#RiversideStrong! Updates


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.
WelcomeBack Renee Miguel Gina Paul KimP


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






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.