Our History

RSI 50Logo Vertical smallNow, in its 50th year, Riverside provides individualized services combining life skill development, habilitation, and employment o

ptions for more than 266 adults living with developmental disabilities from 33 towns in the tri-county region.

Riverside Industries, Inc. was founded by a small group of families in 1968, a time when the civil rights movement in the U.S. expanded to include people with disabilities. The nearby town of Leeds donated two abandoned school buildings to Riverside for 50 cents. Riverside created a small manufacturing business to employ young adults with developmental disabilities. Community members were engaged in renovating the buildings and offering financial support. The Kennedy Foundation was also a source for capital funds. Many local businesses and manufacturing plants provided the work opportunities for Riverside clients.

old leeds school

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the 1970s, when integration and inclusion was at the forefront, people were "de-institutionalized" from Belchertown State School and returned to their communities. From the early 70's until 1982, Riverside provided residential services as well as work opportunities. To expand those opportunities, Riverside purchased One Cottage Street, in Easthampton, MA, in 1976 from J. P. Stevens for one dollar. Built in 1859, One Cottage Street was once a mill using waterpower from a dam at the mouth of Nashawannuck Pond. J.P. Stevens & Co owned and operated the mill producing battens, twines, and elastic thread. The large mill building provided a blank canvas for Riverside to develop its employment program, while also renting out space to local artists. 

People coming from institutional living settings had a range of physical and cognitive challenges. Many were not able to work. Riverside responded with Day Habilitation services in 1981 to offer personalized therapeutic care in a communal setting. Now, in its 50th year, Riverside provides individualized services combining life skills development, rehabilitation, and employment options for more than 266 adults living with developmental disabilities from 33 towns in the tri-county region. Riverside also offers a wide range of innovative therapies and programs, including music, art, farming, and other classes.

 

 

 

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Riverside Industries, Inc.: One Cottage Street, Easthampton, MA 01027 | (413) 527-2711 | (800) 339-2711 | TTD (413) 527-4911 | FAX (413) 529-9715 | info@rsi.org