Covid-19 Updates




Dear Riverside Community,
Please see below the letter from our Board Chair announcing the selection for the next President and CEO of Riverside. I am so excited and feel confident in Riverside’s future! A unanimous vote by the search committee!
Char Gentes, President and CEO
L.Ireland Headshot
FROM: Kathy Hall, Board Chair
Dear Riverside Community,
I write today to share the exciting news that Lynn Ostrowski-Ireland, PhD has accepted our offer to become the next President and CEO of Riverside Industries. 
After conducting a rigorous search process that began in February and included screening many applicants, the pool was narrowed down to four finalists. Following further screening and interviewing, RSI’s search committee unanimously selected Lynn as their choice to lead the organization. The Executive Committee concurred with their choice and the Board of Directors voted to support offering her the job. We are all confident that Lynn has the depth of experience and leadership competency to lead Riverside into the next decade and beyond.
Lynn has held senior leadership positions in human service and non-profit organizations for most of her career. Currently Lynn serves as COO of the Sisters for Providence Ministry Corporation where she oversees programs serving elders and the underprivileged. She held the COO position at Viability, Inc. where she contributed to their achieving a score of 99.8% on Accreditation. Her experience at Health New England where she was the Director of Corporate Responsibility and Government Affairs provided her with strong working relationships with corporations and legislators. Lynn is a seasoned leader and executive coach with a strong foundation in developmental and intellectual disabilities. She is also a veteran fundraiser and has led successful development initiatives. 
Happily, Lynn will start on November 22, 2021. Char and Lynn will overlap for approximately three weeks to ease the transition before Char’s retirement on December 10, 2021. Char will continue to provide support and consultation to Lynn into 2022.
I want to thank all the members of the search committee, the senior leadership team, program supervisors and program participants who interviewed Lynn, and our consultants from the Employer’s Association of the Northeast. All of you were instrumental in our finding and selecting our outstanding new leader.
All the best,
Kathy Hall, Chair Board of Directors



Kaitlyn CombinedNot just a job, a passion.
Meet Kaitlyn. She started at Riverside earlier this year with one goal in mind, to get back to work. Kaitlyn is currently working at Norris School in Southampton as a lunch room monitor. Her responsibilities include assisting the students and monitor their behavior during lunchtime. Kaitlyn's favorite part of her job is helping the kindergarten students. "They are the ones that need the most assistance, they depend on me for my help." said Kaitlyn. She began her job in September after a thorough process with Riverside's Job Developer, Becky McDonald. After finding what Kaitlyn wanted to do for work, Becky began the process of finding a job that met her desires and goals. Not long after starting, Kaitlyn no longer needed coaching. "I felt confident to do the job on my own and I am really good at it." Kaitlyn shared. Norris School Food Service Manager, Kathleen shared that Kaitlyn is a great employee. "She takes direction well, never apprehensive or questions a task; she just does her job and does it well!" Kaitlyn attended Norris School and then moved onto Hampshire Regional High School and completed her Certificate of Academic Accomplishments & Attendance in 2017. Immediately following high school, she attended Holyoke Community College, completing the MAICIE Program in 2020. She has held a job since 2016; including the Rolling Acres Corn Maze, Big Y as a bagger, Norris School as a Kindergarten & Preschool Assistant, and a Data Entry Assistant for a home office business. Kaitlyn's parents are very proud of her accomplishments and grateful for Norris School staff believing in Kaitlyn's abilities to be part of the team. When Kaitlyn isn't working, she enjoys singing, art projects, swimming, traveling, and hanging out with her cat Zoe. Kaitlyn is getting a little time off soon and on her way with family to one of her favorite places to travel, Disney World.
JanineFranklin no maskMeet our staff
Janine has been with Riverside for 2 years as a Direct Care Worker. She has the opportunity each week to take a group of clients to the fire station where they volunteer their time to help out where needed. Recently, there was not a lot of chores at the fire station so they went on a nature walk on the bike path in Easthampton, just up the street from Riverside. They spent their time outside learning about nature and a little bit about each other. Janine shared, "this completely warmed my heart with fantastic conversation and laughter. I truly feel proud to be part of Riverside and the amazing things we do." Thank you Janine for all that you do! #RiversideStrong.






Dear Riverside Circle of friends and family,

We have an urgent and critical ask. The workforce crisis is significant and we need you to help advocate so we can get everyone back to Riverside as soon as possible. Riverside currently is at about 60 percent enrollment and we need to hire 30 Direct Care and 10 Driver positions to be back to pre-covid capacity. We are eager to serve all of our members but need more staff to do so.

