some more office space and work space, the Department of Local Government said this is one of the projects they look for that just slides on through because there’s so much positive about it.”
Settles said along with the fiscal court, former Sen. Dan Kelly helped make the grant a reality.
“I think it’s going to add some new life to this part of town and Main Street,” Settles added “There’s going to be activity up here now, and that will be good for the community.”
The Washington County Association for the Handicapped has worked along with Communicare in bringing the new location to town, and Taylor and June Spaulding know well about the services provided to local citizens.
“We have been very fortunate with the people of Springfield and Washington County helping us for years. Taylor and I have been working with the organization since it was formed in the late 1960s,” June said. “We have been fortunate that our child has been in the program ever since it started, but there are so many people who are not in it, and need to get in it.”
The WCAH works with Communicare and helps provide jobs and life experiences for citizens with disabilities. The Spauldings and their daugher, Cathy, 51, have been involved for years. Since working with the group, the Spauldings, with the assistance of former Sen. Dan Kelly, have helped bring about two houses that are each home to six individuals with disabilities. The homes give the residents the opportunity to experience a more independent life, with the help of Communicare, which staffs the houses around the clock to assist the residents. As part of living in the homes, residents must work at Washington County Industries. June said she and her husband are excited about the new work and office space for Washington County Industries, and she hopes the expanded space will help even more people.
“The new workshop is going to mean so much. There are several other individuals who need to be in the program, and there just hasn’t been room for them. It’s just too crowded. Now, they will be able to help even more people.”
Taylor Spaudling agreed with his wife.
“I don’t think there’s any question about us being many times better off. We’ve got all kinds of room now and plenty of space for offices,” he said. “As far as the workshop goes, there are about 20 handicapped individuals who spend all of their time at home, but would like to have some place to go. Now, we can handle them and more. It’s just great.”
A formal grand opening will take place prior to the opening of the new location.