“RitC has always been an innovator,” said Cathy Nehr, who serves as vice president on RitC’s board of directors and has a developmentally disabled 32-year-old son, Allen.
“RitC is committed to promoting opportunities for all people with developmental disabilities to live full, productive, self-determined lives of the highest quality by fostering local communities which embrace all people,” according the their website, www.rightinthecommunity.org.
One way RitC meets its mission is by promoting job opportunities for the developmentally disabled. Nehr, a volunteer, donor and mother realized that those with special needs should be afforded more than arts and crafts and outings generally offered to the disabled.
“These (developmentally disabled) individuals have value. The lower functioning individuals have not been given the opportunity to learn job skills,” said Nehr, a Kennesaw resident who is married to Gary. They have another son, Eric, 23.
Nehr believes that special needs could contribute to society. In 2009, she started a shredding initiative for those with developmental disabilities that became the basis of her dissertation for an Executive Doctorate in Business at Georgia State University.
Six special needs clients came to shred a year’s worth of documents at Medibase Group, Inc., where Nehr works in health care consulting. They disassembled folders, files, took out staples, clips, shredded documents and then recycled the output.
“They were so excited to be going to work,” she said.
Not only did the clients get on the job training, they also learned other basic skills such as getting to work on time and acting appropriately.
“We have proven as others have that these individuals can add value and be very successful in a supportive environment,” Nehr said.
When the initial shredding project was over, Nehr said, “We realized we couldn’t put the genie back in the bottle. We had to keep (the project) going.”
The initiative was transferred to RitC that became the worksite for the shredding. After receiving grants from non-profit Holly Lane Foundation and from Cobb County, RitC used Nehr’s model for a second shredding initiative completed in November 2011 and started a third in January 2012, expanding the number of clients working to 12.
The shredding initiative creates opportunities for special needs people to succeed.
“By being more self-sufficient (special needs individuals) can add to the community and be less dependent and contribute to society,” she said.
RitC needs businesses to give special needs individuals the opportunity to work rather than relying on grants.
“We need individual businesses who can contribute documents to be shredded. We’re very competitive with the pricing. We would love for an organization to take us on so we could regularly shred their documents,” Nehr said.
Right in the Community is located at 1830 Water Place, Suite 120, Atlanta, in Cobb County. For more information, visit www.rightinthecommunity.org. To explore having your business’ documents shredded at RitC, call 770-427-8401.