Please contact your local legislators today and ask them to contact Senator Rodrigues, Chair of Senate Ways and Means, and Representative Michlewitz, Chair of House Ways and Means, in support of the following: 

1.  $174 million per year for five years to the human service workforce for enhanced pay and recruitment initiatives. This infusion would represent a foundation upon which to build a sustainable increase in rates through the state’s rate-setting process, in order to stabilize the sector in the long-term. 

2.  $27 million over five years for the creation of a student loan repayment program designed to help ensure an educated and well-trained workforce. Loan repayment programs should be expanded beyond physicians, psychiatrists and other high-paying jobs, and be available to those working full-time and making under $50,000.

3.  $250,000 for a marketing campaign designed to attract unemployed and underemployed Massachusetts residents to careers in the human services sector.

Ongoing Workforce Crisis is Threatening our Human Service System 

Historically low rates of pay and the difficulty in filling jobs that serve complex populations has resulted in high vacancy rates, frequent turnover, long waitlists and the permanent closure of certain programs. COVID-19 only exacerbated these existing issues. Our workforce has benchmark salaries set by EOHHS, preventing providers like Riverside from raising the pay for their staff without risking significant losses. Rates need to be increased significantly and in the interim we need a rapid response and lump sum payments to increase salaries to encourage people to join our team.


Thank you for your help! PLEASE call today!

For your convenience, we have included a 'Find My Legislator' link below.



Char Gentes, President and CEO

You can find your legislator at Find My Legislator

1.    Type in your state and city in the search box on the map

2.    Click on the link(s) for your Senator and Representative where you will find their email and phone number to contact them directly



RSI PelicanTeam

Riverside: Team Pelican, getting the job done.
We last shared in the spring, Riverside clients and staff working together on manufacturing tasks at Pelican in South Deerfield. Riverside clients work closely with Pelican employees to assemble, rework, label and tag the many products that Pelican manufactures. The Pelican First Shift Team Lead shared that when the team from Riverside arrive each day it is the highlight of her day. This work is providing a new skill set for our clients that can certainly be transferred to future job, in each of their career lives. Currently, there are eight individuals that are working full-time alongside Pelican staff to get the job done. Mike DuPerier, Director of Operations recently gave us a tour of what they call "Riverside North" at Pelican. Mike shared that the team from Riverside are so dependable, they come to work on time, they focus on the task and get the job done. We are grateful to Pelican for believing in our mission of empowering individuals to live rich and full lives.
Project Caterpillar was such a success!
Over the summer, one of our staff members started a lesson with a group of Riverside clients on the life cycle of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. The group learned how to feed both and participated in their care. They were lucky enough to actually watch a butterfly emerge from it's chrysalis and videotaped the 45 minute process. After all the butterflies were strong enough to fly, they took them to the greenhouse area to be set free. All had a fun time learning and watching the process. The next lesson will be tadpoles.
ProclamationPresentation LocalBurgy Truck
The week of September 13-17 was Direct Support Professional Recognition Week in the Commonwealth. it is a way to honor the direct care workers who fill many of the 180,000+ jobs in the community-based human services sector in the Commonwealth.
Here at Riverside Industries, we are grateful to our Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) for their dedication and hard work in providing services to the individuals we support. They show up each day with an intention to make a difference in the lives of our clients. Each day last week we planned something special to thank them including Easthampton's Mayor LaChapelle presenting a proclamation as well as Local Burger Food Truck providing lunch. Thank you to our DSPs for keeping us #RiversideStrong!


FireStationCrewEngine 1 is ready for inspection.
Twice a week, clients and staff head over to the Easthampton Fire Department to help clean the emergency vehicles. This volunteer job has been an ongoing project for Riverside clients but came to a stop during COVID. Since the beginning of July, clients are back assisting with keeping the trucks clean. The staff at the Fire Department recently had t-shirts made for the clients to show their appreciation for all their help. Riverside clients and staff were thrilled and felt like part of the team.






Tony and Silas1 job, 2 job, 3 job . . . more!
Tony has been a receiving services from Riverside since 1991. He is very motivated to work and and is thrilled to start back up with his job(s), yes jobs. One of his jobs, is working with Silas Kopf, a woodworking artist in Easthampton. Tony has been working for Silas for more than 25 years. Silas recently shared a story about how thrilled he was that Tony would be coming back to work. He had set aside a specific job of preparing wood for a new project that Tony would help him complete. Tony also works at Guild Art Store, William Hewitt Woodworking and VCA.




