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Roosters Perch to expand job training for disabled
New business center will teach a variety of workplace crafts
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Bryan Mance has a shredding service located inside the Randy and Friends business center located on Bradford Street next to Rooster's Perch. Several business ar enow located inside the center that allows individuals with disabilities to ply their skills.

Inside the Rooster’s Perch, there’s a framed Bible verse on the kitchen counter. It’s in a small frame and it’s easy to miss, but the words seem to capture well the idea behind the coffee house and the organization that runs it.

“We are diverse in our gifts, but we need each other to be whole.” — 1 Corinthians 12:6

As a component of the local nonprofit organization Randy and Friends, the Rooster’s Perch over the past three years has helped adults with disabilities by training them to be baristas. Now, the organization is expanding upon that by opening a multiprofession training ground to help individuals with disabilities get various other types of job experience.

Conveniently located three doors down from the Rooster’s Perch on Bradford Street in Gainesville, R&F Industries will open in March. It features a variety of businesses run by individuals who have disabilities.

The expansion will triple the amount of space Randy and Friends has for its 20-25 individuals who come there every week.

Colleen Pirkle, employment specialist with Randy and Friends, said the expansion will allow the organization to serve up to 35-40 per week.

She said Randy and Friends is a nonprofit ministry that aims “to find out what these individuals’ gifts are and give them some job experience so they can hopefully take that out into the community.”

While employees serve up coffee at the Rooster’s Perch, individuals at R&F Industries complete a range of services: tying fishing flies, making earrings, shredding paper, painting furniture and repairing computers.

While R&F isn’t officially open yet for business, individuals are gearing up for its grand opening in March.

“Everything you see here has been designed around what their needs are,” Pirkle said. “Sometimes, people come here and are almost work-ready, so we’ll train them for a while and get a view of what their abilities are and if there’s any barriers we need to work on. ... Then we can send them out to do an internship somewhere and hopefully they’re hired there or elsewhere. It depends on what their abilities are and their level of abilities.”

Added Pirkle: “Sometimes, it’s just helping them getting their confidence up. Once we find out what their gift is, we put them to work.”

Frank Carnevale’s gift is working with computers.

“I mainly do hardware — 1995 and up,” Carnevale said. “I burn CDs, I install software, I do upgrades.”

Adam Michelsen and Matt Chapman make fishing flies and earrings. Bryan Mance shreds paper.

Charles Hyde spent a recent afternoon there making Valentine cards with volunteer Catherine Goodsell. The cards will be sold at the business’ gift shop.

Pirkle said it’s all about “trying to reach them, trying to tap into the gifts they have, so they can discover something new about themselves ... and we build on that.”

For more information, visit www.randyandfriends.org.