#RiversideStrong! Updates


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.



5 13

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.”



5 11

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.