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Rehabilitation organization celebrates 45 years
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Rehabilitation Industries
of Northeast Georgia
What: A private, nonprofit organization that specializes in assisting individuals with disabilities who are searching for work
Where: 930 Athens St., Gainesville
Contact: 770-535-7464,
More info:

It’s not easy to get a job these days, but the task is considerably more difficult for people with disabilities.

Rehabilitation Industries of Northeast Georgia serves individuals with disabilities who have trouble finding work. The nonprofit organization celebrated National Disability Employment Awareness Month and its 45-year anniversary in a ceremony Thursday.

“Folks out here at RING do something special for this community,” said Michael John Lovell, chairman of the board. “No one else can fill that void. It’s a special place and they work really hard.”

The organization serves people with physical, psychological, developmental and intellectual disabilities. It provides a variety of services including supported employment, job placement, evaluation, adjustment, internships and interview training.

Executive Director Paula Phillips said since 2004, the organization has served more than 2,000 individuals. In that same period, the nonprofit contributed more than $11 million to the community in payroll and taxes.

“I think that says a lot about what RING has done in the last 10 years,” Phillips said. “Go back 45 years and think about what that impact is to all the individuals we have served.”

Christy Sims, whose brother works at the nonprofit’s employment facility in Gainesville, said the individuals who work at RING are “like a family.” She credited those who work at the nonprofit for improving the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families.

“They’re special people with special needs,” Sims said. “They do a great job and they love what they do.”

The event included an award ceremony, recognizing the individuals of the year and outstanding businesses who support such individuals.

PPG Architectural Coatings was named Employer of the Year, and Alex George with PPG said working with the nonprofit has been a blessing to the company.

“It’s easy — really, it’s very easy for us to do this,” George said. “We see the benefits at our company, with the individuals who come to work there and for the community. It’s just a win, win, win for everyone involved.”

Baldor-Reliance-Dodge was named the Supporting Company of the Year, after 31 years of providing employment opportunities to the nonprofit. Linda Sims with the company said she personally has been involved with RING for a few years.

“The first trip I made over here was very humbling for me,” Sims said. “We all get out every day and go to our jobs. It’s the same thing day in and day out. But you guys have life-changing jobs.

“My life was changed when I met these people here.”

Lovell thanked those gathered and asked for their continued support. The organization’s annual expenses total more than $1 million, with $781,990 going toward training and manufacturing, $264,183 toward program services and $10,560 for administrative costs.

“We’re not asking for a handout,” Lovell said. “We’re asking for a hand up.”

He said monetary donations are always a big help, but RING also needs job leads.

Individuals with the organization can do a variety of jobs, from janitorial services to manufacturing, sewing, packaging, labeling, shrink wrapping, heat sealing, assembly and more. Businesses with a potential job lead can contact the nonprofit at 770-535-7464.

“RING is a great place that’s been around a long time,” Lovell said. “It’s going to take the community to keep it around a lot longer.”