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Group wants to ‘Open Doors’ to disabled women

Our Neighbor Inc. plans Saturday event to fund new home

POSTED: March 2, 2009 11:57 p.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Zack Blair, house dad for Randy's House, moves a box of donated books.

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Our Neighbor Inc. needs money to open doors for young people with physical disabilities.

The organization is holding an event Saturday to raise money to purchase a new home for physically challenged women and to begin a new initiative called "Open Doors," which includes providing job opportunities for physically disabled adults.

"We are looking to raise as much money as we can to go toward those two purposes," said Our Neighbor Executive Director Stephen Smith.

The organization runs Randy’s House and Terrie’s House, two homes for physically challenged young adults. The group hopes to purchase a third home in the near future that is primarily for women, Smith said.

"Most of our residents are guys, and we have one lady that lives in one of our apartments, and we’re finding that there is some more interest in living more independently from females that have disabilities as well," Smith said.

Through its new initiative "Open Doors," Our Neighbor Inc. hopes to create at least a central point for job networking opportunities and provide job training for people with disabilities, Smith said.

Our Neighbor has been trying for more than a year to create employment opportunities for physically challenged adults.

Last year, the plan to open a coffee shop and bookstore on Spring Street was thwarted by Gainesville Public Utilities Department’s need to run a sewer line through the area.

Since then, Our Neighbor has not found a suitable place for the shop, which would have employed residents of Randy’s House and Terrie’s House and other physically challenged adults in the community.

Now, the organization is taking a "step back" to look at other opportunities to help physically challenged adults become a part of the work force, Smith said.

Our Neighbor has invited evangelist and motivational speaker David Ring to speak Saturday at the Chattahoochee Country Club at the organization’s third annual fundraising event. Ring, a Tennessee man with cerebral palsy, has shared his story of overcoming physical limitations with more than 100,000 people across the country, according to his online biography.

"We kind of want (Ring’s message) to carry over to our board members and our residents," Smith said.

Saturday’s event also will include an auction of a Jeep Wrangler, a football signed by University of Georgia head football coach Mark Richt and a beach getaway, Smith said.

Anyone interested in attending the event should contact Our Neighbor at 678-617-5527.



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