Kevin GroomBig news from one of our communities businesses
Meet Kevin. Kevin recently started working at Groom, a premier barber shop, in Easthampton. The owner of Groom recently shared this about Kevin. "He loves every Easthampton sports team. He has a big smile. He has a kind, quiet nature, but knows how to have fun. He is our longtime friend and our biggest supporter … and now, he’ll be a regular face in the shop and officially part of the GROOM family!" Thank you to all at GROOM for partnering with Riverside to help make this happen for Kevin.








AllenHoops4 WebsiteSetting Goals and Making Hoops

Meet Allan. Allan had set a new goal for himself to work on standing and to be more mobile. Our staff saw his desire to reach this goal so they created a plan with our Physical Therapist consultant to use a device called a stander. After adjusting it to fit his height and make sure it was a safe option, Allan gave it a thumbs up. A new objective was created to slowly build up Allan’s standing endurance.

So far, Allan's transfers to and from the stander have become easier, and new staff has been trained to help him with the objective daily. Allen is now up to 8 minutes, and is throwing basketballs through a hoop while standing!

Besides Allan’s own goals, there are many reasons for someone to use a stander: change in position with potential to reduce back pain, range of motion for extremities, and providing exercise for muscles that aren't utilized when sitting. Allan has the potential to walk with a gait trainer, and this is a pre-cursor treatment for that to occur. 


CraigM CroppedGetting the job done

Kraig has been a client of Riverside for nearly 12 years. He has always had a drive to work hard no matter the task. Kraig works two jobs. Recently he started back at Ruwac, located in Holyoke, specializing in industrial vacuums. The staff took him under their wing and work side-by-side. While Kraig's job was put on hold for quite a while due to COVID, that didn't stop him from working with the Riverside Lawn Crew. He is an asset to the Crew by motivating and encouraging his co-workers to work hard and get the job done. Between both jobs, Kraig is working 5 days a week.





Peter J"I'm Home!"

Recently, Peter started back at Home Depot. He is a multi-award winner of "Homer Awards". The Homer Award recognizes and rewards associates who dedicate themselves to the customers and embody The Home Depot values. This job offers Peter a lot of opportunity to learn many tasks. We recently found out that Peter took the initiative to download the HomeDepot app to be able to assist customers in finding just what they came for. This last year kept Peter from his job, but now he is back to his regular shift and as he said on his first day back, "I'm Home!" Welcome back Peter!









Dear Families,
I hope this note finds you well. As we approach almost a year since the start of the Pandemic I wanted to update you on a few things.
This for sure has been a challenging year! No one could have ever imagined such an event. In the beginning I was concerned about Riverside’s future as we had lost a significant amount of funds while we were working remotely for five months. But the State came through with support and enhancement funding. As well, Riverside was awarded a grant from the Community Foundation, Agnes Lindsay Trust, and the Enterline Foundation. We also received Provider Relief Funds, generous donations from many of our donors, and had a very successful virtual auction in April 2020. Lastly, we were twice awarded Payroll Protection funds which gave us the financial stability we needed to rebuild. All of these funds have secured our financial health and a bright future for Riverside.
Our tall ceilings, many windows, and comprehensive protocols, implemented by our incredibly hard working and committed staff, created a safe environment for Riverside to provide programming. We continue to have an ample supply of PPE and have just recently invested $20,000 in touchless faucets, paper towel, hand soap and sanitizing dispensers.
As the vaccine program becomes more and more robust, and the Governor starts to move forward reopening businesses, we are planning for our own growth. To that end, while we still do not have any news on building or transportation capacity restrictions being lifted, we will be calling you to start to survey your plans so we can begin to strategize for a gradual and smooth transition.
As the month of March starts to hint of springtime and new growth, so does Riverside! We are growing and planning, and while it will take a little time, we will have our Riverside family all together once again! 



NewYears21 Small


A New Year 2021
As we put 2020 behind us, we reflect upon our hope that gave us the strength to persevere. Your belief in our mission lights that fire and spirit that makes us RiversideStrong!
At Riverside, we make the most of each day by thanking our staff that care and nurture the clients that are attending day services at One Cottage. The rebuilding has started thanks to all of your support and belief in our mission. May 2021 be filled with much joy, good health, and happiness




Joe VacuumSmall

Dependable, Reliable and Eager to work

People with disabilities want to work. Often, the only thing they are missing is the opportunity.

