Helping People Lead Rich, Full Lives

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.

Our Mission

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

Board of Directors

Chairperson: Melissa Pike, A-Z Properties, LLC
1st Vice Chairperson: Silas Kopf, Marquetry Artist
Treasurer: Betsy Schabacker, Branch Manager, bankESB
Secretary: Jan Carhart, MSW, Riverside Parent

Members

  • Jane Curran, Retired LICSW
  • John Gannon, Associate Attorney, Skoler, Abbot & Presser, P.C.
  • Chuck Conner, Owner/Broker, Taylor Real Estate
  • Roger Anderson, Retired, Senior Program Manager, Behavioral Health Network
  • Lisa Kautz, Merrill Lynch/BOA
  • Jennifer Garcia, Riverside Participant
  • Bette Babinski, Parent – Retired
  • Elizabeth Paquette – President, Rock Valley Tool, LLC

Contact Riverside

The History of Riverside

19
60᾿s

1968

RIVERSIDE INDUSTRIES, INC. IS FOUNDED

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.

Feb 1968

DONATION OF LEEDS SCHOOL BUILDING

The city of Northampton donates the old Leeds School building for 50¢ each to OVDCH.

Riverside - February 1968

Nov 1968

THE FIRST BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Riverside - November 1968

Jan 1969

MYSTERIOUS FIRE DESTROYS THE WORKSHOP

Riverside - January 1969

Feb 1969

TEMPORARY OPERATIONS

The workshop resumes temporary operations at 2 Pleasant Street, Northampton. Fundraising efforts being to raise money for a new center.

Riverside - February 1969

19
70᾿s

Apr 1971

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.

Riverside - April 1971

Jul 1971

ESTABLISHMENT OF RESIDENTIAL SERVICES

Aug 1971

In addition, 35 participants are served in a satellite vocational program on Sanderson Street in Greenfield.

Riverside - August 1971

Nov 1972

A small second fire guts the Nonotuck facility and results in $75,000 in damages.

Feb 1973

The building is sold and the workshop moves to the Brassworks in Haydenville.

Jun 1974

The name is changed to Riverside Industries, Inc. The first logo.

Riverside - June 1974

Apr 1976

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.

Riverside - April 1976

Sep 1977

NORMALIZATION POLICY

A policy of normalization is officially adopted by the organization.

Riverside - September 1977

Apr 1977

GLENDALE LAWN CARE IS ESTABLISHED

Commercial and residential clients hire the landscaping crew to care for their lawns. Today there are over 60 customers.

Riverside - April 1978

Jul 1977

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.

Riverside - July 1978

Aug 1978

A Small Business Administration loan aids Riverside in renovating rental space to increase income for services.

Riverside - August 1978

Sep 1979

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.

Riverside - September 1979

19
80᾿s

May 1980

LOCAL BUSINESS JOBS

Jobs are secured in local businesses. People with disabilities are integrated into their working communities.

Riverside - May 1980

Jun 1981

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.

Riverside - June 1981

Nov 1981

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.

Riverside - November 1981

Dec 1981

RESIDENTIAL SERVICES END

Riverside's Board of Directors makes the difficult decision to end residential services due to insufficient state funding.

Riverside - December 1981

Jan 1983

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.

Riverside - January 1983

Jun 1983

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.

Riverside - June 1983

Apr 1985

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.

Sep 1986

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:

  • Williston-Northampton
  • The Log Cabin
  • Paul & Elizabeth's Restaurant
  • Nonotuck Child Care
  • Pleasant Street Theater
  • Burger King - Northampton
  • Wykoff Country Club
  • Harvest Valley Restaurant
  • Stop & Shop
  • Caldor's
  • Bradlees - Northampton
  • Pyramid Corporation
  • Coastal Building Maintenance
  • Resource Associates

May 1988

An innovative community membership program for elders with disabilities is created, enhancing the lives of many as they enter their retirement years.

Jun 1988

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.

Riverside - June 1988

Nov 1989

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.

Riverside - November 1989

19
90᾿s

1990's

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.

Riverside - 1990's

Jan 1990

CARF REACCREDITED

On January 2, 1990 Riverside is once again CARF accredited. This marks the 4th consecutive highest accreditation.

Riverside - January 1990

Jul 1990

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.

Aug 1990

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.

Riverside - August 1990

Dec 1990

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.

Feb 1990

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.

Sep 1992

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.

Riverside - September 1992

Feb 1996

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.

Riverside - February 1996

1990's

Throughout the 90's major building renovations include several new accessible restrooms, Day Habilitation expansion, and a 5-story passenger elevator.

Riverside - Throughout the 1990's

20
00᾿s

Jan 2000

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 - January 2000

Jun 2001

Riverside is acknowledged for meeting high standards.

Riverside - June 2001

Jun 2001

FIRST HUMAN SERVICE SCHOLARSHIP AWARDED

The first annual Human Service Scholarship is awarded to an Easthampton High School graduate.

Riverside - June 2001

Nov 2002

The Governor's Commission on Employment of People with Disabilities honors one of Riverside's working partnerships.

Riverside - November 2002

May 2003

Riverside Industries' continues its tradition of contributing to the community

Riverside - May 2003

Aug 2003

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.