Goodwill Industries opens adult day center, brings job opportunities

Goodwill Industries held a ribbon cutting event last week with program participants, staff and local leaders at their new office and adult day center located in Lake Plaza on Rt. 706, east of Montrose. STACI WILSON

Goodwill Industries held a ribbon cutting event last week with program participants, staff and local leaders at their new office and adult day center located in Lake Plaza on Rt. 706, east of Montrose. STACI WILSON

BY STACI WILSON

For the past few months, Goodwill Industries has been operating out of church basements in Susquehanna County.

Now the adult daycare and client employment service has found a permanent home in the Montrose area. An open house event and ribbon cutting ceremony was held Thursday, Aug. 22, at its location on Rt. 706, just east of Montrose, in Lake Plaza.

Much of the funding for Goodwill Industries comes from its store fronts. Headquarters of the local program are based in Scranton but service an 11 county area.

Goodwill Industries program director Rachel Borgna heads up the adult day center services.

The program provides daily living and community activities for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Borgna said the “healthy living” aspect of the program focuses on cooking and physical activities.

“We individualize goals (for each participant) and specialize activities to help them meet those goals,” she said.

For example, Borgna said one person wanted to write a letter to a relative so the Goodwill staff is working on those skills with the client.

Another person expressed an interest in losing weight. “So far she’s lost about 24 pounds,” Borgna said.

An entire team is involved in determining how best to help the clients meet their personal goals, Borgna said.

Goodwill participants in the area range from age 18 through their early 60s, and all have a mental or developmental disability.

Clients are referred to the program through a support coordinator with another agency.

But the adult day center is only one part of Goodwill’s focus in Susquehanna County. The organization is also dedicated to helping clients to find employment.

Matt Warren heads up the work placement program in the county and several Goodwill participants have found job opportunities.

“A few of our clients have been well received in the area. Several franchise businesses have accepted our clients openly,” Warren said.

Warren works alongside the clients as they transition into the job and acts as an advocate, job site coordinator and liaison for the participant and the employer.

“This is the first time I’ve ever heard of anything like this in the county,” Warren said. “Job placement for people with special needs here is very new to the area.”

Susquehanna County Career and Technology Executive Director Alice Davis said Goodwill had met with area guidance counselors about the programs being offered.

She said Goodwill was meeting a great need in the community and stressed the need for potential employers to get involved with the organization.
“There are so many opportunities out there,” she said. “Opportunities in our own back yard.”

Nancy Davis, whose son Jim attends the adult day center program, said she is very pleased with the program.

In addition to social opportunities and daily living skills, the participants are also being taught money management and computer skills necessary for finding employment.

And, Davis added, the clients are also asked for their input. “All this is a benefit,” she said. “They express themselves and learn from others. It’s good for everybody.”