Meet Joe. He has been working for a few months at Go With The Float in the Keystone Building, here in Easthampton. Joe helps to maintain the cleanliness of the business by vacuuming, washing floors, and dusting the 2900 square foot space. Owner, Stephen Bryla, was apprehensive but optimistic about Joe's skills. But, the optimistic side of Stephen proved right. "Joe has been the best at cleaning that I have had so far, he is beyond good."
Joe really loves his job, vacuuming is his favorite task. He says Stephen let's him pick the music he wants to work to, which is usually Justin Bieber.
Joe participates in our Employment Services program. This program, assists Riverside's clients in discovering the type of work they like, and to teach the job skills necessary for a satisfying employment experience. We provide assistance in securing employment, and supporting people to be successful on the job. Services are individualized, meeting the goals of the employee and the requirements of the employer. These placements allow participants to work on their own with minimal support from the employer and infrequent behind-the-scenes support from Riverside.
If you own a business or know someone that is hiring, join other businesses who are hiring a work force that is dedicated and reliable. You can contact Becky McDonald at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Riverside Representatives meet on Zoom for Disability Commission
Bobby and Bryce, clients of Riverside, along with Sarah, Riverside staff, meet each month with the Easthampton Commission on Disability, to discuss compliance with all rules and regulations relating to disability access within our community in conjunction with the American with Disabilities Act.
Riverside staff and clients have participated for 5 years on the commission. Bobby and Bryce have represented Riverside for a little over a year. They are both very happy to participate and to be included in the conversation and the decision making. Thank you to the Commission for partnering with Riverside and staying up to date on the ADA access regulations.





As most colleges are closed to in-person attendance the effects resulted with some of the individuals we serve to be laid off.
These individuals, along with Riverside were anxious to find a way to return back to work. Pelican, a global leader in the
design and manufacture of high-performance protective cases, has been working with Riverside for many years; providing
jobs here at our location. Recently, at Pelican's location, they were in need of employees and wanted to hire our individuals
to help with the workload. We have 6 clients working there so far, but are looking to add more soon. When we offered the
job to two of our individuals who live together, they were so excited that they were literally jumping up and down with
happiness. The workers have been VERY welcoming to our clients and they are quickly becoming a part of the TEAM. 
They even gave them their own small Pelican cases that they can use for their lunch boxes. They work Monday through
Friday, 9-3 and they all seem to love their jobs!
"It has been a great experience partnering with Riverside Industries. They are a very professional organization which
uses a very unique approach to supporting local industry such as Pelican. In a short amount of time we have built a
solid relationship which brings positive results for both organizations."
- Chris Favreau, Vice President/General Manager, South Deerfield, MA
CarolImageCarol, part of our custodial team, was pleasantly surprised by the outpouring
of thanks she recently received from staff and clients. In her rounds one day,
she found notes thanking her for all she has done to keep us safe in the building.
Thank you Carol!





KimPNovember is a month that we honor the many veterans that have served our country.

Some of the clients that are coming for in-person day services recently created drawings

and paintings to send to veteran homes. One of our staff belongs to the VFW Auxliary, presented,

"Good Job Awards" to the clients for creating the art.








We are at a critical point. Riverside needs your advocacy more than EVER!  Enhancement funding is going to end soon. The Senate is voting on the budget this week and Riverside needs you to email all Senators, NOW! Thank you.

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Aide

Direct link to message Sen. Warren


Senator Ed Markey

Direct Link to message Sen. Markey


Congressman Richard Neal

Direct Link to message Rich Neal


John Velis

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Jo Comerford

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 Eric Lesser

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James Welch

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Anne Gobi

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Adam Hinds

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Greetings Riverside Community,
First, I hope this update finds you and your families well, healthy and safe. It is hard to believe that we are fast approaching Thanksgiving. At Riverside, we are grateful for so many things! COVID has certainly changed things but not the spirit of Riverside!

