For over 50 years, Riverside has provided individualized services combining life skill development, day habilitation, and employment options for adults living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in the tri-county region of Western Massachusetts.
Empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live rich and full lives.
EXISTS to serve and empower individuals with perceived limitations and typical ambitions
ENCOURAGES all individuals to be participating members in their communities, sharing the rights and obligations with their fellow citizens
ENSURES individuals receive therapeutic supports to maximize their opportunities for employment, personal growth and independence
EDUCATES individuals to take control over the things in their lives that they value
ENLIGHTENS the community about the abilities and challenges of the individuals we serve and asks for its philanthropic support
Riverside Industries, Inc. is founded in 1968 by a progressive and bold move on the part of local parents with the help of Father Robert Wagner. It is originally named The Occupational and Vocational Development Center for the Handicapped (OVDCH). Courage, commitment, generosity, and volunteerism are the driving forces of the Board of Directors and parents.
DONATION OF LEEDS SCHOOL BUILDING
The city of Northampton donates the old Leeds School building for 50¢ each to OVDCH.
THE FIRST BOARD OF DIRECTORS
MYSTERIOUS FIRE DESTROYS THE WORKSHOP
The workshop resumes temporary operations at 2 Pleasant Street, Northampton. Fundraising efforts being to raise money for a new center.
BUILDING OF A NEW WORKSHOP
OVDCH purchases land on Nonotuck Street for $18,000 and builds a new workshop where 32 people are served. Some of the original building still exists as the Florence Medical Center.
ESTABLISHMENT OF RESIDENTIAL SERVICES
In addition, 35 participants are served in a satellite vocational program on Sanderson Street in Greenfield.
A small second fire guts the Nonotuck facility and results in $75,000 in damages.
The building is sold and the workshop moves to the Brassworks in Haydenville.
The name is changed to Riverside Industries, Inc. The first logo.
J.P STEVENS DONATES THE ONE COTTAGE STREET BUILDING
The One Cottage Street building is donated to Riverside Industries, Inc. by J.P Stevens. Income from rent, from the building's tenants, gives us a unique opportunity to support Riverside's mission.
A policy of normalization is officially adopted by the organization.
GLENDALE LAWN CARE IS ESTABLISHED
Commercial and residential clients hire the landscaping crew to care for their lawns. Today there are over 60 customers.
LEEDS DESIGN WORKSHOP BECOMES A TENANT
Leeds Design Workshop, a woodworking school, becomes a significant tenant in the building. Graduates of the program continue to rent One Cottage Street space. Since 1986, they and others fill the building to capacity.
A Small Business Administration loan aids Riverside in renovating rental space to increase income for services.
FIRST CARF ACCREDITATION
Riverside receives first CARF accreditation in September 1979. Over the past 24 years we have been evaluated every 3 years by CARF and have been consistently commended with high marks for the quality of services we deliver.
LOCAL BUSINESS JOBS
Jobs are secured in local businesses. People with disabilities are integrated into their working communities.
ATTEMPTED HOME IN FLORENCE
Changing community attitudes towards people with disabilities continues into the 80's. Riverside attempts to open another home on Golden Drive in Florence for 3 women with developmental disabilities. It meets with opposition and never opens. At a later date, the women move to a home into their native town of Northampton.
DAY HABILITATION PROGRAM BEGINS
The need for day community programs for people with developmental disabilities is met by the opening of the Day Habilitation Program. The program provides occupational, physical, and speech therapies, as well as medical, academic, and pre-vocational services to 36 clients. Today the program provides a broader spectrum of services to over 75 people including services to people in nursing homes.
RESIDENTIAL SERVICES END
Riverside's Board of Directors makes the difficult decision to end residential services due to insufficient state funding.
CREATION OF FIRST EMPLOYMENT ENCLAVE
Riverside's first employment enclave is created under a Bay State Skills Corporation grant with Northampton Hilton Inn. The Skills Corporation is established in 1981 with public and private funds by then Governor Edward J. King. It aims to create an opportunity for on-the-job training with the goal of gainful employment. The grant pays some of the trainee's hourly wages while the Hilton picks up the remainder. Workers are paid minimum wage, which at that time was $3.35.
