Ashland non-profit provides job skills to adults with disabilities

ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) - The Neighborhood, a hub for non-profits in Ashland, is teaming up with Emmaus, a respite and resource center for adults with disabilities.

The partnership is described as a "win-win situation" that provides job skills to individuals as part of Emmaus and also provides volunteer work needed to help The Neighborhood operate.

"Really it's a perfect match," Todd Young, director of The Neighborhood, told WSAZ. "They help us out and, in turn, we can teach them skills where they can go be employed and actually earn a living."

Young says the opportunity also adds dignity to their daily lives to be able to get out in the community and give back.

"It gives them a sense of being and productivity so they feel like, not only are they accomplishing something, but they're needed and wanted," Young said.

Emmaus, based in Greenup, Kentucky, provides emotional, physical and spiritual support for families and individuals with disabilities.

Steven Howard, a direct support specialist for the group, told WSAZ it's important to allow the individuals to learn "people skills."

"Sometimes they feel like they're not really welcome in the community," Howard said. "So when we get them out into the public eye it makes them feel like they're welcome."

From working in The Dressing Room, River Cities Harvest and The Ashland Community Kitchen, Young says the individuals are prepared to enter the workforce.

"They just have a hard time finding opportunities for them to be able to be trained," Young said. "For them to be able to come here and get skills and then be able to go out and be successful in the community, it means a lot."

Young says they would be a great fit for food service roles, receptionist roles in hospitals and manufacturing and warehouse jobs.

In fact, Young says he's prepared to hire some of the individuals as soon as there are openings.

Blake Fowler, an Emmaus direct support professional, says the partnership also helps to create professional contacts and resources.

Hunter Smith says he loves every aspect of working at The Neighborhood.

"I get to help out the community that helps me out," Smith said. "They try to help me out so hey, why not just give back."

Lauren Wade, another participant, says she loves helping people as a receptionist in The Dressing Room.

"Both of my parents teach and I always wanted to be a secretary," Wade said. "So this is something that will help me eventually be able to do that and be able to help people with what they need help with."

The Neighborhood is always searching for volunteers.

You can contact Neighbors Helping Neighbors by phone at (606) 327-5677.

Emmaus offers day training, community living support and respite. You can contact the group at (606) 547-1140.

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