ClientsOneCottageThe return of clients to One Cottage
When I last updated you, we were in the midst of a soft reopening of services at One Cottage Street. We started with only 12 of our more than 250 individuals. There were tears of joy on the faces of clients and staff alike as we reunited. We are now close to 65 individuals; including twenty that are back to work in the community. Moving forward, we will continue to welcome more participants in a staggered fashion safely and with the usual high quality services you have come to expect at Riverside.
SocialDistanceGraphicCOVID Update
Riverside is committed to adhering to strict COVID precautions. We have purchased thousands of dollars worth of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies, while keeping a six month supply in storage. We are maintaining social distance, hand washing and cleaning surfaces regularly, wearing three-layered masks which we change daily, and are being vigilant with our precautions. Individuals and staff are in defined cohorts throughout the day.
We have three different entrances for arrival and departure to reduce contact and everyone remains 6 feet apart while traveling to their location. Our wonderful, spacious, high ceilinged building has many windows fostering good air flow. In addition, each cohort is going outside daily, weather permitting.
When we experience a positive test situation we will follow protocols set forth by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). If one of our cohorts is affected, we will notify the Board of Health, DDS and the families, guardians and support staff of the clients in the cohort. We will complete a deep cleaning of affected areas and will be cautious by requiring everyone in the cohort to remain out for 14 days. People outside of this cohort will continue services at Riverside as usual.
DSP StaffStaff
As we grow, we have been able to re-hire more of our wonderful employees. This has been heart-warming on many levels. We thank them for being on the front lines during these challenging times. Our current staff of 24 direct care and 20 drivers are so pleased to be back. The majority of the management team, supervisors and admin staff continue on the Federal Workshare Program, allowing us to retain employees who have years of experience and knowledge. We have arranged schedules so that this reduction in management hours does not diminish the quality and safety of the direct services provided. Any communication that is urgent or time sensitive should be directed to Riverside’s main number (413) 527- 2711. The receptionist will get it to the Director and/or Supervisors scheduled that day.
We now have 21 vans operating, each with only two individuals unless there is a cohort living situation, in which case it can be three. Screening and temperatures are taken prior to the individual loading the van and new masks are given to clients each day. The vans are cleaned between runs and drivers maintain strict protocols.



RemoteWorkingRemote Services
Riverside offers remote services for clients who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to join us on site. We are confident this will help maintain skills and contribute to their well-being during this challenging time. Needless to say how much fun they are having connecting with peers! It is equally important that these clients participate in remote services to allow Riverside to receive critical funding safeguarding our future existence. If there is difficulty participating in remote services, please talk to one of our Directors to see how we c



SunflowerLogoAs we move towards the end of 2020, and reflect on what 2021 will bring us, we are reminded about the strength of perseverance, dedication and commitment. Your belief in our mission fills our hearts knowing that together we are, and will continue to be, RiversideStrong!
Char Gentes, President & CEO, Riverside Industries, Inc.






RiversideStrongcrpdRiverside: Rebuilding Day-by-Day
Our re-opening day of August 3rd seems a lifetime ago. Opening our doors to 12 of our 250 individuals we serve, to now close to 80; including many now back to work in the community. Close to 30 of our direct care staff that have returned to One Cottage Street as well. The days go by fast but are filled with time spent on learning, exercising, art and how all are coping with this new normal. Most important, both clients and staff are so happy to be back. Connections and services are still continuing remotely via Zoom for clients that are unable to return. The journey will be long till we are whole again, but we are on our way to re-building.



MissionMoments Every day at Riverside we share what we like to call, MissionMoments. Success stories, small and large, that validate our mission of empowering individuals to live rich and full lives. Even when we were closed and only communicating via Zoom, we made sure to continue the "MissionMoments" because of our belief in the future of Riverside. Below are some recent MissionMoments we want to share.

ZumbaElvis 2

  Recently, the staff searched to find just the right song that encouraged Laura to be more engaged to participate. Yes, Elvis is in the house!




music day in sensory room 1

  Tuesdays are music day for some of our clients. Tambourine, drums and maracas keep a fine tune and beat to the music.




clients holding up leaves

Some of our clients were exploring on the grounds outside the building, collecting leaves for a new art project.




HaveHopeRock croppedRiverside Appeal '20
Many of you may have recently received a letter of appeal from us. We want to thank you in advance for considering to make a gift to Riverside. As we mention in our letter, we cannot forget the strength of hope. It is time to be part of deciding what we will become, as opposed to holding on to what we were. 2021 will mark Riverside's 53rd anniversary of empowering individuals to live rich and full lives. Your support today will help us to navigate the financial impact of COVID and sustain services. Thank you.