TUCSON AND SAVANNAH MURAL CREATED
Tucson and Savannah's Restaurant starts as a vending cart in 1978. It expands its quarters to the center of the building creating a dining room, a place for everyone at One Cottage Street to mingle. The camaraderie of the restaurant is later portrayed in a mural painted by Elizabeth Solomon, an artist in the building.
Through advocacy and additional monies from the Department of Mental Health, more than 50% of the participants in the Day Habilitation program become employed for the first time in their lives.
100TH JOB SECURED
The 100th job is secured in the general community for people receiving services at Riverside. A partial list of employers at that time includes:
The Log Cabin
Paul & Elizabeth's Restaurant
Nonotuck Child Care
Pleasant Street Theater
Burger King - Northampton
Wykoff Country Club
Harvest Valley Restaurant
Stop & Shop
Bradlees - Northampton
Coastal Building Maintenance
An innovative community membership program for elders with disabilities is created, enhancing the lives of many as they enter their retirement years.
PARTNERSHIP WITH LORD JEFFERY INN
The shift from the sheltered workshop to community-integrated employment continues with sustained support from local businesses. Riverside partners with Lord Jeffery Inn.
BOSTON STATEHOUSE RALLY
With threatening budget cuts that would greatly hinder services for people with disabilities, many participants at Riverside arm themselves with self-made signs and rally at the Statehouse in Boston.
The 80's and early 90's represent a significant time in the history of supporting people with disabilities. Belchertown State School closes in December 1992 and the 285 people living there return to their communities to enjoy the rights, responsibilities, and privileges of all citizens. Riverside and other human service agencies welcome and applaud this historic moment.
On January 2, 1990 Riverside is once again CARF accredited. This marks the 4th consecutive highest accreditation.
Riverside is encouraged by the signing of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): wide-ranging legislation intended to make our society more accessible to people.
TRANSPORTATION SERVICES BEGIN
Riverside begins transportation services, allowing for more flexibility in employment schedules and civic activities. Today there are more than 20 vans providing transportation to over 150 people.
FIRST ARTISAN SALE
The first Artisan Sale is held at One Cottage Street. This begins a tradition. which today has grown to include many members from Easthampton's thriving arts community.
STAN HOME PRODUCTS PARTNERSHIP BEGINS
A partnership with Stan Home Products starts a new model. People with and without disabilities work alongside one another successfully meeting production demands. This prototype fosters further partnerships with local businesses.
EASTHAMPTON SCHOOL SYSTEM JOINT VENTURE BEGINS
Riverside begins a joint venture with the Easthampton School System, helping to create a smooth school-to-work transition for individuals finishing high school.
ESTABLISHMENT OF RIVERSIDE REHABILITATION
Riverside Rehabilitation is established and today provides Occupational, Physical, and Speech therapies to over 1000 children and adults in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Throughout the 90's major building renovations include several new accessible restrooms, Day Habilitation expansion, and a 5-story passenger elevator.
NEW TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH COMMITTEE FORMED
Riverside forms a committee to research new technology to enhance people's ability to communicate. This initiative is instrumental in securing over $30,000 in grants to purchase new communication devices for many people to use at Riverside.
Riverside is acknowledged for meeting high standards.
FIRST HUMAN SERVICE SCHOLARSHIP AWARDED
The first annual Human Service Scholarship is awarded to an Easthampton High School graduate.
The Governor's Commission on Employment of People with Disabilities honors one of Riverside's working partnerships.
Riverside Industries' continues its tradition of contributing to the community
PHILANTHROPIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE FORMED
A Development Committee is formed seeking the support of philanthropic giving. This endeavor will enhance Riverside's mission of empowering people with disabilities in their quest for satisfying jobs, life direction, and meaningful community membership.