Amazing! We are rapidly expanding our efforts to find employment for people with disabilities. This was a surprising outcome for a project that worked so well but faced loss of funding.
Four years ago we started something called the Central MA Employment Collaborative. It helped find employment for people with many different disabilities by bringing together a broad array of organizations that had previously separately knocked on the door of employers trying to help find jobs. The prior model of job finding was exhausting for the organizations, the people seeking jobs, and most of all for the employers. Our model worked but eventually the funding, which came through UMass Medical School’s Center for Health Policy and Research, ran out and the great staff we had faced the loss of their job, and people in Central MA looking for work, faced the prospect of no program to help them. In typical Riverside fashion, the person leading this effort, Don Hughes would not give in. He found funding through a grant from the Baer Foundation in St. Louis and scraped for money in other places. The Department of Mental Health and the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) also provided some money to keep the project going.
The news today is remarkable. We have been asked to replicate this program now in four other parts of the state and we are already in the process of hiring. The talented team of Stephanie Marks and David Beccia who have led the Central MA Collaborative will be helping to develop these new sites and many more people will find work while meeting the needs of local employers.
~Scott M. Bock, President/CEO