Walk BikePath croppedRiverside: Rebuilding
On August 3rd, we reported, 12 of our more than 250 individuals we serve, came back to Riverside at One Cottage Street. At this time, we are pleased to share that 60 individuals, including 13 employed in the community are now back for in-person services. We continue to follow all guidelines for the safety of all staff and clients, and will continue to be diligent in this matter. The staff and clients keep busy each day by taking advantage of the good weather, utilizing the bike path and practicing their social distancing. Each week we see a few more individuals return to One Cottage Street, all with big smiles and enthusiasm to be back. The journey will be long but we are prepared to continue to be RiversideStrong!


PaperFlowers ArtProject croppedStaff and clients are so happy to be creating and exploring new mediums for art projects. In this picture, clients create flowers out of paper tissue and felt. It is a delight to see new art projects started. We look forward to sharing more.



VanPickUpAfter nearly 5 months of sitting idle, Riverside Transportation has slowly started up. Transportation is a vital service for 95% of our clients to be able to attend services at One Cottage St. This service will recover but it will take some time.





A welcoming surprise visit!  Senator John Velis and Easthampton City Councilman Owen Zaret recently toured Riverside. Both were impressed by the programs and services Riverside provides to the individuals we serve. Support from our legislators is vital, Riverside is grateful to have their support.

LawnCareSignLooking for fall clean up help? The leaves are already starting to change and fall to the ground. The Riverside Lawn Crew is ready to assist you with your fall clean ups. To learn more contact us at 413-527-2711. See some of the comments on our lawn care web page.





HappyHope Rocks croppedThe services we provide are crucial to our client's quest for satisfying jobs, life direction and meaningful community membership. There isn't a more important time than now to support Riverside by making a gift today to get us on the road to re-building for the next 50 years. Thank you.





Riverside: Soft Re-Open
On August 3rd, 12 of our more than 250 individuals we serve came back to Riverside at One Cottage Street. Prior to opening, the staff has been tirelessly working to prepare the building and program areas for all to be safe and secure. On this day clients were greeted by staff outside the building to confirm they were symptom free and ready to start the day. Tears of joy were on the faces of clients and staff. Connections had continued remotely via Zoom, but didn't compare to the in-person greeting that happened that morning. The journey will be long till we are whole again, but this glimmer of light shows on all the faces in these pictures.





Miguel Gina







WeAreEssential ImageWeAreEssential: Tell the Senate to Include the Disability Community in COVID-19 Relief Bills!

People with disabilities and those who support them can't be left behind! Please send an email to your officials with one click! at



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is hard to believe that more than 4 months have passed since we have seen the everyday energy at One Cottage Street. We are so grateful for the support we have received from our donors and the community. It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating our 50th anniversary. We represented that milestone with the symbol of the sunflower. The sunflowers meaning is one of adoration, loyalty and longevity. This meaning is synonymous with how Riverside operates and lives by its mission. We know it will be quite a while till we are whole again, but in the meantime we are focused on finding a balance to continue our mission for the individuals we serve and our staff.


SocialDist.GraphicRiverside Staff, getting it done! As we continue services remotely, the outcome, although different, has been positive. The staff keeps clients motivated with Zoom calls every week with some focus on learning COVID-19 state protocol; teaching them how to where a mask for a length of time, proper social distancing and hand-washing. They're also having some fun with bringing back Zumba and cooking classes! Families are so appreciative of all Riverside is doing remotely while the building is closed.



With the recent announcement made today, that all day programs will be allowed to open July 6, please know that all of us at Riverside are anxious to re-open; and add site-based programming to our remote services. But, we want to do it safely. Riverside is in the process of creating and developing necessary safety protocols, based on the guidance we received today. We will keep you posted on our re-opening date. Thank you. #RiversideStrong



6 1 1Cooking Class goes Virtual!
Staff and clients that work at our Cottage Street Cafe and in the Production Department, didn't let the "stay at home" policy stop them! Meet the cooks that tackled the rice crispy treat cooking class virtually, on zoom. This picture shows just a couple of our clients, along with our staff that took on the challenge and made it a success.





6 1 2Western MAsk Project at Riverside, we know we are blessed by the support we receive from the community. Western MAsk Project, have donated more than 150 cloth masks and hundreds of surgical masks.

Western MAsk Project is created by Janna Ugone and Gina Whalen. To learn more and support the project go to their site.



6 1 3Riverside Packaging and Fulfillment - As the governor roles out his plan to reopen the state, we are pleased to report that our fulfillment department is open and fulfilling orders for our current customers like Scout Curated Wears.

As your business begins to gear up and you're finding yourself in a bind to fill orders, consider working with us. We can offer a turnkey service from inventory warehousing, filling orders, and direct ship to your customers. For more info, call Bob Cayo at 413.527.2711 ext. 152 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..






rsiA message from our CEO

As you know, Governor Baker informed all of us on Monday, May 18, the “phased opening” plan included the announcement of Day programs allowed to open services on June 8.

Our supporting funding agencies, DDS and EOHHS have formed an advisory council, which I have been asked to join, to work out the necessary guidelines and to decide when the time is right to safely open.

This message is to inform you that Riverside will not open on June 8. We are forging forward to open when the time is right and safe for the individuals we serve and our staff. We will be following the states guidance.

All programs in the state will be following the state guidance, so we are in this together with many other providers. I can assure you there is a lot of thought and concern going into opening. Thank you.

With warmest regards,


Charlene R. Gentes
President and CEO, Riverside Industries, Inc.



5 15A new routine: Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities find support remotely

For adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Pioneer Valley, day programs, activities and other services can provide necessary structure and community support.

And, with physical locations closed, caregivers and support staff are rising to meet the challenges of providing some stability during the pandemic with daily phone call check-ins and online group activities.

Coralie Donohue, a 54-year-old resident of Northampton who has a genetic disorder called Triple X syndrome, is out of work right now. She normally works at Riverside Industries’ Cottage Street Cafe in Easthampton. Riverside is an organization that provides local job opportunities for adults with disabilities through its own businesses and connecting clients with other local businesses.

Donohue, who at the cafe runs the cash register and makes sandwiches in the kitchen, said she has been thinking a lot about when she’ll be able to return to work, but she is more worried about contracting the novel coronavirus.

“I’m just so afraid to get this deadly virus, with my immune system being low and my age. I don’t want to get this virus and be quarantined for two weeks and then on top of that be in the hospital. My family won’t be able to see me,” she said, adding that she lives with her fiancé.

Kyle Cindy Schaller, director of community-based day services at Riverside, said Donohue isn’t alone — many of the organization’s clients and workers with disabilities have compromised immune systems or other health issues.

Schaller said Riverside staff have been figuring out ways to change their services to meet the needs of clients while safely socially distancing.

Among the adults who Riverside Industries supports, about 80 people were employed pre-pandemic in various jobs in dining, lawn care or laundry services at area colleges (including the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Westfield State University and Amherst College) as well as at local businesses such as grocery stores.

“Most of those people are currently not working,” Schaller said. “They are missing that and that community connection and the way that they contribute and have purpose, just like many people who find themselves with work on a hiatus right now.”

Riverside Industries also owns its own businesses — which employ people with disabilities as well as other area residents — including a packaging company, Liberty Street Packaging, and an outdoor lawn care company, Riverside Lawn Crew, Schaller said.

Most of those clients are still receiving their paychecks via the federal Payroll Protection Program, said Susan Lapointe, director of development and community relations at the organization.

“Those who aren’t receiving a paycheck, we have been working with them and their families to file for unemployment just like others are,” Lapointe said.



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These are Riverside's essential workers . . . they may not physically be at One Cottage Street, but they are in your town, on your street, even your next door neighbor. They are working from home; reaching out every week to our more than 250 individual’s we serve at Riverside. These are some of the faces that continue to push forward to continue our mission amidst the crisis no matter where they are.”



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Dear RSI Strong Community:

First and foremost, we sincerely hope that everyone this reaches is safe and well!  We so miss seeing everyone in person and although our re-opening day of the One Cottage Street location is not certain, it will come and we can’t wait!!

We appreciate the new challenges you and your loved ones are facing, too – they came head-on and fast and furious!!  RSI’s commitment has been to connect with every client by phone or video.  Our new ZOOM world of engagement has brought us much joy – we so love the eye contact, smiles and interactions on those video calls!!

We remain strong to our commitment of engagement while our facility is closed.  We are in preparation mode for reopening at a time that we may do so safely with the guidance and protocols in place from the State, CDC and Public Health Department.  

We will keep you informed as soon as we have new information and we look forward to the date when we will see everyone in person again!! 

Stay safe, stay well and please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. 


Charlene R. Gentes
President and CEO, Riverside Industries, Inc